Meeting Gracie

I’ve been lucky enough to carry and birth three beautiful children. All three births have been vastly different from each other, but it’s the birth of my second child which was particularly interesting and memorable. When I fell pregnant for a second time around, I was absolutely terrified. I’d had a clinically traumatic birth with my first which left me suffering from PTSD.

Every time I would think of my sons birth or drive into the hospital car park, my heart would start racing to the point I couldn’t breathe. I would start to shake and sweat and would often end up in a puddle of tears. I ended up having to speak with a counsellor who was able to provide me with coping mechanisms to get through these moments of anxiety. Fast forward a few months, and I was ready to go!

It was the day before I was due, and in the early morning, I had felt a few very mild cramps. I got up with my son first thing and told my husband that I thought I was having some braxton hicks. He suggested that I call the ward and let them know, but I disagreed. We all got ready for the day, and my husband set off with my son for childcare while I pottered around at home.

A short while later, my husband turns up back at home. He said he didn’t want to go to work, as he just had a feeling it was more than Braxton Hicks and insisted that I call the ward. Fine! Fine! I said. The midwives were beautiful as always and recommended that as it was my second child, they’d love to give me a quick check over, as the second time around can often be much quicker. So we hopped in the car and headed to the hospital. It was pouring rain and peak hour in Melbourne. I was completely pain-free at this point and was sitting in the traffic, complaining about this being an utter waste of time!

Once we arrived at the hospital, I made my way up the maternity ward, where the midwives took me to a suite where I could wait for the doctor. I was still pain-free with no contractions whatsoever. My husband and I even joked around taking some last-minute “bumpdate” photos (which we significantly lacked because, you know…baby #2).

A few minutes later, I started experiencing unimaginable pain. It was a similar pain to what I had gone through in the transition phase my first time around. I had no idea where this pain had come from and why it had come on so fast. Just then, the doctor arrived at the room and said she’d give me a quick internal exam, where she told me I was only 1cm dilated and I could probably head home. I had the complete belief that I was 1cm, but I couldn’t understand why my pain was through the roof so early on. The doctor told me to sit tight and wait for the midwife, who would let me know the next steps.

Ten minutes later, my midwife entered the room, and at this point, I was bent over in pain. I could hardly breathe, and I was saying all the crazy things one does when in labour. What I also noticed, however, was that my voice had changed, and I was now straining when talking. I said to the midwife, “I have to push”, and she had a good chuckle and said, “Annie, you’re only 1cm, you can’t push”. To which I quickly said back, “No, I don’t WANT to push, I HAVE to push”.

She instructed me to hop back up on the bed and that she’d do another internal, but that I needed to prepare myself to be disappointed when she would have to tell me that I was still only 1cm dilated. So I hopped back up on the bed, and as soon as the midwife began the internal, she shouted, “you’re 10cms dilated”! I couldn’t believe it. Within 15 minutes, I had gone from not in labour to fully dilated and wanting to push.

The midwife instructed me to hold off a minute while she quickly gathered herself and another midwife to assist. They could instantly see the head of the baby. However, as my waters hadn’t broken, it was completely blocked by a big bag full of water. The next thing I knew, there was this huge pressure release and the sound of a giant wave. My waters had ruptured so fast that they burst out and hit the back wall of the delivery room. I couldn’t see anything and was yelling at my husband and the midwives, “Was that shit?! Did I just shit myself?! Don’t be nice! Just tell me the truth! It was shit, wasn’t it?!”. They were all laughing and reassuring me that it was just my waters. My husband said I missed the midwife by a half centimetre and that she had to jump out of the way to avoid being soaked.

My midwife was absolutely amazing and instructed me exactly when to push and when to stop, and reassured me that she was going to guide the baby out as well as she could to avoid any tearing.

Within two contractions, my beautiful little girl was out and in my arms. It was one of the most exhilarating 20 minutes of my life.

To have come from such a traumatic, jarring experience that was my first birth to this was just mind-blowing.

I love to share this story with other Mums I meet who may too have had a not-so-memorable first-time experience, to hopefully empower them that an enjoyable, special subsequent birth is possible. The midwife did exactly as she said she would, and I experienced no tearing, not even a bruise.

By that afternoon, I felt as good as new, as if I hadn’t even had a baby, and was home in my own bed less than a day later. My little Gracie entered the world in a fast and crazy way and is still just as wild as she was from day one.

I still often thank my lucky stars that my husband came back home when he did; otherwise, I would have had a very different delivery experience! And for those wondering, I had an epidural for baby #3 and slept through the whole thing, other than the push! What a dream!

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