I wanted to share Fletcher’s birth story on here, but I thought it was important for me to share Macie’s birth with you first – for those of you who haven’t read my blog from 2 years ago.
So here it is…
I have wanted to write Macie’s birth story for a while. I wrote a shortish one to a midwife friend of mine who is travelling around Australia, but it really wasn’t what I needed. I guess I’ve been a bit embarrassed about my feelings about Macie’s birth. I mean she was born, she was healthy, there were no concerns with her at all. And I came out relatively unscathed, physically. But I think mentally, it is still taking its toll. I didn’t have a terribly intrusive birth, and I had the most amazing people with me the whole time, but I think I have just given myself a really hard time about it. It’s only just now that I feel I am truely ready to talk about it, and to talk about how I felt about it.
I suppose I should talk about my thoughts about my labour before I was even pregnant. As I’ve mentioned, I’m a midwife – only a new one – but still a midwife. I know some stuff, believe it or not. I greatly, greatly respect and honour normal birth. In fact, I LOVE normal birth. I love being in the room of a normal birth, to see the pride the woman has in herself, in her body. To see the pride her partner has in her. To see the shock, and surprise when the baby is all of a sudden on her chest. The bliss. The love. The honour. It’s amazing. Words can’t describe the feelings that are in a room after a normal birth. I read somewhere that the midwives in the room during a birth also have oxytocin in their blood. And I totally believe it! The power, the rush of emotion and the eternal love that I have felt after a birth is amazing, and I can only see that our wonderful love hormone Oxytocin is to blame! (Or thank.)
I have to say I was a little judgemental in regards to birth before I was pregnant. Maybe judgemental isn’t the word. I think I just had a picture of the perfect birth, and I didn’t think anything that deviated from that was anything special. Which I now see as really sad. Of course that attitude wouldn’t have been obvious on the outside, but on the inside, if something complicated a birth, or the woman chose things that I didn’t believe necessary I would feel a little deflated. And I think I took it personally.
Anyway, when I found out I was pregnant I was stoked. Excited and nervous. But stoked. For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a Mummy, and I was so excited to see the other side of my professional world.
Things started off rocky. I had disgusting morning sickness for the first 19 weeks of my pregnancy, where I would vomit at least 5 times a day. I struggled to eat and drink anything, but also battled with constant hunger. It was horrible, and there were so many times where I would wonder if it was really worth it.
Finally, all of a sudden it was like a light flicked on, and I woke up after an afternoon nap on a Saturday and the nausea was gone! It was like the fog lifted. I had energy, I had an appetite and I felt human! From then on my pregnancy was a dream, and I loved being pregnant. I loved feeling her move all the time, I loved my bump and I loved the glow that I had after the nausea lifted.
So I had plans, lots and lots of plans. My labour was going to be natural, I wasn’t going to let anyone interfere, I wasn’t going to use drugs, I was going to have a physiological 3rd stage, I was going to be in the bath and it was going to be amazing.
But the more I thought about it, the more I doubted myself. I never spoke about it, and I probably should have, but in the back of my mind I was always thinking about how I would probably fail myself. I had complete faith in my body, but not in my mind.
Anyway, my pregnancy sailed along perfectly.
About 3 days after my due date – on the Monday, Pete was on night shift. He gave me a call about 9pm to ask how I was going, and to make sure I wasn’t going into labour as he had to go on a transport down to Newcastle (about 2 hours away) and wouldn’t be back until at least 3am. I wasn’t very impressed with this idea, but gathered I wasn’t in labour, so I wouldn’t be having the baby between now and then. But of course, at about 1am I was woken up with contractions! They were very irregualr, and all over the place, but they were definitely there. I managed to get zero sleep, but they eventually completely stopped at 6am.
When Pete got home I cried. A lot. I was so tired, and I think I was just overwhelmed because I was in that place by myself – I did have my pup, but she wasn’t much of a back rubber. I begged him to stay home that night, just in case it happened again. He wasn’t very keen, but he called in sick anyway.
I’m so thankful he did, because the exact same thing happened. And at 6am they stopped – again.
I was so grumpy on the Wednesday from lack of sleep. I was just over it. I gave my obstetrician a call in desperation to see if she could squeeze me in. She did, and that evening I think I could have gotten down on my hands and knees to beg for a strip and stretch. But I didn’t have to. She was more than happy to. And alas! All that pre labour had gotten me nearly 4 cm (!!) and full effacement!!! Yay! She also guaranteed that I would have my baby by the end of the week. I think her words were ‘You’ll go at any minute’.
Pete freaked out! He took that as my membranes will rupture at any minute and ran down the hall to the nurses desk to ask for a towel – he didn’t want the car seats ruined.
When we got home, Pete got busy. He cooked himself up a massive steak with a plate full of veggies, shaved his beard and found his ‘birth shirt’. Contractions ramped up almost instantly, and while he was cooking I was walking around the kitchen moaning and whinging. I began to freak out a little bit, and gave my beautiful friend/midwife a call. Well, Pete did. She had been called into work, so would be there when I headed up there. I was stoked about it. She told Pete what to say to me to calm me down. Things like ‘the contraction will end’, ‘you are in control’, ‘big breaths’. And it worked. He ran me a bath, lit some candles and got my music playing. And I relaxed for a little while. Things felt like they ramped up a bit, so I checked myself (wow that was hard), and I thought I was about 5cm, but bubs head wasn’t well applied to my cervix. I knew I needed to get up and about, but I felt so overwhelmed and out of control that I told Pete I wanted to go up to the hospital. There went my plans to stay home for as long as possible out the window.
