So, pregnancy… yay! Most people are generally living in the country where they are planning to give birth. Jacob and I are not ‘most people’. We/I got pregnant while we were living in the UK, so most of our pregnancy care was done with the UK health system before moving back to Australia at 32 weeks pregnant. I’ll tell ya what, flying at 32 weeks requires so many forms to fill out, blood tests, doctors notes as well as compression socks (sexy…) and foot hammocks for the plane!
For most of the pregnancy, Frankie had been a star fetus. She was measuring perfect for her gestational age. The midwife in the UK was happy with her size. I was on the smaller side in how I was carrying, but nothing that they were concerned about. Everything was great until we landed back in Brisbane and I had my first appointment at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital. I went in for my appointment and they were immediately concerned with just how small I was measuring. They sent me for another ultrasound pretty much straight away and I was told to return two days later with the report from the ultrasound place. So, we got the ultrasound done and upon reading the report, they had measured Frankie to be 31/32 weeks in gestational age – I was actually 36 weeks pregnant. So, she was measuring 4 weeks behind what she should have been. All scans were normal, so the doctors and midwives were quite confused as everything was perfect yet my little baby was too little. I went and got extra scans and ultrasounds and then went back for my checkup appointment and was then told that we would need to put a plan in place about how we would continue the pregnancy knowing she was small. They mentioned that induction may need to happen to make sure she was okay. I instantly felt like a failure. Why was my body failing to do the one thing it is meant to do?!
A few days passed, and I had to go back to the hospital for yet another check-up on Friday the 13th. This was my 36-week ‘check-up’ and they referred me to a doctor and not the midwives. I knew at that moment that there wasn’t any way they would let me carry Frankie to term. The one time I go to an appointment and this is where the doctor told me that they were inducing me within the next 3 days! She wanted me induced on Saturday, but thank God they didn’t have any spaces available for an induction. I was not mentally prepared (plus we didn’t have a car seat yet – thought we had another 3-4 week to go) for having a baby THAT soon. They booked me in for induction on the Monday. I didn’t have a birth plan typed up, no conversations had been had with any midwives about what I wanted. I wanted a natural drug free birth, but that wasn’t going to happen seeing as though they were already using a drug to induce labour.
During the pregnancy, I was a part of a Facebook group about mastering a pain-free childbirth. I watched a lot of the teaching videos about how to go about the birthing process and how it can be a pain-free, positive experience. It is absolutely fantastic and the women in the group are great Godly women and are so so encouraging. I messaged the group on the Friday asking for prayers that Frankie would be delivered safely and she would be absolutely perfect in regards to size and everything the doctors need for a healthy baby. I hadn’t even finished watching all of Karen’s videos, so was freaking out a little about it all and was wanting to binge watch the rest of the teachings, but that didn’t happen. I trusted in God and myself that this would be a pain-free, safe and positive birth. I read ‘Supernatural Childbirth’ by Jackie Mize about 5 times throughout the pregnancy as well. This book is a must if you are pregnant!
So, it was a very busy, emotional weekend. I felt like an absolute failure that I couldn’t give my baby girl what she needed to grow properly (even though there wasn’t anything I could’ve done to change anything). Lots of praying happened over the weekend that Frankie would grow and be a healthy baby girl. I was told if she didn’t make it to 2.5kgs (5.5 lbs) when born, she would need to be in the NICU.
Monday came and I spent the day knowing that I was going to be induced at 8 pm that night. I tried to go about the day as normal, yet still knowing that by the end of the week, Frankie Rose would be with us. Jacob went to work as normal and we went to the hospital later that evening. As they needed to monitor me, midwives were coming in telling me that part 1 of the induction (involving a cooks catheter – google cooks Cervical ripening balloon catheter if you really want to know how it happens…) would take quite a long time. It would be put in at 8:15 pm and then 12-18 hours later, they would remove it, break my waters and start the synthetic oxytocin to get my contractions started and labour going. I wasn’t to expect her to come until late Wednesday if not Thursday.
So, they did the procedure, took me to the room to sleep for the night, sent Jacob home and told him to back at 8 am the next morning. I prayed my little heart out when he left that tomorrow would be a smooth day with no complications and my baby would be born perfectly healthy. Well, that didn’t happen. Exactly 3 hours after they put the balloon in (11:15 pm), my waters broke completely by themselves! The midwives couldn’t believe it (neither could I). I rang Jacob, told him to come back to the hospital as things started moving along quicker than expected. Midwives kept asking me if I was having contractions or any pains – in which my response was ‘No, I’m just having what feels like period pain’. I assumed because I had 180ml of water within me, it was just the uncomfortableness of that.
Down to the birth suite I went with my bible, supernatural childbirth book, a stash of snacks to last me at least 3 days and the UE Boom. The midwives put the CTG machine on me to monitor Frankie’s heart rate plus my contractions that I didn’t actually know were contractions.
The midwife at one point asked how I felt, I once again repeated the whole period pain thing.. to which her response was ‘they are actually contractions and they are quite strong!’ I was blown away (not because I didn’t trust God to have a pain-free childbirth but because I didn’t expect contractions to feel like that). They did a check, and I was only 3 cms dilated.
