- Top left: Me at 38 and a bit weeks
- Bottom left: Me and Micko on the way to the hospital (after the contractions disappeared)
- Top right: Me and Micko, sometime during the 15 hour stint after augmentation – clearly I’m very unimpressed
- Top middle: Mabel’s first picture outside of me. ARGH! So precious!!!
- Bottom middle: First family pic post birth. I was trembling and couldn’t control my body. Freaky.
- Bottom right: The cheeky little miss that was worth every second of the 75 hour ordeal.
Today is pretty monumental for me.
Mabel grew inside me for 265 days (including the 75 hours she spent desperately trying to make her way out) and she’s now been living outside of me for 265 days.
It’s fair to say the birth didn’t quite ‘go to plan’.
Truth be told, I didn’t have a plan. I had an idea of the way I’d like it go down (8 hour, delicious water birth, no tearing) but no real attachment to any other outcome, besides having her on the outside, happy and healthy.
What unfolded was quite the opposite of my vision… almost 75 hours (74 hours and 43 minutes, to be exact) that ended up in an emergency c-section. But what I couldn’t have imagined, was the sheer relief and joy of hearing that little helpless bambino scream her lungs out for the first time. Phew! Worth every last second.
I want to tell this story for a couple of reasons…
Firstly, because so many women I speak to feel ripped off or have enormous guilt surrounding their birth experience… and I want them to feel empowered. And also, because although things ‘didn’t go to plan’… they went perfectly to plan. (all will be revealed… read on).
My pregnancy was relatively bog standard. After a bit of a scare in the beginning, months and months of nausea, waking through to night to piss every 5 minutes, and feeling, towards the end, like a beached whale, it is fair to say that I was ready for this ‘thing’ to come out.
On the morning of the 18th (a Monday night/Tuesday morning) at 12:00 on the dot, my water broke. In bed. Scared the bejesus out of me. I ran to the toilet with a towel between my legs… and gush! I’ve never seen or felt anything like it. I was so excited!!! It was happening! Finally!
I jumped in the shower… Micko was up and was brimming with excitement, Billy was pacing around wondering what the fuck was going on (like only a kelpie can)… and the contractions started. Slow at first… building with momentum over the following hours. I waited until the sun rose and rang the hospital.
They told me that because my waters had broken it would be best to come into the hospital. So, at 8am, contractions getting more and more intense, we dropped Bill off at my MIL’s and headed for the 45 minute drive to the local hospital.
Now, I feel it’s time to give you a little background story… I have this ‘thing’ with Doctors – male doctors. I had a few bad experiences (which I won’t go into here) and it’s fair to say they left some emotional scarring. Particularly when it comes to anything to do with my ‘lady town’.
So, as we near the hospital, my contractions slow down. And by the time we get there… poof. They have magically disappeared.
On my notes, there was a clear request for ‘no internals’. However, we are not in the door five minutes before a Doc is pulling out that hideous plastic pair of tongs to check out what is going on. I cry… and I cry… and I cry. I’m told I’m only a couple of centimetres. They offer me an induction. I say ‘no’. I’m not ready.
So they set me up in the maternity ward until nature decides to kick in, or I decide I want the induction.
It’s about 40 degrees. Stinking hot Feb day. Like gross. And the maternity ward is about to be demolished. The air con only works in half the ward. And it’s not my half.
Directly outside my window, there’s a construction site. The walls are literally shaking. If I open the window to try and get a hint of a breeze, I’ll end up with industrial deafness. So, I lie in the bed… dripping in sweat, chatting to Micko and wait. Friendly midwives come to check on me every hour. Take my temp. Talk about my options. Apologise for the heat.
One night goes past. My contractions are back… but they are far from regular. I pace the halls. Walk up hills.
I’m offered an induction… again and again. I refuse, because I really wanted to give her a chance to do this on her own. I also knew the stats… once there’s intervention… it opens the door very wide to more intervention. I wanted to keep that door closed as long as possible.
I spend the previous night talking to midwives about the risk of infection. I research the facts. I call my good friend, Krista Jane, for some support. We do some ‘tapping’ and I make a bit of a break through on the whole male doctor fear. I feel good about my decision.
