Real Birth Journey: Willow Elisabeth

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:
Krystle, 33

Due date:
17th July 2016

Cravings during pregnancy:
Hot chips with gravy & vinegar, raspberry slushies and ice chips/cubes

Worst symptom/s:
All day vomiting for 6 months and the heartburn!

Biggest concern about birth was:
The epidural. In the end, that was the least of my worries!

Ideal birth plan was:
Epidural and a smooth vaginal delivery. Did NOT happen like that AT ALL..

Hours in labour:
I was induced at 41 weeks with reduced fetal movements. I had 5 hours of no pain relief, 6 hours following the epidural and then had an emergency Caesarean after that.

How we went from wombmate to roommate:
Epidural, gas (which made me vomit) and lots of ice cubes.

We arrived at 2:00pm with bags in tow, were handed some forms to fill in and then ushered to the delivery suites. I was going to meet my baby and even though I was excited, I had a big adventure ahead of me that needed to be tackled. As I was being induced, there were 2 options to start with – either they would insert the gel to soften my cervix or break my waters. At this stage I was only 1-2 cms dilated but the midwife felt that it was enough to break my waters and then start me on the drip of Pictocin.

I started on the drip and contractions were about 30 minutes later. At the beginning, they were bearable. I was able to breathe through every contraction (which I’d learnt from a lady that did my pregnancy massage at 39 weeks) and was told that I was doing really well (surprisingly, since I screamed murder when they inserted the IV cannula into my arm – it’s a cannula Krystle, you still have to give birth). I moved around and used the exercise ball to help with the pain, with my fiancè doing his best to massage my back through each contraction. I ended up back on the bed, as strangely on my back was best for me and went on with no pain relief for another 5 -6 hours.

As the Pictocin was increased on the hour every hour, the contractions came on a lot stronger and were going in waves of 3, non stop, building up and dreaded. The pain was becoming quite bad so I started using the gas. It was to help with my breathing more than anything but still, it was there and I was going to use it. I used this method for another 1-2 hours (even though it made me vomit) as I was starting to feel really overwhelmed by the pain so I’d do anything at this point. I was feeling it quite bad in my back and with every contraction I started to sound like a wild animal, grunting through it. I was an animalistic beast, who was about murder anyone that came and tried to take my gas away. My fiancé Greg was sitting in the chair with a look on his face of ‘holy shit, I impregnanted a gorilla’.

I was now 5cms dilated, and shit was getting real. It was becoming too much, I needed an epidural. There was no question I wanted the epidural, as I had it in my birth plan, however the previous 7-8 hours I felt I needed to feel that pain to know what it was like. It was shit. I’m not going to lie, and would have probably asked for the epidural earlier but meh, it’s done now and I don’t regret it.

Finally (about 30 minutes later), the anaesthetist arrived to administer the epidural. Now this was a pain I was super worried about as I hate needles (hello, IV cannula situation) but with what I was experiencing with the contractions I honestly did not care anymore – stab me as much as you like lady, just take my pain away!! It was a strange feeling – the local stung a bit and then the tubing was inserted. It was a lot of pressure and face scrunching but it was in and was starting it’s job. It took about 20 minutes to take affect and OMG, I was in heaven. The contraction pain faded (I could still feel them slightly but not enough for the grunting to come back) and I could still semi move my legs. I was happy, I was in a really happy place and I could see Greg’s face become less distressed by my now minimal amount of pain.

It was about 2:00am and the midwife was telling me it was time to push. Ok, let’s do this!! I had gone from being 5cms to 10cms in an hour and a half. I bared down and pushed with all my body, breath and strength. I felt like my ears would explode or my eyeballs would pop out of my head but I was pushing! Pushing to get my little girl out. I did this 3 times on this one contraction and felt like I was making progress, surely she was out?? No?? Oh, ok damn! I did this again for another 3 contractions but yet she was not coming down. I was becoming so tired and not sure how much longer I could keep pushing. I couldn’t comprehend what was happening around me or where the fiancè was at this stage (he did not follow the ‘stay up the head end’ rule PS). At this point, a team of doctors came in and had myself and bub monitored as her heart rate was up and down. I had to keep moving from side to side to keep her heart rate up and I was so tired – this was all an effort.

It was about 2:45am and the head doctor came in to see what was happening. She did a check and noticed that bub had her head sideways and was not going to come out unless her head was down. I was put in stirrups and the doctor was all up in my business trying to turn her head (ligaments and tissue was damaged in my pelvis at this stage so now physio work is needed). It didn’t work. She tried another 2 times but nothing. I was starting to worry but knew they would do what was needed. They then tried using the vacuum to pull her out. It was attached to her head and they were pulling. I didn’t feel anything but by the look on Greg’s face, it was pretty brutal. Like this woman was using all her strength to pull the baby out but still nothing.