They started the synthetic oxytocin via IV and just did their thing. I was able to talk, laugh, breathe and walk through each contraction as they were just like period pain. When they got intense, I just relaxed my body and took deep breaths. Around 4 am Tuesday morning, the midwife commented that when people have the IV Oxytocin, they generally ask for an epidural when the dosage gets to 8ml an hour. I asked her how much I was getting, and I was already at 8ml and doing just fine. She couldn’t believe how well I was handling everything. After a few hours my contractions were coming on fast and strong, but then subsiding – not painful but intense period cramps. I would have 3-4 really intense contractions on top of each other, and then nothing for 10 minutes. I tried pretty much every option of getting comfortable that was allowed, other than the tub. After using the toilet, I found that sitting on the gym/exercise ball was the best position for me. So I spent quite a lot of time on the ball. They gave me the option of trying some gas as well, so I agreed to this. Well, my body certainly didn’t! For the next 30-40 minutes, I had waves of nausea and vomiting. Fun times.
I would have 3-4 really intense contractions on top of each other, and then nothing for 10 minutes. I was getting quite exhausted by this (I hadn’t had a proper sleep since Sunday night), so they gave me a morphine shot to let my body have a rest and to calm me down. The shot knocked me out for about 2 hours but also stopped my contractions altogether which is not meant to happen… Every doctor/nurse/midwife person who came in to see me couldn’t believe how well I was doing for the dosage amount of synthetic oxytocin that they had been giving me. They ended up needing another bag of the oxytocin because my contractions had stopped, so they upped the dosage to 20ml an hour. At 9 am they checked to see how far along I was, which was only 5 cms. I felt totally deflated. I’d been contracting for what felt like hours yet I still had so far to go. The doctors again upped the oxytocin and left. At around 10:30 am, they came in concerned about my heart rate and blood pressure as it was dropping significantly due to exhaustion, this then affected Frankie’s heart rate. They were having trouble finding her heartbeat as she kept wriggling around probably because she was running out of space inside. The midwife came in to see me and gave me the option of either continuing with the labour and possibly getting an emergency c-section or getting or an epidural to help me rest.
I didn’t want to do either but opted for the epidural. This was at 11:00 am. At 11:30 am the anaesthesiologist came in, did the whole speech about pros and cons – all the while I am sitting on the toilet as it was the most comfortable place. I agreed with what he was saying and they all set about getting the epidural. There were so many people in the room for the whole epidural scenario! There was the 2 midwives, student midwife, 2 anaesthesiologist, 2 other doctors plus mum and Jacob! The room was packed to say the least. During this time as well, there was a midwife handover so a lot was going on.
At 11:45 am, he had just put in the epidural needle and taped it all to my back when I got the biggest urge to push. At this stage, there wasn’t any epidural going into my body, just the massive needle sitting there waiting for someone to press the go button or even get the time to set the actual machine up. I again said that I need to push. The new midwife seemed to know that it was go time when the other doctors thought it was ‘just pressure.. you don’t need to push yet’. The midwife didn’t even have time to read all the notes about the labour before she went down to see how dilated I was when I heard ‘Oh my goodness. Her head is right there!’. They gave me a mirror to see what they were seeing and all I saw was her head full of hair!
From there, everything happened super fast. The midwife asked what position I wanted to give birth in but mentioned because of the epidural, there wasn’t a lot I could do so it was either laying on my back, legs in the stirrups or just holding my legs up. So, I opted for the stirrups. Some of the many people in the room set that up while the midwives got all the stuff ready, doctors were doing their stuff and there was the very switched on midwife between my legs making sure things were all happening safely. I pushed every time I felt the urge rather than when they told me to push and then BAM! 4 pushes and out came Frankie Rose at 12:08 pm. I had my perfect little girl at 37 weeks and 1 day! Perfectly healthy and just making it over the 2.5kgs (5.5lbs) mark by .008g.
I wanted to delay clamping/cutting her umbilical cord until it had stopped pulsing, but due to being induced, they had to cut straight away to check the gases within the cord. As soon as the cord was cut, they put her straight on me which is what I requested. They left Frankie on me for an hour before weighing her and doing all the ‘official’ baby hospital stuff. It was then that they realised Frankie had quite a severe tongue tie in which she couldn’t poke her tongue out or just move her tongue, in general, this then affected her feeding as she couldn’t latch properly. This was the second time I felt like a failure as a mother and she wasn’t even 24 hours old (not that I could do anything about the tongue tie). The hospital staff weren’t concerned about anything in regards to Frankie, so we went up to the maternity ward about 3 hours after I had Frankie, and they discharged me the very next day! Such a blessing!
I could not have asked for a better birth story! Everyone goes on about having the perfect birth plan and ensuring that medical staff know exactly what you want and how it needs to be done – but in all honesty, they are the professionals, not me. So, I say be flexible. Yes, let them know what you want but if plans need to change, think about the pros and cons. If I stuck with my ‘all natural’ birth, it may be a very different story. At the end of the day, the goal isn’t for you to be able to brag about the drug-free birth, the goal is to have a healthy baby delivered as safely as possible into the world. Remember, God is always in control regardless of your typed up, laminated birth plan. I had such a positive, empowering birth and I tell you what.. we women are freaking superheroes!