My first pregnancy was a breeze — my son’s arrival was not. I was scared, over-medicated and left alone in agony for most of his birth. I had a bad injury from birth and was not allowed food from the time of my admittance and throughout the duration of my stay, and I was roomed with three other women and babies in a short-staffed maternity ward. My husband was kicked out an hour after my son’s birth and told to come back during visiting hours. I was left crying in the dark with a baby who wouldn’t feed and was given formula without my consent to silence him by matronly midwives.
I was traumatised, uninformed, and they discharged us as soon as they were allowed the following day. I became one of those women that had an awful, worst-case scenario story you hear about when pregnant and choose to ignore as people only tell you the bad things …right?
When I fell pregnant with my second child, I was terrified of the same experience. I suddenly understood why women would choose to birth at home over a hospital, although this wasn’t an option for me. I did everything in my power to gain knowledge and make decisions about my birth before choices could be made for me. Even though I was birthing in the hospital again, I hoped for this to be the birth I wanted with the elements that were important to me, to be in control and labour the way I wanted, to have my own room and space bonding with my new baby and my husband-to-be at my side.
However, my baby had other plans.
My second son was crushing my ureter causing hydronephrosis of my right kidney. Basically, it was swelling up with fluid and causing excruciating pain with a risk of it completely dying. My doctor informed me that he wanted to induce me at 38 weeks to save my kidney. All my fears came back but with greater force — more medication, more intervention before labour even started. I took a few days to process, and I mourned the birth I wasn’t going to have. I was scared that the induction would lead to further complications. Then I decided this wasn’t going to stop me having an amazing experience.
I ended up in hospital two days prior to my induction date with bleeding. My doctor informed me that I wouldn’t be going home and would be having a baby the next morning, which was a surreal feeling. He suggested an epidural to be put in prior to induction, as he wanted to really amp up the Pitocin. I took this in my stride and agreed. There was still an awesome birth to be had!
The next morning I was taken into the birthing suite and the anaesthetist came and placed the epidural line, but no epidural as yet — I wanted to be able to decide when and if I needed pain relief. My waters were ruptured and I was given breakfast. My midwife was lovely and explained all the procedures being conducted. The atmosphere was happy and calm. We were so ready to meet our new person.
The Pitocin was started and despite being attached to various drips, a catheter and monitor I still was free to walk around best I could and bounce about on the birthing ball. After an hour of solid one minute long contractions every two minutes with baby spine on spine, I had the walking epidural topped up. I was once again happy and calm and my husband and I joked, laughed, and sucked on barley sugars, discussing names and missing our big boy.
About an hour later I told the midwife I had a strange sensation — the contractions were different, so she went to check my progress only to find a baby there! I was told not to push and didn’t, however my body breathed all 6lb 11oz of baby Milo into the world whether I liked it or not. He arrived at 12:22pm — some two and a bit hours after the start of induction. As I held my newborn son and nursed him for the first time I decided right then I wanted to do this again.
Milo’s birth was simply amazing, it was the birth I had dreamed of. Despite all the obstacles, all the uncertainty and intervention, I had felt in control and my body had done what it needed to do. No post-birth injuries either!
I was so incredibly empowered by my birth — my hospitalised induction with an epidural. Rather than the journey of labour being the focus, the destination and end resulting baby was. I have pride in my medicated, intervened birth. I felt accomplished and in awe of myself creating this person and bringing them into the world, even if it wasn’t the way nature had intended.
Milo’s birth healed much of the anger and disappointment from my first experience. I am really looking forward to having a third child in a hospital environment and knowing that if all doesn’t go to plan, I can still have the birth I want.