My birth story … It’s taken me two months to write this because tears form every time I start to try and type this. Growing Oliver was one of the most incredible, beautiful experiences of my life, but no one could have prepared me for what was about to happen.
I’d had an okay pregnancy. The first trimester wasn’t easy, with round-the-clock morning sickness. Then the 20-week mark hit and we’d been told of a complication with Oliver in utero. We were told to get genetic counseling, services that seek to advise families affected by or at risk of genetic disorders to help them understand the medical, psychological and familial implications of genetic contributions to disease. As much as we didn’t want to think about it, it played on my mind right up until his ultrasound at the 35-week mark of which my doctor gave him the all-clear — I suddenly felt at ease again, but then she said he was going to be a BIG baby by his due date.
Calm Before The Storm
I needed all the support I could. A lot of you asked why I chose my best friend Chloe to be with me instead of my family and husband. Well, my birth plan included Chloe Morello as my birth partner because I had no family in the states and Chloe is very much my family anyway, my mother was unable to make it due to recent surgery (a pacemaker had been put in her heart) and my husband wasn’t good with blood. But in the end, my mother was cleared from her surgeon to fly over and my husband braved it. So I had the best of both worlds with all three of them there supporting me.
I decided on a natural birth with no epidural and further enrolled in a course that would help me deliver him naturally, called She Births. The course was impressive and it made me feel so beyond empowered. The strength I felt made me believe that I could do this. That I was going to be a mother, the strongest force to ever walk Earth. I’d read and watched so many birthing stories that I knew exactly what I wanted — a short and quick labor utilizing my breathing techniques to get me in the ‘zone’ where my mind was able to lower my pain levels with meditation techniques. These breathing techniques would be my natural epidural. These would allow me to go medication and drug-free during my labor.
For the months leading up to my birth, I had been religiously drinking raspberry leaf tea, meditating, even eating dates so that my labor would be nice and short. Practicing breathing techniques for when I was to go into labor and so on. I had it all planned out, this birth was going to be just what I wanted and nothing else.
Almost There …
During one of my last ultrasounds, my OBGYN told me that Oliver was due to be a big baby by his due date. Because of this, we decided if I wasn’t to go into natural labor by my due date, then I was to be induced. I was totally ok with this as I wanted what was best for Oliver and me, but I did remember reading that the contractions were more painful with inducing. At this stage, I was still planning on using no epidural, I still felt like superwoman.
The weeks passed and being induced was always on the back of my mind. Every night I’d go to bed hoping that I would wake up at 2 am in labor, but the morning would always come by so fast with no contractions. I didn’t get it, I was sleeping well, eating well and feeling beyond well. If anything, the last weeks of my pregnancy were my favorite. I was on a constant high, feeling so euphoric and calm.
Week 39 came and went. I’d been getting some regular Braxton Hicks and I’d lost my mucus plug. Still, nothing happened by my due date (July 11th). Then the 14th arrived in a flash. I was so disappointed that my body hadn’t naturally gone into labor after everything I’d been doing. I felt like a failure already, disappointed that I wasn’t doing enough for mother nature to do her thing.
Sunday, July 14th
The day arrived for my induction. I arrived at the hospital with 2 suitcases (one packed with all of Oliver’s stuff), a fit ball and my body pillow, my best friend Chloe Morello, my mum and my husband. I was starting to feel ok about everything after making my room very calm and relaxed. We started playing music, the Vitruvi Oil Diffuser was going strong with geranium and lavender essential oils, Chloe was massaging my aching and swollen feet — we were all set to go!
Then the induction started.
I was given Cytotec internally which ripens the cervix (thins it out or causes effacement) and promotes contractions. Once it melted, I immediately started getting contractions but they were so far apart — but hey, at least it was happening.
Then four hours later (2 am), I was given another dose. This time I really started to feel something — back pain! The nurses were happy with how I was progressing and they said I’d probably have the baby that afternoon. They told me to sleep and get as much rest as possible so I’d need all the energy for the birth. So I tried, but I didn’t get much sleep, the back pain was pretty bad. I had every heat pack from the hospital pressed on my lower back.