At 3:15am it was called for an emergency Caesarean. I was told to sign a consent form which to be honest could have been anything but I didn’t give a shit, I was done. The waiting area before we went in was a rush, as the nurse there wanted to try forceps right then and there, but the doctor was amazing and just pushed me straight through to surgery. He thought I had already gone through enough trauma. Everything happened really fast and all I could do was cry. You really can’t have a birth plan cause everything can change in a second and you have to be prepared for that.

I was given more anaesthetic for the surgery and laid out on a bed ready to bring my baby into this world. The sheet was put up and I had my amazing husband by my side with me every step of the way. I could feel the pushing and pulling, the weird pressure as they cut the incision, it was strange. Like I felt it but there was no pain at all, it really was a strange experience. After about 8 minutes, I heard the very first cry of my baby girl. They tried to lift her up for me to see but I then heard them say ‘oh hang on cut the cord first’ which confused me at that point. Greg re-cut the cord when they took her over to be weighed etc. She was here, she was now part of our world and I was exhausted. I kept falling in and out of sleep but all I kept thinking is that it was over. I was a mum, he was a dad and we had our own little family.

I’m going to be honest and say that I pretty much palmed my baby to Greg once she was all clean – I was exhausted. I cried but I was exhausted. Eventually, after trying to get my bearings, I looked at my little girl and tried to take in every bit of her before they took me to recovery. I had a fever after surgery so the both of us had to be put on IV antibiotics for a few days to rid any infection. After 3 days all was ok and we were back to recovering as a normal surgery patient.

Most vivid memory during labour:
Having the OB say that Willow had a really short umbilical cord while bringing her out, which is why they couldn’t lift her for me to see. Also why pushing wasn’t as effective during labour – every time I tried to push her out, the cord acted like a bungee and would pull her back in. She was not going to come out naturally, no matter how much I tried. And I tried bloody hard too!

Most amusing/interesting moment during labour/birth:
Listening to the surgeon singing while cutting me open to bring Willow into the world. The radio was playing so loud and I kept saying that he was a good singer (meanwhile I am completely out of it).

During labour/birth, I definitely did not expect:
To be completely incoherent. I was so exhausted after trying everything to get her out, I only remember small parts of the whole labour/birth. I wish I was more with it to enjoy her being born.

A myth/misconception I believed prior that I now don’t is:
That men stayed up the head end. They don’t. It’s something they can’t resist seeing.

Baby’s name, birth weight and date:
Willow, 7pd 1, born 24th July 2016.

Baby’s name was almost:
Charlotte (weird because I actually don’t like that name now)

Time spent in hospital post birth:
4 days.

Best tip/trick you received for those early days:
To have some pads frozen in the freezer. Even though I had a C-section, I still had stitches ‘down there’ from the vacuum tear. The frozen pads were a lifesaver.

Top 3 lifesaving items for a newborn:
White noise machine, sleep swaddles and for us it was a dummy. She wouldn’t settle without it. Obviously not for everyone but we loved it!

If you could go back and speak with your pregnant self, what would you say?
Be naked more. Love your body that has been given to you while growing this mini. 

If you could speak with yourself during labour, what would you say? 
Know that what is happening is not out of your control. Accept what comes to you and breathe.

If you could speak with yourself on day 3 of having a newborn, what would you say?
I know you’re tired, I know you are sore, I know you feel like your body isn’t your own but this will not last forever. Your babe will sleep again, you will be able to fit into your old clothes again, you will be able to shower and wash your hair more frequently. This newborn stage lasts for such a short amount of time so leave the washing, the dishes, the dinners.. All that can wait. Stay in that ‘newborn bubble’ for as long as you want. There is nowhere else like in it in the whole entire world.

Any words for first time mums-to-be nervous about their own upcoming birth?
All that anxiety, nerves and fear is completely normal. This is something that you will never experience for the first time ever again. Accept it and know that your body and mind has totally got this. You’re a bloody magical goddess who made a human so you can do anything!

Any further notes you’d like to include:
No one, no books, no websites, no shows or Youtube videos will ever prepare you for motherhood. Trust me, I looked. The only source of real information will come from you. Your firsthand experiences and what does and doesn’t work for you. If at the end of the day your baby is fed, happy and loved – that’s all you need to keep going!

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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