My natural birth story

9 January 2018, 2.40am 

I woke up with a weird feeling. I don’t know what it was that woke me, but I knew to check for wetness down in my pant region… Yep, definite wetness. I secretly wondered if I could have peed myself. Nothing would surprise me with this pregnancy… But no, it was definitely not pee. I was calm until I got up to go to the toilet (so I could properly check on what was going on) and felt an uncontrollable trickle down my legs. I waddled a little faster to the bathroom whilst shouting to my fiance so he could wake the eff up and freak out with me. BABY IS A COMIN’!!!

Justin dialed the hospital basically explaining that I was leaking and, you know, what now? At that time I was having no contractions whatsoever, so the midwife told me to try and get some more sleep. Yeah freaking right. Like I was going to sleep right now?! I did try though. Off went the lights and back to bed we went (myself with a few garbage bags and towels underneath me… just in case…). I laid there for about 1 min and tried my best to sleep but SO much was running through my head – mainly, our baby is coming!! Sleep wasn’t going to happen and my partner knew it, so up he jumped to make me some toast and coffee (decaf, because that’s all I drank throughout my pregnancy). Within about an hour my contractions started. They were reasonably easy at the start. Everyone who shared their birth stories with me when I was pregnant had talked about how long their labour went for (some 18 hours, some 24 – some 48!) and I thought I was in for a long ride. Despite this, I never really felt scared about labour or worried about it. What was the point anyway, it’s not like worrying would take away any of the pain I would have been dealt. But then, at about 6am my contractions got intense and I started freaking out thinking if this is just the start and I’m meant to be able to stay at home during these contractions, I’m totally screwed. I jumped in the shower to see if the warm water would help. It didn’t, and I ended up on the floor in pain, unable to move. That’s when we called the hospital again. The midwife on the phone was annoyingly calm and not the most helpful… We asked for advice and weren’t getting much of it. It had only been 4 hours since my waters broke and I got the impression from her that I am probably not far along enough to go to the hospital but ‘oh hey come in anyway and worst case we’ll just send you home’. Nah mate, you’re not sending me home. There’s no way I am not far along enough to stay… These contractions were intense.

The drive to the hospital was long. Mum called. She was excited but I could hear a bit of panic in her voice… Like she knew something that I didn’t and, well, she did… She’d been there, done that. I hadn’t. Der. We finally pulled up at the ED and I got out of the car and crumbled to the floor. My partner ran in and asked for help and checked me in. I was then wheeled to the birthing suite where a midwife unknown to me took me into room number 4 where our beautiful little girl would soon make her arrival. I was squatting on the floor because standing up was literally not possible. She placed a mattress under my knees so I could squat with a little less pain on my knees.. Not that I was worried at all about my bloody knees at this point, but it was kind of her nonetheless..

Everything here was a bit of a blur. I didn’t see the midwife. I didn’t look at her for longer than it took to realise she was not our midwife. I asked where our midwife was, and was told she wasn’t on today. Brilliant, I thought. We got to know our midwife and was comfortable with her. We trusted her to give us the best advice and keep us safe. But there was always the chance she wouldn’t be in when I went into labour and this just so happened to be the case. For a few hours anyway… I remember just finishing and resting from a tough contraction when I saw someone walk into our room from the corner of my eye. It was Julie… Our wonderful midwife! I felt instant relief – literally. I love our midwife and feel super lucky that we had such a goodie. Before she arrived though, we had a few hours to kill…

Almost as soon as we got to the hospital my partner suggested I jump in the bath. We were in the Southern Midwifery Group plan at the hospital (which is all about natural births) so we had a big room to ourselves with a big bath. It was something I had said I wanted to do – getting in the bath… Just to try it and see if it helped with the pain, seeing as the plan was to go drug-free and all. I really struggled to get comfortable in there. No matter which way I sat, the pain was still there and now my legs were hurting. Although I will say, having the bottom half of me, including my belly in the warm water did do something.. Helped me relax a bit or something… I can’t quite remember the feeling enough to explain it. I spent about 2 hours in the bath (according to Justin) and during that time, the midwife that was looking after me was encouraging me to suck in some gas. I tried it. I hated it. It made me feel like I was outside of my body. I felt dizzy and sick. I refused it after a few sucks despite the pain I was in, which I think midwife was surprised by.. But I’d rather feel all the pain entirely that feel the way the gas made me feel. I got out of the bath shortly after, after feeling uncomfortably hot.

