Chalk & Cheese; My Birth Story

I feel like I have two birth stories... the one where nothing went to plan and instead was a comedy of errors; and the other, where it was just perfect and the story I'm proud to share. I think this is why it's taken me so long to actually write it down. These first words as I feed my gorgeous guzzler at 7 weeks and 3 days (I wonder how long it will take me to complete 🤔).

The Backstory (aka BS)

Growing up I was always convinced I'd be a nervous wreck of a pregnant woman..... I had never heard a single positive birth story and was sure I'd have the looong invasive labour that seemed to be in my DNA. The very thought of it all terrified me and I guess acted as some pretty solid contraception.

So when I found out I was pregnant and instead of a wave of panic I experienced the warmest sense of calm, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt this was where I was meant to be. What I also knew was that my story was going to be different. This is where things started to come together for me because despite working less than 800m from The Family Birth Centre I had no idea what it offered until a close friend of mine told me that's where she was birthing earlier that year and I knew immediately it was where I'd have my babies when it was my time.

Sidenote - her babe was born in Sept, when I was only two months pregnant, and the first beautifully natural (waterbirth) story I'd heard.

So I applied for my spot at FBC crazy early.... like 8 weeks or something and then I looked into Hypnobirthing. We began our course in Feb at 28 weeks and I had also started reading Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering. I loved both of these; yet its only with hindsight that I can truly appreciate everything they gave me and how they contributed to making my labour and birth what it was.

The Labour

My waters broke (the one thing that apparently NEVER happens to woman in my family) at 11pm on the Monday night when I was 41 + 1, and within an hour I was getting some pretty consistent contractions. While mild they were enough to keep me awake and come 6am we called FBC and organised to go in for a check; I'd been advised that because I had been getting regular braxton hicks and was post date that once things started they could progress quickly, so we wanted to play it safe.

Safe to say the car ride in killed them off and after a VE we were told to head on  home and to come back once we reached that golden rule of 3-2-1 as I was currently at 2cm, which is not clasified as established labour.

We headed to the beach where we grabbed a coffee and I called my mum in NZ to keep her in the loop. Instead of going straight home we decided to pop into the inlaws to buy ourselves another 48hrs. Luckily they thought nothing of me keeping my sunglasses on inside or my pacing with the occasional pause in both movement amd conversation. I did however take my last bumpie (selfie of my baby bump) while there!

Once we got home the rest of the day was a bit of a non-event while we just hung out, I did my best to relax, spent plenty of time on the fitball, and we worked through the Miles Circuit. The regular mild contractions I'd experienced overnight had turned into stronger irregular ones, and as we piled into the car again to head into KEMH for my antibiotic appointment I didn't think much of it; to be honest I figured they'd die off in the car again.

I was wrong.

This car trip was different. I dunno if they actually intensified or if it just felt that way because the car was so uncomfortable, what I do know is that I was no longer able to talk during them.  We arrived at the hospital bang on 5pm for my appointment and we were asked to take a seat in the waiting room… a hospital waiting room = bright lights, shiny surfaces, strangers, funny noises & smells. Basically everything that was NOT how I had planned to spend my time labouring. So on the sunnies went and I just  breathed through them. An hour later, we were still in the waiting room and said contractions had been following the 3-2-1 rule for nearly the whole time; only now I couldn’t just sit quietly next to Chris and breath through them. I was oddly grateful to be the only ones left by this point as I was having to stand, sway, and use the back of the chairs to relieve some of the pressure when the surges rolled through. Chris let them know I was getting increasingly uncomfortable and thankfully they found us a room rather quickly after that. 

For the next two hours we stayed tucked away  in our own little space where we could control the lighting, play our own music, and relax as much as possible. At some stage I started to vomit….. Major kombucha regrets here! Finally, after timing the cannula insertion between surges I was getting the (time-sensitive) antibiotics and liaising with the  FBC to head down and get in the birth pool.

Things finally felt like they were back on track.

Ooooooooooo the relief. Although uncomfortable the next 4-5hrs seemed to fly by (although take forever at the same time). Being able to freely move around within the water and take all the weight off my aching hips was the closest thing to bliss. Come 24hrs from my waters breaking they wanted to see how far along I was (Answer: 7cm; not progressing as quickly as they’d like) and to discuss the plan from there. It was suggested that I be transferred back up to the hospital for a Synto drip to help ‘coordinate’ my contractions. All I heard was HOSPITAL and DRUGS. In spite of my resistance to both of these, I was getting so exhausted (hadn’t slept in nearly 48hrs and the anti-nausea meds had definitely not worked!) that I saw the logic.  

