If you had asked me during my pregnancy if I had a preference for a vaginal or cesarean birth, I would have told you I had no preference at all. I didn't have a birth plan because not one person I knew had a birth that actually went to plan. I had the mindset of, whatever happens, happens - as long as bub and I are okay.
It was at that moment I decided I didn't want one. I think because the choice was now a possibility being taken away from me? I remember leaving the appointment and going home to bounce frantically on my fit ball, crawl around my house and yard like a crab, climb hills, acupuncture and see my chiropractor. For the first time in 8.5 months even harassing my partner for sex - not that he minded at all haha.
My due date was September 5th, and my mum was flying over August 27th in the very early morning from Victoria. For a couple of days before this, I was getting what I thought were Braxton Hicks and my whole tummy was tightening. The night before my mum arrived, this got a lot worse. Some were so painful they were stopping me in my tracks. I thought how on earth would I deal with labour if this is how painful Braxton Hicks are.
My husband and I drove to the airport to collect my mum, and on the drive home, I was again almost foetal position in pain with each tightening. We got home and went to sleep.
When I woke, I went for a big walk again climbing up hills. I went back to the chiropractor and bounced on the fit ball every chance I got, still trying to engage this baby. That night I was laying watching TV with hubby, and I noticed I hadn't felt bub move at all for a few hours and no tightenings or Braxton Hicks either. This was very uncommon as bub was like a full-on acrobatic ninja.
I proceeded to poke my tummy, eat a bag of Maltesers for some sugar and bounce on the fit ball. But still a couple of hours later - nothing. We rang the hospital, and they asked us to come in to be checked. Upon arriving at the hospital around 10pm, they checked, and we heard bubs heartbeat straight away. Huge relief. They asked me to stay in overnight as I still hadn't felt the baby move at all. I sent hubby home, and I got settled in for the night with the monitors on my tummy and tried to get some sleep.
A little after midnight, the pains were back and waking me. The midwife came in and checked me and told me I was actually having contractions this was not Braxton Hicks like I had thought. I was checked but my cervix completely closed and not at all soft.
I woke in the morning with a 'not so good' feeling. Something didn't feel quite right. I rang my mum, and she said she thinks today's the day and bub is coming.
My OB came in and checked me, and she said what I already knew. My cervix was closed. I was having regular pains and baby was floating way up high, posterior and cord still presenting first etc. They were happy for me to stay in hospital and see if things changed and didn't at all try to force me into a caesarean then and there.
In the next half hour, bubs heart rate began to drop.
I had a terrible feeling come over me that something wasn't right and my OB did too. I rang my husband and told him to come in and that I think we will be having our baby today. Oh, and to please bring my hair straightener. All I wanted to do was to shave my legs (I couldn't even reach my legs) and straighten my hair (this wasn't something I did much at all usually haha). Of all things to do, I was very clearly in shock.
Hubby and Mum arrive, with hubby's hands full with fresh croissants from the bakery. YUMMM! Which I couldn't eat because we had now made the call. I had a strange gut feeling something wasn't right, and I was now going to be having a cesarean in the next hour.
All prepped for surgery, and off we go to theatre. Before we go in, I told them I wanted the sheet lowered straight away as bub was coming out and I'd like to see the sex of our bub and not be told. I wanted skin on skin as soon as possible. Also, I'd like 1 million photos too please haha.
I was really upset my mum couldn't be in the room with us as the cesarean policy is one person only due to the number of staff that needs to be present.
I'm getting prepped, they put the spinal block in, and they ask me if I can feel my legs. I say I can't, they then ask me to lift my leg. I do the left no problem. I lift the right and bam my leg flops over completely weightless and kicks the poor nurse in the head. We all have a big laugh.
I then hear my obstetrician counting "one, two that's three - oh my goodness, shit that's four", and people begin to walk over. I yell out "what's wrong? Is everything okay?".
My husband is also stressing out.
Our baby boy had the cord wrapped so tightly around his little neck FOUR times. We now knew why he was stuck up the top unable to descend. This also explained why his heart rate was not great.
On the 28:08:18 at 11.24 am, our beautiful bub was born. They held him up, and I saw we had a little boy. I got cuddles almost straight away, and then he went to the side of the room to be weighed and hubby cut the cord. All in my view.
My placenta had also come apart and was shredded in a million pieces. I was stitched up and off to recovery with our boy.
We were so so lucky to have him. I never understood what mothers instinct was until the day I had my son. I knew something wasn't right and made the call.
I had a great cesarean experience, and my recovery was just as good. I was up walking around the next morning I had no pain, I didn't even need any pain relief at all, I was on cloud 9.
All the midwives and paediatricians and obstetricians couldn't believe the cord was so firmly tangled around bubs neck FOUR times. We were told over and over just how lucky we were.
