My husband was outside gardening in our front yard when I came home from work one Sunday, and I snuck to the bathroom to do yet another wee on the stick. When the result showed positive, I didn't really believe it. But I looked at it a few times, checked the symbol, and eventually, I let myself believe it was true. Well, I just about exploded. I flung the front door open and called in my husband Todd while trying to pretend I was calm. We both cried with joy when I showed him the stick. We had been trying casually but with intent for a total of about four months, and we were finally pregnant!
Cut to 40 weeks and 6 days down the track and there we were together, about to give birth to our baby girl.
I made it to full term, and I had prepared everything. I finished work four weeks earlier, and I had done the lot: cooking, cleaning, finished the nursery, and even sugar soaped the walls. Then all of a sudden we were prepared and I was here waiting. My husband was home now with about 3 weeks off, and we were all ready, but nothing was happening.
We tried the lot to bring on her on. Even the silly things but I do believe the raspberry leaf tea several times a day, really did help me out during the labour! I must have bounced a million times on our gym ball, and we walked about 5km every day, which made my hands puff up like a balloon.
Thankfully overall, I had a great pregnancy and didn't suffer any serious discomfort or sickness. I put on just over 9kg in total. It was an incredible 9 months growing, feeling and talking to our girl, and I felt privileged that we were to be her parents.
The night before labour, I had a hind water leak. At the time, we didn't know what this was. It was a trickle of fluid for an hour or so but not the gush of fluid we thought it should be so we weren't sure what it really meant. The next morning though my mucous plug came out while I was in the shower and we thought with the fluid leak and the mucous that I couldn't be too far away from contractions.
I phoned the hospital, which is a beautiful old stone country hospital 15 minutes from our house, and I was told to come in at midday for a check.
When we arrived at the hospital, we were sent through to the labour room, and our Doctor performed an internal check. It turned out that even though I had not had any contractions and only felt pressure, I was 3cm dilated! I was thrilled to hear this, and we were destined to stay.
The Doctor requested the amnihook from the midwife, and with no hesitation, he went in and broke the membrane, and the waters rushed out. It was then that they explained to us that I had experienced a hind water leak and not the actual waters breaking. Now that my waters had been broken and I was dilating, I was told to go for a walk up, and down the hill the hospital was built on. It was a quite warm day, so I panted my way up and down in the sun with my husband. By this stage, our lovely midwife student Serena had arrived to accompany us, and she walked with us to try to get this baby coming! Serena attended almost all of our appointments during the pregnancy. It was fantastic to have a student follow us along our journey. Not to mention how helpful it was to have her available for questions along the way, and an incredible added support during the labour.
After the hill hiking, I felt a lot of pressure but not a firm contraction. At this stage, the Doctor came in, and with little warning, he prepared a drip in my hand which was ready for Syntocinon to be administered to bring on contractions and increase the rate of the labour. I was a little shaken at this stage, and I didn't know if I wanted to have a drip to induce the labour. But after heading back to the labour room, our wonderful midwife had called the Doctor and suggested I felt rushed.
They discussed the options with me, and our Doctor made sure we knew he did not want us to feel stressed and explained why the drip was helpful. My husband and I agreed it was the right choice, and I sat on the bed, ready to be strapped to the Syntocinon drip. The hospital staff brought us two huge meals, and I encouraged my husband to eat both of them. He did his best to guts them both, and very soon after the meatloaf surprise was going down the hatch, I felt my first real contraction. This was at around 4pm.
That first contraction felt like a big ball cramping in the bottom of my abdomen. I spent a while questioning what contractions felt like and whether I was already having them - now I knew!
As I started contracting, the midwives attached me to the monitor. Because I had the hormone drip, it was vital to monitor our babies heart rate, the contractions and my own heart rate to make sure our girl was not becoming too stressed by the contractions. It was also important to make sure my heart rate was not being confused with hers.
The drip brought my labour on hard. I have nothing to compare to with this being my first baby, but I feel like the contractions were intense and frequent. My husband timed some of the earlier contractions, and I was only getting a break of around 2 to 3 minutes from when the previous contraction ended, and the next began.
