Every mother has a birth story and boy are they different.
I never thought people would be interested in someone else’s birth story but it’s amazed me just how intrigued people really are.
It’s definitely a life changing event and I feel like all women should be proud of their efforts during labour. I wasn’t sure if sharing it on here was appropriate but I guess if you’re reading this then you’re somewhat interested, so here goes!
My first contractions came while resting in bed, on November 7th and they felt like sharp, stabbing period pains, which came in irregular waves. When each wave came, I attempted to practice the breathing techniques that I had learnt in the Calm Birth class and just go with it. They were bearable for a little while, but when the contractions became too much, I took myself downstairs and left Jacob to sleep in peace (ahh the sacrifices we make!).
The following morning arrived and I was exhausted, having barely slept the night before. The contractions had stopped, so I went about my daily routine.
Later that afternoon I went to the pool to do laps but something had changed. After just 100m of swimming, I got out of the pool and wanted to curl up in a fetal position. By 7:00 pm that evening as we sat down to dinner, I had one of the most excruciating pains I have ever felt. It lifted me off my seat and the tears began rolling down my cheeks.
It’s GO time, this baby is en route.
Or was it?
Are we there yet?
My contraction waves continued for the next 7 hours, coming and going every 10 minutes, to every 3, then every 2 minutes. It was a constant battle trying to find a position that I was comfortable in but nothing felt right, let alone comfortable. Now that I think about, the word comfortable and contraction should never be used in the same sentence.
My mum was there to help both myself and Jacob through this process, which at the time was the only thing that was keeping me sane. Mothers. What wonderful humans.
Photo: Testing Hugo’s Hearing After Birth (aka promoting the new Beats by Dre)
As my contractions became closer together I was convinced I must be close to 10cm dilated, which is when you’re allowed to start pushing your baby out. I felt frightened and out of control so I made, what I thought was the right call to head to the hospital. Whoops!
Once I arrived at Hornsby Hospital, they did the internal exam to check my progress. And boy, was it an upsetting outcome. I was not even 1cm. Holy s**t! 9cm to go.
“Give me the Epidural!”
The midwife told me in the nicest way possible that I should go home and try and get some rest but I ignored this sensible information and chose to stay put at the hospital. I felt safe and I felt like it was exactly where I needed to be. There was no way you were getting me away from the gas (pain relief) and into a car. Fast forward 7 hours, I was hitting rock bottom. My energy levels were running empty and my pain threshold was hitting its limit.
“Give me the epidural. NOW!!”
If only it was that easy. Unfortunately, there was a small problem.. I wasn’t in active labour (which starts at 4cm dilated) so they sent me out of the hospital to go for a walk. I walked for maybe 1km but it felt like at least 10km. I walked, or should I say stumbled with my mum on one side and Jacob on the other in broad daylight with a hospital blanket draped over my shoulders. I was crying, moaning, collapsing and shaking. What a sight to see.
I made it back to the hospital and to my surprise, had actually made progress. A whole 1cm but that’s all I needed for the go-ahead to receive the epidural. Christmas had come early, or so I thought.
I could go on forever about this part of the story but I’ll spare you too many details and simplify it with just this…
That epidural that everyone speaks of… well, it didn’t work.
They did the ice test to see what parts were numb, and it was a cruel moment when I could feel that freezing cold ice cube touching my thigh. Two doctors tried for over 2 hours to get the epidural needle in the correct place but for some reason or another, it just wasn’t agreeing with my spine. Instead of allowing me to move positions, I was forced to stay in a hunched over position for more than 2 hours whilst this went on, having contractions every 2 minutes. Talk about a mental game!
I couldn’t move, I could barely breathe and I felt as though the baby was about to come out. Later on, I learnt the reason I had the urge to push so soon because Hugo’s head was so far down the canal it was pushing against my cervix, yet my cervix was not open for business, just yet…
Receiving this piece of information sent me into a state of panic.
The epidural was supposed to be the only thing that was going to take this pain away and I had just been told it wasn’t going to work. I was no longer calm, I was the complete opposite. There were tears, there were swear words, there was an extreme amount of disappointment and there was sheer panic. There was no way I was going to get to 10cm being this hysterical so the doctors discussed my options & decided to begin the synthetic drug of syntocinon (what’s used when you are induced) as well as a jab in the leg of morphine. These two combined would hurry along this dilation process.
Shortly thereafter, I was out. The morphine was in full swing, the pain had subsided and I was relaxed as Hugo in his first bath.
By this stage, I may have been relaxed, but I was now also bedridden. Unable to get off the bed. I had a catheter in one leg, IV fluids in one arm, antibiotics in the other (I got a fever), and an epidural in my back that wasn’t working. All I wanted to do was get up and move but I was stuck. Tied down by cords. As the hours passed by I begged to be checked once more.
We’ve made it to 7cm. Progress. The doctors told me this was my last chance to relax and if I couldn’t, they would have no choice but to take me in for a C-section. Hugo would become distressed just like his mother.
There was no way I was allowing them to take me in for a C-Section (after all this!) unless it was 100% medically necessary and we weren’t there yet. What this piece of information did was simply give me the wake-up call that I needed to get my shit together and allow my mind to travel to a better place. I grabbed Jacob’s hand, as well as my mums and I repeatedly said over and over to myself “you can do this, no one else can do this for you”.
The visualisations of calm, happy places began. My mum took my mind to places away from where I was and as I sat there and listened to her calm soothing voice, I let my body do what it needed to do for the next 3 hours. My mind relaxed. Don’t get me wrong here guys, those contractions were still torture but I took them in a far better manner.
“You can push”
At 7:30 pm, 18 hours after I came into the hospital, the midwife checked me one last time and gave me the words I had been longing for. “You’re now 10cm, you can push”.
Hallelujah! Let’s do this!
After just 45 minutes of pushing and 3 different positions, Hugo was delivered into this world and it was sweet, sweet relief. I had done it. Me. I had pushed this baby out, I had finally allowed my body to do its job!
I never thought I would have been one to use a mirror but it helped immensely in finding that last bit of strength to visually cross the finish line and welcome our baby into the world.
Welcome Hugo John Cass
Hugo John Cass was born at 8:15 pm, on November 9 2018, weighing 3.194kg and 50.5cm in length.
If someone asked me “is childbirth what you thought it was going to be?”, my answer would be no.
Labour was hard, harder than I ever thought. I know I’m not the only woman in the world to go through labour but in all honesty, aside from the pain, what I found the hardest, was the length. It was like 4 marathons put together, with no break. Whenever I felt a contraction coming on, rather than thinking “it’s one step closer to my baby” I thought “oh God, not again”. If I could do it all over I would change the way I spoke to myself. It makes all the difference.
I’m proud of myself and my extreme efforts and now I know what to expect, I’m ready for round 2. Too soon?
Hugo boy, let’s go home.
* A special thank you to my husband, my mother and my extremely supportive sister. These three incredible humans were my rock during this whole ordeal and I’ll never forget the love and support I received from them. I’m a lucky girl.