Birth story – Katrina and baby Thomas — The Positive Birth Company

*Trigger warning* – Mention stroke, pregnancy losses, IVF, caesarean, COVID-19, multiple room changes, hypertension, catheter, reduced fetal heartbeat and use of the word contraction

I’ve been excited to write our story as mothering and parenting has been an amazing journey so far and whilst our experience was eventful it was empowering having read so many stories before me (thanks wonderful women for sharing) and the Positive Birthing course really set us up as parents for success in maintaining a positive mindset.

Our backstory:

We had been trying on and off for 5 years prior, and experienced two early pregnancy losses. After a break in trying we got help from the fabulous Lynn Burmiester at No1 Fertility and fell pregnant after our first round. We decided not to find out the gender of our Rainbow Baby as IVF has no surprises.

Our pregnancy:

The first trimester was a pretty textbook. Nausea, constipation, crazy dreams, cravings (English brand crisps, chilli and cheese) and extreme gas (my poor husband). The scans showed everything was tracking along fine. The second trimester I was in my element, I popped at 16 weeks, had lots of energy and enjoyed the milestones. I did have extra scans for precaution as I had a stroke at the age of 21. The third trimester got a bit more intense with pregnancy induced hypertension around 27 weeks, baby tracking on the larger side (5 weeks ahead at one stage) and swelling . I was extremely uncomfortable at 36 weeks and felt like I was carrying two babies.

Our labor and birth experience:

I started to have weekly monitoring from 30 weeks, which included foetal, blood pressure and bloods to check for pre-eclampsia. All checks showed everything was fine except my blood pressure and I took medication for the remainder of my pregnancy. At my 34 week appt, I was experiencing Braxton hicks, our Obstetrician explored my birth plan options and recommended I consider induction and elective C-section pre 40 weeks. My husband and I discussed all the options using BRAIN and I decided on induction post 38 weeks and opted not to have an elective C-section. I was told that due to my health and risks a water birth was not possible, but I may be able to labor in water if the pool was available.

We accelerate to our induction which was scheduled for Thursday 18th Nov, we arrived at 6pm as scheduled, but due to other medical priorities and no beds available we waited patiently at reception (ordering Uber eats, played card games, listened to music and watched Melbourne city ​​line) until 11pm when a temporary room was found and I was later moved to an appropriate room for the induction procedure around 1am. I was admitted, said goodbye to my husband, and went to my inpatient suite. I had the balloon catheter, which in summary was excruciatingly painful and didn’t work for me. I took 2 hourly pain meds to manage and pretty much groaned and waited the whole time it was in me.

Friday 19th, around midday, I had the balloon removed and felt amazingly pain free straight away. We awaited a Midwife for options, which ranged from going home (not really an option as I’d have to start at the beginning of the public health queue) to the pessary gel, I opted for the gel. After 2 single dose attempts, a final double dose and 24hrs later (with 3 room moves due to COVID cases and capacity issues, lots of Netflix movies and hospital food) it worked.

My waters broke at 9pm, on Saturday 20th November, while spooning my husband for comfort, listening to our birthing playlist. It was hilarious as I felt a “pop” sensation followed by a minor gush then a big gush of fluid. I said to my husband “my waters have broken”, he responded “which waters?” – to this day we don’t know what he meant.

The rest is a blur to me, but my husband recounts my contractions started within half an hour. My husband was such a great support throughout, rubbing my back, timing the contractions, replenishing me with water and snacks at every request and being my biggest cheerleader. He annoyed me once and we cannot remember what he did but he stopped immediately.

Back to contractions…they started off manageable with my TENS Machine and gas and air (which required 2 room changes via wheelchair for a laboring room then to another for access to gas and air). After 6ish hrs I needed morphine as they got so intense around the early hours of the morning, which once received I fell asleep for 2 hrs taking gas and air in my sleep (remarkable but I think I was light sleeping for sure). I woke up needing to go to the toilet but because my bladder was full and my blood pressure reached 180, a code “something” was called, which I later realised was for assistance. catheter in to help me. I was adamantly refusing while laying on my side unable to get up, and telling her to leave me alone in some delirious state while she hid behind the doors awaiting her back up to encourage me. of this I gave in as I was unable to move, honestly that catheter relieved me and I was up like some church miracle wishing she had done it sooner. She was so professional and praised me (I’m sure she was internally rolling her eyes saying I told you so). My blood pressure went down immediately. I took a few long showers as I was told the pools were in use.

Between my husband, our midwife and her student supporting me and the showers (and a room change) over the next 10hrs I progressively got to 9cm. I was not progressing further so with a midwife change I was supported to open up with a peanut exercise ball to 10cm.

The transition:

I said the classic “I can’t do this” and was told to get some rest to be ready to push later. After a few hours pause and increasing pain I explored options and using BRAIN opted for an epidural, which took the edge off. When the time came, I was guided to push and used my down breathing focusing on my affirmations. However, after an hour they advised our babies heart rate was dropping and needed monitoring. I resumed pushing and was told I was at 9cm but our baby wasn’t engaged. We discussed with the midwife and obstetrician options to wait or C-section. My husband advocated for me initially and asked questions using BRAIN as I struggled to communicate, and kept coming back to check what I wanted to do. I made the decision at 23hrs to have the C-section and discussed our preference including:

-calm C-section

-husband to announce the gender

-delayed cord clamping

-skin on skin

We got ready for the procedure and my exhausted body felt reenergised knowing we’d soon meet our little person. I entered the theater first and was greeted to an RnB playlist (Ja Rule and Ashanti’s What’s Love playing), my husband followed with our midwife and midwifery student who I’d asked to take photos and videos.

I can safely say all occurred and it was just so empowering and beautiful. I was so grateful to the obstetricians and medical staff as they were so calm in talking us through everything, but also had a good sense humor having banter with us. One of the theater staff said they’d not seen someone so calm and I put it all down to this course.

Our son, Thomas, entered the world to Barry White’s “You’re the First, the Last, My Everything” and our hearts were full. My husband and I watched him be guided into the world, we both had skin on skin and he was calmly weighed and checked over. The best part was watching his birth video and seeing that he was attached to his place for just under 3mins and taken care of so delicately.

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