Real Birth Journey: Harper Ivy

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 – 33

Due date:  
7th September 2018 (came at 39 weeks on the 30th August).

Cravings during pregnancy: 
None – I’m a boring pregnant person haha.

Worst symptom/s:
Skin in the first trimester was horrendous – back and chest and hairline pimples.

Biggest concern about birth was:  
Didn’t want to have a c-section.

Ideal birth plan was:  
Didn’t have a plan per se.  I wanted to go in and have a natural birth – without drugs if possible, but was open to it if need be.  

Hours in labour:  
Pre-labour 38 hours, active labour 5 hours.

How we went from wombmate to roommate: 
I started feeling contractions at 5pm on the Tuesday evening – I’d just gone to the gym.  They weren’t strong and about 25 minutes apart.  Overnight they increased to 10 minutes apart and got stronger.  The next day it was a mixed bag of 25 minutes to 12 minutes then by 8pm they got to 5 minutes but then would be back to 10 minutes too.  It was quite exhausting.  I also lost more of my plug during the day (I’d lost some the week before).  

We called the hospital and they said to come I just to check everything was ok.  We arrived at around 9:30pm – contractions were stronger now – and they couldn’t find a good base line for baby – she was way too active and kept setting off the machine – so they suggested we stay in overnight and see what happens.  At 3am – I went to go to the loo, lost a huge amount of my plug then as Chris came in to go to the loo, my waters broke in the bathroom.   I was hooked up to an IV straight away (Strep B positive) and contractions got worse.  

At 7:30am my OBGYN came in and said I was only 2cm dilated  – that baby was posterior and that he suggested I have an epidural because I hadn’t slept and pushing out a posterior baby is harder.  He also wanted me ready in case he had to give me a C-section.  He also wanted to start oxytocin to get it moving.  At 9:30am the anaesthetist came in. It took him two attempts to get the epidural in (apparently what he did only happens in 1% of cases so that wasn’t ideal) once it was in I was able to have a nap.  

My OBGYN came back at 11am and I was still only 3cm, so they ramped up the oxytocin and said he would come back at 4pm – if I wasn’t dilated he would have to do a c-section.  I was so upset – I looked at Chris and almost cried – then willed my body to dilate.  At around 1:15pm the midwife checked me and called my OBGYN because baby was getting in distress and I was only still 3cm dilated.  He arrived around 1:45/2:00pm and suddenly I was 9cm dilated.  Chris had gone for lunch because we weren’t expecting anything until around 4pm.  The OBGYN said to me “right I’m going to see if I can turn this baby, if I can – it’s go time.” So he reached up and turned her little head and brought her down into my birth canal, ready to go.  

The doctors next line was “where’s Chris?” I panicked and called him “baby, where are you? I’m about to have the baby.” 10 minutes later he rushes in the door, my legs are wide open in stirrups, doctors and midwives around me – when he’d left I was asleep.  He changes his t-shirt, brushes his teeth and puts on deodorant “I can’t smell for the baby” he says, haha. Like anyone else cared in that moment!  Once he was ready (star of the show haha) he said I could start pushing.  They used a vacuum to begin with to help her turn and get through my birth canal while she was still posterior. Three more pushes and she was out by 2:20pm.  She took quite a few seconds to cry, then that magical sound.  As she lay on my chest covered in vernix, I looked up and saw my OB shake his head  “the cord is broken, I’m going to have to go and get your placenta manually.  I need elbow length gloves.” Now in that moment I was so glad I had had an epidural.  

Most vivid memory during labour: 
Chris telling me to relax, and the midwife saying “Chris, we don’t say relax in here – we say go floppy” haha.

Most amusing/interesting moment during labour/birth:  
Chris changing his t-shirt, brushing his teeth and putting on deodorant while I was literally about to push the baby out.

During labour/birth, I definitely did not expect: 
To vomit any food up I ate.

A myth/misconception I believed prior that I now don’t is:  
Don’t think I had any misconceptions, I didn’t have many expectations. I wanted to go in with an open mind so I think that helps. 

Baby’s name, birth weight and date:  
Harper Ivy Margaret Duncan, 2880g, 30th August 2018.

Baby’s name was almost: 
Always Harper – Chris picked it as soon as we knew she was a girl.  If she was a boy she would’ve been Hudson. 

Time spent in hospital post birth:  
5 nights – 4 in hospital and 1 at the Hyatt.  

Best tip/trick you received for those early days:  
Massage your boobs every day in the shower

Top 3 lifesaving items for a newborn:  
Sleep training program ready (with Happy Sleepers), Dockatot, nice blanket.

If you could go back and speak with your pregnant self, what would you say?  
Stop eating haha kidding! I’m pregnant again now, and it’s so different this time around.  I would go back and say ‘you’re growing a human, you’ll be strong again, don’t worry.’  

If you could speak with yourself during labour, what would you say?  
Just go with it.

If you could speak with yourself on day 3 of having a newborn, what would you say?  
This too shall pass, keep the baby upright after a feed, and your hormones will settle so just cry, it’s alright.

Any words for first time mums-to-be nervous about their own upcoming birth?  
Don’t have any expectations – nature will take its course.  Remember it’s such a short period of time in the grand scheme of things and at the end you get the beautiful little bundle.  Pain is temporary. Breathe, focus on what you can control and enjoy every moment because it goes really quickly.  

Any further notes you’d like to include:
For me, I wish someone had said “hold your baby upright for 20 minutes after a feed” as Harper got terrible silent reflux at 3-4 weeks which resulted in us creating habits that lead to severe sleep issues.  I would also not let the baby sleep anywhere – at the start a few chest naps are cute and you need them, but for the most part I wish I’d put Harper in a dark room in her bassinet or cot to get used to sleeping in a calm environment rather than letting her nap in the living room, etc.  Just my personal experience!  Once we got help and Harper started sleeping well it changed all of our lives.  Happier parents, much happier baby, happier life.  
Now to do it all again with twin boys – wish me luck!

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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