By MeOhMy Founder and Editor Siobhan (@meohmymum)
Our baby girl Aoife arrived at 2.16am on October 16.
My birth story with her is not remarkable (well, as non remarkable as births go!). It wasn't particularly traumatic. It was actually not too bad. And that's the point, and why I wanted to write about it. Because there are too many birth stories out there that scare the absolute sh*t out of mums to be. You never hear the good stuff. Plus many of you, our readers, have asked for me to share. So here’s a little bit of birth story positivity!
Don't get me wrong, I was terrified in the lead up. When I gave birth to Harry, our now 18 month old, it was hell. I was huge, he was huge, I was really sick and it was a long, drawn out process. Complications, including meconium in the waters and too much epidural that rendered me unconscious (YEP - try pushing when you’re knocked out!), along with an episiotomy and third degree tear equals OUCH. It was nearly 24 hours of hell, and when it was all over Harry was in special care before I even got to hold him on my chest which was heartbreaking. My recovery afterwards was lengthy.
But this time, giving birth was like it should be. Well, not that there’s any way giving birth ‘should’ happen. Just like every woman’s body is different, so is every pregnancy and every birth story. Each to her own and every case is individual. But, for me, giving birth to Aoife was like I always wanted it to be.
I should preface this story by saying that with Harry I was induced and he was posterior - which meant it was agony from the get-go and I had no idea what it was like to go into labour naturally. All the midwives I saw in the lead-up to Aoife’s birth figured I knew what to look out for. I SO didn’t! Add the fact that my good friend ended up having her second baby on her bathroom floor at home because she came so quickly, and I was sh*t scared.
During the last few weeks of my pregnancy I’d been telling myself to stop working, slow down and chill. I had Harry in daycare two days a week so I could work (I’m a writer and work from home) and boy, did I cram a lot into those two days. I was running around like a mad woman.
One particular Wednesday, when I was 39 weeks pregnant on the dot, Harry was in daycare and I’d managed to wrap up most of my work so I had the day free. I should have slept (I didn’t manage to nap at all during pregnancy!). But no, instead I cleaned the house, spent an hour in the bathroom doing much needed maintenance (which I was VERY thankful for the next day!) and then met a friend for a lovely two hour long coffee date in the afternoon before picking Harry up. Little did I know that was all the ‘rest’ I would get!
Thursday morning Harry and I went to his music class, as usual, where he terrorised the room and kept me on the go constantly. I was feeling pretty sore and tired but that wasn’t anything new. Then in the afternoon I discovered a flat tyre on our car so couldn’t go out and do the groceries then a big cook up in preparation for the next few weeks, like I’d planned. Instead, we walked down to the beach in searing hot temperatures. Harry ran around like crazy and I’m so glad I heave-ho’ed myself out because he loved it.
It wasn’t until I was pushing him back up the huge hill to our house in the pram that I started feeling pretty tight everywhere. By the time I got home I was sweating like a pig but thought it was just the weather and exertion. Harry and I had a shower then had some play time. It wasn’t until I was feeding him his dinner that I started to wonder if the pain in my back and tummy was the real deal and more than just the fairly horrible discomfort I'd had the previous few weeks. I called my husband, panicking that we hadn’t yet organised a proper plan for Harry (I’m usually super organised but was so so busy in those last few weeks!). And then there was the small matter of that flat tyre! Eeek!
By 6pm or so, the hospital had said to come on in so they could check things out, and I’d managed to pack the last of our things in between tightenings in my belly that were certainly getting stronger. But I still wasn't really sure that this was ‘IT’.
Low and behold, upon examination in the hospital I was 5 cm dilated (WINNING!), so my husband took Harry to a friend’s place and came back swiftly. We were still in shock that it had come around so quickly (time flies with a toddler!) and that it was ACTUALLY happening.
As I waddled around the hospital to keep my mind off the pains, I realised I was the only one ‘labouring’ - even though we live in Sydney, we were at a small almost community-like hospital (which turned out to be AMAZING). The pains increased and started taking my breath away. After a few more hours I’d reached my pain threshold and when we discovered I was around 7cm dilated I asked for an epidural (I’d had a severe reaction to the gas last time, and even though my epidural has gone so wrong last time as well we’d had consultations with anaesthetists in preparation for this time and hoped it would be better - I'm no hero, sans-pain relief is not for me!).
This time around, the anaesthetist nailed it. I wanted to have pain relief but still be able to feel a little bit, and they got it so right. Things started to slow down after the epidural, as they have a habit of doing apparently, so I had a drip put in which moved things along. They also broke my waters.
The contractions got more full on and closer together, but I wasn’t feeling them much. Until, all of a sudden, I was found to be nearly 10cm dilated and was suddenly feeling pretty much everything - at that point I PANICKED massively. Why the h*ll did that have to be the time that the epidural was wearing off a bit (and I couldn’t top up for a few minutes, the automatic device wouldn’t let me)!!
It was time to push and it was the only time I got quite anxious and scared, purely because of the pain. The magic button finally let me top up and I felt better (but unbeknownst to me, apparently it takes a good 10 minutes to actually administer - so it was purely a placebo!) and after what I think was less than 10 minutes of pushing her head was crowning and I was stretched to the max. A bit painful, but manageable.
Then she was out, and straight away placed on my chest where she stayed for hours (apart from some cuddles with Dad). It was absolutely amazing. She was gorgeous and the whole experience was raw but not terrible. It was beautiful.
I had a second degree tear, which didn’t take long to stitch up at all, and, unlike last time, within an hour or two had the feeling back in my legs so could hobble to the shower (where I fainted, good old low blood pressure!).
We did have a rough few days following her birth. She was in special care for a while to investigate some breathing problems and potential structural problems with her nasal passage. She was vomiting a lot and choking, which was very scary. But by the third day in hospital they'd ruled out anything serious, cut her tongue tie and fixed a few other issues, which meant she was back in my arms and rooming in with me.
Now, nearly five weeks post partum, it all seems a very distant memory. My recovery has been a lot better and a lot quicker this time. I was pretty much back to normal within a week, still with a bit of discomfort but it definitely wasn't too bad. My stitches didn't take long to heal. I've lost the majority of my fluid and have just a few kilos of baby weight to go - the joys of having a toddler to run around after, you have no choice but to get on with it!
My husband went back to work after two weeks, and having two children under 18 months is certainly proving a challenge (but more about that on the blog next week!). Oh, plus the reflux roller coaster that we've been on with Aoife (see last week's blog post). But that's mum life hey! There's always something around the corner, but with the harder times comes so much good that makes it all more than worth it.
I hope this helps other mums-to-be see that giving birth can be a good experience, and you don't have to pay any attention to all the fear mongering out there - stay positive, trust your body and as stupid as it sounds try to enjoy the experience ;)