Harrison's Birth Story
Birth stories have always been fascinating to me and very helpful in the lead up to my big day! I found it reassuring to hear all kinds of stories and perspectives from women who had already walked this path so I thought I would sit down and share mine with you.
Welcome to the story of Harrison’s entry in to this world.
Saturday 18th August
I was only 2 days overdue but feeling pretty anxious to meet this little guy who had extended my belly to what seemed to be full capacity. The mental game of waking up each day and wondering if ‘today was the day’ had been wearing me down but I knew I had to enjoy this time as much as I could. This day was extra hard though. I was more tired, emotional and drained than I had been before. My head was all over the place. I took a picture of my big belly just in case it was the last day I had the chance…
The at 9pm as I lay down to go to sleep I felt an odd trickle of water coming from you know where and heard a tiny pop sound. Ohhhhh dear. I wasn’t sure if it was my waters or I had just pee’d myself - charming right? I put a pad on and laid down again just incase it was nothing. Then came a mighty gush and I knew then that it was definitely my waters. Chris called my midwife (while I freaked out a little) and she said to just get some rest and she will check in with us in the morning. I was a bit worried because I knew if your waters broke too early it can cause some problems and I was right! Trying to remain positive, we tidied the house in case things moved quickly and then tucked ourselves in to bed hoping for the best.
Sunday 19th August
In the early house of the morning you would of hoped my contractions had started but instead my bowels decided it was time to do an intense clear out and keep me up all morning! It wasn’t a great start and I felt pretty horrible by sunrise and my labor hadn’t even really kicked off! By 8am I started to get some mild contractions or period like pains but nothing super regular. Sometimes they would come every 4-5 minutes and other times there would be nothing for an hour. This continued ALL. DAY. LONG. It was torture. I felt nauseous all day and couldn’t eat. I was completely empty by the evening and the contractions were pretty strong so we, aka I in desperation, decided to head to the hospital around 730pm just to make me feel like things could kick off more consistently due to being in the place where the action could happen. I hoped this mindset would help anyway!
My beautiful midwife Allison met us there and checked that bub and I were doing fine then went through what had to happen next as after 24 hours of waters being broken there is a risk of infection so it is strongly encouraged to get antibiotics via a drip and potentially syntocinon to help progress the labor. After some discussion we agreed to give me one more night to see if things would move along on their own. A nurse came in to give me an anti-nausea tablet and a panadeine forte to help me sleep and potentially eat for some energy…. the concept was great but within 2 minutes of taking them I vomitted them up along with the only items I had eaten during the day! It was a horrible end to the day so we moved in to the maternity ward and continued to labor through the night.
Monday 20th August
After only getting potentially 2-3 hours sleep and still not being able to keep any food down we (Chris was able to stay with me - each room has a fold out guest bed) got ourselves up and ready to face a new day. I told myself that I would be meeting our baby on this day but had no clue how the birth would unfold. At 7am my midwife returned and very gently walked me back to the birth suite and talked me through my options. I was so lucky to be in a position to hire a private midwife as it made the whole process really beautiful regardless of the pain or frustration! It had been over 36 hours since my waters had broke so I had really pushed the limit for not getting any medical assistance. It came time to accept that I needed some help to get this baby here so after a quick walk outside for fresh air and a good cry to my husband (as I was fully aware that once one intervention is started in labor it is highly likely more will follow), we returned to the room and the cannula drip was inserted in my hand so they could start the anti-biotics and syntocinon to augment the labor aka get the contractions happening more consistently and intensely. It was really hard to come to terms with this as I entered this pregnancy and birth with a plethora of knowledge around natural labor and how to prepare for a medicine free birth. I did all the classes, the mediation, the breathing, the exercises etc etc and still things don’t always match the idea you have in your head about how it will go.