Two weeks old in our beautiful newborn bubble, I couldn't help but feel something wasn't right. Our little man would breathe so loudly; sometimes, it sounded like he was struggling to breathe at all.
Everyone kept telling me it's normal and newborns are loud sleepers. We took him to the doctors and health nurses to be told it's probably a little bit of reflux. I remember being told I was just paranoid, and it's normal to feel like this as a first-time mum.
I began recording Zayn's breathing over the next few nights so that people could hear just how loud it was.
Back to the doctors we went, and I broke down. This doctor actually listened to me and sent us to an ENT. The ENT gave me his personal mobile number and told me to send him the recordings of Zayn breathing. Upon receiving my text, he told me to take Zayn to the Perth Children's Hospital Emergency Department, and he would phone ahead.
I was panicked.
My husband a FIFO worker had gone back to work at this stage (Zayn's now 5 weeks old), but I still had my mum with me.
We get to the hospital, and the ENT team came and saw us and explained they think Zayn has Laryngomalaycia. I thought "what even is that word - like, what!?!"
They said they would need to perform a test called a nasopharyngolaryngoscopy. Again, sorry - a bloody what? It's a thin scope fitted with a tiny camera. The scope is guided down one of bubs nostrils to the throat. They did the test, and my poor mum had to hold my son as I couldn't bear it. I left the room and could hear him screaming from the staff room (where the nurses took me to try and calm me down). I came back, and it's confirmed, Zayn has laryngomalacia.
Laryngomalacia is a birth defect or abnormality in which the tissue just above the vocal cords is soft and floppy. It causes it to flop into the airway when taking a breath. This can cause partial blockage of the airway, leading to noisy breathing, especially when a baby is on their back. The severity of it depends on whether surgery is performed to cut it.
Zayn's was moderate, and we chose to not go down the surgery path due to how invasive it is and how young he was. He was still gaining weight and thriving. Laryngomalacia can be grown out of and usually by around 2 years old is the age we were given. We were kept in the hospital for monitoring and able to leave the next morning.
Zayn was now 9 weeks old when we reached a date I'll never forget - November 4th 2018.
I'm sitting in the lounge room just finished pumping, chatting with my mum who had just got home from a dinner. That's when Zayn's breathing sensor alarm goes off. I've never run so fast in all my life. I get to his bassinet in my bedroom and pick him up to find he's completely unresponsive. I had done all my senior first aid training and was even part of an emergency response group, but do you think I knew what to do? I stood shaking my 9-week old baby.
My mum quickly grabbed him from me and told me to ring an ambulance as she placed him on the kitchen bench and was trying to wake him. He came to for a couple of seconds and then again unresponsive. His colour was changing; it was the longest few minutes of my life. Mum placed him on the floor in the lounge room and is now breathing into his mouth and got him breathing again. The ambulance arrived not long after, and we were taken to the hospital where we spent three days. My poor husband was away at work and had to wait until the following day to get off the island he was working on.
They ran tests and couldn't determine what caused Zayn to stop breathing. Was it the laryngomalacia was it something else? We don't know.
Other symptoms of laryngomalacia include:
- difficulty feeding or nursing
- slow weight gain, or even weight loss
- choking when swallowing
- Aspiration (food or liquids enter the lungs)
- pausing while breathing, also known as apnea
I was advised to feed Zayn with a bottle rather than breastfeed as it was less work for him. I gave up breastfeeding (I was mix feeding) at 11 weeks old.
Unfortunately, the problems with laryngomalacia didn't end there and continued to cause panicked rushes to the hospital or ambulance trips.
On Monday December 2nd 2019 (15 months later), we had an ENT appointment to see how Zayn is going. Without putting the scope back down Zayn's throat and going off how he's been since July, the doctors are confident that we are in the clear and Zayn no longer has laryngomalacia!
The relief I feel is literally unexplainable. Zayn is the strongest most determined little boy, and I am so so privileged to be his mum.
It's been such a scary and hard 15 months and a roller coaster of emotions. It's not been an easy introduction to motherhood. I suffer terribly with Post-traumatic stress.
You know you hear mums say they are in the shower and think they can hear their baby crying? Well, I am in the shower, and I hear my sons breathing alarm going off, or I'm doing my groceries or driving or sleeping or anywhere for that matter. I'm haunted by it.
I've never been so judged and criticised so much in all my life over the decisions I've made with Zayn and my parenting. I am forever told I am too over the top, and I feel I have every reason in the world to be. People can try and understand how you might be feeling and try and tell you how you should feel and act. Still, the reality is they actually have no idea at all how you feel because they haven't been in your shoes.
I already feel so much better since our last appointment with the ENT, and I'm sure each day to come will just get easier and easier.
Shout out to all the parents out there who have little fighters.