Real Birth Journey: Halle Mae

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:
Sharni Heys, 26 years old

Due date:

Cravings during pregnancy:
Absolutely anything sweet! Mostly McDonalds Sundaes though.

Worst symptom/s:
I had a very easy pregnancy – no morning sickness or anything but in the first trimester I was so tired!! I had to sit on the shower floor to wash my hair and then after drying myself I would need to lay down for 10 minutes before I had enough energy to dress myself! Safe to say not much house work got done for those 12 weeks haha.

Biggest concern about birth was:
Needing a Caesarean. I did everything I could to avoid talking, thinking or hearing about Caesareans because I was convinced if I did then I would end up having one. 

Ideal birth plan was:
To labour at home for as long as possible and only arrive at the hospital when it was time to push. I did a lot of research and put a lot of time into learning about the body and our hormones and decided I did not want to have any medical intervention whatsoever unless deemed absolutely necessary. I did not want any pain relief other than gas and sterile water injections and ideally to give birth in the water. 

Hours in labour:
17 hours.

How we went from wombmate to roommate:
On the Saturday night, 9 days past my “due date” my doula, Krista, came over after dinner to do spinning babies with my husband Kody and I. She arrived around 9pm and we spent 3 hours doing all kinds of things to help get my baby into the perfect position for birth. I had been having irregular contractions overnight for over a week prior to this so we knew baby was ready. She just wasn’t quite in the best position for things to really get going.

I went to bed at around midnight and Krista said to get some rest and see how the night played out. She is a family friend so she was planning to sleep on my couch for the night, just in case things kicked off. As soon as I hopped into bed I began having tightenings in my belly which were so much stronger than the previous ones I’d had the week prior. I was instantly uncomfortable and couldn’t lay down as it made them feel worse. I spent about an hour getting up and down out of bed, walking to the toilet in the  en-suite and back to bed, quietly timing the contractions on an app.

At around 1am when I knew it was serious this time, I woke both Kody and Krista up. They began taking it in turns massaging my lower back, hip squeezing and holding the heat pack on my belly through every contraction. I was telling Kody each time the contractions started and stopped and he used the timer app for me so that I wouldn’t focus on it. Contractions were very regular and long from the beginning and so after 6 hours we called the hospital to let them know I was coming in.

At around 7am we arrive at the hospital. I made my way up to the birth suite where I was checked and told I was 4cms and absolutely in active labour. From there Kody and Krista set up the birth suite how I had told them to with battery candles, music and making the room dark. I laboured in the shower for around an hour which was actually horrible! The water made it so much more painful for me but my contractions were all two on top of each other coming every couple of minutes so I kept putting off getting out and putting clothes back on! Eventually I did and from there laboured in all different positions around the room just trying to find what worked.

At about 12pm I was checked again and was at around 7-8cms dilated. I decided to hop in the bath and see how things went (knowing the water felt awful, I did it anyway! Haha). I laboured in the bath with just Kody and I in the room for quite a while. It was much better in the bath than the shower! I’m not sure exactly what time it was but I think around 2pm my midwife came in and said she wanted to break my waters as they hadn’t already broken on their own. I had the option of getting out and breaking my waters right then and potentially dilating quicker, or I had another hour in the bath and if they still hadn’t broken then I would need to get out then to do so. I chose to get out then in hopes that she would be here sooner. Once my waters were broken there was meconium present and from then on I was unable to get back into the bath as I needed to be monitored continuously.

I’m unsure from this point on what time the following events happened but it went very quickly. After my waters were broken, baby dropped down further into my pelvis. At this stage it became obvious that she was posterior and I was now in excruciating pain (as if it wasn’t already bad enough!) I had only been using the gas up until this point when I broke down in tears apologising to Kody and Krista for what I thought was failing them and asked for an epidural. While I felt so deflated for not sticking to my birth plan, I felt proud of what I had so far achieved and found comfort in that. I had the epidural quite quickly after asking for it and I felt instantly relieved.

While getting settled after the epidural my midwife and doctor noticed my heart rate was beginning to drop, which they said was very normal. After a couple of minutes they realised it wasn’t only my heart rate dropping but babies was also and it was not coming back up as they’d like. They rolled me from side to side trying to get her heart rate to come back up but nothing was working. Before I knew it the emergency button had been hit and literally about 10 or more people flooded into the room and I was being wheeled out the door. I remember just feeling so out of control of the situation and so scared at what was happening to my baby while I wasn’t being monitored on the way to theatre. I looked to Kody and just said pray for us Kody, please pray for us.

