Despite this fear of the unknown, I absolutely loved being pregnant. Tom and I fell pregnant during the thick of the Melbourne lockdown. It made keeping a secret much easier with no social events, plus the mild nausea that hit me in week 6/7 was softened by wearing trackies and ugg boots day in and day out whilst working from home. It came with some sadness, though.
Tom wasn't allowed to our early OB visits. He was with us on FaceTime when we heard our baby's heartbeat for the first time and found out our due date was the 30th of March, 2021. We also had to tell our family and friends the wonderful news behind a computer screen. But in the end, we could still feel all the love, regardless of distance. I was fortunate to have an extremely straightforward pregnancy.
I often apologized when my amazing OB would ask "any questions for me?" and most of the time, I would just nervously laugh and respond with ", I don't think so!". I almost felt at times I was wasting his time, but I also knew that things were going smoothly, so I had a lot to be thankful for in those short appointments, with smiles behind every mask.
We chose not to find out the gender of our baby. There are not too many surprises left in this life, so we both agreed that this one would be the most special. The only hurdle we faced was when I found out I had Gestational Diabetes. It was Christmas Eve, and I cried like a baby (I now understand this expression more than ever before).
I didn't know a great deal about GDM before this, so the label of 'diabetes' was just a bit confronting. Plus, I really didn't want to hold back on my Christmas dinner! Luckily I had the most wonderful diabetes educator who first told me to enjoy Christmas but provided me with so much information and support that I quickly gained so much confidence to take care of my body and my baby. It was my fasting levels that were over (by .1, which did my head in if I thought about it too much, so I just had to accept it and move on). We had weekly correspondence, or more if I felt my readings were going a bit rogue, and I could remain diet controlled through until birth.
The final growth scan showed that baby was growing a couple of weeks ahead. I had to laugh when the sonographer asked if anyone in the family had trouble buying hats. It turns out Tom's lifetime of ripping Christmas cracker hats every year was being passed down. My OB spoke to us about the possibility of induction due to the small risk of shoulder dystocia, but it was totally up to us.
As Tom and I had prepared ourselves with the Tiny Heart's Bump, Birth and Beyond course, we weren't too thrown by the discussion of induction. If there was a chance we could reduce or eliminate any risks, we were more than happy to take it. I had also warmed much more to the idea of giving birth thanks to the information we had received in the course, combined with the excitement of an ever-growing bump - the most glorious feeling in the world. I never had my head stuck on a 'birth plan'. I guess my plan was to be open, to not jump straight into an epi for no other reason than the thought of it frightened me a little, but to follow the lead of the care providers as they know what they're doing.
If necessary, I would've gone for an epi. It was just not my initial preference. So we decided to book in an induction for 39 weeks and three days, but on a Saturday morning at 38 + 4, my OB called me and said there was an opening on Monday, so we've taken the spot. My heart started racing, and I looked at Tom and said, "this is happening!" and the smiles couldn't be wiped from our faces.
I woke up at 5.30 am on Monday the 22nd, the morning of our planned induction, with pretty uncomfortable pelvic pain. I didn't think too much of it. It felt like that really deep period pain which I thought was just part and parcel of being 39 weeks pregnant. It was pretty constant but not unbearable, only occasionally becoming more intense for short bursts. This continued to happen, so I thought I'd note the frequency just in case, but there was no consistency, so I wasn't worried. I knew I was going to the hospital at 5 pm anyway, so I'd just mention it when we arrived.
When we arrived at the hospital, Tom and I sat in the car park for a little while, just looking at each other in disbelief that it was the last time it would be just the two of us. Our families had no idea we were being induced, so this special little secret was just between us, and there was something so magical about this moment of calm in the car. Tom asked me one last time what I thought we were having. I'd never had that gut feeling, so I didn't really have my answer ready. Tom said girl, so I said boy just to be different, knowing it wouldn't be too long before we found out.
Once we checked in at the birth suite, I told the midwives about my pelvic pain, of which they didn't seem too concerned. They said it could be contractions as they manifest in many different ways, but I hadn't experienced any tightenings, so we didn't think too much about it and waited for my OB to examine me. He was called to a code, so we were hanging out in the birth suite for a while, nervously laughing every time we looked at each other, thinking about the enormous life-changing events that were about to unfold.
My OB arrived at about 7 pm for an internal examination to determine the course of action for induction. It turns out I was already 2-3cm dilated, so no intervention was needed at that point. He suggested I stay in the birth suite anyway, which I was totally fine with. I was much calmer once we were at the hospital, knowing we were in the right place. At this point, I didn't want to go home unless we had our baby. He said he'd see me in the morning to break my waters, or sooner if things progressed, but we laughed as nobody thought that would happen. He left, and the midwives said they'd bring us some dinner whilst suggesting we get a good night's rest before tomorrow's festivities.
