As told by her Mama
I remember the day I found out I was pregnant for the first time like it was yesterday. I was filled with all of the emotions that every person I knew had told me I would feel. All of the love and excitement for the journey ahead of us but also with worry and fear of the unknown. I knew that the journey ahead would be different to what we knew, but oh so worth it once we got to meet our little one.
My pregnancy was like a dream from the beginning; I felt very grateful that I hadn't experienced some of the negative things that people had told me to expect. I had expected nausea at the beginning, but the worst of my experience was some leg and hip nerve pain. So, all in all, I feel like I would describe it as a positive pregnancy.
Throughout my pregnancy, I was never short of people telling me their stories. Don't get me wrong, I was so grateful for the advice and information, but If I had a dollar for every time someone had told me a negative birth experience, I would be a very wealthy person. I felt like, unfortunately, I heard more negative than positive. Something I had learnt in my hypnobirthing course was that although that may have been their journey, I had to remind myself that it wasn't mine to take and not to take some of that fear into our experience.
It was quite a straightforward pregnancy, so I guess looking back, Steve & I may have been a little naive as to how we thought our birth experience was going to be. We were just so excited to meet our bubba. As we didn't know what gender we were having that we prepped ourselves as much as we could early on. We went through a lot of birth scenarios that we thought could possibly happen. When we wrote out our birth preferences, never did I imagine that one of the more traumatic scenarios was going to be our story.
Our due date came and went, and I remember starting to feel anxious, anticipating when I would go into labour. Feeling like my body was lagging by not going on time and having multiple texts a day checking in to see if I had had the baby yet. I was trying to remind myself that it all came down to when bubs was ready to join us.
11 days over and it was finally time!
The contractions started in bed. I knew instantly that I was in labour. I woke Steve up to tell him, and we called our midwife, who said that it could either progress or possibly taper off. I told Steve to go back to sleep, thinking that I would have a while, but they hit me like a ton of bricks, and it all progressed very quickly! Much quicker than I had expected. I jumped out of the shower and woke Steve up, and said we need to go...now! The car drive felt like an eternity, even though it was only a 10-minute drive. We picked up my mum on the way, and we headed into the birth suite around 1.30 am.
As soon as I was in there, we didn't get a second to think, it was progressing quickly, and I found myself trying any and every position to lessen the pain I was experiencing. Nothing seemed to help. I tried desperately to remember my hypnobirthing information, but that all quickly went out the window. My preference was to try a water birth, so the next few hours were spent either in the shower or in the bath, trying my best to push through the pain.
Although the pain became too much for me to handle, I had started to use the gas to see if it would help me get through the contractions. But by this stage, my contractions were that intense that instead of just sucking in the gas to get me through the peak of them, I found myself constantly sucking on it to the point of going in and out of consciousness. My midwife was trying to put a needle in my hand while my waters broke on the toilet, and I was sucking that hard that I was passing out! I remember her saying one of my veins had collapsed, so she had to use the other hand, and I didn't want to let go of the gas in my hand. At that stage, it was the only thing somewhat helping, so I wasn't letting go! And now that the water was no longer providing me with any relief, I proceeded to the bed.
I never thought I would be vocal in labour, but by the time I hit full dilation, I was screaming at the top of my lungs on the bed, leaning over the top of it, full in primal mode. I could feel my body trying to push, and I was experiencing the bearing down.
What I was taught in my hypnobirthing class was that this would happen when you were close, but nothing was progressing. I wasn't getting any further along with the baby coming out, and I wasn't getting any break from the pain of the contractions.
I remember being so desperate asking my midwife if the baby's head was coming out. She said that it wasn't, and I remember feeling so defeated. She did an internal exam and found that the baby's head was tilted. It wasn't coming anytime soon without me doing some incredibly painful movements to try and move it. I tried with no luck.
The pain at this stage was just unbearable. I was done. I couldn't do it any longer.
I found myself begging for an epidural so I could have one second of relief from the pain, but of course, the one person I needed to do that procedure had just left after a long night shift, so they had to call him back. And boy, did that half an hour feel like it was never going to end.
The one thing I was so scared of doing was the one thing I so desperately wanted that once he returned, I managed to hold myself together and still through the painful contractions.
The block was finally in, and Steve and I had two minutes of downtime to shut our eyes before the situation became one of our worst nightmares. The next couple of minutes was what I could only describe as chaos. And both of us tried to remain calm in the middle of it all while people were trying to explain everything to us. My blood pressure had dropped, and the baby's heart rate was dropping. Luckily, a specialist doctor was on duty, and once he came in, he had made the decision he wanted the baby out, and he wanted it out now.
