Real Birth Journey: Ezra River

Birth. It is the most incredible, indescribable, unpredictable and miraculous occurrence. Bringing life into the world is an experience that is personal and precious beyond belief. Each delivery is different to the next, and yet I feel that despite the varying differences it is something so special it can actually bring us altogether. I’m pulling together a range of real birth stories to share in the hope of expanding our knowledge and expectations of birth, and to dwell in the wonder that is the gift of life, in the countless forms it may arrive in!

Name & age at birth: 
Jessi-Rose Lee, 25 

Due date: 
3rd of April 2019 

Cravings during pregnancy: 
Nothing really, I had more one off cravings. Like this one time all I wanted was an iced bun and I went to 3 different places I knew sold them, and they had all sold out! So I sat in the car and cried. (hormones)

Worst symptom/s: 
Severe morning sickness (Hyperemesis Gravidarum) for the whole 9 months! I threw up nearly everyday – the worst!  

Biggest concern about birth was: 
Having to have an episiotomy.  

Ideal birth plan was: 
Pain free, little intervention, labour in the water and possibly birth in there too.  

Hours in labour: 
I ‘laboured’ for 4 days.   

How we went from wombmate to roommate:
We discovered Ezra was breech at my 38 week appointment, so I had my options explained to me and I chose to give the ECV a go. An External Cephalic Version is where an obstetrician manually tries to turn the baby with their hands. It wasn’t the most comfortable experience but I’m glad I gave it a go. Unfortunately he was too stubborn to turn and I was given a date for my Caesarean. I had 12 days to still try and turn him myself and I did absolutely everything possible!

I was up at the pool duck diving and doing handstands, I laid on an ironing board upside down and all other odd positions for hours at a time. I crawled around for days, I sat in a warm bath and held cold peas on his head, I played music and shone a torch to the lower half of my belly, I rubbed peppermint oil over the top half of my belly, I had acupuncture 3 times. I saw a reflexologist and had metal rods waved over me – that one was different, I prayed and prayed and prayed, I spoke scripture, I imagined him turning and yet nothing was working.  

On the Thursday before my C-section I was up at the pool doing my graceful duck diving when I started to feel ‘something’ I got all excited thinking it must be him turning! I got home and that feeling had turned into ‘this feels like Braxton hicks.’ I had had them the week prior so didn’t think anything of it. As the night went on they started feeling a bit stronger but nothing to complain about, I thought they would just fizzle out by the morning. The next day they were getting worse and more frequent. I messaged my midwife and she also thought they were just Braxton hicks and they would fizzle out over a few hours. I had some panadol as she recommend, but that didn’t help. I continued to put up with the discomfort and just hoped it would go away.  

Saturday came and things were getting quite intense – the contractions were strong enough to stop me in my tracks and make me focus on my breathing. Andy and I decided to call my midwife again and she said to pop up to the hospital. I was monitored and contractions were present, she also did a VE to discover I was effaced and 2cm dilated. She said that they wouldn’t take me for a C-section earlier than the scheduled date, until I was in established labour. She gave me some pain relief and sent me on my merry way. I took the pain relief, but the pain was too intense that it didn’t help. I didn’t walk or try to encourage labour because I was booked in for the Caesarean, and in my mind having to go through labour when a section was booked just didn’t seem fair.  

Sunday morning at 2am I went to the bathroom and had that attractive ‘show’ and I knew things were getting real when that happened. I rang labour ward and explained that he was breech and they told me to come in right away. When we got there they monitored me and you could well and truly see the contractions on the monitor. I had packed my bags thinking ‘they’ll definitely take me to C-section now’ but they sent me home at 5am. Again saying they won’t do anything unless my waters break or I’m in full on labour. So for the next two days I rocked on all fours, didn’t sleep at all, moaned and groaned like a cow, counting down the hours until Tuesday morning.  

The morning came of his section and all my nervousness had gone, simply being replaced by the pain I was in, I guess that was a blessing? They wheeled me into theatre and sat me on the bed to have the spinal block put in. They then laid me down and started to prepare and all I could think was ‘I can’t believe I’m here, is this really happening? Surely I can still try and turn him?’ They started the procedure and that’s when I started to react to the drugs. I went white, was sweating, couldn’t breathe and started convulsing. They strapped my arms down, put oxygen and a cold wet face washer on me and injected me with some more drugs. I vomited and basically felt like I was going to die.

