One of the things I loved most during the later stages of pregnancy was reading a good birth story. And I still do to this day. It always make me gobsmacked and teary eyed at how incredible women’s bodies are. We grow people. I’ll just leave that sentence there.
Back when I was expecting Ethan, I was all about positive thinking and a positive outlook towards the little dude’s impending arrival. I had a very clear outline of how I would like the birth to go. Everyone told me to be careful with planning the ‘perfect birth’ as most don’t turn out as planned. This is our story of a very different birth to what I was expecting. And how an unexpected turn, can, in fact still be a perfect, beautiful and positive birth experience.
To give you an idea of what we were aiming for, we had planned to give birth in a Family Birthing Centre, hopefully a water birth and if I could brave it, we were aiming for no pain medication. My biggest fear was having to be induced.
It was Friday 7th February and I was 39 weeks and 5 days pregnant. Huge. And feeling a little bit over the whole pregnancy thing. The days were soaring around the 35 degree mark consistently in Perth, Australia (where we lived at the time) and the day before, my Mum and I had spent some time on the beach, sunbathing and giving my massive body a bit of weightless relief in the sea. I might also add that my suncream application skills diminished somewhat at this stage and I ended up with sunburn on my ass. Yes… The woman who was due to spend a considerable amount of time in hospital stripped from the waist down… Sunburned ass.
Anyway, on Friday evening I found myself in a horrendously irritable mood and went to bed. After two minutes of reading, I started losing my vision to blurry spots and couldn’t make out the words on the page. I knew pre-eclampsia was a thing, but shrugged it off as I’d had an appointment with my midwife that day and my blood pressure was normal. With this reassurance, I drifted off to sleep.
At 5am I awoke with a blinding headache and more patchy vision. Rather than waking Gavin, I went to the kitchen to grab some water and started pacing the floors. By 7am the headache was pretty bad and I woke Gavin and my Mum for some advice on what to do. I called the Family Birthing Centre and it was suggested that I go to hospital, purely to be on the safe side. We got ready and headed out the door, my Mum insisting that we bring the bags ‘just in case’ and my reply being “Listen, we’ll be outta there and having brunch before you know it”. I’m pretty sure a lingering glance was shared between Gavin and my Mum as they contemplated my naivety.
We arrived in the hospital by 7:30am and while awaiting the test results to rule out pre-eclampsia, the midwife suggested she do a stretch and sweep as it was the day before my due date anyway. I agreed… It was uncomfortable to say the least, but not what I would call painful. Just as the midwife left the room, my waters broke all over the bed, although I was convinced I’d wet myself with all the poking around. Weirdest sensation ever.
Soon after I was cleaned up, a doctor came in to see me, declaring that the urine test results had come back indicating pre-eclampsia and that we “should really get this baby out today”. Apparently, high blood pressure is not always the main marker and pre-eclampsia had developed within hours. My heart sank. I knew that this meant I wasn’t going to the Birthing Centre after all.
It also dawned on me that my baby would be born that day… But weirdly, rather than most other birth stories I’ve read, I was not filled with excitement. I was filled with a sense of dread and nervousness that:
1. The experience of childbirth was now imminent and no longer something in the distant future to worry about.
2. I was going to be a mother incredibly soon and I did not feel ready.
After speaking with two doctors and being told of the seriousness of pre-eclampsia for both myself and the baby, I agreed to be induced. Before I knew it, Gavin, my Mum and I were being whisked up to our labour and delivery room. Things went into a weird fog as I saw the bed I was going to give birth in and the little cot my baby would be sleeping in.
I was then hooked up to syntocinon to start the induction. For those of you not familiar with this drug… It’s administered by IV and typically starts contractions within an hour. These contractions are then monitored and manually increased until you dilate to 10cms. I was warned that contractions experienced with syntocinon can seem unnaturally painful and strong, which means a lot of women will have an epidural to deal with it. I tried to reconcile this change of plan in my head but couldn’t shake the feeling that things were moving way too fast. But little did I know…