Pete called up for me, only to be told that the place was full. No beds. No rooms. Nothing. And could I try and stay at home for another hour. So I tried. And I managed to stay at home for just over an hour, but I was so overwhelmed by the whole thing that I begged Pete to take me up to the hospital. After several attempts to get in the car, only to be flattened by contractions, we finally made the 2 minute trip up to the hospital. And when I got there, there were still no beds, no rooms, nothing. So I scored the waiting room and portable gas.
The gas is amazing! I loved the stuff. I still felt the contractions, but I thought they were hilarious!
I eventually wanted something more. The shower, the bath. Anything. So I got moved to the seperate bathroom and was able to have a shower while the bath filled up. I felt good for a while, and was happy in the bath breathing on the gas, working through the contractions. But then the exhaustion took over. 3 days of no sleep doesn’t make one feel so good about pain. I wanted to sleep. So badly.
So I asked for Morphine, hoping it would take the edge off enough for me to have a snooze. I was checked, and I was 6cm. At least I was making progress! It was about 1am.
I had the morphine, and was moved into a room (finally!) and lay down with Pete to try and rest a little. I think I got about 45 minutes, but it was enough for me to keep going.
I got up and got in the shower on the fit ball and used the gas. I was feeling so in control, and so on top of it all. One of the midwives came in to see if I was ready to get checked again at about 5ish. I said no. I was in a good place and didn’t want to move.
At about 6ish, I thought I should be getting close, and I was curious. So I asked to get checked. I was also getting a lot of back pain, so I wanted to see what position the baby was in.
6cm, poorly applied, posterior position.
Again, up in the shower, leaning forward to try and get bub to move around.
8.30. The doctors were there. I didn’t want them in. They spoke to my new morning Midwife – another friend of mine. They recommended I get checked again. I was getting tired again, so I agreed.
6cm. Poorly applied. Posterior.
I was hysterical. A syntocinon infusion was recommended. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to tolerate that without an epidural – something I was so against. But I knew it was going down a path I was against already,
So an epidural I got. And a syntocinon infusion I got.
From my point of view the epidural didn’t do anything. I kept waiting for it to ‘kick in’. It didn’t.
The pressure, the pain, the feelings of failure were so overwhelming. I kept chanting ‘no, no, no, no, no, no.’ Every time a contraction started.
I went from 6cm to fully in 30 minutes, and bub and moved right down low. No wonder I was overwhelmed.
Then came the pushing time.
I always imagined that pushing wouldn’t hurt. That it would be a relief. That it was a good thing.
It wasn’t. It was awful. It was the worst part of the whole thing. I didn’t want to push. It hurt to push. It hurt not to push. I felt sick. I just didn’t want to be there.
Because of the epidural I had to be directed to push – again, something I explicitly didn’t want. But it had to happen.
I asked for a mirror. I watched her head appear, slowly, but surely we kept seeing more.
Pete had always said he didn’t want to see anything below the waist. But he watched. And I could see how proud of me he was. He was what kept me going. I wanted him to be proud of me. I wanted to be proud of me.
You could say I was vocal, especially to begin with. I yelled. But it helped.
It was something I was embarrassed about afterwards. But now I have realised that it helped get me to the point of pushing my sweet girl out.
My beautiful friend/midwife who was there over night stayed during the morning. She went back to our place to feed our dog, and let the cats out. She had a sleep on the couch for about 45 minutes, until I started to push.
I needed her there. She kept me centered, focused.
So she got there, and brought me back to what I needed to do. She encouraged me, and helped me to believe that I could get it done.
Over 2 hours after I started pushing, after the burn of the ring of fire, and the overwhelming fear of shoulder dystocia (which I had no indication of – it was just a stupid fear because I knew too much) Macie Rose Barry was born at 1.17pm on Thursday morning.
Except, I was sure I was having a boy (we didn’t find out), and made sure everyone was sure it was a girl.
Because I had the syntocinon infusion and a prolonged second stage I didn’t get my physiological 3rd stage. I wanted delayed cord clamping, but everything got confused, and her cord got clamped well before it was ready.
We had a beautiful long period of skin to skin, and Macie fed beautifully.
She was bliss. She is bliss.
It was love, straight away. Like I never thought was possible.
I did it.
Despite the intervention I had, I still pushed her out. My body still did it.
Looking back now, I think my fear of failure is what led me to ‘fail’.
I was so ashamed of my labour, so embarrassed that I didn’t get the natural birth that I valued so highly.
But you know what? I have a healthy baby, and a happy family. I know for a fact that the midwives in the room with me did everything they could to keep things as I originally planned them to be. They had so much respect for my plans and I will always love them for that and for the role they played in Macie’s birth.
I can’t wait for baby number 2.