Real Birth Journey: Harper Emma

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:
Mel, 27 

Due date:
September 21st 2014 

Cravings during pregnancy:
Oranges, milk and anything “fresh” or “refreshing”

Worst symptom/s: 
SOOOOOOOO nauseous from 6 weeks until 18 weeks. But couldn’t vomit so it never went away – more like all day sickness, not just morning sickness. I didn’t have much of an appetite because of the nausea. My mum would try and get freshly squeezed fruit juices into me each day just so I had some energy. I also had terrible pelvic instability which made it hard to walk some days. And terrible reflux – which was the pits. 

Biggest concern about birth was: 
Fear of the unknown… Although looking back now, maybe that was also the best part first time round – going in blind.  

Ideal birth plan was: 
I went into my labour with a totally open mind. I had never done it before and I had no idea what to expect. I had absolutely no birth plan. I did however know going into it that I didn’t like the idea of not knowing what affects the different drugs would have on me. But I was also open to the drugs if I needed them as I had no clue what the pain would feel like and how I would cope with it.
Vaginal was ideal but I was happy to go with the flow and do whatever my Obstetrician (OB) thought was best for me and bubs. And I had been told that those who go in with a strict birth plan, are usually let down and disappointed after. 

Hours in labour:
From the first sign until giving birth it was about 24 hour. But I would say about 7-9 hours of active labour.  

How we went from wombmate to roommate:
I went into labour at about 4:00pm on a Saturday. It started out mild. We took the dog for a walk, and went to the supermarket at like 11:00pm to stock up on goodies for the hospital. By about 5:00am we went into the hospital, but like many first time mums I ended up getting sent home as my contractions slowed right down after we arrived. We got home and things sped up fast. It wasn’t a pretty sight. I had some big clots and the nurses told me to quickly get back to the hospital. 

So, we were back in the hospital by about 9:00/10:00am. Once I got in, my OB came and checked me out and I was already 7cm dilated. We spoke about the pain management options and he was so encouraging, he told me that I had done the hardest part and I’d come so far. He was so sure I could do it without an epidural, that he really encouraged me to go on without it. I used the gas for most of the time until it started making me incredibly nauseous.

Jase (husband) had to coach me through every contraction. I needed him by my side always, no joke – he had to ask my permission to go to the toilet. As I got closer and closer to needing to push, I started cursing my OB for telling me it wouldn’t get more painful, LIAR! It was so painful at this point I thought I couldn’t physically do it anymore. About 15 minutes before she was born, I got up to go to the toilet to wee, with Jase by my side, and my waters broke.

THE PAIN! It was excruciating but also so funny! It was like out of the movies – the sound, the gush! It was crazy! My poor hubby got to see it all. I jumped back into the bed on my back, as that was the only way I felt comfortable, and then I really felt like I was about to die. I think that’s the best way I can explain the way I was feeling at that point. Lucky my OB wasn’t in the room at that time because I was really cursing him now. That point, just before you need to push is by far the worst pain I’ve ever experienced in my life. But as soon as the pushing started, I could see a light at the end of the tunnel. I was about to meet this baby that I had wanted for so long.  

With just a few quick pushes, she was out!!! Our gorgeous baby girl, about 2:00pm healthy and well.

Most vivid memory during labour: 
I so clearly remember the way my OB manoeuvred her out of me. He twisted and turned her so carefully, trying so hard not to let me tear. I did end up with a tiny tear and a few stitches. Also because she came out so fast at the end, her face was incredibly squished and twisted and a little bruised. I remember my OB looking at me saying “don’t worry, her nose will straighten up.” But when they put her on my chest, yes I loved her instantly, but she was funny looking. Like a squished alien.  

Most amusing/interesting moment during labour/birth
My waters breaking on the toilet! 

During labour/birth, I definitely did not expect: 
For the pushing part to feel like a relief. Maybe it was because it meant I was finally going to meet my baby. But those moments just before needing to push were by far the worst and then each push was that step closer and closer and it was SO liberating!  

A myth/misconception I believed prior that I now don’t is: 
I didn’t know that after giving birth when you breastfeed your bub, your uterus actually contracts back down and this can be super painful! (Second and third baby were even worse!) Also the amount of bleeding post birth was also a shock for me. I knew it happened but it was pretty full on for me, especially the first time.

Baby’s name, birth weight and date
Harper Emma, 3.4kg, Sept 14 2014 (born at 39 weeks)

Baby’s name was almost: 
Harper was always our number 1. But a few days before we started considering Blake. I actually love the name Harper and Blake for both boys and girls. And her middle name Emma was after my great grandmother, so very special to me.

Time spent in hospital post birth
4 nights. With all 3 babies, I stayed in hospital on my own. This was a choice that both Jase and I made. We have a furbaby too so first time round, Jase went home to look after him. And it also meant that he could have uninterrupted sleep at night. And then come into the hospital during the day and give me a break. It’s a personal preference which we loved. 

Best tip/trick you received for those early days: 
Utilise the nurses at the hospital. Soak up every bit of info you can. Especially if breastfeeding. It’s not easy, so get help! And same goes for when in labour – don’t leave it until the last minute (I know people who accidentally gave birth at home), call the hospital each step of the way or any time you are in doubt.  

Top 3 lifesaving items for a newborn
Just come prepared. You don’t know what your baby will need. I love the Purebaby zip onsies. Buttons are silly on clothes with newborns, you just want easy options.  

These ones are for mum not the baby:
Multi-mums – an amazing brand of nipple relief pads to help sore nipples when feeding.
TOM Organic pads – for down below!! I went through SO many of these! 
Black undies and black trackies – to avoid embarrassment if you leak.  

Harper’s first bath!

If you could go back and speak with your pregnant self, what would you say? 
Enjoy it. Enjoy every kick!! The nausea and all the other annoying symptoms are all a good signs that things are going to plan. 

If you could speak with yourself during labour, what would you say? 
Embrace the pain – it’s one step closer to meeting your baby! Don’t be scared of the unknown – it’s easier than knowing!! Going in blind I found so much better. Second and third labours I found more daunting because I knew and remembered the pain! 

If you could speak with yourself on day 3 of having a newborn, what would you say? 
Go see a lactation consultant – stat!! Sore nips are the pits!! And don’t worry about those irrational tears – it’s just the sleep deprivation and the crazy hormones talking! It’s all normal! 

Any words for first time mums-to-be nervous about their own upcoming birth? 
I hear ya – it’s scary, and it’s daunting. But just remember what it’s all for. The end game – you are going to meet this incredible human that you have just grown inside your body!! I promise it is all worth it in the end. 

Any further notes you’d like to include: 
The female body is incredible!!!!!!!! Embrace it and enjoy this crazy ride. 

Read about Mel’s second birth here
A comparison between my first and second births – first without an epidural and the second one with an epidural

Read about Mel’s third birth here

If you have a birth story you’d like to share, then please get in touch and let’s start the conversation and continue celebrating this incredible life changing event! 

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