Real Birth Journey: Audrey Madison

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:
Madison Musicka, 26.

Due date:

Cravings during pregnancy:
Early days I could eat nothing but sausage rolls. My main craving was apple juice, that was my one consistent craving throughout the entire pregnancy. I just drank litres and litres of apple juice. Other than that the cravings were very fleeting. One week all I wanted was chicken, cheese, mayo and avocado toasties, and the next week chicken made me gag. Late in the pregnancy I ate a lot of curry – don’t believe the myth that it brings on labour. It doesn’t.

Worst symptom/s:
From 19 weeks I had the worst indigestion/reflux, I just ate quickeze all day every day. So the old wives tale about indigestion meaning that your baby will have hair is extremely true in my case as she was born with a full head of hair. Also, I had terrible back pain throughout the third trimester because I have scoliosis. I also had restless legs and hot feet, and because I was heavily pregnant over summer I was just a permanent thousand degrees. Pregnancy insomnia from 32 weeks was probably the worst and I also developed carpal tunnel. The third trimester was just rough okay guys. 

Biggest concern about birth was:
I’m not entirely sure, I wasn’t too anxious about it. I was excited. Maybe because of where I work (neonatal nurse) I had certain thoughts and worries that maybe other people wouldn’t be aware of, but I didn’t let it bother me too much. Positive positive. 

Ideal birth plan was:
To do it as naturally as possible and just take it as it comes. 

Hours in labour:
10 hours roughly. Broke my waters and started oxytocin drip at 9am. Contractions started straight away. Then must have gone up for a C-section just after 7pm, as she was born at 7:36pm. 

How we went from wombmate to roommate:
Okay, well. I was 10 days overdue. 41+3 weeks gestation, and I had been doing everything known to man to get labour going since 38 weeks. Gutter walking, hot curry, raspberry leaf tea, fit ball, expressing, etc. etc. etc. Everything! I had three stretch and sweeps. Nothing. So the time came for me to be induced. I was told to come in 7am the morning of the 4th of April – Easter Sunday. My waters were broken and the oxytocin drip was commenced at 9am. Contractions started basically straight away, after an hour they were four in ten. So I was in active labour. It didn’t take long for the pain to really ramp up. I felt every contraction in my back. It sucked. I sat on the fitball and lent on to the bed for most of the labour. As I was induced I was hooked up to the CTG machine so couldn’t go far or do much. I tried the tens machine for the back pain but it did nothing. Out of all of the pain relief options the best one for back pain was the water injections. The one pain relief I was like ‘hell no am I having that because apparently it’s more painful than the pain.’ Alas I had the water injections, and yes they were more painful than the pain. They said you will scream and yes, I did scream. But that pain quickly went and I had instant relief which was so great. But, only for about 40 minutes and then it wore off and the back pain came back with a vengeance.

Each contraction I would throw myself back on the fit ball, into my husband’s arms, writhing in pain. They were just one on top of another with barely any break. He was sweating, I was sweating. It was hard work. I tried the gas but it did nothing, just made me feel sick and I wasn’t keen for more water injections as they wore off so quickly. So about 6 hours in it was time for a VE. I said if I’m pretty far along I’ll just keep going but if I’m not then I’m going to have to have the epidural. I literally could not go on. So I had the VE and I was only 4cm dilated. Super deflating. I was like yeah nah let’s have this epidural. Please. So that was a process. Having to sit on the bed and stay still in between contractions to have a needle put in your spine is a serious task. I should have had it earlier. I remember before labour being all like ‘OMG I’m scared to have an epidural, a needle in your spine, that would be so painful.’ Hahahaha. But I didn’t even feel it! The labour pain definitely outdid the needle in your spine pain. Once that was in and working, my god. The relief. I could lay in bed. The whole mood just changed to calm and we could all just relax, it was so much better. We were exhausted. I could still feel the contractions but it was just uncomfortable not painful. 

