After childbirth, everyone wants to hear your birth story. What you expected, what you experienced and of course what pain medication you had.
My number one goal for the birth of my daughter was to avoid a cesarean. The next goal was to avoid an induced labour. But I was given an induction date at my 40-week appointment. Which was 12 days after my due date. I honestly didn’t try to interfere too much but I felt confident that I could avoid being induced. I had two ‘stretch and sweeps’, the second being a bit more vigorous than the first. Approximately 50 hours later, I thought I was going into labour. I got up to go to the toilet while watching a movie in bed when a glob of something landed on the floor. It looked like the inside of an egg. A runny outer bit with a darker coloured glob in the middle.
Since I wasn’t sure what to do, I called the hospital. The hospital said they would probably send me home, but I should come in for a checkup.
My husband and I arrived at the hospital at 11 pm Friday night. I was monitored and appeared to be having very mild contractions. But the baby had not yet dropped into position. She was still sitting quite high. The nurses decided that I would be kept in overnight for observation. It was then that I knew I would not be going home until I had my baby. My induction scheduled for the next morning.
I got very little sleep that night due to the increasing contractions and extreme back pain. The back pain only got worse. My Saturday was spent being monitored and walking around the ward, stopping every so often when the pain took my attention.
At 8 pm I was connected to a machine again. But I was so uncomfortable and felt like I needed to go to the toilet. I buzzed for the nurse to unhook me but after waiting about five minutes I couldn’t wait any longer. Feeling impatient, I decided I would try to go to the toilet and I wouldn’t go back to bed until I had urinated.
That was when my waters broke.
The most accurate way for me to describe my waters breaking was a tsunami. As I was on the toilet, a gush of water laned in the toilet with such force it bounced back out, all over the floor. I felt immediate relief from what I had been feeling but I knew I would be meeting my baby very soon.
Into a wheelchair and off to a labour suite. I spent a lot of time swearing until my midwife told me how best to direct my energy. She also told me the best way to hold my legs.
My mum appeared at my side not long after I arrived in the labour room. I had made it very clear to both families that I only wanted my husband present during the birth. However, my mum had just finished her shift on another ward and came to see how I was. She offered to leave as was my original wish but I wasn’t about to send her home to wait for news of her first grandchild’s arrival. I put my mum on ice duty while my husband was at the business end giving me lots of encouragement.
It appeared that I was tearing so a doctor came in to perform an episiotomy. Within three hours of my water breaking, I was holding my daughter.
My daughter arrived at 10.46pm weighing in at 9lb 3.5oz (4180g) on our 3rd wedding anniversary, November 5.
I felt strongly about delayed cord clamping, my husband cut the umbilical cord after it had stopped pulsing.
The same doctor that performed the episiotomy came back to add a few stitches but left before doing anything. The damage was too extensive, I needed to go to theatre to be repaired. I sat up and asked to move across to another bed.
When I came there were about 10 staff around me. And I was whisked down to surgery. I remember the anesthetist had beautifully kind eyes, I trusted him immediately. A catheter and spinal block later, I was struggling to stay awake. Luckily a nurse told me that I could sleep. I was in surgery for about an hour. It turns out the tissue was so soft that the stitches kept tearing the tissue.
I finally arrived back in the maternity ward around 3 am. I was exhausted and absolutely famished. My husband had basically been left alone with our daughter while I was in surgery and he was glad to see me.
I received two blood transfusions, as I lost quite a lot of blood during the birth. Later that day I tried to get up to have an assisted shower but fainted again.
All up I had four nights in the hospital and three units of blood. Our daughter had no name for a day until we decided on Elise May. Elise was not on our shortlist but May is my middle name, as well as my mother’s middle name.
Going through IVF isn’t easy. Three is so much new information about the reproductive system that you never learned at school. The added physical and mental strain of something so invasive. Not to mention all of the money involved. So here are the 6 lessons I learned from IVF.
Sure I learned about the menstrual cycle at school, but that really only covers the basics. Now I know that your body often gives you signs of what’s happening on the inside. From hormonal acne to cravings to cervical mucus, I know my body better than I ever have before.
You get to know yourself up close and personal. Along with knowing how the menstrual cycle actually works, I learned where exactly my ovaries were. It was really easy to tell because they felt like they were the size of oranges. Did you know that your cervix can be open or closed, as well as high and low? I had more people see my privates in the lead up to a pregnancy than had ever seen them before: doctors, nurses and several different ultrasound technicians.
Apart from our initial ‘counselling’ session, which was more like a private information session, I attended two more sessions with an IVF counsellor. The first one was after my egg collection but before my transfer. The second one was just after we found out the baby’s gender. During these sessions, I came to so many conclusions by myself, just by saying my thoughts out loud.
Apart from my husband and immediate family, no one knew of our struggles to fall pregnant. I was ashamed. And I blamed myself. I didn’t want anyone to take pity on me. I didn’t want anyone to know that I wasn’t perfect.
I joined a few IVF facebook groups. One nationwide, one for the clinic’s brand and eventually an IVF babies due in October, an offshoot of the nationwide group. I rarely asked questions in these groups, mostly giving my thoughts, experiences and encouragement.
In general, I am not very good with needles. Things like vaccinations and tetanus shots I can deal with. Having blood drawn is another story. During the IVF process, I had approximately 20 blood tests, sometimes every two days. I had to learn to cope with that. It’s a real inconvenience to faint during a blood test. They will generally make you wait there for at least an hour, and they might not let you drive home. On top of the blood tests were the numerous hormone injections, 38 to be exact. I chose to do these myself. I did not want to be faced with the idea of having to them myself after relying on someone else to do them. What if they weren’t there and I wasn’t able to do it?
