A Beautiful story by Lisa, sharing her pregnancy and birth journey. I feel very privileged to be able to share all these beautiful stories and journeys with you all. This is a wonderful story with a few bumps along the way. Lisa’s positivity is truly amazing. She had many challenges but took them on like a pro tackling each challenge one step at a time.
My birth story began in July of 2015 when my husband and I found out that we were expecting our first child. I still remember the giant smiles on our faces when we saw the home pregnancy test said ‘yes’.
We were aware that our pregnancy would be a bit different to most and needed to be identified soon after it was possible so that it could be medically managed. This was because I have a pre existing blood disorder which predisposes my blood to clot too much. In pregnancy my abnormal clotting is exacerbated and can be life threatening. We were deemed a ‘high risk pregnancy’ and so we needed to attend specialist clinics and more frequent appointments.
We met with a hematologist who advised that I start daily injections of the drug Clexane to reduce my risk of blood clotting during pregnancy. The injection into my stomach was painful and left bruises the size of my palm.
I could often feel my tiny baby kicking underneath the needle but this was a small price to pay for a healthy pregnancy. Clexane also came with its own risks of uncontrolled bleeding and this caused significant concerns for my upcoming birth. My husband and I learnt more about the concerns ahead during our appointments. We were advised the plan of induction at 39 weeks gestation so the Clexane injections could be ceased in time to reduce my risk of haemorrhaging during birth. We both agreed that our delivery would need to be carefully and artificially managed.
Early into my pregnancy I could recognise how fearful I was becoming of birth and in hindsight, being classified as ‘high risk’ contributed to this. My fear wasn’t a result of a previous birthing experience, as I had never given birth before. It was a result of stories from well meaning friends and family, experiences from my nursing work in neonatal intensive care and different media all combined. I decided to address my fear of birthing early before it could overwhelm me. I had previously heard of hypnobirthing and decided to look further into the Mongan method. At 16 weeks gestation my husband and I decided to book into a calm birthing work shop. The workshop was the best thing I ever did to prepare for birth. I left the workshop feeling capable of birthing, which surprisingly I had seriously doubted prior. I was also at ease knowing that I could mentally prepare myself for a calm, active labour and birth within a hospital and artificial induction of labour.
I rehearsed hypnobirthing breathing exercises to meditative scripts daily and began a weekly yoga class in addition to this. I changed the way I thought about birth and the words I used to talk about birth. I began noticing myself talking to people about birth with confidence and positivity. I often got surprised looks from friends and family who were shocked to hear that I was no longer scared of birthing or the indignities that occur with it. Often people wouldn’t hesitate to go on to tell me about the length of their labour, pain, and complications. Although I didn’t ignore the reality of all the above I always believed that my birth would be my own story and it was.
That’s not to say that we didn’t experience our own scares along the way. We were reminded how fragile our tiny babies life was when we had two bleeds at 22 weeks gestation and then again at 27 weeks gestation. Our family was so fortunate to receive reassurance that our baby was safe after countless CTG monitoring, blood test and ultrasounds to follow.
On the 19th of April 2016 we had finally reached 39 weeks gestation and I had stopped administering Clexane two days prior. We were admitted to hospital to begin our induction of labour. I began utilising all the benefits of hypnobirthing from the moment I stepped into the noisy, unfamiliar and chaotic hospital environment. The first step of my induction involved an overnight stay after the insertion of a cervical balloon ripening catheter so that the induction of labour could proceed the next day. On 20th of April 2016 the obstetrician continued to induce my labour by artificial rupture of membranes and commencing a Syntocin infusion. I continued to focus on taking deep and effective breaths throughout every step of the induction and with each breath I felt a wave of calm flow through my body. Our midwife allowed us to dim the lights in the room and burn clary sage and lavender. I also listened to meditation scripts throughout the entire process. I am not fazed to say that my labour lasted 13 hours. I don’t think length of labour is something to brag about or to be afraid of just as equally. Birth is what it is. It can be unpleasant and painful but it can also be a beautiful time when you are giving your baby life.
It was so important to me to have my husband as my support person in labour and birth. It allowed me to focus solely on birthing as I knew that I could trust in that he knew exactly what I needed and when. He was by my side every step of the way (literally). Yes, he saw every indecency you can think of but he helped me get through it. He was my extra pair of hands that pressed my TENS machine on and off during contractions, dragged my intravenous pump all around the room and most of all he gave me strength when I lost focus.
My contractions continued to become more frequent and intense. I found enormous relief in the sitting position, all fours and in a hot shower. I had reached 8/10 cm dilatation when I made the decision to have an epidural. I hadn’t been opposed to the idea of analgesia as an artificial induction of labour is often described by its intensity. I did want to try my best to have a drug free birth so that I could feel everything and effectively push when the time came.
The anaesthetist arrived soon after and I received an epidural. I continued using hypnobirthing and meditation during this time to rest my body and prepare my mind for the second stage of labour. When the time came to push I was so excited to meet our baby. After an hour or so of pushing my baby began to drop his heart rate unusually and this caused some concerns for my medical team. Unfortunately my baby had tired and he needed to be born quickly. I could hear the concerned voices around the birth suite. There were several conversations happening between my midwife, the midwife in charge and the obstetrician. At one point an emergency buzzer was pressed. Despite the chaotic environment I was able to remain calm by still using my breathing exercises. I was at no point anxious or terrified. I believe this is due to all the meditation I had practiced. I also knew that I was in safe hands and grateful for the assistance my baby and I could receive.
I was prepared for theatre with the plan for trial of forceps delivery. If that failed I was then going to need to have an emergency caesarean. Luckily after only two contractions my baby was delivered using forceps. Hardy William Ashmole was born on the 21st of April at 3:26am, 2016. He let out the biggest cry after he was placed on my chest. He was the most beautiful person I had ever seen, he was safe and healthy.
The challenges we had faced over the last 39 weeks and in labour had almost immediately disappeared after meeting our baby. Although my birth didn’t follow my birth plan entirely, I still achieved my goal which was; a healthy baby and a healthy mum. I have only positive things to say about my birthing experience despite its challenges. I feel extremely lucky to have received the assistance my baby and I needed and I am so grateful for such a positive outcome. My birth story was my own and it was unlike anyone else’s.
Guest Blog @ Relaxed Parenting by Lisa, Melbourne