[The pain] was manageable then suddenly unbearable and I found myself asking why I thought it’d be a good idea to put myself through this again. Then, I held our son Brodie, and it all made sense. I felt the love that I felt when I met Taylor all over again. And I am now an incredibly lucky mummy to two beautiful babies.
It was August 15 2019 – the day before my due date. I went through the Midwifery Program again (I did this with Taylor too) which is for those who want a natural birth. It was important to me to not have the epidural (for a few reasons which I won’t get into because it was a personal choice and I’m not here to start a war – epidural or no epidural, all mummy’s are freaking superheroes for birthing their babies!!). I figured though, I did it without drugs with Taylor – I can do it again.
I asked my midwife the week prior to this particular day about doing a membrane sweep, as I was incredibly sore and tired (hardly sleeping and then up with a busy toddler at 6.30 am). I was 39+6 days and well and truly ready (so ready in fact that the fear of labour had completely gone away… this peaked at around 34 weeks which is why I decided to study hypnobirthing). My midwife agreed on the membrane sweep which was done at around 8.30 am that day. I was already 3-4cm dilated at the time of my membrane sweep (in early labour).
In the 24 hours leading up to Brodie’s birthday, I had noticed he had been a little more gentle with his kicks. This was easy for me to pick up on because his movements often caused me pain towards the end of my pregnancy – like I’m talking the feeling of your skin being almost torn open from the inside pain… it f*cking killed. I wasn’t super panicked with the fewer movements, but I had that annoying feeling that something wasn’t right and so I mentioned to Sasha (our midwife) that I might go into the hospital later that day if he doesn’t pick up again. A few hours later after monitoring his movements which didn’t go back to ‘normal’, I decided to go in. I went without Justin (my fiance) as Taylor was napping and I was just having a quick check-up after all. I did, however, have a sure feeling Brodie would be coming that day so I made sure my bag had every final thing packed like my toothbrush etc before I left. They say a mother’s intuition is her greatest superpower. If this day taught me anything, it’s that this is completely true.
When I got to the hospital, Sasha set me up on the baby’s heart rate monitor and contraction monitor machine. I had done this once before during this pregnancy when I felt fewer movements (and also with Taylor when I had my ECV) so I had become familiar with the process). All looked well until on the 20th minute when she was about to disconnect the machine and send me on my way, Brodie’s heart rate dropped below 100. She calmly told me that she’d just keep me on the monitors for another 20 minutes to make sure that didn’t happen again. This was one of my favourite things about Sasha – she had a very calming effect over me and made me feel at ease (although naturally my eyes were now glued to the machine to make sure it didn’t happen again). When Brodie’s heart rate dropped scarily low a few more times, Sasha brought in the Doctors for an ultrasound.
The Doctors confirmed that my placenta had spots (it was showing it’s age) and that this in combination with the fact that Brodie was moving less frequently gave them cause for concern. “Baby isn’t happy,” is what I was told. The Doctor confirmed there was no benefit in continuing with this pregnancy and suggested we get Brodie out right away. The thought of our baby boy not receiving the nourishment he needed in my belly… The thought of him being unhappy and in jeopardy if we continue with the pregnancy was unbearable. The Doctor went on to explain that if we don’t get Brodie out now, the chances of stillbirth are higher. I get that Doctor’s have to be honest and upfront, but I didn’t feel that statement was neccesary at the time. I was already upset and knew things weren’t good. It was an additional statement she added onto the end almost like a ‘oh by the way…’. I wasn’t off to a good start mentally. All I could think about was whether or not our baby was safe.
I called Justin (who had been on standby awaiting my call) and told him to come into the hospital immediately. I couldn’t go into detail with him over the phone (way too emotional). With him on his way, the Doctor’s got me prepared. I had a drip popped into my arm (freaking ouch!!) and was told I’d need to wear the heart rate monitors as baby was at a higher risk now. I went from thinking I needed an emergency c-section to a sigh of relief when I was told I could still try to have my natural birth (as much as I wanted a natural birth again, I wanted our baby safe more than anything… So I asked the Doctor if we should instead go in for an emergency c-section. The Doctor said this would be more detrimental to baby and I, so we went with the breaking of the waters with that long stick instrument thingy and hoped for my natural birth plan). Twenty-odd minutes later, labour (naturally) started which meant no more interference (for now). YAY!
In these twenty (or so) minutes, I reminded myself of my hypnobirthing skills – mainly my breathing and affirmations (which I had printed off and given to Justin so he could read them back to me or even just show them to me during the hardest parts of labour). I started getting anxious again but these skills kept me at ease. Reminding myself that we would soon have another beautiful baby like Taylor also gave me great comfort. Justin set up the room just how I wanted it (with my salt lamp, dimmed lights, candles, spa music, clary sage oils etc) and it felt like a calm, relaxing space (not like a hospital room). I changed into my comfy oversized Rolling Stones tee and waited for the surges to start (while eating hot chips and a pastie which Justin had run downstairs to grab for us… we had a marathon ahead of us and food was a must!).