Soon baby’s heart rate started to become difficult to pick up via the CTG, so they put a scalp clip on her and I had a catheter put in. At about the 9 hour mark her heart rate started to dip, it recovered well, but it kept happening. I tried laying in all different positions, shifting around – nothing helped. They felt around to see if the cord was around her neck. But it wasn’t. They monitored it for a while but I knew what was potentially coming. A caesarean. Obviously I went in thinking I really hope I don’t have to have a C-section. But honestly when they said that it was a possibility, I actually felt relief. She wasn’t coping and I was so over it. I was still only 5cm dilated at this point! I didn’t see an end in sight. I know others have laboured for way longer but in the moment you’re just thinking about yourself, your baby and your labour and it felt like it was never going to end. The only way I was going to have her out, safe and with me ASAP was via a section. So I remember saying to Muz (my husband) like, ‘it is what it is. Whatever they’ve gotta do.’ He agreed. They did try to get a blood sample from her scalp to test her lactate to see just how stressed she was, but because she had so much hair they couldn’t. 

After a while her heart rate went from dropping with the contractions to dropping outside of the contractions, so they gave me the injection to stop me from contracting. It was between me and the lady next door to me to see who would go for section first, and it was going to be her. But then our baby’s heart rate dropped to 45 and just stayed there so instead it was me first in. It all happened so quickly, there were so many people and everyone was honestly amazing. I felt safe and had complete faith in everyone the entire time. Everyone had a job to do and they just did it. I remember Muz being there with me every step of the way, he was honestly just the best. The best support. The best birth partner. I couldn’t have done it without him. We were such a great team, he was my absolute rock throughout. As I already had the epidural in they just topped that up as there was no time for a spinal, and I didn’t want the general anaesthetic because I wanted to be awake and for Muz to be in the room too. I have been to many sections before, for work. So this meant that I knew everything they were doing on the other side of that curtain. So I don’t know if it was more of a mind thing but I felt a lot of what was happening. So that was fun. But then they pulled her out and we heard her cry and we saw her, and everyone in the room was just saying ‘Oh my god look at how much hair she has!’ Muz and I were crying. It was amazing. So beautiful. She was so beautiful. Muz got to go over to her while they checked her out and cut the cord. Then they wrapped her up and brought her over to me. Such a special moment. The three of us just there all looking at each other. She was perfect. 

When they pulled her out we discovered that she had turned posterior, hence the labouring in my back and that the cord was wrapped in under her arms, hence the dropping in heart rate. As they were stitching me back up, I don’t know what happened but I felt like I could suddenly feel everything and I started shaking uncontrollably. I also stupidly tried to move my toes, which obviously I couldn’t. I felt so claustrophobic and as though I couldn’t breathe. They topped up my pain relief and my mouth went so dry. It was so awful there for a few minutes. Felt like I couldn’t breathe, I was going to choke on my tongue, could have spewed, couldn’t move, shaking uncontrollably – it was so yuck. Muz sat there with our baby girl, and he said later that in that moment he was actually really scared. But thankfully after a little bit I came right, all was calm and I was okay again. She was then placed on my chest for skin to skin and we all went down to recovery. She latched on straight away and had her first feed, and everything was just perfect. I genuinely felt like she was a part of me and that I already knew her and everything that she needed. Those first few days in hospital, in our little newborn bubble were just pure bliss. You feel as though you are all just floating around in your own little world. Literally nothing compares. So magical. Soak it in, soak it all in. 

Most vivid memory during labour:
I remember her first cry and seeing her for the first time over the curtain. But then after they checked her out, wrapped her up and brought her over and placed her on me. I remember looking at her and feeling as though I was looking at myself as a baby. It was the strangest thing. She looked so much like me and how I looked as a baby, I honestly felt like I was looking at baby me. It was so peaceful. Such a beautiful moment when you first see them. 

Most amusing/interesting moment during labour/birth:
I don’t really know but I do remember that one moment I was sitting on a fit ball chatting away, eating pizza shapes and drinking my apple fruit box, and the next I was writhing in pain and wanting to throw myself across the room. It seemed to escalate so quickly!

During labour/birth, I definitely did not expect:
It to hurt so much. I honestly thought I had a higher pain threshold. I don’t know if it was the circumstances of my labour – I was induced, oxytocin for contractions, I have scoliosis, she turned posterior, I laboured in my back. Or if I’m just a sook. But the back pain was awful. I remember I kept asking the midwives if I was being soft. Hahaha. As if they were actually going to say yes.. But I had the water injections, the gas and an epidural in the end. After being all like ‘I’m going to try to do it without any pain relief.’ Hahaha. I mean I did try. But a midwife did say to me, no one is going to give you a medal at the end for doing it without any pain relief, so just do what you’ve gotta do. And I second that, absolutely. 

