Real Birth Journey: Taj

Birth. It is the most incredible, indescribable, unpredictable and miraculous occurrence. Bringing life into the world is an experience that is personal and precious beyond belief. Each delivery is different to the next, and yet I feel that despite the varying differences it is something so special it can actually bring us altogether. I’m pulling together a range of real birth stories to share in the hope of expanding our knowledge and expectations of birth, and to dwell in the wonder that is the gift of life, in the countless forms it may arrive in!

Name & age at birth:
Ashy Evans, 26 years old.

Due date:
October 1st  – my husband Steve Evans’ birthday, but our little boy arrived a few days later on October 4th.

Cravings during pregnancy:
My cravings would change every month.  I remember one month it was just sausage rolls. The next month was salad. It was always changing but overall I just listened to my body and made sure nutrients were my focus. So, if I felt like hot chips, I would also have a green smoothie or make sure I had nutrients beforehand so I wasn’t just pigging out on food that wasn’t really that good for me. 

Worst symptom/s:
I loved pregnancy – I wasn’t tired, I trained right up until I gave birth, I was full of energy, my skin cleared up and my hair grew. I was super lucky. Towards the end I had to wee a lot, but other than that I have no complaints – there were days I definitely felt more exhausted as let’s be honest I was growing a human, but overall I really enjoyed my pregnancy!

Ashy documenting the incredible body transformation of her pregnancy.

Biggest concern about birth was:
The pain, I was so scared of the pain and petrified of tearing – and as it was I ended up with second degree tearing. 

Ideal birth plan was:
I didn’t have a birth plan because I felt if I had one in place and it didn’t work out that I would feel disappointed, upset and panic on the day.  So I said to my husband Steve, my midwife and obstetrician that whatever happens on the day is how it’s meant to be and pan out for me and my baby and I’m just going to go with it. And I would still do that next time – I wouldn’t want a birth plan.  

Hours in labour: 
4:30pm Saturday afternoon it started and ended 9:30am Sunday morning.  Nine hours of really painful contractions before an epidural. It got to the point where Steve said have an epidural because you don’t get a medal at the end of this for pushing through that amount of pain, and the amount of pain would be causing so much stress on your body. I had the epidural around 12:30pm, and then I laid there until 7:30am the next day when it started to wear off and that’s when I had to start pushing. I then pushed for 2.5 hours – it’s the biggest workout I’ve ever done! 

How we went from wombmate to roommate: 
With my contractions I was walking around, but after the epidural I laid on the bed and stayed there until I gave birth. Even after birth I couldn’t walk around initially.  

Most vivid memory during labour:
The ring of fire – the moment when he was actually coming out. It burnt and I was in so much pain and that fear of tearing I knew had come true. I was so exhausted I didn’t listen to the midwife to take little breaths; I was so done after two hours, so mentally and physically exhausted. I just pushed so hard to get him out. 

Most amusing/interesting moment during labour/birth:
I was scared I was going to poo when pushing haha, not that anyone told me if I did or not so who knows haha.  But when I stood up the amount of blood that gushed out blew my mind. Even when you lay down you are constantly bleeding for two days straight, no one prepares you for that. They tell you to take pads. You need a lot more than that! 

During labour/birth, I definitely did not expect:
The amount of pain and blood, it’s on another level. They say you forget it, but I haven’t forgotten it. I said in that moment I am never doing this again and I still haven’t done it yet haha! But in saying that it was all 100% worth it to hold my beautiful baby boy and I would do it again in a heart beat to have him. 

A myth/misconception I believed prior that I now don’t is: 
Because it’s so different for everyone, a lot of women say to just breathe and you won’t feel the pain and say that it’s the most magical moment but for a lot of women it’s actually not – it’s really painful, scary and the unknown is something no-one can prepare you for. Some women have amazing birth experiences where it’s over in four hours, there is no tearing, minimal blood and the baby is feeding straight away. Which is great. But for everyone it’s going to be slightly different. Taj also was born with a tongue and lip tie so feeding was far from easy. 

Baby’s name, birth weight and date:
Taj Evans – no middle name because Steve and I both have two middle names and both hate it, we wanted it short and simple. 
9:30am 04/10/2016, 8.2 pounds.

Baby’s name was almost:
Mason, I loved it, Steve hated it! He said I can choose the next baby’s name!

Time spent in hospital post birth:
 4 nights, so glad I had that as I felt so safe having the midwives there to help with feeding – Taj’s lip and tongue tie made it very difficult. 

Best tip/trick you received for those early days:
Loads of spare big undies, comfortable clothes, and loads of snacks on hand as hospital food is not very nice. And space for you and your partner and the baby to be together – we didn’t have visitors for 48 hours, except very close family.  

Top 3 lifesaving items for a newborn:
 Bibs, nappies/natural wipes, button up onesies instead of zip ones that can pinch the baby’s skin when you’re doing them up. 

If you could go back and speak with your pregnant self, what would you say?
You’re doing amazing! I’d say that during my pregnancy I wasn’t  hard on myself. So proud of the way I handled the pregnancy and so grateful of my beautiful experience, I felt so lucky and enjoyed it. 

If you could speak with yourself during labour, what would you say?
 Take smaller breaths and not give up, remember this is what your body is made for! 

If you could speak with yourself on day 3 of having a newborn, what would you say?
 Everything is a phase, nothing lasts forever. As hard as it is right now, this is a phase and you will get through it. Be kind to yourself and know you are doing the best you can.  N- one knows what they are doing – you literally go day by day. 

Any words for first time mums-to-be nervous about their own upcoming birth? 
Go in with an open mind, I definitely respect a lot of women go in wanting to have a water birth or set plan. But go in open minded and know that the end result is for your baby to come out happy and healthy, and for you to be happy and healthy as well. 
Also when you have the baby put your hand up to ask for help because I think a lot of us still feel like we have to do it all on our own.  I used to feel bad for asking Steve to help and he’s the father which now looking back is crazy as he wanted to help as well, both navigating our way through. 

 We take it on ourselves that we should do everything, but that’s not the case, everyone wants to help and a happy mum is a happy baby. So take the pressure off yourself to be ‘superwoman.’  

Any further notes you’d like to include:
I felt like I really rushed the newborn stage, I kept wanting it to be over. And I wish now that I embraced it more. But at the same time it was very overwhelming. Not knowing what to do.  I had never even changed a nappy before. All of the crying and trying to understand if there is a problem, trying to figure it out with no communication. If they are crying, why are they crying? And the opinions of everyone else, especially being in the public eye I’m getting thousands of opinions of how to do something.  

Also after every feed he cried for hours for eight weeks straight. I had 4 lactation consultants come over and no-one could tell me what was wrong, they said it’s normal for them to be in that pain and for me to be in that much pain. I went to an Osteo and she said “that’s the worse lip and tongue tie I have ever seen” and he was booked in the next day to have it lasered.
Little things like that, that you have no idea about. I didn’t know anything about it. So just so much can be happening, and you have no idea what it is and you are constantly trying to figure it all out, whilst you’re tired, crying, emotional and trying to keep your relationship strong and trying to work. I didn’t get 9 months of maternity leave. If I don’t work my whole brand crumbles, I didn’t get that space and time to just soak in being a new mum so honestly that was a really big challenge and juggle I had to navigate my way through. 

What would you now say to yourself back in that position:
Take some time away from everyone else, just listen to the core people that you really want to hear from. I would listen to just my mum and close friends who have had kids and not refer to google or internet as it’s just too overwhelming.  

If you have a birth story you’d like to share, then please get in touch and let’s start the conversation and continue celebrating this incredible life changing event!

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