I remember the midwife telling me that she’d check how far dilated I was again at about 11am, so I kept that time in my head and the goal was to just make it there. I kept asking my partner what the time was. He kept telling me the time didn’t matter, but when I insisted he tell me the GOD DAMN TIME IMMEDIATELY, he quietly responded with 9.05 (am)… 2 hours to go until they’ll even check me again!? HOW!? I couldn’t understand why time was going so slow when I was having so many long contractions. When it felt like 2 hours had passed, I asked my partner again… What time is it? 9.15 (am), he hesitantly responded. TELL ME THIS IS A JOKE?? I literally felt like we were getting nowhere while I was slowly dying a painful death. Ok that’s a massive exaggeration. It wasn’t that bad. But it was painful. It is called labour, after all. I started thinking that things weren’t moving along as they should have been and that freaked me out a little. I kept thinking of the epidural in the back of my mind, but I really wanted to get through it without it if possible. I had explained to my partner before going into labour (several times) that I do NOT want the epidural and to distract me should I ask for it during labour. I asked for it a few times during labour – twice I think, and he distracted me perfectly (and cudos to him for doing that, because how daddys-to-be decide in the heat of the moment whether to listen to the instructions they are given before their partners go into labour or the instructions they are given while in labour would be hard AF). To be completely honest, I wasn’t really asking for the epidural. It was more me just complaining about the pain than seriously asking for it… If that makes sense? I had come too far to give up by that point (not too far along to be ‘allowed’ the epidural per the hospital’s allowance, but too far in my head to give up when I had come so far without it). Deep down I knew I wasn’t going to allow anyone to jab me with that thing.

As time went on, the contractions got a hell of a lot worse and my voice got louder and louder as each one passed. I didn’t care who heard me or what I looked/sounded like. If you ask a Mother to explain to you what labour feels like, they’ll tell you one of three things; 1) it hurts 2) it’s a beautiful experience and the pain is just as  beautiful – nothing to worry about and 3) it’s really not something I can explain because it’s a feeling like no other. The truth is, all 3 are accurate. Well I think so anyway. It does hurt a lot, but I am not here to scare to-be mumma’s. Our bodies are designed for this – we are made to handle it and we do. It is also a beautiful experience (well, kind of… the process can be quite gruesome but at the end you are handed your beautiful baby and that makes up for it). And it is definitely something I couldn’t properly explain because it really is a feeling like no other.

Looking back, I remember feeling a huge amount of pressure really low down there during labour which made me feel like I had to push. This went on for a long time and so I kept pushing at each contraction, until I realised that I was pushing too soon and that I should have been saving my energy until she was really low enough to start pushing. I was so exhausted that even sipping water seemed like a huge task to me, to the point where my partner and midwife ended up spooning ice into my mouth to keep me hydrated, between basically forcing me to suck Gatorade through a straw. I don’t remember how many hours past when I started feeling this way, but I do remember catching myself almost falling asleep between contractions. Anyway, this continued on for probably quite a while before I was being told to push. It felt like a lifetime.

Taylor got a little bit stuck on her way out and I couldn’t push her despite all my greatest efforts. I remember panicking that she actually wasn’t coming out and crying to the midwife that it’s ‘not working’ and that ‘I can’t do it’. With more words of encouragement from my partner and midwife, I persisted and pushed with all my freaking might. I felt like my head was going to explode.. For reals. And yet still no baby. We changed positions a few times. I squatted on the bed, I layed back on the bed, I squatted on the bed against a bean bag and Justin, then back on my back again (and this is the position Taylor was born in)… The midwife told me to try one last push or we’d have to get the Doctor in because bub was starting to get a little bit stressed. Forceps? Emergency caesarian? I didn’t know what the Doctor would have been coming in to do, but I told myself that I can do it without him. And I did. I pushed really hard. Finally our midwife told me that she might have to make a small cut to help get her out. Like music to my ears. ‘YES!!’ I told her. ‘Please cut me!!’, I was begging. I was exhausted and all I wanted was to push her out without the dam Doctor’s help.  So they did. It stung, but they did it during contractions and honestly it was nothing compared to the pain I had endured the past several hours, or the pain each contraction at that time was bringing. A few pushes later and I hear ‘her heads out!!’, ‘well done!!’, and ‘now one more BIIIIGGGGG push is all we need!!’. At this point I knew we were close for real and that the midwife wasn’t just telling me this to make me feel better, like her and Justin had been previously. Eye roll. On the next contraction I told myself I could get her shoulders and the rest of her body out. And so I did.