Between the time my OB left and dinner arrived, things had escalated. I still only had the pelvic pressure, but it was really intense and was not occurring in waves at all. It was constant. I couldn't sit down, and I was leaning on the edge of the bed, pushing all of my weight into my hands and onto the mattress to attempt to make myself feel lighter. The midwives said to me, "you're in a bit of pain, aren't you?!" and I was still a bit stunned that this could be happening all on its own.
I laughed and said it wasn't the most comfortable thing I'd experienced but was still in a bit of disbelief about it being labour, as I still hadn't experienced any tightenings across my abdomen, the thing everyone prepares you to look out for. Our midwife said she knew I was in pain and told me I was having contractions because the monitor was going off its chops! She was absolutely stunned I didn't realize I was having contractions. She put her hand on my belly and could feel it happening, but I still couldn't. All of my discomfort was coming from my pelvis alone.
From here on in, things got pretty uncomfortable. The pain was certainly not in waves as everyone had said to expect. It was constant and getting more intense. I lost the ability to make any decisions, so when the gas was suggested, I hesitated, not because I didn't want it, but because I totally forgot how to say yes. Once I started with it, the rhythm of breathing helped me a lot.
Tom was playing some of my favourite tunes, and I was on my knees hanging over the end of the bed, just swaying into this pelvic pain. By this point, it did feel like waves, but not in a 'pain-break-pain' kind of wave. It was more like 'pelvic pain-intense pelvic pressure-pelvic pain'. It was at this point that I got stuck in my own head. I told our midwives that I just don't know how I'm going to keep this up until morning and that I must be carrying on like a pork chop for someone who is only 2-3cm dilated. She laughed and assured me we weren't going to have to wait until morning to meet bub and that things were progressing much faster than anyone could anticipate.
Apparently, I even had the purple line creeping up my back which some of the midwives had only ever heard about, informing them that I was, in fact, dilating. A couple more internals occurred just to check how things were going because I said pretty quickly that I felt that pressure that everyone tells you about. These confirmed things were escalating, and calls to my OB followed.
Amusingly (now, not so much at the time), I had to change birth suites at about 11 pm. I was on all fours on the bed, and our midwife apologized and said we had to change rooms. I was extremely confused (remember how I couldn't even say "yes" for gas?!) and thought maybe that was their way of saying the baby is about to pop out and you'll be on the ward in no time. Nope, they really meant they needed to move me from one birthing room to another and said I could either waddle down the hall or be wheeled there.
Obviously, I took the wheeling option, and I think the gas had given me enough stamina to start doing the royal wave down the hallway as my bed was rolling from one room to the next. Thankfully, somehow, maybe the strangeness of the situation allowed me to not feel the need to scream on our journey. I only know this was 11 pm as I saw the clock right in front of me in our new room. I couldn't believe how quickly time had passed. I couldn't maintain myself on my knees any longer, so I switched over to my side. Still without any tightenings across my belly, all pelvic pressure and pain, I kept getting told we weren't far off.
I couldn't quite grasp what that meant. I felt like I needed a time frame but obviously knew that's an impossible question. Thankfully our midwife, Deb, was an absolute legend, and between my tears of asking her how on earth I'm going to be able to do this or know what to do, she provided so much calm and also laughter, which is just how we roll.
The line "you're already doing it" was somehow comforting, but the line "you're made for having babies!" was not what I needed to hear at the time - it definitely didn't feel like it! Before I knew it, Deb said, "I'm just going to put on my gloves, just in case", as they had called my OB, but he wasn't yet there, and apparently, we really were at the finishing line.
I threw away the gas as I just couldn't coordinate pushing and holding onto the gas tube, and instead used the side of the bed to help me almost crunch my body to help me get some form of momentum when pushing. I remember seeing my OB walk in the room as I was being told to take shorter breaths, so it felt like a matter of seconds before our baby boy was born!
My OB asked me to reach my arms down and help bring bubs into the world. I felt a bit like a T-Rex and didn't think I'd be able to reach, but of course, I was able to, and that was the most amazing feeling, both physical relief and emotionally bewildering.
I didn't cry when I met Myles; instead, I just let out a sigh of admiration and then lots of little laughs full of happiness and disbelief at what I had just achieved. Tom describes the look on my face the moment I met Myles as pure elation.
I've never felt more proud of my body or what it's capable of. I turned to Tom after that magical first shower and said I never have a reason to be ashamed of my body ever again.
Myles was born at 12.53 am on Tuesday the 23rd of March, weighing 3.64kg and whilst 'Fix You' by Coldplay played. What a happy coincidence, as 'if you never try, you'll never know just what you're worth' could not be any more fitting if it tried—the best day of our entire lives.