A myth/misconception I believed prior that I now don’t is:
For some reason in my mind I was worried that if I had to have a C-section I would feel some kind of way about the birth, like I would feel as thought I didn’t “give birth” to her. Stupid I know. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t perceive anyone else’s birth that way and have never thought that about other caesareans. But it was just a worry that I had before my own labour. How wrong I was! You definitely still give birth to them. Doesn’t matter what way they come out.
Also on a more light hearted note I did think that when your waters broke it was just one gush of fluid and that’s it. I didn’t realise you would just leak fluid forever.. hahaha

Baby’s name, birth weight and date:
Audrey Madison Musicka, 3.668kg (8 pound), 51cm, 04.04.2021 at 7:36pm (Easter Sunday)

Baby’s name was almost:
Her name was always going to be Audrey. We did have a back up name just in case, but that’s a secret because we would probably use it if we ever have another daughter. 

Time spent in hospital post birth:
Three nights. Could have easily spent more but I was getting pushed out the door as they needed the bed. Which is fine. Going home the day your milk comes in is tricky to navigate though. Plus hospital beds are so well equipped for post section – your bed at home is not. Luckily Audrey was an easy baby in the beginning because sorting myself out was actually the hardest part. 

Best tip/trick you received for those early days:
The early days are honestly a blur. Nothing specific is really sticking out to me. But I will say this – do not be afraid to reach out to people you know and trust. I reached out to a few people from work, my mum and some friends with bubs. You need to talk things through, you need to hear that what you’re going through is normal and others have all been there before. It is super comforting and it makes things not seem as bad. I had a massive over supply and a really fast let down which was difficult to manage in the beginning as she would power spew, cough, choke, splutter etc. I had to express off before each feed. When you’re really hormonal and tired everything is so heightened. Just hearing someone say “oh I’ve been there, I had the same problem, I know how you feel, this is what I did..” is honestly just the best. You are never alone – remember that. 

Top 3 lifesaving items for a newborn:
Nappy cloths or spew cloths or whatever they’re called – those white square towel things from Kmart. I have heaps of them and they are everywhere. Great for catching everything – milk, spew, poo, wee. All of the bodily fluids.
Also the ergopouch sleeping bag things. We didn’t have any, I was just going to swaddle her in wraps.. Yeah no, she is not a baby that likes to have her arms in. So thankfully my Mum went and got us some sleeping pouches.
Thirdly, FROZEN MEALS. I stupidly didn’t prepare any. Obviously didn’t go in thinking I would have a C-section. But even if I didn’t. You. Do. Not. Have. The. Time. To be food shopping, preparing, cooking, eating and washing up. You just don’t. Trust me. Make yourself frozen meals. Once again, thank God for my Mum, who made us meals and brought us food in those early days. Legit wouldn’t have eaten otherwise. 

If you could go back and speak with your pregnant self, what would you say?
Nothing can truly prepare you, at all, for what’s about to come. So just enjoy it. As in, enjoy “being bored,” enjoy doing nothing, enjoy doing things on your time. Enjoy sleep or having a nap, or leaving the house with just your handbag, phone and keys in 5 minutes. Because “your” time will never exist again. Hahaha

If you could speak with yourself during labour, what would you say?
I honestly don’t know. Labour hurts. Maybe I should have just had the dang epidural from the get go. Or maybe I shouldn’t have skimmed the section in the birth skills book on “posterior labour” because I didn’t think that she would turn posterior the morning of did I. I just remember it basically saying that posterior labour is shit, and I can vouch for that. It was shit. Hahaha. 

If you could speak with yourself on day 3 of having a newborn, what would you say?
I’m not sure. Day 3 I was still in newborn bubble. I didn’t get day 3 baby blues, I got week 3 baby blues. Be wary of week 3. Week 3 was tough. 

Any words for first time mums-to-be nervous about their own upcoming birth?
You may think you want it all to go a certain way and that you will actually care when it doesn’t go that way. But in that moment you just do what you’ve gotta do. Anything to get your baby out safely. It honestly does not matter how they get here, just as long as they get here. Also, that moment when you first lay your eyes on the human life that you have created is so indescribable. It is seriously amazing. It sure makes all the pain and everything that you have just gone through worth it. Absolutely one hundred percent worth it. It is simply magic. 

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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