When the surges started, I found my favourite position to be seated and gently moving on the exercise ball. I sat here for a good 3 hours just focusing on my breathing. My hypnobirthing skills paid off big time. My breathing was getting me through the surges, and I kept repeating in my head that with each breath out I was breathing the baby down. In between surges, Justin and I laughed about the funny things Taylor does and smiled at the beautiful photos and videos his Mum was sending us while babysitting. I knew that looking at and thinking about things that made me happy would increase my oxytocin levels, which would, in turn, help me progress positively in labour. So, this was one of Justin’s tasks – to keep Taylor on my mind. It worked wonders, lemmee tellya.
When the surges started getting worse we popped the TENS machine on. SO happy I used it this time around and 100% recommend it! It gave me something else to focus on during the surges when focusing on my breath was no longer enough and got me through until I was about 8cm dilated. By that point, I was sure I was dying (literally… I remember saying those exact words to Justin and my midwife… #DramaQueen). Sasha kindly offered me the gas and although I was sure I would decline it given how sick it made me in labour with Taylor, I grabbed it from her and breathed it in like it was my last breath. LOVED the stuff! I was high as a kite. Still in pain… But it kind of took me to another place which for a few seconds during each surge, made me forget the reality of where I was and what I was about to do… Push a baby out, that is.
What felt like a lifetime later, I started to feel that severe burning sensation everyone talks about when you ‘know’ it’s time to push. Pushing meant letting go of the gas, and that I hadn’t even considered doing. It was my life support at this point. But Brodie really needed to get out, so the Doctors took the gas away from me and I was left with no choice but to focus on pushing. I remember Sasha trying to whisper to the Doctor that she couldn’t pick up the baby’s heartbeat and that’s when I told myself to get my shit together and push him out. Once again, I needed a cut. My golly does that hurt. Getting cut down there. Like, there are no words. But in comparison to pushing a human head and body out of your body, it’s pretty minor. So, on the count of three, we agreed to cut and push (that is, they cut while I push). It worked and when I reached down I could finally felt his head. The pressure was freaking insane but I needed to catch my breath for the final push, and then YIPEE the rest of his little body tumbled right on out (though I say ‘little’, it certainly didn’t feel ‘little’ at the time…). Beautiful little Brodie was finally here. I DID IT. I GREW ANOTHER HUMAN BEING INSIDE MY BELLY AND I PUSHED HIM OUT. YA-FREAKING-WHOOO.
Unfortunately, Brodie had some respiratory issues which meant he was taken out of my arms approx 30 seconds after he was first placed there. He was taken into Special Care where he was under constant monitoring. Justin went with him and I suddenly felt really empty, lonely and sad. This was my time to bond with our son and hold him during his first minutes earth-side. These minutes are important. He needed his mum and I needed our baby. Instead, I was left laying on the bed with empty arms, surrounded by unfamiliar Doctor’s and shaking like a leaf from all the adrenalin. Our boy was in a small box with heart rate monitors on. I remember feeling approx 100 emotions in this moment. I was happy that was over. Sad our baby wasn’t in my arms. Happy he was here at all. Sad he was having issues. Happy Justin was with him. Sad to be sitting alone in the hospital bed on my own… It was so different when Taylor was born. I got to hold her and stare at her while the Doctor’s did what they had to do. I didn’t even feel my placenta come out because I was so wrapped up with love for our little girl. My eyes didn’t come off her. The needles and stitches down there still hurt, but I was looking over at Justin staring down at his daughter at the time and so the pain seemed insignificant. This time around, I was alone in the room with nothing to focus on except the stress of our baby’s wellbeing and the pain I was in. It was a very different labour. An absolute emotional rollercoaster.
FINALLY, after I was finished with the Doctors, Justin came to get me and wheeled me in to properly meet our son. He was laying on his tummy in one of those plastic boxes where he was warm and comfortable, with a perfect, healthy heartbeat. I held him and tried to feed him before I was wheeled back to our room and told to have some rest. Yeah right. I was way too excited to be resting. I sat on my phone staring at the few photos Justin managed to grab of Brodie and cried a little. Or a lot, actually. I felt proud. That’s our little boy in those photos. Brodie was wheeled into us 4 hours later and finally, it felt real. We had a beautiful, healthy boy in our arms and with Taylor Grace sleeping happily at home (none-the-wiser), our family was complete.
I wouldn’t say my labour experience was a good one. It was over in 3 hours and 48 minutes and I just feel like that’s a hell of a lot to go through in such a short amount of time. They did warn me my labour would be quicker the second time around but under 4 hours!? Still, the entire experience brought us our Brodie and for that reason, I am eternally grateful that everything went the way it did. The hypnobirthing skills definitely helped get me through and I definitely recommend it. Also, if I can give one more piece of advice for any expecting mummy – whether it’s your first baby or not, it would be to always, always listen to your gut. If something doesn’t feel quite right… If you have an annoying feeling that something could be wrong… Babies kicks feel softer… Less frequent or just different… Go into the hospital to be checked out. Chances are, your instinct is right. You are not putting the hospital ‘out’ by going in for monitoring. The nurses who help you (whether it’s for the first time or the tenth time this pregnancy) want to help you. You are not being silly. You are not an inconvenience. The priority of you and the hospital is the health and wellbeing of you and your baby. For goodness sake, listen to your gut. If I didn’t on this particular day, who knows what could have happened. We are SO freaking lucky. I can’t even believe it.
Yours, a very proud and grateful mummy of two x