Real Birth Journey: Nellie Frances

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:
Maddi, 24 years old.

Due date:
9th December, 2020.

Cravings during pregnancy:
McDonalds chocolate thickshakes (until I threw it up at week 12), chocolate frappes, milo cereal and cocopops. There seems to have been a theme of milk and chocolate. 

Worst symptom/s:
Morning sickness from week 8 until week 18. I was vomiting minimum 2 times per day and could only eat salt and vinegar chips. It was in the middle of covid and I wasn’t at work, so I was just sitting around at home waiting to throw up. I have not enjoyed salt and vinegar chips since. As soon as the morning sickness passed I was hit with the fatigue and found out my iron levels were at 3, so there was no wonder I was napping every afternoon. I honestly thought being this tired was just a part of pregnancy until the nurse said I needed an iron infusion and wanted to book me in for the next day.

Biggest concern about birth was:
Feeling EVERYTHING. I was all for an epidural.

Ideal birth plan was:
NOT feeling everything. I honestly didn’t have a birth plan as I had no idea what to expect. I know that I did not want to walk out of hospital mentally shattered and too scared to have another baby. I was 100% for an epidural and figured I would have one.

Hours in labour:
My due date was the 9th of December, and I woke up at about 2am on Wednesday the 9th with false labour pains in my stomach that I had not felt before. I thought to myself, “Surely I am not in labour, no one has a baby on their due date??” Anyway, I ended up falling asleep at about 5am and the pains went away. I called my sister and let her know what happened (she already had 2 kids so she knew much more about it than what I did) and we decided to go for a short walk to try encourage baby to come out. We ended up walking for 2 hours and I felt contractions slowly start coming again towards to end of the walk and on the 30 minute drive home. We have family dinner every Wednesday night, and so I was having mild contractions while at my in-laws house that evening. I tried to keep it from the family but I could see my mother in law watching me try to deal with being uncomfortable and in pain. I think she caught on but could tell I didn’t want everyone else to figure out I was likely in labour. The rest of the family are boys so they really had no idea – my husband included. I ended up getting quite serious contractions at about 8:30pm. My husband thought it was false labour again and said to go to sleep, but we soon realised it was the real deal. I started pushing at 4:30am the next morning, and she was born at 6:02am.

How we went from wombmate to roommate:
When I started getting serious contractions at 8:30pm, I really just wanted to get some pain relief. My contractions were probably about 5 minutes apart and I wanted to go into hospital so that I could get some REAL pain relief. When they tell you that panadol takes the edge off the pain, it’s bullshit (in my opinion). When they were about 4 minutes lasting maybe 40 seconds, I tried the shower and had the water so hot I almost passed out, so I ended up calling the hospital pretty much telling them that I was coming in, and did not want to be at home any longer. We arrived at hospital around midnight, and I felt so relieved the moment I was in the labour ward. They always tell you about labouring at home where you are most comfortable, but I found it much more comfortable being in hopital where I had people there who knew what to do, as well as decent pain relief available on hand.

When they checked me upon arrival, I was 6cm dilated already and they put me straight into the delivery room. I requested an epidural, they gave me some morphine and told me that the anaethesist was just doing a c-section and will be with me soonish (this was a lie). I used the gas during contractions which worked well for me and I was surprised it didn’t make me feel unwell. I found it really helpful looking at the monitor next to my bed, as I could see when my contractions were about to start and I could prepare myself for it by taking in some gas before it peaked. I also ate peaches and cream lollies, monte carlo biscuits and fruit in between puffs – my husband found this very entertaining to watch me rush to swallow my mouthful of biscuit so that I could puff on the gas as my contraction started. 

At about 3am, the nurse came in to check on me, and I could tell straight away that I was not going to get the epidural. She said I was pretty much 10cm dilated and would soon feel ready to push. Looking back, I found this annoying as I had requested an epidural when I first arrived. I told her I didn’t think I could deal with the pain of pushing and she said that I had already done the hard part by getting to 10cm (which again was a lie haha). There was nothing I could do about it and was just a bit worried about the dreaded ‘ring of fire’ you hear about from everyone. I do not believe I handle pain well mentally, so I was dreading feeling everything and being too scared to have another baby. I would have preferred to be numb instead.

I was laying on the bed in the typical birthing position you see in movies, which was the most comfortable for me. I tried standing up but found I felt like my legs were going to crumble at each contraction. I ended up pushing for about an hour and a half. My waters never broke until the second last push, and the nurse almost got a face full of it. She literally ducked out of the way and it went everywhere. I felt like that was payback for not getting me my epidural haha. I had 2nd degree tears and feel like I could pin point the exact moment I tore. When I was getting stitches afterwards, I almost accidentally kicked the doctor in the head when she tried to stitch an area that hadn’t been numbed – it was such a short sharp pain that made me scream a little bit. It was kind of ironic that I hardly screamed or yelled during the pushing, but a small needle is what made me shriek in pain instead. 

