There's a part of me that honestly cannot believe that I'm sitting here typing out my third and final birth story... ok, not that I've ever really put pen to paper about the first two, I suppose I should at some stage. It's just, I won't be doing this again.
Those of you that have been following me for a while will know that throughout the pregnancy, the possibility of this baby being delivered via Cesarean was highly likely. You'll also know that at times, this caused me great anxiety. Mostly due to the perceptions surrounding Cesarean birth, the comparisons between how we choose to give birth, and the judgement that comes along with that. What I have since learned, is that for me, those perceptions were entirely my own. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks about how I gave birth, what matters is what I think about how I gave birth... in the end, that's the only perception that matters.
Throughout the pregnancy, I was pretty closely monitored. My absolutely AH-MAZING Obstetrician Dr Rebecca McCormack kept an eye on how big this baby was, and we often spoke about the best and safest pathway to take, in terms of how to get bub out in one piece. My second baby suffered mild shoulder dystocia during her delivery. Shoulder Dystocia is basically where the baby's shoulders get stuck in the pelvis after the head has been delivered. Luckily, she was born without a scratch, my OB back in Brisbane at the time, managed to manipulate her out without hurting her, or me... which is a miracle in itself.
I tend to create big babies... or at least too big for my body. I hear of women delivering much larger babies than I have, every day, but I guess the trouble with me is, my babies don't really work well with my size. I suppose at this point, I should give you a few stats for comparison...
Height- 5ft 1.5 or 157cm
Weight- 57-59kg (pre pregnancy)
Size- 6-8 (aus)
Abbie induced @ 39 weeks due to Gestational Hypertention
Weight- 7 lbs or 3.17kg
Labour- 12+ hours
Eliana born at 39+3 weeks due to suspected Macrosomnia (big baby)
Weight- 8lbs 4oz or 3.75kg
Labour- 6 hours
As we approached those final few weeks, things were looking really good. By my 37 week appointment, I was 2cm dilated (ok, so not huge, but it's a start), and baby's head was engaged! I felt like doing a little happy dance here, because my first two were induced without their heads ever engaging. Plus, after labouring the first two times with posterior babies, I finally had a baby that was at least in an almost anterior position... WINNING! I'd been having what I call 'false labour' on and off for a few weeks, but it would never come to anything. I at least figured that my body was going some good prep work, so decided to view it as a positive. At this point, considering all of the above, both my OB and I decided that it looked promising to try for an induction as soon as we could, at 38 weeks, again due to suspected Macrosomnia... so, Monday the 29th May 2017 it was. A baby would be born!
The morning of, I think I was the most relaxed that I have ever been in this situation. The good and bad of an induction (and I've had three now), is that you know when it's going to happen. So for someone that likes the element of control, it's great... but at the same time, knowing means counting down. For some reason this time I was ready, mentally. I knew what I was in for, and I almost couldn't wait to tackle it head on.
After the obligatory monitoring and checks of bub, my OB turned up to rupture my membranes, or break my waters. I could probably have that done a million times, and still be shocked when it happens! After they broke my waters with Eliana contractions started immediately. Like full on, can't breathe, screaming for the pain relief kind of contractions. Yet this time, all I heard was crickets... NOTHING.
They gave me an hour.
An hour to walk it out, to get the ball rolling, because I didn't want the Styntocin drip. I didn't need it the last time, things moved along ok. So why should I need it this time?
An hour or so later, they returned with the drip. I just looked at Nath. I didn't know whether I was mentally prepared for the drip, but I guess at this point, I was also eager to move things along, so I consented. I had the drip during Abbie's labour, and remember it hitting me like a tonne of bricks. The second they put it in, I went from 0-100 in about three seconds flat... or at least that's what it felt like. But this time... NOTHING!! I sat, and watched as my midwife came back every so often to turned it up... and up... an up. Until finally, I felt a few baby contractions.
So I was settling in for a long ride. I figured that if it took this long to get things started, then I was going to be in this place forever. Oh boy was I wrong!
Pretty soon I was breathing through contractions. The can't speak, can't do anything but put your head down, and let the sweet tunes of Ed Sheeran take you to a happy place (or is that just me?). Pretty soon, I had Nath beside me, holding my hand. I'm glad the man has a bit of strength... I'm surprise that he has a hand left. I remember at one point apologising for squeezing it so hard, but he assured me it was ok. It actually gave him some kind of indication of what I was feeling each time. He could tell that they were getting stronger by the strength at which I squeezed his hand.
Nath always keeps a running commentary of each of my births, and at this point I remember thinking that I'd been in labour for hours. Yet, looking back, it was literally half an hour since things kicked off. My midwife decided to check me, I was 4-5cm. I couldn't believe it. I almost cried (because it felt like I'd been labouring for hours!). The contractions were so strong, how could I only be 4-5? At this point, I almost gave up. I almost stopped and asked for the Epidural. I'd had the Epi with my two previous labours, and just didn't think I could do anymore. For some reason though, I pushed through. I guess I knew in the back of my mind, that the best way to try and birth this big baby was to be able to move. To be upright, not stuck on my back like the last two. So I pushed on. It also helped that I had an amazing midwife who encouraged me by assuring me that third time round, I could go 5cm in half an hour, it's not unheard of.
Somewhere around this stage I was also stripped naked, and had my midwife wrestle me to put my cannula back in... but who can remember things like that anyways?
I was 8cm... I do remember crying to Nath right about now. Telling him that I'd had enough and that I wanted to go home. I told him I missed the girls, and I wanted out. Apparently my midwife gave him the big thumbs up about here. I was transitioning, which to everyone else was great... to me I was going to punch the next person that adjusted the fetal monitors. This is where Nathan's notes get sketchy. This birth was different. I needed him. He was down on the floor, breathing with me, holding me, doing everything he could. He was honestly amazing.