The next 70 minutes were a blur, doctors and nurses coming in and out. Steve & I were just looking at each other in disbelief of what was happening but accepting that we needed to move fast. I was getting pulled around every one way and very quickly that the cords attached to me were now getting yanked around as the Dr proceeded to tell people to move quickly but to be careful with my cords. I had to say goodbye to my mum in the birth suite. I hadn't even had time to process what was about to happen, but we locked eyes, and I'll always remember her words 'you'll be fine sweetie' as she had tears, as she watched her 'baby' being wheeled away.
We got up to theatre, and I'm positive people were talking to me, trying to explain what was going to happen, although all I remember was looking at Steve and not wanting him to leave my side. We both had the same look of fear but tried to remain calm. Steve got gowned up, and we got into the little room just before the theatre room, and they realised my Epidural cap was missing. The part that needed to be sterile was no longer sterile. Everyone was looking at each other, unsure as to where that went wrong—human error perhaps on who had done it or in the transfer from the room to theatre.
No one had any answers, but they had to move quickly, and I was being told it now meant that instead of being awake for the birth of our child, there was the possibility I would have to go under GA.
I was told by the Dr we would try for a forceps delivery to tilt the baby's head, and I was told I had two pushes to try, as more than that can make this situation more dangerous. I was determined to push my absolute hardest. I couldn't feel when my contractions were coming, so I was being coached by my midwife as to when to push.
Push one and nothing.
Push two and nothing.
The heart rate monitor had now dropped, and all I could hear was a distant and spaced out heartbeat. My eyes were fixed on this machine. It was all I could look at. I was watching the number going down. My midwife got my attention 'don't you worry about that, let us focus on this.' How could I not? My baby's heartbeat was dropping. 'Instruments down' were the words from my Dr. He wanted to get the baby out.
They tested my stomach with an instrument, and I could feel it. That meant now I had to be knocked out, and my partner had to leave. How could I do it without him? Is my baby going to be okay? Am I going to be okay? So many questions were running through my head, but I could feel myself already getting prepped to be put under.
I'll never forget the look in Steve's eyes. Not knowing what was going to be the outcome was truly terrifying. Saying goodbye was truly terrifying. My rock of a partner welling up in his eyes, giving me a kiss is a moment that will always stay with me.
My midwife assured me I got you, Shan, and I have your baby. Don't worry. We will look after both of you. As I was being put under, my eyes rolled to the heart monitor to the left of me, still watching the number intently and then I was out.
I was putting my full trust in the amazing doctor to safely deliver my baby.
I was told the baby was delivered not even 10 minutes after that and was taken out to Steve. I woke up drowsy in recovery, and the first thing I asked was, "Is my baby okay?" All I cared about was knowing my baby was okay. I was told by my midwife the baby was healthy and safe and was with Steve and my mum. That relief was something I had never experienced before.
I so desperately wanted to go and see my baby and Steve, but they informed me I had to wait until they made sure I was okay and awake fully. Little did I know Steve and my mum hadn't known my condition for quite some time. No answers were given besides 'they are still working on her', something that they may never get over fully.
The pure joy Steve said he felt holding his baby for the first time but not knowing if I was alive was the toughest thing he had ever gone through. How could you be both so overwhelmed with pure happiness and the most intense worry. Balancing between two very different emotions.
I was finally wheeled downstairs and into the room. There they were—my people.
I immediately started crying. My baby was safe. We got to find out the gender together; at least that moment wasn't taken from us. I was holding this amazing little baby who was looking up at me with the most beautiful eyes. I've never felt love like that before.
We opened the nappy together. Steve whispered, 'it's a girl!' I, still in a drowsy state, looked down and realised it was true, we had a girl, I was holding my daughter.. 'it's a girl, I cried.
When I look back at pictures, I am reminded of how raw that moment was. This is what we had created. We had a baby girl, and her name was Caliah. 9 pounds of pure perfection.
Everything from the birth now seemed irrelevant. The pure joy and love we all felt was something I will forever be grateful for. I wish that moment didn't get taken away from us, though. That special moment you get to experience with your partner had been robbed of us. That first meeting of our daughter had been taken on a different turn. It wasn't the birth experience we thought we would have, nowhere near it, in fact.
But you know what. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
Birth & newborn course
The Bump, Birth & Beyond course will educate you and your co-pilot (support person) on what to expect during pregnancy, birth and the first trimester with your new little love.