I recently read an article about why Sarah from Sarah’s Sage Advice waited to have children. It got me thinking about what my plan was for when I wanted to have children. I never wanted to be an old mum.
When I was a kid I always considered my mother to be old. But in comparison to my friend’s parents, she wasn’t old. She is around the same age as most of them. She is the same age as my mother in law. In fact, they are only 5 days apart. Mind you I never saw my dad as old, even though he is 11 years older than my mother! I never wanted my children to think that I was old.
So I knew that I wanted to have my first child younger than what my mother was when she had me. She was 28 (turning 29) when I was born. Ideally, I was aiming for 25-26.
I diligently waited for my husband to be ready to start a family. I’d been ready for about a year and a half by the time he was ready. I knew better than to push the subject or to take matters into my own hands. Because this was not just my decision to make. It would be a big change for both of our lives. We both needed to be ready.
I really, really wanted a honeymoon baby. What better way to show your partner and child that you love them? Funny story, I thought I might be pregnant on our honeymoon after throwing up on the Ferris Wheel at Disney California Adventure. As luck would have it, actually it wasn’t luck. I don’t think it was divine intervention or kismet. I don’t know what it was. But three years, a few doctors, numerous medications, countless tests and thousands of dollars later, my daughter was born. She is now almost two years old, and I am 31. I’m not an old mum.
Sometimes things don’t quite go to plan. And my journey into parenthood certainly didn’t go to plan.
Every new pregnancy announcement still sends my brain into a whirl. I thought after getting pregnant with my daughter those feelings would go away. My daughter is now 21 months, and my initial feelings are still the same. My heart jumps into my throat, and my knees go weak. I can’t look away from the screen. I hope that it’s all just a silly prank. If I’m honest, I also think they are an idiot, but that’s a story for another day.
I can’t help but take it personally. It’s like the universe is constantly reminding me. I know they are not trying to shove it in my face or rub it in, but that’s how it feels.
Don’t get me wrong, I am usually incredibly happy for them, but I can’t seem to put my struggles aside.
I generally treat each pregnancy announcement differently. How close am I to this person? Do I have any background information to support how I should feel? I analyse it in a few ways before I publicly react. Sometimes it takes me a few days to offer my congratulations. Sometimes I will offer a generic ‘congratulations!!’ on the facebook post. I might wait to congratulate them in person if I know that I will be seeing them soon. If I know a bit more about the situation, I will send them a personal message either via facebook or text message. Then there are the few occasions that I just ignored it altogether.
I will attend the baby shower. I will put together a thoughtful and useful gift. More often than not I will also crochet a personalised toy. I think people have come to expect it after all this time.
Particularly when it comes to getting pregnant, many people keep their struggles a secret. And I understand why. I didn’t want to open myself up to the suggestions because yes, we had tried everything. We tried relaxing. We tried ovulation kits. I tried natural herbs. We tried special lubricants. I felt ashamed that my body wasn’t working in the way that it should. I certainly didn’t want anyone to know that I wasn’t perfect.
During my injections for IVF, I found out that one of my friends was expecting. I was told to my face, so I didn’t have anything to hide behind. I’m now embarrassed by my reaction. I said “that’s great” then gave them a thumbs up. Then I walked outside.
About a month and a half after my egg collection for IVF I decided that I needed to see someone about the feelings that I was having. The main thing I got from that conversation was how would you know? How would I know that my friends didn’t struggle to get pregnant? I didn’t ask. I didn’t offer up any more than my simple well wishes. So who am I to judge and have these feelings towards people not knowing anything about the situation?
Not long after my pregnancy reached 12 weeks, I felt that I needed to talk to someone again. This time I had the revelation myself after venting out loud. Think about the negative things you tell yourself. How would you react if it was a friend telling you the same thing? You would tell them to stop being silly.
I shared this wisdom with a friend recently. She was worried about getting in the pool as her body was not the same as it was before she had her handsome little boy. I asked her to think about what she would say if I were the one making a fuss about my post-baby body. She agreed that she would say that I was silly, then she jumped in the pool.
I’m sure it is just one of those things that will get better with time. I also hope it will be a little while before the next pregnancy announcement,
I was one of the lucky ones. I had it really easy, with no pregnancy surprises. I didn’t have experience high blood pressure, gestational diabetes or Hyperemesis Gravidarum. You could even say that I enjoyed it. That’s not to say there weren’t a few things that surprised me about being pregnant.
For me, morning sickness was not what I was expecting it to be. I only actually threw up about 10 times, and only once did I throw up twice in one day. But I constantly felt sick, like I was going to throw up. This made it hard to want to eat or drink anything. After about week 20, the sick feeling began to fade but I still
My oh, my! Nothing seemed to help the swelling in my feet. I sat at work with my feet up, only slightly elevated. I did work at a computer desk after all. I lived in a pair of compression stockings, like the ones you get after surgery or when flying. But they made no difference towards the end. My poor toes looked like little sausages.
Some nights the reflux was that bad, I tried sleeping propped up on a few pillows. I was lucky that the medication I used did help. Although it was taken in a more preventative manner, rather than as a quick fix.
I became constipated quite early on. I searched online for some solutions and decided to try pear juice. I managed to find it in the supermarket and gave it a go. It was really unusual to basically drink a pear. Pear juice did not quite do it for me. So I switched to an old faithful, Metamucil. For the last two or so months of my pregnancy, I was having a dose in the morning and another dose at night.
By the time I made it to week 39, I had an insatiable hunger that just did not seem to be curable. My stretch marks had also been pretty mild but seemed to explode into being during week 39. They became agonizingly itchy. I was applying lotion several times a day just to get some relief.