Not long after this it was time to push... or at least that's what my body told me to do. I'd never experience this stage before. Like I said, I'd had the epidural. So these pushing urges were overwhelming. Unlike anything I've ever felt before.... and surprisingly, the pushing eased the pain of the contractions.
Unbeknown to me though, this is where things started to go awry. Bub's heart rate started to drop, and with each contraction, I could feel her pop back up again. She wasn't descending. My midwife helped me into different positions, and checked me internally, something wasn't quite right.
I had to climb up onto the bed so an OB could come in and check. My OB was in surgery as it turns out... delivering twins. So here was this new face, this other doctor checking me, and then he said it,
'She needs a Cesarean'
I was gutted. I had been through so much already, I'd come so far. I just kept saying,
'No, no, no'
I screamed out for my own doctor to come, I didn't really care what anyone else thought of me. I was told to stop pushing. Which is kinda like asking someone in this position to stop breathing. I grappled the handle at the top of the bed and pulled down as hard as I could to compensate. Which turns out later that I pulled muscles in my rib area from the pulling, but I guess I wasn't thinking about that at the time.
It's about this time that my OB comes running in after her other surgery, and much to my dismay comes to the same conclusion as the other OB. We needed to get baby out. She was becoming distressed with every contraction, with every push. Her shoulders just wouldn't fit. I guess looking back, I'm grateful that her head wasn't delivered, and we weren't forced to pull her out. The risk to her would have been too great. As we were being wheeled to the theatre, I can remember my OB suggesting that we will try to deliver via forceps. I also remember telling her 'No'... and to just do the Cesar. I knew that trying to force her out was too risky, and I'd rather the damage be done to me, than to her. So a Cesarean it was. I remember telling her repeatedly that I just needed to be awake, I was begging her to keep me awake. I couldn't bare the thought of being asleep while my baby was born, and luckily at this point, her heart rate had picked up, and she was ok.
By now, the pain of the contractions was horrendous. I was being moved from bed to bed, I think I screamed at my OB and midwife so many times to just take the pain away... I imagine I looked a little like Linda Blair in the exorcist. Honestly though, when that spinal block went in, I wanted to kiss the Anaesthetist... passionately. He was my new favourite person. I lay back and felt the blissful nothing. I was in heaven. I was also covered in warm blankets up top, because I was so cold, and shaking uncontrollably. At this point, I decided to just close my eyes and relax. Enjoy what I could of this next process.
And what felt like, 'just like that', a baby was born.
I think I stared at her for an eternity before realising what I was looking at... then Nathan said,
'It's another girl!!'
And then I realised, what he was saying... Yep, that's definitely a baby vagina, another bundle of pink!
The atmosphere in the room was amazing. Everyone was positive, I was warm and pain free, the staff were laughing and joking... and I suppose it helps that we were each happy and healthy, it was just a matter of getting bub out in one piece, but it was incredible. I was able to watch the whole process, via the reflection of the huge light on the ceiling, and I mean everything from the slice, to baby being pulled out, and even some of the stitching process. Something I never thought I would ever do. I actually got to watch my baby come earthside. Something which I've never been able to do before, my other births, I was a little preoccupied while that was happening.
It wasn't long before the Paediatrician called out that bub was a healthy 3.86kg or 8lbs 8oz... AT 38 WEEKS! Not a single person in the room expected her to be bigger than her big sister, at a week and a half earlier. In that moment, I knew that we had made the right decision.
Within a few minutes she was placed on my chest, for skin to skin... and that's where she stayed.
I've had a few people say to me 'I'm sorry it turned out that way', and I guess I don't feel that. I'm surprised. I thought I would. Looking back though, I'm kinda proud of myself. It's amazing what the mind and body can do. What we can push through. I had the labour I had always wanted. Fast, and drug free, with minimal intervention. I breathed through it, and went with my body. Yet the moment of her birth, was so calm, so positive, so warm and pain free. It was tough. It hurt. It still hurts... but it was worth it. At the end of the day, baby's got to come out somehow.
I would be lying if I said I haven't had moments since the birth, where I wished it might have gone a little differently. I developed a Haematoma in my uterus after the delivery, which is still taking time to go down. I'm a walking bruise. It's making recovery harder. It's not ideal, and a natural delivery would more than likely have been a lot easier, for me, but that wasn't meant to be. I have three incredibly different experiences to look back on. I have used drugs in labour, I have had assisted deliveries, I have had the drip, I've had the vacuum, I've had a grown man's hands up my vag while he delivers my baby's shoulders, I've laboured drug free, and I've delivered via Cesarean... and to be honest, the latest edition of my birthing story book was oddly my least mentally traumatic. My previous deliveries have been intense, and worrying. The moment of delivery this time was positive, and peaceful... plus, all hail the spinal block.
The biggest difference to me is the recovery. Not so much the physical pain of the recovery... which I'm not gonna lie, is not fun (although still not as bad as I was expecting). It's mentally. As a mum of three (holy moly), doing nothing actually takes a lot of effort. Not being able to get out and about, walk to the park, or play games with the girls on the floor has been hard... but it's been an incredible bonding time for me and Hannah. Something which I didn't give myself the opportunity to do in these early days with my first two.
They're different. Each incredibly hard in their own way. It all comes down to the way you think about it. Mind over matter. There's almost always a silver lining, and I intend to focus on that.
Behind the blog...
‘The Mummysomniac’ is a lifestyle, motherhood and most recently, pregnancy blog, founded in 2015 by Kirsty McKenzie. She’s a mum of three, blogging about the highs and lows of motherhood, with a straight forward and honest approach, as well as a little bit of humour. Kirsty is passionate about sharing the realities of #MumLife, not the cookie cutter, high gloss version