I’m going to head out and try a few things – natural induction via acupuncture and blue cohosh. And then I’ll come straight back and happily go on antibiotics. If she hasn’t arrived by the next morning (Thurs) I’ll accept an induction (although, they don’t call it an induction when you are already in labour – it’s called ‘augmentation).
That morning, a ‘team’ of Doctors arrived, led by an old prehistoric male. It is very clear, from the second he walk in, that he has heard of my plan to leave and is not at all happy about it.
What ensues is what can only be described as a total dress down. He literally tells me that I am ‘ignorant’… His exact words are etched into my psyche forevermore;
‘You’ve never had a baby before… you have no idea what you are doing’. ‘You could kill your baby… and there’d be no one else to blame but yourself. Is that what you want?’.
Fuck me! So glad I did that tapping sesh with KJ… because rather than roll over and take it (like I would have, if it had happened before this very moment)… I gave it back to him.
‘I’ve never had a baby? Neither have YOU! This is my body. I’m making an informed decision. I’m not trying to get in the way of Western medicine here. If I were, I’d wouldn’t be here. I just want the right to make my own fucking decision. Now get out of my room… and please keep this man away from me. I NEVER want to see him again’.
My Mum and Micko (and a bunch of the midwives… and his team of Docs) all stood around with their jaws on the floor. Not due to my reaction, but due to this arsehole’s misdirected anger and inappropriate comments. He stormed out and they gathered around while I wailed. (bringing tears to my eyes now… still)
One of the female Docs that was on his team, and a couple of the midwives, stayed behind to console me. I explained that I was open to augmentation and the last thing I wanted was to harm myself or my baby… but I needed to feel empowered in any decision that was made. I would not have it made for me.
We agreed we would give her one more night. And if I hadn’t progressed I would be augmented the next morning.
That night was a long one. The midwives were amazing. They all came to say they had heard what went down and were so glad I had taken a stand. They gave me all kinds of weird tips and exercises to do to bring this baby out before the sun rose.
But, that wasn’t to be. The next day, at 11am, I was augmented.
The following 15 and a bit hours are a blur. Internals every four hours (I requested a midwife I felt comfortable with do them. No Doctors)… full on contractions (6 every 10 minutes)… no bath, as my waters had broken and I had to remain hooked up to monitors the entire time – which also meant I could nothing else but stand and lie down. Hideous.
After 12 hours on nothing (well, a little gas), and one more internal (where the midwife sadly told me that even though I was slowly dilating, the little lady was not making her way any further down) I begged for relief. I had the epidural.
Ahhhhh… so much better! Still plenty of contractions but no pain. Phew! Relief. For a couple of hours.
Then her heart rate started to drop. It was time. I asked for my options… I could carry on and we might still be going at this time tomorrow, or we could cut her out.
At this point, it was a no brainer. Let’s do it. Cut her out. I made the call… everyone was supportive. They checked, double checked and triple checked I was sure. Micko, my Mum (and her poor frazzled nerves), the midwives on shift, the female Doctor they called in. Yes. I was sure. Let’s do it.
I was wheeled up to surgery with an amazing support team… and no more than 10 minutes later, I heard her cry. And I swear it was the most magical sound I’d ever heard. Then, she burped. Everyone laughed. There was little question that she was mine.
As it turned out… she was so wrapped up in the cord it was literally a bungee. Every time she’s try to come down the birth canal, she’d be pulled straight back up. I knew I’d made the right decision.
On the Friday morning at 2:43am a bouncing baby girl arrived safely on this planet.
My body hadn’t failed me. I hadn’t failed my baby. It all happened exactly as it was meant to. Unfolding in perfect timing. I learnt many lessons and broke through some barriers… and, at the end of the day, regardless of how we got here, Mabel had arrived: a happy, healthy baby.
All I really wanted was to feel empowered about my experience. And I do. It doesn’t matter how they make their entrance… more that they DO make an entrance.
Now, when I write 265 days it seems like such a short period of time, but it literally feels like a lifetime.
And I guess it is a lifetime… Mabel’s lifetime, thus far. And it’s only just beginning!
Motherhood. Seriously. The weirdest, most amazing, frustrating, love fuelled journey I’ve ever experienced.