I will never forget feeling the rest of her body come out. I felt instantly lighter and didn’t have anymore pressure in my vagina. The placenta being taken out also felt so weird. They poked my stomach a couple of times and pulled gently on the umbilical cord to try and get it to move along. It is such a weird feeling because when they tug on the cord, you can feel it slowly move through your body and all of a sudden it just flops out and is just sitting there in a metal bowl. The rest of it was a bit of a blur because I was just staring at this baby that I had grown, who happened to have a lot of hair! I was so certain my baby would not have any hair, as I didn’t have anything until I was walking, and when it finally came it was so blonde you could harly tell I had any hair. I also didn’t get any heartburn or indigestion – like the old wives tale suggests those carrying a baby with lots of air will usually experience. Since then I had pretty much just been staring at her little face and thinking how lucky I am to have such a beautiful daughter, which I still do today. 

Most vivid memory during labour:
My husband’s expressions while I was pushing. His eyes were almost popping out of his head. I would have loved to video his reactions. He always assumed he would just stay by my side and wouldn’t want to look and see what was happening, but I could tell how interesting it was for him to watch our baby being born. He was shocked, amazed and a little bit freaked out seeing what was happening down there, and it makes me laugh thinking back to how he encouraged me to keep pushing. I think he would have said the word ‘woah’ and ‘wow’ about 100 times. Each push it was getting more and more enthusiastic and encouraging.

Most amusing/interesting moment during labour/birth:
Pretty much anything my husband did. He made me laugh so much! Particularly when I was in early labour, and was at home having contractions. He thought that I was in false labour again and wanted to go to bed because he had to go to work the next morning. I had to let him know that it felt like the real deal this time and he should probably stay awake. He also was super uncomfortable on the pull out chair/bed in hospital but felt like he couldn’t complain about being uncomfortable or having a sore back. The nurses also made me laugh. When I let them know I needed to push, they came back in and sat at the end of the bed just watching and helping me. In between contractions they were just discussing normal things like how old their kids were, where they went to school, and complaining about their husbands. Then when I had a contraction and pushed they went back to professional mode and helped me through it, then went back to talking to each other. 

During labour/birth, I definitely did not expect:
I didn’t expect to get up and walk to the toilet 15 minutes after giving birth. Also, my stitches got slightly infected and I did not expect this to happen so easily. I always washed the wound and changed maternity pads regularly, so I was very surprised this happened. It was very painful to sit down and I was walking around really slowly with a really wide stance so that nothing rubbed on it. Thankfully antibiotics fixed it within the week. 

A myth/misconception I believed prior that I now don’t is:
Labour is more comfortable at home. I found it much more of a relief to be at the hospital, but the nurses try convince you to stay home. If I have a second baby I may be more comfortable at home because I will know a lot more about what I am feeling, but I was scared that I wouldn’t know what was coming next and end up having the baby in the driveway or something. 

Baby’s name, birth weight and date:
Nellie Frances Magor, born 10th December, weighing 8 pound 3 ounces.

Baby’s name was almost:
We actually didn’t have another name picked out, it was always going to be Nellie!

Time spent in hospital post birth:
About 6 hours. We had a room next to renovations and all I heard was a cherry picker going up and down. Constant beeping drives you mad when you are trying to sleep.

Best tip/trick you received for those early days:
Dont over do it. No one should expect you to make them a coffee when they arrive to visit the baby. It’s ok if you don’t move from the couch at all. Also, eat lots and lots of fruit and vegetables so the first poo is easy. I found it easy to put your feet on a stool or something to elevate it and it literally just slips out. If you have torn, that first poo can be a bit scary because you think you are going to tear again. 

Top 3 lifesaving items for a newborn:
Cuddles, warm blankets, and a co-sleeping nest. I probably shouldn’t recommend the last one but Nellie wouldn’t sleep at all unless she was in bed with me. She is almost 14 weeks now and has just recently transferred into her own bed. I would say it’s 100% worth your sanity because if the baby isn’t sleeping, you won’t be either. 

If you could go back and speak with your pregnant self, what would you say?
It is ok to not enjoy pregnancy. You are not going to love how you look but your super cute litle girl is going to be worth it and no one expects you to look like a model soon after giving birth. Also, stretch marks are going to happen. You don’t have to love them but just try to accept them.

If you could speak with yourself during labour, what would you say?
Stop eating monte carlos – you are spilling crumbs everywhere! Seriously though, you can do it!! You are made to do this! Your baby is going to be worth the pregnancy, contractions and the pushing. 

If you could speak with yourself on day 3 of having a newborn, what would you say?
Chill out and enjoy having an excuse to sit and hold your baby all day. Don’t even try get up and just ask your husband to do everything for you. You just pushed that kid out of a small hole so he can get you that glass of water. RELAXXXXXX!

Any words for first time mums-to-be nervous about their own upcoming birth?
Be firm with the hospital staff about what you want. Do not let them decide for you or push you to do something else. If you want an epidural you are going to have to be firm and probably ask them 20 times otherwise they probably will put it off until it’s too late. Also, its ok to be nervous about something you have never experienced before. Try to take it one step at a time and get through each little bit separately, it might make it a bit easier to deal with.

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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