Teaching your best friend and work colleague how to prepare for their own positive birth is such an honour and warms my heart immensely, I was so excited when Yolly asked me to guide her. Yolly and Lucas are first time parents, they had quite a journey to conceiving and when mama shared her news that she was pregnant it was just the sweetest feeling. This birth story is written by Yolly in her own words and discusses a planned induction, natural birth with partner advocacy, epidural, gas/air use along with active birthing positions using water and a fit ball.
Let me start off by saying I am a paediatric ICU nurse. So, preparing for pregnancy and birth, I thought initially very much with my nursing hat rather than my woman/soon to be mummy hat…until I met my obstetrician. Conceiving had been an issue and a bit of a journey, but lucky for us, I had a very good friend recommend her obstetrician and 3 months later on Clomid we found out we were expecting our first little bubba. I couldn’t keep it a secret, my best friends got photos of our pregnancy stick that night. Pregnancy was not the glowing, amazing experience for me. It involved lots of nausea, vomiting from 4-8pm daily, copious amounts of medications and my life saving food, watermelon. Pretty sure we could have bought stocks in it. We had our scans and appointments and watched our little blob grow. We never found our what we were having, we wanted a surprise. Finally, around 27/28 weeks I started to feel human again. People started commenting on how well I finally looked and started to enjoy things a little more. We finally felt kicks as the baby was always very low in my pelvis and things were on the up and up.
My obstetrician started talking to us about birth plans and preparation. My nursing hat kicked in and I said, I just want to baby and me safe. My husband is non-medical (though I think he thinks he is via osmosis), so it was important for him to learn about birth and the process and feel empowered as well. After some coaching and talking to, he convinced me some preparation was needed. So, lucky for me, one of my best friends is also a hypnobirthing instructor, so who better to help guide me and support me then someone who had been there with me through it all already. At 30 weeks, off we went to Hypnobirthing. I loved it. My husband loved it. I finally felt in control and that I really could have control over my labour and delivery. My husband finally felt like he could be useful during labour and help make decisions for us. We would go home after each class and work out what was important to us, so he knew in the heat of it, what I would want. Around this time, I was also diagnosed with pregnancy hypertension, the baby was measuring a little small and I was started on medication to manage my blood pressure. I finished work at 34weeks to take it easy and rest up. I can tell you now, I have never watched so much TV or been bored out of my brain in my life. I am not a sit still kind of person, however, in hind sight, I am very grateful I did this.
Due to my blood pressure and baby’s measurement, we started seeing the doctor weekly and induction was bantered around so we could control things. I was ok with this. My control freak self, I kind of liked the idea of an induction. Funny thing when you are a nurse, I was scared to be in labour at home, but felt comfortable with it all happening in the hospital, probably the opposite for non-medical people. Each week I would go and the doctor would say how well I was doing and progressing and send me on my way for another week. I was losing my mind!!! Finally, at 39 weeks he said he would book the induction for the following Monday (39+6). I said, why can’t we just do it now??? The baby is cooked right, ready to go and can come out. We settled on a Saturday induction at 3pm with gel to start off with and we would have the baby on Sunday. So off I went to get ready for my induction date. Well, the baby had other plans.
Friday morning at 6am, I woke early with lower back pain, I went to the bathroom and had some bleeding and lost my mucous plug. I woke by husband and told him he wasn’t going to work that day and to call in sick. I rang the midwives, who assured us everything was fine, I was a first-time mum so yes it could be early labour but it could also stop. Things definitely felt different, the obstetrician assured me I would know when I was in labour, I was definitely in labour. I was meant to catch up for lunch with my beautiful friend and hypnobirthing teacher that day, instead I had to message her to tell her I was in labour. Our doctor checked in with us a few times throughout the day while I paced up and down the hall way, attempted to nap, tried listening to my hypnobirthing tracks. He had a low threshold for admission because of my blood pressure issues. My husband was keeping my friends updated as we went along. At 2pm I told my husband to call the hospital, my contractions were 4-5 minutes apart. I remember leaving the house that day thinking, the next time we come back here, I will have our baby. Such a strange feeling.
At the hospital, I was hooked up to monitoring while we waited for our doctor. Things were moving quickly, from the time I left home to seeing our obstetrician things had intensified and you could see it on the monitor. I felt really good though. I had been practicing my breathing techniques at home when listening to my relaxation tracks. It definitely helped when it came to breathing through my contractions. After a quick check, I was already 6cm dilated and in active labour. Our doctor was convinced we would have our baby in the next 5 hours. He broke my waters to shave off some labour time. The baby had passed mec, (first poo) so it meant I had to be monitored continuously through my labour. Our midwife was a saint. I spent time in the shower, time on the fit ball, she was so accommodating to my position changes all the while monitoring me and our baby. I tried gas and air for most of my labour, though I don’t think it helped with the pain, it helped control my breathing. My poor husband spent the next 5 hours rubbing and using pressure points we learnt at hypnobirthing, in my back to help stabilise my pelvis and help with the pain. He was incredible during labour. He and our midwife would chat and work together so I could concentrate on my breathing. They would negotiate who would be the one to tell me things, or if they could handle it on their own.
Around 630pm, I remember looking at the clock and feeling this calm sensation over me like I was transitioning. I told our midwife I felt like I wanted to push. She checked, and said she still felt cervix but wanted a second opinion. A second midwife came in, she felt I was only 6-7cm dilated. My heart sank, how could I have been 6cm 4 hours ago and not progressed at all, this was meant to be the quick part of labour. By now I was feeling exhausted and a little disheartened. I spoke to the midwife about getting an epidural, I knew that maybe if I could sleep and give my body a little break, I would dilate and get things going. After speaking with my doctor, we agreed this was the best course of action. We got set up for the anaesthetist to come in. She was so surprised how calm and quiet I was breathing away with each contraction. I think I even managed a little 15minute power nap on the side of the bed while she was putting the epidural in. Unfortunately/fortunately the epidural didn’t work, I had part sensation on one side and full sensation on the other. As she was about to try and fix the epidural, our doctor arrived to check and see how things were going himself. I was 10cm dilated!!!!
I didn’t realise until afterwards, they hit the emergency bells because they had nothing ready for me to push. In came midwives galore to help set up our room for the impending arrival…I was oblivious!! Our doctor was still in his nice suit; the anaesthetist was in shock because she had never got to see this part of a vaginal birth and was rapped into helping catch the baby. I followed the doctor’s instructions to give a push, and down came the head. Ten minutes and three pushes later, Hugo Frederick entered the world screaming with his eyes open ready to meet everyone. The one thing I learnt from this whole experience is how much more I respect my body. I listened to it, and let it do its thing. I no longer just want a safe birth for mum and baby, you really can have control over your circumstances while being open to the fact, sometimes they just have their own agenda. I can’t thank my support team enough, our doctor, midwife, our friends, my amazing husband, without them, I wouldn’t have had the dream birth I didn’t even know I wanted.