I've always known I wanted to be a mother, so when I had an ectopic pregnancy at the age of 18 and was told that I would struggle to conceive naturally, my heart broke. I was 18 years old and ten weeks pregnant when I miscarried for the first time. For those who don't know, an ectopic pregnancy is where the fetus develops in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus. The pregnancy resulted in the loss of my left fallopian tube and damage to the other. They also found cancer. This was treated with a small course of chemotherapy.
When I was 19 years old, I had an ultrasound to see if the cancer was gone entirely, which it was. But while I was there, they found over 35 cysts on my ovaries. I wasn't a candidate for surgery, and although I wasn't in any physical pain, I knew that it would be yet another obstacle in my way of being a mother in the future. At 20 years old, I was diagnosed with endometriosis, on both sides of my ovaries.
At 21 years old, I met my partner, Luke. Shortly after, I had successful laparoscopic surgery for my endometriosis, and after that, I changed my diet and lifestyle to plant-based. I then found out the 35 cysts on my ovaries were nearly gone, I had lost 15kg in 3 months, my periods were less painful and more regular, and my overall health physically and mentally was the best it had ever been.
At 22 years old, Luke and I tried to conceive for a couple of cycles but weren't successful. Before falling into the trap of obsessing with tracking cycles and ovulation and timing, we decided to try without trying. "If it happens, it happens" - we said. So, after three years of unprotected sex, and no pregnancy, we decided to see Melbourne IVF to discuss our options. After three meetings, we decided to go ahead with IVF but only when we were ready to, as I knew it would be an exhausting journey for us - especially on myself and my body. We had our last meeting in November 2017, and in December 2017, I found out I was pregnant. I fell pregnant the moment we decided to stop consciously trying. The moment we essentially, gave up was the moment we conceived.
I had a healthy pregnancy, but I was high risk because of my past. At 37 weeks, I started hand pumping my colostrum into syringes and ended up collecting litres of it and had a whole freezer full. Fast-forward to the 4th of September 2018, a day that I will never forget. I woke up after having a stretch and sweep the day before, no pain just feeling uncomfortable. I was 40 weeks, and six days, I was finding it hard to keep my mind busy without exhausting my body, which was easy to do.
Luke finished work early that day and decided to work on his car as the sun was out, and it was warm outside. I was inside hand expressing more colostrum but then felt too uncomfortable to keep sitting down. I had to stand up and walk around. I went outside where Luke was, we live on a slight hill so I walked up and down that a few times. I then went inside and fell asleep for half an hour then back outside to walk up, and down the stairs and driveway. It felt comfortable, and the sun was lovely on my face after a long cold winter, but I was getting exhausted, so I went back inside after a couple of hours.
Mum finished work, and at 5:30 pm, she picked me up as I was craving vegan ice cream, so she drove me to the shops. She joked on the way home that she was going to hit every speed bump. We got back at 6:30 pm and I went to bed and watched YouTube on my laptop. I was about to fall asleep when I started getting pain. I told Luke, and he came in and laid next to me as I timed the contractions on my phone. At 7:30 pm, I called my midwife Sharon and told her. I decided to stay home for another hour as it was early labour and I wasn't in much pain as of yet. I only lasted an hour before we decided to go to the hospital. We got there at 9:00 pm and everything progressed so quickly. We were in the birth suite, with a bath and our own lounge room. I had set up my salt lamp, diffuser and music. I didn't prepare much for birth, but I knew I wanted the space to be peaceful and feel like home.
Four hours into labour, and I thought I couldn't handle it anymore, so I decided to get an epidural. It took 45 minutes for the doctor to come in, which gave me time to overthink my decision. I've always had anxiety, so when I was sitting on the edge of the bed, ready to get the epidural in my back, I had an anxiety attack. I was crying and shaking but still went ahead with it. Unfortunately, I moved while the doctor was administrating the needle. After half an hour my midwife Sharon did the ice test on my lower body to see if I could feel or move my legs, to see if the epidural had worked. I felt everything. I could move my legs, and I could even stand up and walk around. The epidural didn't work because I moved. My mindset was off now because I convinced myself that once I had gotten the epidural that I wouldn't be able to feel anything, that I would be out of pain. I tried the gas, but it made me feel dizzy, and I ended up throwing up.
At this point, I concluded that I would have to go through the remainder of my labour - without pain relief. I know that birth is natural and I know that we CAN do it unassisted, but when you're promised that all of your pain will go away and then it doesn't, it takes a toll on your mental state. Doctors came in and broke my waters, and then eventually, I was put on a Pitocin IV drip to speed up my contractions. They then ended up being too close together, therefore not giving me any time in between to rest. Because I wasn't able to rest in between, my body became tense, and it was stressful. That's when a code pink was called to my suite. I looked up, and within seconds eight or so doctors and midwives were surrounding me. It was very confronting as I had no idea what was going on. I started to have another anxiety attack. My midwife assured me that everything would be okay and to try and breathe through this. My son's heart rate had dropped, and they were concerned. They then stopped the IV, and my contractions slowed down again. We were both under too much stress when they were sped up.
Four hours later, and I experienced the worst pain I've ever felt and the hardest mental test I've ever been through. It was time to push. I remember asking my midwife how do I push? "I can't do this; I don't know-how." She told me to listen to my body, to let it take control and to breathe through it. After 35 minutes of pushing and being cut inside and out, I pulled my son out and onto my chest. We had skin to skin, and he latched straight away, we breastfed for 45 minutes while I was getting stitched up. I laboured all through the night and at 7:35 am on the 5th of September 2018, I gave birth. I did it.
I laboured without pain relief for 12 hours when I thought I wouldn't be able to. I conceived naturally when I thought I wouldn't be able to. I carried and nourished life inside of me for 41 weeks when I thought I wouldn't be able to. My son is now one, and I still pinch myself every day that I get to wake up to him every morning.