Once this all happened things kicked off and it became intense really quickly. I knew that syntocinon isn’t particularly pleasant as it doesn’t allow your bodies natural rhythm of contractions to work, but I had given myself time in the hopes that my body would do it on it’s own and unfortunately it hadn’t so I had to make this decision. It was pretty horrendous. For a few hours it was bearable and breathing through the contractions worked pretty well along with listening to my meditations and trying my best to just relax through them. By this point however I hadn’t slept or eaten since Saturday night so I didn’t have much left to give. At around 3pm my midwife checked to see how far I had dilated and it was a measly 4cm. My heart and spirit was pretty broken by this point and I could even see the sadness in Chris’s eyes for me after going through so many hours already and I wasn’t progressing much. I asked if I could get in the tub for some pain relief and thankfully I got the A-ok! I knew a water birth was pretty much out of the picture now anyway and I just needed a moment of rest. The pain was almost unbearable by this point and the bath was nice, even if it only lasted for just a few minutes, as things really ramped moving around in the water. I started to get uncontrollable urges to push even though I knew I wasn’t dilated enough… I just couldn’t seem to control them and the noises that came out of me at this point were pretty darn shocking. This was probably the most challenging part of the whole experience. No amount of breathing or hypo-birth was going to help me now. I remember saying “I can’t do this anymore”. It was awful. I felt like I left my body at this stage and was just vacant. Chris was nearly in tears and I knew at this point, after 40+ hours of going pain-free I needed help and I needed something to calm me down and give me a break. I had nothing left to give. I asked for an epi-dural. Something I had so strongly tried to avoid the whole time but my soul knew it was needed. My midwife checked me again and I was 6cm dilated, but I just couldn’t keep going as I was. She inserted the catheter as it’s a requirement with epidurals and I crazily enough filled the whole bag super quickly even though I remember specifically going to the toilet before hand and thinking I didn’t need to pee! The anaesthetist had arrived within 15 minutes and it was exactly what I needed. I feel like it potentially saved me from having a c-section as I got a little break, I could gather myself again and return to my body.
It was around 5pm now and my original midwife had to call in a replacement as she had gone over the 12 hour shift limit. Ali arrived and I felt just as safe and calm in her hands as I did Allison as we had already met during my pregnancy. She handed over all the information and then said her goodbyes. I was so calm at this stage. Chris put on my beautiful Baby Playlist (it’s on spotify if you want to check it out) and some fairy lights and I just rested. It was still another 4 or so hours before I started pushing which may have been the epidural which is known to slow labor but this time was much needed. I could still feel the contractions and move my body which was a surprise (I thought you kind of go entirely numb!) so it made me feel part of the process and not just a passenger on the ride.
I started to slowly push through each contraction from around 930pm, which was a weird sensation as you can’t 100% feel whats happening down there! It was very calm and beautiful though throughout this time and at 1135pm after a big final push our little guy came into this world and his dad got to catch him. It was pure magic and we were both in a bit of shock and overwhelm from the whole process but we were glad he had safely come into our arms. I did get some tearing which I believe is standard when you get an epidural as you don’t have as much control over the area so Chris got to hold him while the fun of stitching was happening. Due to the length of the labor I had a managed third stage labor (injection to get the placenta out) and then the following few hours were a bit of a blur. I remember getting wheeled into a shower as my left leg had gone a little loopy from the epidural and then found ourselves back in the maternity ward, just us and a baby. What a ride.
Harrison was a very large baby weighing 9 pounds and 8 ounces and was also posterior which my midwife believes contributed to the lengthy challenging birth. She did tell me the next day that when she left she was worried I would end up with a caesarean birth but I powered through! This made me a little proud of myself and my power to deny the odds and birth him naturally. I credit this to the calm nature, patience and support of my midwives. I was so blessed to have them there and they never doubted my ability to birth him. The other person that I couldn’t have done it without was my incredible husband Chris. He was there through every contraction, every tear and every moment of needing his touch when I had no words. I fell in love with him a thousand times over. He is one in a million and I deeply appreciate having him in my life for now and always. I had an overwhelming sense of pride being able to bring him his first son and look forward to seeing him grow as a father.
Although my labor was extremely long and didn’t go exactly how I would of liked it to go I actually feel a lot of love for the whole experience. I can now relate and empathise with other women who struggle through labor instead of being blissfully unaware of how it can be so darn tough and push you to the complete edge. I dreamed of a quick, straightforward and natural labour and heard from lot’s of women who preached about what they did to make it that way. I was fully prepared, researched and supported to have a completely natural birth but it just wasn’t what fate had ready for me and that’s ok. We need to be gentle on ourselves and the journey our bodies take to bring our little babes into this big wide world. No judgement. Just love. This world needs more of that.