We had discussed almost everything before the labour, such as pain relief, gas and fentanyl, coping strategies and emergency scenarios. I was even happy for an epidural should it come to that. I had listened to many Australian Birth Stories podcasts which helped me prepare for different scenarios that may occur. I also read Birth Skills by Juju Sundin, which I highly recommend to all my pregnant girlfriends!
Although I went into labour being entirely open for pain relief or any interventions, every time Todd asked me if I wanted to use some gas, or maybe the fentanyl, I said no each time. Not to be a hero but felt I could make it through each contraction by focusing on my breath and using alternative coping strategies. Todd worked tirelessly at my side, not leaving me once. It was such a team effort. We had all sorts of strategies, and some Todd just made up on the spot.
I had stress balls which I squeezed as I violently flung my arms around like bad 80's dance moves. I stood stooped over the bed and stomped my feet to the count as my husband counted the contraction out. Counting helped me as I focussed on the count and knew roughly when to expect the contraction to die off. Apart from labouring on the bed I got down on my hands and knees and kept my back arched. Also leaning over a blow-up pillow seemed to work too, I changed positions so many times!
Sometimes I would be overwhelmed by the pain and Todd would vigorously rub my thighs to gain my focus and tell me to feel and focus on my legs. Then he would move to my knees and ask me to focus on my knees moving and then my calf and so on. This allowed me the distraction from the pain I needed.
Other things that helped me was a labour playlist I had prepared. A few times, the exact right song for that moment came on, and it took me away from the pain. If only for a second.
I also had a place I went to in my mind to take me away from the hospital and the pain. It was a beautiful remote waterfall in NT that Todd and I hiked to and we were alone with the rushing water falling on us. Visualising being there and in that moment helped me get through that contraction. I couldn't have made it through without a heat pack made by my grandma. A third-year medical student must have heated it up in the microwave over 20 times! I vomited a couple of times also, so the vomit bags were handy. Thinking about it, it was a real team effort by all!
The problem with the drip was that I was attached to a wheelie pole hanging the drip on one hand and attached to the monitors on the other side. This meant that every time I got up to move around, change position or at times run to the toilet to do almost every form of bodily evacuation possible (sometimes all at once), Todd had to try to follow behind me with the drip. It would have been a funny scene to watch with Todd frantically trying to keep up with me dragging the drip around the room and to the toilet.
At some stage and I don't know exactly when, I moved my hand dramatically to grab Todd, and I accidentally ripped the drip from my hand. But by this stage, the midwives had the drip turned down to a small dose, and they were happy to leave it out after I ripped it out since I was contracting well on my own. I am so thankful I ripped it out because I could now use the shower without the pole attached to me. This was like heaven, the hot water streaming over me felt incredible, and it was from 8cm dilated that I slogged out the last 2cm in the shower. I would have struggled with the last part of stage 1 without the shower becoming an option.
As I stood in the shower, Todd sprayed the water over my front and then my back while Serena (our midwife student) helped to massage my back. The contractions were deep and hard at this stage and more difficult to handle since I was so exhausted. I stood under the running water, feeling it flow over me and tried to stay relaxed. I held the shower rails and stomped out the heavy contractions. Eventually, the midwife asked me to sit on the bed to check dilation, and after she performed the check, she told me I was ready, I was ten centimetres. This was at around 10pm, and we were ready for stage 2 of the labour. Todd and I were in shock because this was where the real birthing happens, this meant we were going to see our baby daughter!
I was now sitting in the bed with the back inclined to about 45 degrees and knees bent. They told me to wait until a contraction was coming, and when it occurred, I was to push hard at their word. A contraction came on, and I was so exhausted I somehow forgot how to push.
