Real Birth Journey: Oakley Ricky

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:
Danni, 26 

Due date:

Cravings during pregnancy:
Rainbow Paddlepop ice creams – even during winter 😂

Worst symptom/s:
Excessive thirst, and I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes requiring insulin from 6 weeks pregnant – not fun. 

Biggest concern about birth was:
Giving birth to a healthy baby. We had so many odds against us the entire time. Prior to successfully conceiving I was diagnosed with a pituitary tumour – on one of the glands in my brain. Basically, if I wanted to have children, I could only do so when a combined group of specialists said it was okay to proceed. I was on lots of medication to reduce the tumor, and required hormone enhancements to fall pregnant. Once we were ready to fall pregnant, it took around 9 months of really trying to successfully fall pregnant. 

When we had our first ultrasounds, they found our baby only had one working kidney. He did have two kidneys, but only one was actually working, so we had to keep a close eye on that. Our baby was breech the ENTIRE pregnancy. We tried all the natural ways of attempting to turn the baby but were unsuccessful, and for personal reasons we declined the ECV (attempt of midwives/doctors turning the baby in clinic) so we booked in for an elective caesarean. 

Then at 33 weeks I accidentally fell over on our icy deck at home. As soon as I fell I held my tummy crying saying “please be okay..” I was admitted to hospital for a few days as I was having quite intense contractions, and from then on I contracted daily until 38 weeks pregnant. After my fall, I struggled with the remainder of my pregnancy. The first part had seemed super easy – no morning sickness etc, but for the last 5 weeks my blood pressure was sky high, I had contractions all the time, was in and out of hospital the entire 5 weeks and I just wanted it to be over. 

Ideal birth plan was:
I didn’t have a plan really. I was very happy to go with the flow, and whatever happened, happened. I wasn’t fussed vaginal or caesarean, drugs or no drugs. I just was happy with a healthy baby and successful delivery at the end. 

How we went from wombmate to roommate:
I was admitted to hospital on and off for 2 weeks prior for extremely high blood pressure, and so the doctors wanted to keep making little milestones. Each week with the further we got, the better the outcome. At 37 weeks and 5 days I was at home with my husband, I explained that I didn’t feel very well. I had a feeling that this time visiting the hospital we wouldn’t be coming home without our baby, so he decided before heading to the hospital we would go out for lunch (🙄🙄) so we went out to the seaport first, then headed up to the hospital. I was then admitted and they confirmed I wouldn’t be going home without having our baby.

Our caesarean wasn’t scheduled for another 2 weeks, so this wasn’t really in the plan, but I just went with it. The doctors came and informed us, as soon as my blood pressure was low enough they would take me straight to theatre, and to have my husband on standby at all times. It wasn’t until the following day, we went to theatre to meet our baby. I was far more excited than I was nervous!

Most amusing/interesting moment during labour/birth:
I remember after our son was delivered, the doctor was telling us that he was “just putting your stomach and bladder back where they belong” and for some reason I was laughing hysterically. Some don’t even find this amusing, but I sure did. I blame the drugs!

During labour/birth, I definitely did not expect:
There to be so many people in a theatre room for a caesarean! There were SO many people! 

A myth I believed prior that I now don’t is:
That breastfeeding is easy. With my brain tumour, I produce high levels of prolactin, which usually works in favour of breastfeeding, however during postpartum it does the opposite. I was so hard on myself for not being able to breastfeed this tiny newborn – one thing my body should be able to do. And yet, it couldn’t. And I tried hard. We would try feeding at the breast, pass my son to my husband who would formula top up and then I would express. I was on medication, and any foods that increase milk supplies I was eating constantly, but my previous health issues were working against me. We did this every, single, feed for 5 whole weeks – it was beyond exhausting. 

Baby’s name, birth weight and date:
Oakley Ricky Keith Pulford, 7lb 11oz, born 27/06/2017 at 1:29pm.

Baby’s name was almost:
Anything except Oakley 😂 My husband wasn’t keen on the name, as he often wore the Oakley brand of clothing/sunglasses. I had loved the name since before I was even pregnant. I work at a hospital and met this elderly gentleman who’s name was Oakley, and he was such a gorgeous man, so his name just stuck, and now I couldn’t picture him anything different. 

Time spent in hospital post birth:
Post birth we were in hospital for 6 nights. Oakley spent 36 hours in the nursery as he was constantly sleepy and wasn’t interested in feeding. So we stayed until feeding was sorted and I felt well enough to go home. 

Best tip/trick you received for those early days:
It’s okay to cry, it helps. You don’t need to pretend you have your shit together. Day three is an awful day, just cry and eat chocolate. You are doing an amazing job, despite what you might think. You’re a mum and that in itself is amazing.  

Top 3 lifesaving items for a newborn:
Riff Raff comforter – we have had Raff the Fox since day one.
Baby carrier – my son had what we thought was reflux, but turns out he’s allergic to dairy so he was a clingy, spewy baby so I wore him, a lot.
Chocolate – chocolate helps most things.

If you could go back and speak with your pregnant self, what would you say?
Do not wear your ugg boots in the deck, and it’s the middle of winter why are you hanging out the washing anyway?
But seriously I would say – be proud of yourself, you created, and are carrying a human. Mums are amazing. And don’t be too hard on your husband when he forgets to bring home your rainbow paddlepop ice creams. 

If you could speak with yourself during labour, what would you say?
I wasn’t in labour as such, but mid caesarean I wish I could go back and ask my midwife to take more photos. She offered but I said no, and now we may not get a chance to have another baby, so I wish we had more photos. 

If you could speak with yourself on day 3 of having a newborn, what would you say?
This day was seriously so hard. Oakley wouldn’t feed at all, so they had to take him away to put in a NGT feeding tube. I cried the entire time he was away. 
My mum also gave me a really sentimental gift on this day, which was amazing, but the card she gave me she wrote how proud she was, and how excited she is, and how she remembers the day she had me just like it was yesterday. The tears just wouldn’t stop, all day.
I would honestly tell myself to just breathe, you’ve been through such a massive 72 hours, and everything will be okay. 

Any words for first time mums-to-be nervous about their own upcoming birth?
It’s okay to not have a set plan. I have friends who had such solid plans, that when things didn’t go to plan, they were completely heartbroken, and actually then found their recovery times were so much harder. 

There is so much pressure on mums as it is, so whether you have a successful vaginal delivery or a caesarean, you breastfeed or you don’t – just remember, we are all muddling our way through this together. 

If 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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