Taylor Grace Chandler entered the world at 12.15pm – 9.5 hours after my waters broke. She weighed 6 pound 11 oz (3kg) and measured 47cm long. She was pure perfection. I am sure all Mother’s say that about their babies, and none of them are wrong. She had auburn coloured hair, her eyes were dark grey (and huge!!) and her lashes and brows were blonde. She was (and is!) beautiful. The moment the midwife handed her to me for the first time, I forgot the pain. It might sound cliche, but all I felt in that moment was love, happiness and pride. The depth of these feelings was intense. I just held her, stared at her and took it all in. I was completely and utterly exhausted of course, but the adrenaline of meeting our daughter masked that. I don’t even remember anything else that happened during the time I was meeting her (except the poop – I most definitely remember the two huge poops she did on me!). A new kind of love had just entered our world and changed it forever.

After a little while of cuddles and tears, the midwife took Taylor to check her out (5 fingers, 5 toes, weight, height etc). I was then told to push my placenta out (I had the needle in my leg because why the eff not) and then I could have a shower before they’d stitch me up. A shower had never, ever felt this good, ever. Back to the hospital bed I limped to be stitched up. All I wanted to do was get to know my daughter, but she was with her daddy just behind me and I knew we’d have plenty of time soon. Also, watching him fall in love with our daughter gave me all the feels. I did feel the needles prior to the stitches (and ouch!), but I didn’t feel a thing after that. Which is great because the midwife stitching me up had never done it before and so it was taking longer than it normally would have… Our midwife Julie watched over and guided her through it. Normally I would have been concerned being a first time patient for someone, but my carefactor was zero. I had bigger things to focus my attention on.

About an hour and a half later Justin’s Mum arrived. Then my Dad, step Mum and sister who jumped on the first flight from Queensland when they saw my early morning ‘my waters just broke’ text message. Everyone was infatuated with her. It’s amazing how such a little soul can bring everyone together with so much happiness and joy.

I would describe my labour experience as a positive one. I was lucky enough that my birth plan went to plan. I did it without the epidural as I had wanted, and our little girl was healthy and happy when she entered the world. What more could we possibly ask for? I did have a few complications with my episiotomy afterwards, and delayed healing as a result, but I was lucky enough that I had a supportive partner who was only too happy to help. Within 6 weeks of Taylor’s birth, I was dying to get back into a fitness routine. I wasn’t unrealistic about it, I knew it would be a slow process with very gentle exercise to start with. I was happy with that. I just needed to start the process of healing my body and being my old (reasonably) fit self again. I did two PT sessions (with a pregnant PT who knew exactly how to train a new mother – she considered my ab separation and everything) the following week, then joined a gym when Taylor was 8 weeks old. Again, I am not unrealistic with my fitness goals and I know it takes time to recover from having a baby. I was mostly very gentle on myself when it came to losing the baby weight, which is so important as a new Mum. Not all Mum’s are able to get back into a fitness routine so quickly after having a baby, which takes me back to why I explain my experience as a positive one, of which I am very grateful for.

Taylor turned 3 months old yesterday and is the light of our lives. We are so, so in love, and thank you ALL for the love and well wishes.

P.S. I planned on finishing this post and publishing it within a few weeks of having Taylor. I now look back at this plan and laugh. What the eff was I thinking? It ended up taking 3 months and 1 day to get it out… #MumLife

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