Come 12:30am we’re WALKING to the hospital - this was some fun. I remember being so frustrated that I was heading back there and in so much discomfort without the water to support me that I couldn’t even deal with people talking to me. So between surges I was head down and scurrying like a rat (I remember being told I could slow down, there was no rush, lol) and then during the surges having to stop dead in my tracks and just breath. In hindsight it must have been kinda funny - scurry scurry scurry, stop! And…… B.R.E.A.T.H

Reaching the hospital room was such a relief - a bed! I lay down, curled up, and tried to sleep. Hahahahaha dreams are free right! The doctor came in and explained the Synto to us, then explained how and epidural works, like they were a package deal, and asked how all that sounded. I’m so glad for all my preparation because even in my sleep deprived, somewhat confused state, I was able to accept the support I wanted and decline the unrequested support that was being offered. Oddly this is one of my few crystal clear moments amongst the haze.

Three hours with the Synto drip; two of them knelt over the back of the bed; and, the third laying on my side, because I was too exhausted to hold my own weight and was starting to fall asleep between surges, I had finally reached 10cm - it’s 5am.

The Birth

The next moment of clarity I recall was when the ward co-ordinator walzed on in and (maybe introduces herself) declares that my baby is tired; she can see I am too; she’s going to put the styrips up, which will open up my hips; and, we’re going to have us a baby.

Now excuse my french.

Hell. Fuck. No! was all I could think, it’s probably a good thing I was too tired to say it out loud! I was so over things not being how I had hoped, and giving birth to my baby in stirrups was so far from my preferences it wasn’t funny. So, without consciously realising it, while she was setting up said stirrups I had another surge and by jeez did I ‘push’. I ‘pushed’ like my life depended on it…. Apparently I pushed well enough that said co-ordinator decided that maybe I didn’t need the stirrups after all. 

Hell. Fuck. Yeah!

6.03am and my world changed forever. Bodhi Charlie Aumord was born.

Why is there so much shit on the bed? No you didn’t shit yourself. OMG it’s a boy….. look to dad who was 200% convinced we were having a girl and he has the most priceless look on his face ever! Look back to baby……. Why is my baby blue? Wait, his cords been clamped and he being taken away already. Huh? When did that Pediatrician arrive in the room? 

SURPRISE - Meconium aspiration (even though all my amniotic fluid had been clear). 

Literally the most bewildering 30seconds of my life. Chris looks at me kinda shocked, kinda amazed, kinda confused, kinda concerned for me; after reassuring him I’m fine he heads over to be with our little one while he got the TLC he needed.

The Aftermath

So it turns out that when your baby breaths in it’s own pop you don’t get to go home after 4-6hrs like at the FBC….. you’re kept in for 12hrs of observation. Sweet! 6pm and we get to go home. Our big girls had come to meet their little brother and we were transferred up to the maternity ward after I’d had a few repairs (turns out I ended up in stirrups anyways - oh the irony), where we settled in for our first day as a family of 5.

5:30pm came around and we were packed and ready to go, just waiting for our final check, only to find out that they had some concerns and wanted to keep us in for further observation overnight… by 8:30pm he was downstairs in the NICU…. By 9pm I was back upstairs in my room, alone. Wanting to connect with my baby I instinctively did what I had been doing for the last 41 weeks and 2 days, I reached for my belly. The fatigue and emotions finally caught up with me in that moment and I remember feeling that first postpartum tear roll down my cheek.

Now the weirdest part for me about having a baby in the NICU was that I felt like such a fraud! He was 4.11kg, so a big kid by most standards and here we were (as a precaution more than anything) in a space that was taking care of the sickest of the sick, tiny pre-term babies. I really felt like we didn’t have the right to be there almost. OMG the mum guilt starts to quickly!!! 

Safe to say that Bodhi the Buddha took no time learning to thrive, because he was already above his birth weight by the time he was discharged from the NICU on Friday afternoon. We got to take him home on Saturday and he’s continued to be a superstar ever since (but that’s a whole other story!!!).

It was the definition of a chalk & cheese experience; nothing was like I wanted, yet everything was just perfect at the same time (hint: it all depends on how you choose to view it).

I could have chosen to focus on what went ‘wrong’ and feel negative about the whole experience

  • No I didn't have the drug free birth I'd hoped for.

  • No I didn't get the water birth I'd planned to have.

  • No I didn't get to birth at the Family Birth Centre like I expected.

  • No I didn't have my midwife there on the day as intended.

  • No I didn't manage to avoid antibiotics during labour as I'd wished for us.

  • No I didn't get to go home after 6hours (not even 12hrs!) like I'd anticipated.

BUT...... instead I’ve chosen to embody the positives

  • My baby came at the perfect time for him (41+3).

  • I was as prepared as I could have been (Thank you Hypnobirthing/Kelly).

  • I made informed decisions through my labour and birth (I call that empowerment).

  • My baby was the perfect size for me (4.11kg - some would say big).

  • I did it without pain relief (fuck yeah - I did it!).

  • My baby was in the right place at the right time (to get the care he needed).

  • We’re both happy, healthy, and thriving!

And you know what…. I’d do it all over again 😍 

(🤔 = Bodhi is currenlty 10weeks to the day + it took me a week to actually post it 🙈 ‘cos #mumlyfe)

Amanda Bright