Real Birth Journey: Arlyn Michael

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:
Leearna Harper, 24 

Due date:

Cravings during pregnancy: 
Legit nothing! I was a lot more snacky than usual but nothing in particular. 

Worst symptom/s: 
Morning sickness – I was pretty much bed ridden from week 6 through to week 13. I lost 6 kgs in a week because I just couldn’t keep anything down, not even water. My husband and I lived in Perth and because I was just so unwell I went to Bunbury to stay with my parents so my mum who’s a nurse could look after me. I was very, very close to having to go to hospital and be put on a drip but my mum managed to get some food into me slowly. I then got magic nausea tablets from my doctor and felt so much better but still not 100%. Then by about week 13, it was almost overnight that all the nausea left and I was back to myself! 

Biggest concern about birth was:
I’m quite a little person, very short and fit I would say, so I was worried that my body might be too small to push my baby out 😂 haha! 

Ideal birth plan was:
To just have a baby! I didn’t care what would happen. I wanted to try for a vaginal birth but if I needed to have a C-section then that’s what I would do. As long as he came happy & healthy – that was the main plan. 

Hours in labour:
First stage was about 8 hours, second and third stage was about 4 hours? I know it was 12 hours all up.

How we went from wombmate to roommate:
My waters broke naturally (by themselves) at 11:45pm Friday the 14th of Feb (Valentines Day!), we rang the hospital and they said to just come in and get checked over. We didn’t take our bags or anything because we assumed I would be going home, seeing as I wasn’t having any contractions or anything. 

We go to the hospital at 12:15am and found out that Arlyn had poo’d so I couldn’t go home. My mum and husband Sam were with me, so mum rang my dad and got him to bring our bags in. I was put in the birthing suite and because I still wasn’t having any contractions, my mum went home at about 2:00am. And then at 2:30am the contractions started (typical timing!). They weren’t too bad and they really just felt like bad period cramps. But then the back pain started.

Baby was posterior so with every contraction my back felt on fire with pain. The midwife suggested sterile water injections and because I was in so much pain I agreed. This was the biggest mistake and by far the most painful part of my whole labour and delivery. They gave me 4 excruciating needles in my back and I just cried and cried. I couldn’t make any noise or barely breathe. I just remember looking at my husband Sam like ‘Help me, stop them!’ But I just couldn’t speak. These sterile water injections are supposed to relieve the back pain within 20/30 mins. Key word there is ‘supposed’ to. They did absolutely nothing. 

Those midwives left and a way better, far more understanding and just generally nicer midwife came in. She checked how many centimetres I was, and boy about 5:30am I was 6cm dilated. My mum came back around then and as soon as I saw her I just crumbled into a ball of tears again. My back was still killing me and I just didn’t know what to do. The midwife said that when I got to about 7/8cm I could get an epidural (THANK GOODNESS FOR MODERN BLOOMING MEDICINE). At 7:30am I just couldn’t cope anymore and made Mum get the midwife back because I needed that epidural.

She examined me again and I was 9cm!! She said ‘right, I’ll organise the epidural and for the moment you can get up and go sit in the shower.’ So from then until about 9am I sat in the shower with Sam, just rocking back and forward, still not making any noise. At about 9:30am the anaesthetist came and by 10am I got my epidural! 

I was then told to try and get some sleep but that didn’t happen. I just couldn’t shut my brain off. At 11:00am the midwife decided to check me again and I was 10cm! ‘Do you want to start pushing?’ she asked. Silly question. Of course I did! 

With every contraction I would push, but then baby’s heart rate would drop. So I had to stop pushing and wait for the doctor to come and help. He was still posterior so we decided the doctor would place some forceps on his head and just guide him out while I still did all the pushing. I should mention at my 38 week appointment the midwife said she couldn’t feel baby’s head because he was already so so so low down which was great because that meant I barely had to push! Then at 12:29pm our little boy was born!

Most vivid memory during labour:
As much as I’d like to forget – the back pain haha!

Most amusing/interesting moment during labour/birth:
By far when my waters broke. Sam and I were in bed about to go to sleep and I was just like ‘Ah.. Something’s happening.. Oh Sam it won’t stop!’ And we just couldn’t stop laughing. It was by far the funniest, weirdest thing ever! 

During labour/birth, I definitely did not expect:
The back pain to be that bad!! I was expecting contraction pain, but not back pain at all. 

A myth/misconception I believed prior that I now don’t is:
That all women make noise in labour! Every TV show, movie etc., that has women giving birth in, they are always screaming at the top of their lungs. But I didn’t make any noise. I was silent and just so in my own head. 

Baby’s name, birth weight and date:
Arlyn Michael Harper 
15/02/2020 (4 days early)
6 lbs 9 ozs

Baby’s name was almost:
Henry or Rylan.

Time spent in hospital post birth:
2 nights.

Best tip/trick you received for those early days: 
Knowing the different types of cries! 

Top 3 lifesaving items for a newborn:
If you’re breastfeeding – nipple shields! 
Good quality swaddles! Pay the extra money for a good quality one. They cost more for a reason! 
A little syringe in case baby can’t latch, then you can express colostrum/milk into a syringe and feed them that way. 

If you could go back and speak with your pregnant self, what would you say?
Take more monthly bump photos! I think I only have like 4 or 5 all up.

If you could speak with yourself during labour, what would you say?
Don’t get those sterile water injections! Haha

If you could speak with yourself on day 3 of having a newborn, what would you say?
You got this! The first few days and even weeks are going to be hard but everyone goes through this. Don’t compare your baby to other newborns. 

Any words for first time mums-to-be nervous about their own upcoming birth?
Your body knows what it can handle and it knows what it’s doing! Trust yourself, trust your body. It got you this far and made a flipping human being! You are going to do great. Every delivery is still a delivery no matter how your baby enters the world. You got this mama!

Any further notes you’d like to include:
Being a mum is by far the most challenging thing I have ever done. But it is also the best and most rewarding. The hard nights are hard and the bad days may be bad. But when that little human looks at you and smiles and only wants to cuddle you, everything fades away. Believe in yourself and ask for help when you need it. You don’t have to be superwoman.
Remember – it takes a village!! 

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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