Monday morning came for my internal, and I was excited to hear how much I had dilated. Sadly, only 1 cm. I was then hooked up to an IV of Pitocin, where they started on me on ground zero. Throughout the day they kept coming back to push the dose stronger. The pain was getting so strong and radiating through to the front where my pelvis was. At this stage, I couldn’t walk properly, I hadn’t eaten anything since the night before, I was getting tired and exhausted and hadn’t slept much. I was not allowed to eat anything but clear liquids and boiled candy. By the afternoon, I had Chloe and my mum massaging me non-stop to help alleviate the contraction pain in my back — breathing out was becoming so so so painful.
That afternoon, my doctor came back to check on me again to only find that I was still only 1cm, but according to the monitor, my contractions were happening every 1-2 minutes and I had been on the maximum dosage of Pitocin. The contractions were almost on top of each other. Concerned as she was, she decided to internally monitor my uterus with a device that sits alongside my uterus to track what is going on. As uncomfortable as it was, I just wanted to know that everything was okay and Oliver was health.
I was then given a break from Pitocin so my body could have a break, essentially resetting it.
So back on the next round of Pitocin, I went. Then came the pain, and shortly after my water broke. I was relieved and had visions of me giving birth in a few hours even though I was so worn out already.
That night the pain was becoming unbearable, it honestly felt like my pelvic bones were being crushed. I was offered Tylenol, gas or epidural. Tylenol was the choice I went with because I was honoring my birth plan of no epidural. At this point, I decided to really focus on getting myself into a state of relaxation to help with my pain management. This actually worked and took some of the edge off. But I ended up waking up that night to my body uncontrollably shaking from the pain it was in. I cried so much to my mum and Chloe. All I remember that night was just riding the waves, breathing through the pain and trying to relax my clenching jaw. It all ended up becoming a blur …
I vaguely remember the doctor coming in the next morning. I was already in so much pain that the internal she did was a ride in the park. Still no changes in dilation. They took me off Pitocin again and started me back on Cytotec orally. It was a relief to come off the Pitocin, I felt I could breathe so much easier. 30 mins after the tablet, the contractions (back pain) was coming in strong again. I was so tired — and just wanted it all over. The pain that mothers go through is enough to make you go crazy.
That afternoon, my doctor arrived to check on me again — hoping that she has some good news… but I was still only 1 cm dilated. I was so, disheartened, exhausted and disappointed in myself. What was wrong with me? She explained that my pelvis was probably too small for birth and that probably had a lot to do with my cervix not dilating past 1cm. My only option was a C section due to the fact that my water had broke over 24 hours ago which raises the chance of an infection.
It all happened so fast after that. The nurse comes in, dresses me, and explains what was going to happen. I was a blubbering mess shaking uncontrollably and so frightened. The table was so cold when I was given the spinal block, then I couldn’t feel my legs. I was gently lowered onto the table. The blue sheet went up, I was given oxygen while the anaesthetist was trying to calm me down. He was my best friend through it all, I couldn’t stop crying to him.
At that moment, I felt a huge pressure on my chest, like a bus was sitting on top of it. I could smell some burning, which ended up being the cauterizing tool they use to minimize bleeding during surgery, I went to throw up after this. All I heard was, “She’s haemorrhaging!” and then my body started uncontrollably shaking. after that, I made it a point to block out anything they were saying, or what I was feeling as it was only making me more frightened. I put on my armor of strength because I knew I had a life to bring into the world. Then the last thing I heard was, “Oh my god! He’s a big baby, he looks like he’s a 3-month-old!”
He was finally here, on my chest where he belonged.
Oliver had been stuck in my pelvis. My contractions were moving him down, but my pelvis was not widening enough to let him through. Even if I had persisted with a vaginal birth, he would never be able to come out. Oliver was born a healthy 9 pound (4.1kg), 52cms long.
I want to reassure mums that in the end, you can’t control the situation. Whatever happens, is best for the baby. It is not your fault if plans change. Your baby’s safety is of the upmost importance. We sacrifice our bodies to become beautiful vessels for the beings that become our entire hearts. A non-stressed baby is E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G, and in the end, you do what you have to do to get them out. I would have done anything to have him in my arms, skin to skin. I become the maternal warrior I had to become in order to bring my child into this world, and you can do it too.