I took a breath and then let all of the air shoot out of my mouth, barely getting a decent push at all and then the contraction would end. Todd listened to the midwives and basically yelled the commands to me one by one. He told me to do exactly what he said. I was so fatigued that I needed the instruction, so when the next contraction came Todd yelled take a deep breath in, then when my lungs were full he yelled, "hold it in your lungs don't let the air out, now push hard like your doing a huge poo, push your chin to your chest, go, go, go, push, push, push."
We went through stage 2 with Todd encouraging me to push in this way, and after not too long, we saw the top of our baby girls head. We were both amazed, but I still had work to do, Todd was standing at my side, holding my hand as he talked me through the pushing or panting the midwives wanted me to do.
We were both using a mirror placed at the end of the bed to see what was happening down there, but Todd had a good view from over the top too as he was standing. I would push hard, and we could see her head bulge out further, then retract back in. But eventually, with a huge push (which Todd said made almost every vein in my chest and head bulge out from my body) her head fully popped out. It was ridiculous and incredible, her head and fontanelles were so squashed and then all of a sudden, her whole head just popped out and expanded in an incredible way.
My eyes were closed for that moment as I pushed, but it blew Todd's mind. At this stage our midwife student said the words we needed to hear as she supported the head and checked the cord was clear, "she's blinking"; we both almost cried right there to know she was okay.
The head was the hardest part. After her head was cleared, I pushed and panted, and our beautiful little girl slid out gradually into the student's hands and was immediately placed on my chest. After only a few seconds, she cried an amazing and beautiful quiet cry, and I was so overwhelmed with joy that I literally stopped breathing. Todd was crying with joy while the midwives had to yell at me, breathe Blaise! Breathe!
Eventually, I snapped out of my shock, and I started to breathe again. This moment and these seconds are the most incredible and blissful my husband, and I have ever had in our lives. We were overcome with love and emotion, and we just looked at her, and then each other in shock as to what we had done.
It was exhausting and extremely painful, but it was beautiful at the same time. I can honestly say that I absolutely loved my labour, and Todd felt the same. It was like reaching an impossible goal you set for yourself multiplied by one hundred, and the pain and exhaustion are just part of the beauty of bringing your baby into the world. We just loved it, and we talk about it all the time.
Our baby girl Macey Blaise Crafter was born at 10:46pm, 3/4/19. She weighed 3.36kg and was 51cm long, and her Apgar score was 9 initially and then 10, she was perfect and the most beautiful thing we had ever seen.
I was lucky in that I had no tearing during birth, but while we laid there adoring our new family addition, the midwives were at work. They set up the cord, and my husband cut it between the clamps after the last of the nutrients from the cord had been transferred to Macey. He said it was tougher than he expected, like trying to cut firm rubber and it took him 2 cuts to hack through it!
The midwives were then at work retrieving my placenta, they gave me the oxytocin injection and probed and prodded to help it detach and come out. This was actually very painful, but I ignored it. It actually took a little longer than it should have, but eventually, they got the placenta to come free and pulled it out. The placenta was huge and not like I pictured with raw red meat on one side and a beautiful arrangement of blood vessels like a tree on the other side. They checked the placenta to ensure none remained inside and then Todd had his first hold of his daughter as I went to shower.
As I showered, I gave birth to two more gigantic blood clots. I didn't know to expect these, so I cried out to the midwife who assured me it was normal. I had made the shower so hot I felt like I was going to faint! I sat down on the chair and held my belly in awe of what had occurred over the past 6 hours and 10 minutes.
Macey was out having her vitamin K and Hepatitis B vaccine, which was painful for Todd to watch as the needles look so huge going into her tiny thighs.
Eventually, we were done. Macey was out in the world, and we had done it. The biggest adventure of our lives and we were in bliss. Exhausted, adrenaline-fuelled bliss. The best thing we ever did.
Our stay after the birth was fantastic, we learned so much. A huge thank you to the midwives and our Doctor, you are all amazing. We went home confident only because of the immense amount of help and support we were given over our 3 day stay after the birth at Kapunda hospital. On that Saturday morning, we came home to our lounge room filled with pink balloons and streamers compliments of my parents, and it was here that our new life began as a family, and we couldn't have been happier!