Real Birth Journey: Charlie Thomas

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:
Chaning Flaherty, 27

Due date:

Cravings during pregnancy:
Anything salty.

Worst symptom/s:
Terrible insomnia.

Biggest concern about birth was:
Making sure our baby arrived safely.

Ideal birth plan was:
To have no plan, I was open to just go with the flow.

Hours in labour:
24 hours.

How we went from wombmate to roommate: 
I woke at around 2am Monday morning with what felt like period pain, it was coming on every 10 minutes or so which made me think this could quite possibly be the start of something, especially since I already knew he was in the right position and ready to go any day now. Fast forward to 11am my contractions had increased and so had their frequency. I told Shaun (my husband) to head to work, as I wasn’t quite sure how long this would go on for, and I was in no hurry to head to the hospital at such an early stage. My mum however offered to come and keep me company just incase.

The next few hours were spent rolling around on a fit ball and having short hot showers to help ease my contractions. 3pm rolled around; my waters were still intact, contractions were now every 4 minutes or so, and at this point I decided to call the hospital, they advised it would be a good idea to come in to be checked over, so we packed my bags in the car just incase, and off we went. A check at 4pm revealed that I was in fact having contractions, was only 3cm dilated at this stage and baby’s heart-rate was a little irregular. With very little discussion the doctor proceeded to break my waters and then advised he would need to place a foetal scalp electrode into baby’s head to help to provide a more accurate reading of his heart rate, however this also meant I was bed bound for the duration of my labour/birth. 

Side note – one thing I think is so important is to only have people both personal and professional in the room that you feel comfortable with, and if at any time someone makes you feel uncomfortable it is absolutely ok to speak up. Unfortunately this particular doctor had zero bed side manner and he was asked not to return.  Luckily I also had a beautiful team of midwives who I can’t speak highly enough of, and the doctor who actually delivered my baby was also wonderful.

The next 6 hours were spent having strong contractions with little break in between. I tried some gas to assist with the pain, but found myself biting down on the tube during each contraction rather than actually sucking in the gas. At around 11pm I was SO exhausted and in quite a lot of pain and needed some relief so requested an epidural. It took what felt like hours to arrive but once it did it was quickly administered, and it was then that I had a new best friend in Larry the anaesthetist. The epidural worked its magic pretty quickly, however I could still feel my contractions on my right side, but it allowed me to close my eyes and rest for an hour.

Around 12pm the doctor came in from another delivery, checked me over to find I was fully dilated and it was go time. “Time to have a baby!” she said. I was in such a groggy state I asked to have a minute to gather myself. It was a very surreal feeling knowing I was about to meet our baby. I had so many different emotions wave over me. Excitement, nerves, a little fear, but mostly so ready to meet this little person I had spent the last 9 months growing!

We soon discovered he had his unbiblical cord wrapped around his neck twice, and me pushing was doing more harm than good, so it was important to get him out ASAP. Episiotomy at this point was my only option, followed by a forceps delivery. Loud cries were heard which was an instant wave of relief. The doctor placed a beautiful baby boy onto my chest, and that moment is one I will never forget. A feeling like no other, my heart was literally on my chest. I had my husband on my left and my mum at my right, tears were rolling, it was quite literally the most incredible moment.

Post birth – while I was enjoying every bit of that newborn bubble, and I was lucky enough to escape those day 3 blues I had heard so much about, my body was struggling. Episiotomies are painful, throw in a fractured tailbone from birth (ouch) and a postpartum haemorrhage that had me on my back for the days that followed it’s safe to say I was feeling (and still am) a little traumatised by the ordeal. My days in hospital were spent having blood and iron infusions and I had a little bit of a struggle with my milk supply due to the blood loss, but luckily this eventually came right. By weeks end I just wanted to be at home. I’m sure the walk from my hospital room to the car took us most of the day but I was so happy to be going home with my new little family.

Most vivid memory during labour:
The sound of hearing Charlie’s first cry, and strangely how fast the time goes during labour.

Most amusing/interesting moment during labour/birth:
After Charlie was born one of the nurses asked if I would like anything, she laughed when I responded with Vegemite on toast and a cup of tea!

During labour/birth, I definitely did not expect:
To be confined to a bed.

A myth I believed prior that I now don’t is: 
That epidurals are painful – mine was not. I’m not sure if my contractions were blocking that pain, but I didn’t feel anything.

Baby’s name, birth weight and date:
Charlie Thomas, 6p 8oz, 22.11.16 (4 days early)

Baby’s name was almost:
Always Charlie.

Time spent in hospital post birth:
5 days.

Best tip/trick you received for those early days:
One of the nurses suggested having a few newborn nappies dipped in water and then placed in the freezer as they make great icepacks!

Top 3 lifesaving items for a newborn:
Unlimited nappies, unlimited spill cloths, unlimited cuddles (you cannot over cuddle your baby!)

If you could go back and speak with your pregnant self, what would you say?
Enjoy every moment, take all the photos and spend plenty of quality time with your other half and with yourself – you will never have this kind of time again.

If you could speak with yourself during labour, what would you say?
You are stronger than you think.

If you could speak with yourself on day 3 of having a newborn, what would you say?
Go easy on yourself, you have literally just birthed another human, you are INCREDIBLE.

Any words for first time mums-to-be nervous about their own upcoming birth?
No two births are the same, yours will be unique to you. Take it all in and enjoy every moment because one day it will just be a precious memory.

If you have a birth story you’d like to share then please get in touch and let’s start the conversation!

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