Ezra was born and they placed him straight onto my chest like I had asked them to, I wanted to achieve a gentle section. But before I could even turn my head to see him I had towels thrown over my head as they were trying to stimulate him because he wasn’t breathing very well. They quickly took him over to the neonatal resuscitator and put oxygen on him. He was so mucousy that it was affecting his breathing and he needed to go to the nursery. Then before I knew it him and Andy were gone.  

I just laid there on the table, thinking “what on earth has just happened? This wasn’t meant to happen, I had accepted the fact that I had to have a section, but I didn’t think I would have to use my ‘it all went to sh*t’ list!” I was taken through to recovery and I remember just laying there, thinking “is my baby okay? What does he look like? What does Andy think of him? What was my mum’s reaction when she saw him and found out it was a boy?” I’m missing out on all these precious moments and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it.  

They finally came and got me from recovery and wheeled me down to the nursery (where I worked before maternity leave). Being at work as a patient is very different, and I would much prefer to be the nurse than the patient haha. All my beautiful work girls were there and that made me feel so much more at ease. I saw my mum and Andy and I started crying. And then I saw him, my little Ezra. He had leads and monitors on him, a cannula in his little hand but no respiratory support which was such a blessing! When I saw him he was sucking his hand and I said, “Oh look he’s hungry.” My gorgeous work friend gave him to me and that cuddle is one I will remember forever. After all the dilemma, he was finally here, in my arms happy and healthy.  

We spent the next couple of hours in the nursery and then we were moved to the postnatal unit. My midwife came in and saw us and explained what had happened and debriefed with us. She also explained that he was so wedged down in my pelvis and given a few more hours he probably would have been born bum first!  See, I knew they weren’t just niggles! But none of that mattered, as I now had my little family altogether.  

Most vivid memory during labour/birth: 
Andy getting to see him being pulled out and exclaiming “It’s a little boy Rose, we have a little boy!”  

Most amusing/interesting moment during labour/birth: 
When we were up in labour ward that Sunday morning, this poor lady was in the final stages of labour and you could really hear her thoughts around that. Andy’s facial reaction is something I’ll never forget! 

During labour/birth, I definitely did not expect: 
Any of it to go the way that it did.  

A myth I believed prior that I now don’t is: 
Morning sickness only happens in the morning and for the first trimester.  

Baby’s name, birth weight and date: 
Ezra River Lee, 3046grams/6lbs 11oz, 2nd of April 2019 

Baby’s name was almost: 
It was always going to be Ezra if it was a boy.  

Time spent in hospital post birth: 
3 nights.  

Best tip/trick you received for those early days: 
Get up and move, it makes all the difference in recovering quicker.  

Top 3 lifesaving items for a newborn: 
Spill cloths, white noise and simply your arms and chest.  

If you could go back and speak with your pregnant self, what would you say? 
Enjoy the time you have left with how things are now; it really is all going to change. Also take the advice from family and friends who have children, when they say go out on dates with your partner, enjoy sleep-ins and do things for yourself, as you won’t get the opportunity to do so as easily with a baby.  

 If you could speak with yourself during labour, what would you say? 
The professionals are there for a reason, but they don’t know your body and what you’re experiencing. Push forward that you believe you’re in labour and not just niggling.  

If you could speak with yourself on day 3 of having a newborn, what would you say? 
There are no prizes for doing it all yourself, accept the help that is offered.  

Any words for first time mums-to-be nervous about their own upcoming birth? 
All the pain, anxiety, nervousness, stress etc., is nothing compared to that love-at-first-sight feeling. It really is all worth it! You’ve got this Mumma!  

Any further notes you’d like to include: 
You will have advice thrown at you left, right and centre, but do what works best for you and your baby. Everyone has different experiences and needs. Also parenting is a tough gig, and there’s no shame in reaching out for help and support if you need it.

Do you have a birth story you’d like to share? Then please get in touch and let’s start the conversation and continue the celebration!  

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