I was lucky to meet Alison and Brad for private hypnobirthing classes in their home. Both a united couple, Alison wanted to prepare for a natural birth. In the positive birth course I do exactly this but I also prepare couples to calmly meet whatever turn their journey takes.
What a pleasure it was to teach them hypnobirthing tools and prepare them for the journey of birth. For anyone who has a change in circumstances or is planning a caesarean birth, this one is for you!
Story features - Development of pre-eclampsia, private obstetric care, mindset tools, maternal assisted caesarean, special care nursery stay. Alison's description of events is not only positive but also highlights the deviations pregnancy can take. I'm so proud of this beautiful family and I hope you enjoy this story written in Alison's words. If you would like to watch the birth of Evie, head to Illoura Birth's Instagram page.
My pregnancy was in fact quite a dream - no nausea, no sickness, no food aversions or cravings. I maintained a physical pregnancy as much as I could between lockdowns, choosing to continue running up until about 30 weeks, and reformer pilates also. My husband, Brad and I chose to go with a private obstetrician, on the recommendation of my regular GP, who later on in my pregnancy I would be extremely grateful to have chosen!
Throughout my pregnancy I listened to podcasts (hello Australian Birth Stories!), read books as well as inviting Vanessa into my home for a private Positive Birth Class for my husband and I.
It wasn’t until my 32 week appointment that my blood pressure was a little elevated, I had no other symptoms and was feeling fine. But a family history of preeclampsia was in my mind, as well as my own early arrival into this world 35 years ago at 30 weeks gestation!
I got to my 34 week appointment and my blood pressure was still on the higher side, I was put on medication to lower my high blood pressure. I also had some blood tests done to look at the risk of developing preeclampsia - it came back high!
My Dr spoke to us about the reality of not making it to my estimated due date. This is where the tools & techniques from Vanessa’s class and birth information at my disposal, along with a caring and inclusive obstetrician, meant I was never stressed or worried. I knew that I was in safe hands, and that there was no point in worrying about things I couldn’t control. The hypnobirthing tracks I played a lot.
The week of Evie’s arrival
I had my weekly Obstetrician appointment. I did some work bits and pieces before it in the morning (I own my own business, and thankfully had officially finished client work at the start of December).
Brad and I 'went' to the appointment together, I picked him up from work, and he drove me there, dropping me off (no partners because of COVID rules).
My blood pressure was still high, and my Dr got me to do another blood test & urine test too. He did an ultrasound and bub's head measurement was good, belly a little small - but my fundal height (bump) was measuring still 27-28 'weeks'. Because of Covid restrictions, we had Brad on speaker phone and we spoke about the possibility of having this baby potentially in the next week because of my continued small measurement, BP, family history.
The day before
I was laying in bed with my two Italian greyhounds, Halle and Romy, and fifteen minutes later, the phone rang and it was my Dr, letting me know my blood pressure had been so up and down and that the levels of protein that he found in my urine were quite high, and marked preeclampsia and that he wanted me to go in, get some more bloods done, and CTG monitoring.
I tried to remain calm, taking deep breaths and assessing each situation as it came up. After all there was nothing I could do in this situation and knew that staying calm was the best for bubs and me.
We spoke about induction vs c-section, and that I agreed for my own safety and bubs that I would prefer a maternally assisted caesarean. I signed the paperwork consent, and tentatively booked in for the following morning.
I had to go have a Covid test done, and then I went for CTG monitoring on bubs across the road, I went to do that and bubs heart rate looked fine and healthy thankfully. The Dr called and said that my bloods indicated we need to move forward and he'd like me to go home, get my stuff sorted and come back in for admission overnight for monitoring my BP.
By this time, it was already around 3.30pm, so I dropped Brad at his car to pick it up at work and pick up his work gear, I went home and got the rest of my things together, packing the hospital bag for admission - and more than likely having our baby tomorrow!
We got to our room, and then we ducked to an Italian restaurant in North Melbourne for dinner because who knows when we'll be able to do that again!! Brad went home after that and I stayed in hospital - couldn't really sleep as I was that nervous/ excited about what was to come tomorrow.
I watched the final episode of MAID on Netflix before I went to sleep around 10pm, and the opening credits of the final episode was a song called "GIRL" by Syml. Was it meant to be? It was a beautiful acoustic song that I just had to text Brad about. I went to sleep (although I felt I barely slept) knowing that we would soon be meeting our beautiful healthy baby very soon.
Thursday 16 December 2021 - Evie’s Birth Date Brad and I sat around all nervous for a bit, I had a shower and washed my hair while he went and got coffee & something to eat. Brad got changed into his scrubs and then before we knew it, some nurses arrived to wheel me into theatre at around 10.40am! Here we go!
Brad waited outside, and I scrubbed in, and was wheeled into the operating room. Was so strange, I was nervous and excited and a little anxious. They wheeled me in, and set up the drip and blood pressure in each arm, and then told me to sit upright with my back exposed to do the spinal anaesthetic. Betty, I clearly remember her name held me hand when they were inserting one of three needles - and boy did they hurt! I felt bad for her hand that I squeezed.
It was during this time that I was trying to take deep breaths and remind myself with some positive affirmations that I was in the safest place for my baby to be delivered, and I was in good hands. My Dr also sat nice and close and spoke to me calmly. Then I was instructed to lay flat, and I could feel the numbness starting in my lower half.
Before I knew it, they were preparing me for the delivery. I could feel odd pressure of them cutting, and then pulling, it felt so intense, stronger than what I expected to be honest, but also a bit of pain - which I mentioned, and they were concerned about that.
They organised another injection, and it seemed like an eternity before they could get it & administer, and then wait for it to kick in. I was awake the whole time and present. It was such a strange and surreal experience.
I remember asking Brad to hold my shoulder more firmly, I needed that reassurance and pressure. I was taking deep breaths knowing we'd meet our baby soon and wanted to be calm.
Then before we knew it, my Dr had used forceps to pull her head out, and then his hands, calmly saying "Little, yes, my guess was right". "Hello you. You're a bit littler than we thought you were going to be", and before I knew it, the attending Obstetrician and my Dr grabbed my hands to lift our baby out holding them under their arms, lifting them up, my Dr said "What you got?" Bub came out crying loudly, and I burst into tears, saying "It's a little girl".
I couldn't stop crying, it was such an emotional moment, and couldn't believe we had a little girl!
Brad commented that she had a lot of hair, and she was placed right up near my face. I had a face mask on (Covid!), and Brad was rubbing my head/ hair net. Feeling his reassuring hands was wonderful.
We had a quick little cuddle before they whisked her away to pink her up and for Brad to cut the cord. After that, she was placed in a blanket back on my bare chest for some cuddle time while I was being stitched up, which was beautiful.
I was then wheeled into recovery, and Brad went into special care with Evie.
Brad gave her bottles while she was in special care that afternoon, and she was in a little isolate to help regulate her temperature. I couldn't wait any longer to meet her, and by that evening around 6pm, Brad wheeled me in a wheelchair to go and see her for her 6.30 feed. We gave them permission to give her formula and a dummy if need be.
Brad went and changed her nappy and did her 9.30pm feed before going home for the night as I was only in the same room I was admitted. What a whirlwind couple of days, our baby girl was finally here - early, but safe and healthy. That’s all we could ask for!
I’ll never forget one of my initial appointments with my Dr saying that giving birth is like running a marathon and you wouldn't turn up to a marathon unprepared - as a runner myself I knew I had to prepare, and I am so glad that our birthing classes with Vanessa gave us the skills and information to feel prepared, informed, educated and calm - for whatever the birth outcome.