Real Birth Journey: Olive Maree

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:
Rhiannon de Bruyn, 25

Due date: 
21st of December, 2018 

Cravings during pregnancy: 
Mac & Cheese – for breakfast lunch and dinner, thankfully that only lasted a week. Other than that, pulpy orange juice and popcorn chicken. 

Worst symptom/s: 
The worst morning sickness for the first 15 weeks, and as soon as my morning sickness subsided, I had the worse hip/sciatic pain until the very end. 

Biggest concern about birth was: 
Literally everything! But if I had to name one thing it would definitely be that I wouldn’t be in control and things would happen in their own time.

Ideal birth plan was: 
Oh gosh, we didn’t really have a definitive ‘birth plan.’ I wasn’t really opposed to anything and in the end we just wanted the best for the baby. 

How we went from wombmate to roommate:
We had an elective caesarean for a few reasons. There is a backstory, so I’ll start with that. 

I have suffered with depression and chronic anxiety for the past 10 years; my depression is pretty well managed but my anxiety fluctuates depending on the day. I’m also a little bit obsessive compulsive and very much a control freak. From the moment I found out I was pregnant my brain was in overload. I was all over the place and I remember being convinced that something was going to go wrong the whole time, which made it very difficult for me to enjoy my pregnancy. 

Weeks passed and we were tracking along beautifully, we were measuring 5-7 days bigger the first few scans but other than that everything was going great. At around 17-18 weeks I was at work and had a loss of fluid (to the point where I had to go and get changed) and really bad cramping. I went to our OB, she checked me over and did an exam thinking I may have lost my plug – happy to report it was nothing major but by that point my anxiety had kicked off to a whole new level. I remember sitting at home thinking ‘What if she comes now? We’d have to go to Hobart, she won’t make it, she’s far too little! Who would look after the cats??’

Weeks went on and we were now measuring 7-10 days bigger at every scan, we were also laying transverse. I remember being so uncomfortable and being told that she would turn soon, but it took weeks and weeks before she did. At 34 weeks we had another measurement scan and she was measuring 99th centile, they were estimating she would be 10-11 pounds by birth which for someone my size is quite a big baby. We went back to our OB the following week and baby had finally gone head down (YAY) but had not yet engaged and now we had to discuss the options given she was ‘measuring big.’ Our OB said she was absolutely not letting us go to term given her size already and we discussed the options of an induction and possibly a caesarean.

Luke and I went home and discussed our options and the following week I went back to our OB. I remember sitting in her office being so uncomfortable I asked her ‘when is the absolute earliest you’ll get this baby out of me?’ She said not before 39 weeks and asked if we’d thought anymore about the possibility of an induction and in that moment a rush of emotions came over me and I burst into tears (even now as I sit here typing I can feel the anxiety I felt that day and I’m even tearing up). I asked her if we could have an elective caesarean and explained my reservations of an induction, which was that there was an increased chance of an emergency caesarean with an early induction. I am actually a Registered Nurse in theatre, so I have been involved in my fair share of emergency caesareans.

I explained to her that the idea of being rushed into my workplace for an emergency procedure terrified the life out of me and that I would feel a lot calmer and in control doing so on my own terms. We sat in her office for almost an hour talking about my anxiety throughout my pregnancy and around having an induction, and we set the date. I was absolutely not opposed to having a natural birth and if I had gone into labour before our caesarean date I would have absolutely given it a crack, and believe me, in the weeks leading up to our caesarean I did everything to induce labour but our stubborn baby just wouldn’t budge. 

The day of our caesarean finally arrived and off we toddled to the hospital arriving at around 6:00am, we were first on the list and I got wheeled up to theatre around 8:30am. We got taken into theatre where I had a spinal anaesthetic (not as bad as I thought it was going to be) and then was laid down and positioned on the operating table. They prepped and draped me and then started – in that moment I remember laying there listening to the noises in the room and holding Luke’s hand so damn tight then everything went silent and I started to feel really hot and sick. My blood pressure had dropped which was a side effect of the spinal but was back to normal minutes later.

After about 10 minutes the drapes came down as baby’s head was being pulled out and watching this person being pulled from you is the weirdest feeling ever. I could feel them touching and pulling but had no pain or discomfort – it was so bizarre. They held her up for us to see and it was surreal. In that moment Luke started crying and I was in shock. She was finally here! Fast forward about an hour and a half and I was finally back on the ward, we just sat there and looked at this tiny human we had made and started talking names – we had 3 girls names but had decided we would wait until she was here to definitively choose. 

Looking back at the whole experience I am happy we went the way we did, I am glad I did it on my terms. I’ve been criticised by family and friends for electing to have a caesarean but at the end of the day, our baby arrived safely so what more can you ask for?

Most vivid memory during labour: 
I remember as she was coming out they dropped the drapes so we could watch and Luke said ‘Wow she’s got a big head,’ then we noticed she’d pooed on her foot and I just remember thinking ‘surely she didn’t come out of me?! Wow I made her’ 

Most amusing/interesting moment during labour/birth: 
During our caesarean we were all chatting and our OB said she was going slow and being extra careful because I had a very vascular uterus and I casually responded with ‘sweet, please don’t let me haemorrhage,’ which we all had a bit of a giggle at. 

During labour/birth, I definitely did not expect: 
There is a particular point during a caesarean where the obstetricians ‘stretch’ or pull your abdominal muscles apart. I didn’t realise that you can actually hear them tear, well to be honest it was more of a ‘pop pop pop pop’ but it was trippy as. 

A myth I believed prior that I now don’t is: 
It’s not really a myth but I had been told by several people that women who elect to have caesarean births find it harder to ‘connect’ with their babies because they didn’t have a vaginal delivery – this is silly, I mean you’ve just spent 9 months growing this tiny human. 

Baby’s name, birth weight and date: 
Olive Maree Rigby, 13th of December 2018. 8lb 3oz (3.7kg) 

Baby’s name was almost: 
Remi Rose.

Time spent in hospital post birth: 
2 days.

Best tip/trick you received for those early days: 
Accept help, if people want to come and fold your washing so you can rest let them! 
Always carry a change or two of clothes (poo-splosions are real and happen at the most inconvenient times) 

Top 3 lifesaving items for a newborn: 
Muslin swaddles 
Snap crotch singlets (normal singlets are useless and ride up) 
Spit cloths 

If you could go back and speak with your pregnant self, what would you say? 
I know you’re uncomfortable but this isn’t forever, just try to enjoy it! 

If you could speak with yourself on day 3 of having a newborn, what would you say? 
Sleep – the baby isn’t going to stop breathing and the housework can wait! 

Any words for first time mums-to-be nervous about their own upcoming birth? 
You are literally going to be overloaded with information and everyone thinks they know best, just listen and do what works for you. I know it’s daunting and you’re not expected to know all the answers straight away, just go with it. There is no right or wrong way to have a baby, do what works for you!

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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