When we got to theatre my midwife monitored her heart rate again and it was back up to normal but they wanted to get her out as quickly as possible. Thankfully I’d only just had the epidural and so I only needed a top up before they began the emergency Caesarean. It was much quicker than I ever thought it would be and the suction feeling of her being pulled out was unforgettable.. I felt instantly lighter even though I was completely numb! Once she was born they realised the cord was wrapped around her neck twice and hence her heart rate dropping!

After being stitched back up, the three of us were taken into recovery where we got to spend our first moments as a family of 3. Being a Sunday, I was the only one in recovery so Kody was allowed to stay with us. After I returned to the ward poor Krista was STILL there! She had no idea what had happened to us or if everything was okay. I then called my mum and dad to come and meet their first grandchild and from there we spent the next 4 days recovering in the hospital, figuring each other out.

Absolutely no regrets of how the birth played out whatsoever, I felt relieved that even though in the moment I felt guilty for having an epidural, it was all part of how my birth was going to go and it was a blessing I had already had it otherwise I would have most likely needed a general anaesthetic! 

Most vivid memory during labour:
Telling the anaesthetist that she needed to hurry up and I wouldn’t sit on the bed and wait for her. She had to wait for my DOUBLE contractions to finish and from there she had 20 seconds to do the whole bloomin thing! I was very angry at this point of the labour, the only time I swore in 16 hours!

Most amusing/interesting moment during labour/birth: 
TMI (too much information) but while I was in the bath, I was mid contraction and I passed wind. Knowing Kody, and the silence in the room, even with my eyes closed so focused on the contraction, I knew he would be immaturely giggling! I started to laugh at the thought which then made him crack up and we both couldn’t stop laughing. IT HURT SO MUCH!!! I then spent the next 30 seconds in between contractions crying about how much more it hurt.

During labour/birth, I definitely did not expect:
That my baby was posterior and that the pain would multiply x1000 after having my waters broken. I would not have done that if I’d known!  

A myth/misconception I believed prior that I now don’t is:
That Caesarean is a dirty word and the “easy” way out. 100% not true! All births are beautiful and no matter which way your baby is born into the world, you HAVE given birth and you are now a mum. There is nothing more beautiful than that! 

Baby’s name, birth weight and date:
Halle Mae Heys, 8 pound 2 (3.694kgs) 09/02/2020

Baby’s name was almost:
We had Halle picked from very early on. I also LOVED the name Arlia, but Kody wasn’t a fan. 

Time spent in hospital post birth:
4 days.

Best tip/trick you received for those early days:
Just take it easy, you don’t need to clean the house or worry about anything but you and your baby. Also SAY NO to visitors if you’re not up to it! You’re not being rude, people will get that. 

Top 3 lifesaving items for a newborn:
DockATot, Love to Dream swaddles and a car capsule that also clips onto your pram (still my biggest lifesaver 5 months on!)

If you could go back and speak with your pregnant self, what would you say?
Stop saying you wish you looked bigger/further along. My 20 weeks pregnant self had no idea the whale-like struggles my 40 weeks self would later have!!! Hahaha

If you could speak with yourself during labour, what would you say?
Just keep doing what you’re doing, you know your body and your baby, trust your instincts. 

If you could speak with yourself on day 3 of having a newborn, what would you say?
Cry, let it out and then talk about it, what you’re feeling is so normal and it will pass!!  This does get easier.

Any words for first time mums-to-be nervous about their own upcoming birth?
Make a birth plan/preference. Because in doing so you will have to do some research. You need to understand your options and inform your birth partner what you do and don’t want. But also understand and be okay with the fact it may not go how you expect. I just think it’s so important that you don’t have any regrets, that is how I have healed so quickly both physically and mentally from my birth experience. Birth is so, so empowering if you feel like you’ve done all you can!

Any further notes you’d like to include:
For any Launceston girls who have an upcoming birth that are feeling anxious about it, I truly feel that having a doula made all the difference! I can’t recommend Krista highly enough (Krista McCrimmon Birth and Post Natal Doula and on Facebook) She is so good at what she does and really is so knowledgeable and passionate about birth.

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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