My partner and I had a wonderful surprise and found out that we were expecting our first baby in November - due on the 11th of July 2020. Although 2020 was one of the craziest years to date, it has definitely been my favourite year due to our baby girl's birth.
Although antenatal/medical care was drastically different due to coronavirus, I still had a wonderful pregnancy. The only challenge I had was being diagnosed with gestational diabetes at 24 weeks, which I kept under control with exercise and diet (oh boy, did I miss eating Tim Tams and ice cream!).
I didn't have a birth plan or recommendations; I wanted to remain open to any possibility. I just wanted a safe delivery and a healthy baby. My partner and I lived and worked in Sydney for two years, and all our family lived in rural Victoria. So when we found out we were pregnant, we made the decision to move back home to rural Victoria to be closer to our families. We decided to move back towards the end of my pregnancy when I started my maternity leave. So, when I was 35 weeks pregnant, we packed up our house and moved interstate back home to Victoria.
It was so nice to be back home and have our friends and family around to unpack and move into our new home. I spent the next few weeks catching up with friends and family, unpacking, washing baby clothes, setting up the nursery and finally organising my hospital bags. On Saturday the 27th of June, my partner, my in-laws and I drove to Melbourne to buy and pick up our new family car. I was so nervous about my waters breaking in the new car (I was 38 weeks pregnant) that I packed towels for me to sit on in the new car on the way home.
Finally, I felt at ease and organised that we had our new car ready for the baby to arrive! The following day my beautiful friends threw me a mini five people baby shower (due to covid restrictions at the time), it was so lovely! I stayed at my parent's house that night as it was an hour away from my home and I was too tired to drive back that day. At about 2:00 am, I started having contractions that woke me up (it felt like strong period pain). The contractions were irregular coming every 2-6 minutes and lasting about 40 seconds. I tried going back to sleep, but the contractions just kept me awake, so I woke my mum up and told her. She was sooo excited (first grandchild) she stayed up with me, and we had a cuppa and watched TV and talked until the sun came up.
I rang my partner in the morning and told him not to go to work as I thought this was it, and we would possibly need to go to the hospital that day (he was freaking out haha). Due to being an hour from home, my mum called in sick for work and had to drive me back home as I was still having contractions. We got to my house at about 9:00 am and my mum, younger sister, partner and I spent the morning tidying up and installing the baby car seat in the new car. I wanted to get it professionally installed, but the baby had other ideas haha. It took us sooo long to install it.
The contractions were getting a little bit stronger as the day went on and remained irregular coming every 2-8 minutes. Due to the covid restrictions, I hadn't attended any antenatal classes. Still, I work as a paediatric nurse and have some medical knowledge, and I felt comfortable going into labour and birth with that knowledge, but I still felt a bit confused about when to go into the hospital. So I gave them a call, and they recommended me to come in and get checked out.
We went to the hospital at lunchtime, and they put me on the CTG, they said I was definitely in the early stages of labour, and everything was looking good. They recommended me to go home and relax and bounce on the exercise ball. The midwife caring for me at the time made some sort of comment saying that it could still be a few more days until baby comes. Helllllll no! So I went home and bounced on that bloody exercise ball for hours! I refused to spend days and days in early labour!
Later that afternoon my mum and younger sister left and went back home so my partner and I could rest up before baby came. I was tired from being up since 2:00 am that I went to bed at 7:00 pm and tried to rest in between contractions. The contractions were getting a lot more intense. I took some Panadol earlier and was using the heat for relief. The heat pack didn't quite cut it, so I tried having a hot shower for a while (my belly was too big to fit in our bathtub comfortably haha, so had to make do with the shower).
By 11:00 pm, I was exhausted and just wanted to sleep. I called the hospital and told them I was coming in to get some pain relief. We arrived at the hospital, and they put me on the CTG and said everything looked great. They gave me some Panadene Forte and asked if I wanted to stay or try and get some sleep back home. I chose to go back home and try to get some sleep in my own bed. I didn't get any sleep and only lasted a few hours at home, by 3:00 am I rang the hospital again and told them I was coming back to stay this time.
When we got to the hospital, my lovely midwife ran me a hot bath (a big one I could fit my huge belly in comfortably haha) and gave me the gas. The first few hits of the gas I felt like I had drunk one too many glasses of wine, and it was just taking the edge off the pain. The bath was heaven, and I stayed there till about 6:00 am! At 6:00 am the pain was stronger and becoming unbearable, so I asked my midwife if I could have an epidural. She asked to check how far dilated I was first before calling the on-call anesthetist in, and I agreed. She proceeded to check me, and I was 6cms dilated.
My midwife called the anesthetist in and within 30 minutes she was there and had put the epidural in. The relief was amazingggg; I could've kissed the anesthetist! Haha. After I had the epidural in I managed to have a small sleep/rest until the midwives changed from 7:30 am. I had a new midwife who was a graduate midwife and a student midwife; they were both angels!
A doctor came to examine me at 8:00 am. When he examined me, he said I was 8cms dilated and that he would break my waters for me. He claimed that I would be having this baby by lunchtime (yay! Finally!). I remained on the CTG (due to the epidural), and the midwives let me rest and said they would come back to examine me at 11:00 am.
11:00 am came, and the midwives examined me, and I was fully dilated! They said they would let me rest till 12:00 pm to see if bub would come down further, and then I could start doing 'practice pushes'.
At noon, I started doing 'practice pushes' I tried various positions to push, which was difficult with an epidural, but I found it most comfortable leaning over the back of the bed. I just remember being sooo thirsty while pushing; I so badly wanted drinks of cold water. But then after I would have a drink and try and push I would get really bad heartburn which stopped me from pushing as good (the joys of pregnancy haha). So instead I sucked on ice chips which helped a lot. After a lot of 'practice pushes' then 'real pushes' my baby girl was born at 1:49 pm, and she was the most beautiful little thing I ever saw! Little miss Harlo.
My partner and I decided not to find out the baby's gender, and the whole pregnancy we were so sure that we were having a boy (we were happy with either gender and just wanted a healthy baby), so when she was born, and we realised that we had a baby girl we were so excited. It was the best surprise and feeling ever!
We got to have skin to skin straight away, and she latched perfectly when breastfeeding. I had a second-degree tear from pushing which the doctor stitched up while my partner had skin to skin with our baby, then after that, my partner and I were left to have quiet time and enjoy our baby girl.
At 5:00 pm, we were still enjoying our newborn bubble in the birthing room as my legs were still numb from the epidural. My partner went home for a shower and to get some dinner, and came back and surprised me with an Oreo McFlurry and Tim Tams haha, they were amazing! Then we were moved to our own room at 6:00 pm.
Due to my gestational diabetes, bub's glucose levels were monitored closely for the first 24 hours, and I had to wake her to feed every 3 hours to make sure she didn't become hypoglycaemic - which she didn't! Little champion! Although I didn't have a textbook perfect pregnancy or birth, I loved everything about it and would do it all again for the end result.