It’s not often the best and worst day of your life happen on the very same day.
The silver lining was that, thankfully, I was in the right place at the right time with the right people. My beautiful baby boy Oti (Otis) made a quick entry into the world two hours after we arrived at the hospital. Labour was an incredible and wild experience for me. I will be forever in awe at what my body did to bring him here.
Unfortunately, I endured a 3B degree tear during the birth and was scheduled for surgery that evening. I had a severe anaphylactic reaction to one of the muscle relaxant drugs administered, and I went into cardiac arrest. My heart did not stop, however, my pulse was so low that it was as if I didn’t have one. I had to be resuscitated for 30 minutes. Once stable, I was sent to ICU to be kept under for monitoring and review if any of my other organs were being affected.
I don’t remember initially waking up, but I do remember sitting up in bed, a breathing tube down my throat, with my partner Luke sitting beside me. I spent 3 blurry days in ICU before being reunited with my boys in the Birthing Ward, where we stayed together for the next week.
I made good progress, but there were also many setbacks. I was immobile for days, tubes were coming out of me, and I had excruciating sternum pain that gave me breathing issues. Slowly, I began taking steps from my bed to the shower unassisted. Then I began being able to take longer walks down the hallway with a frame. Eventually, I became tube-free and started sitting on a chair. I was extremely sore, swollen and slow, but each day continued to bring small wins.
My main focus was preventing pneumonia of the lungs through physio and general mobility and the tear recovery. I met a multitude of health-care workers that were involved in my care: from reviving me, looking after me post, the current care, and the future care. Some had even visited to say hello just from hearing about my situation. It was extremely humbling that these people cared so much about my life!
Three days after finally coming home, I started to not feel right. I returned to the hospital, only to find out my stitching had come away and was close to infection. I had another surgery, this time via spinal block, and thankfully Luke was allowed to be with me during it. Thinking I was a couple of days off from finally going home to be with my baby, my temperature spiked one night, and I had a series of tests to work out what was wrong. Sadly, I contracted hospital-acquired pneumonia and had to stay longer. I was extremely heartbroken to have lost bonding time with Oti, to not be able to attend to his basic needs and to miss out on those first moments.
I cried every day and felt so emotionally disconnected, having to watch everyone else hold and feed my baby when I couldn’t. I know what happened was not my fault, but I felt an immense amount of guilt that I had not been able to be there for him in his first weeks of life. I found some comfort in knowing he had become somewhat of a celebrity in the Birthing Ward and everyone wanted to say hello or have a cuddle with Oti! I honestly don’t know how lucky I got with Luke. He was amazing through it all. I cannot comprehend the pain and trauma he was and still is internalising as he soldiered through taking up the roles of mum, dad and carer. He made so many sacrifices for our little family and showed our little boy so much love. I had a long recovery journey, physically and emotionally, along with a very unique start to motherhood but I am so grateful to be alive and to be Oti’s mummy!
Birth & newborn course
The Bump, Birth & Beyond course will educate you and your co-pilot (support person) on what to expect during pregnancy, birth and the first trimester with your new little love.