Being a First Time Mum: The Fear of Birth
Leading up to my due date my nerves kicked in.
The idea of giving birth to a small human is absolutely terrifying, and I actually hadn't thought about the end of my pregnancy until then. I covered the idea of giving birth with happy thoughts, and to be honest, completely blanked out the process. The horror stories you hear of childbirth sends shivers down my spine - the trauma, the tears, the stitches, the bleeding - wow.
Sunday at 12 pm when the moment came, my waters broke as I stood up from the toilet. It was fluid, and I couldn't stop it. I thought the movies exaggerated waters breaking, but that is exactly how it happened to me. I was at my in-law's house and sternly looked at my husband and said ‘we’ve got to go’ and jumped in the car.
I was absolutely adamant that no one was to know I was going into labour and they would get this magical text message to say that our little boy was born. I was wrong. We got home, called the hospital, and they said to come in as soon as possible. As it was my first pregnancy, they wanted to check me over. I was sent home an hour later.
As soon as I walked in the door to our home, my contractions started - just as the UFC did. We had joked days earlier that I would go into labour when this happened. Oh, the fear. Contractions were eight minutes apart, and it was challenging to concentrate what was on the TV. My husband had popped round to a friends house to have a beer and watch the fight as the midwives said they didn't think anything would happen in a few days. They were wrong. As soon as the action was over I messaged my husband and said ‘contractions eight minutes apart, come home’ followed by, ‘I am serious'.
Fear started to kick in; I decided I absolutely did not want to give birth.
My husband nervously called the midwives to advise them of my contractions which were now five minutes apart. Then after thirty minutes, they jumped to a minute apart, and the pain was difficult to manage. Heat packs and glasses of water got me through the first hour of labour. Each contraction coming on was like being shot. Not that I've been shot before, but it's what I imagine it would feel like.
One second I was having a normal conversation - and then bang, on the floor on my hands and knees trying to breathe it out. I laboured in my back, and it was challenging to re-direct the pain mentally and get into a comfortable position to manage it. I just kept convincing myself that labour can be achieved without pain relief.
Jumping in the car involved a quick head count of hospital bags and throwing in my husbands converses in case of emergency caesarean. As my husband always wears thongs, I wanted to be on the ball just in case we needed to go into theatre.
Arriving at the hospital, there is a section you can drop off women going into labour. Perfect! Getting out of the car I had one thong on because the other one got jammed under the seat, and to be honest, I did not care. The ground was gravel, and my husband had asked if my feet were hurting. I could have punched him then and there. My feet were the last of my worries.
One thing I remembered from our birthing class was to walk the stairs, don't take the elevator. I distinctly remember the midwife saying the stairs would open up the pelvis ready for delivery. All I wanted was this baby out. As I walked into the reception, the receptionist just pointed to the assessment room where the midwife was waiting for me.
The first thing I remember saying was ‘I need the epidural’.
Hats off to midwives who put up with women in labour - I was an absolute horror to the poor lady. The baby was pushing towards my spine which was painful to deal with, and I could not get comfortable. I just hobbled around the assessment room trying to get comfortable. I started to feel very nauseous, and I then filled a whole chuck bag (sorry - too much information). And trust me when I say am not a vomiting person, not even after a bottle of vodka.
The midwife offered me pain relief of water injections. I had heard terrible things about them and was not adamant they would work. The midwife explained how they work and that they could provide relief to my severe back pain. Bring on the water injections!
They were excruciating - and no word of a lie, worse than any contraction or any pain I had ever felt. I screamed down the hospital like you've never heard. Two midwives put them into my back in four spots, and I had to stay still when all I wanted to do was bang my head against the wall. My husband looked so sorry for me and kept trying to tell me it would be okay. Pro tip: if you are a husband or expecting dad DO NOT say it will be okay.
The next thing I knew I was in a birthing suite on my knees leaning over the bed. I asked for the gas, it was great. It felt like my knees weren't even touching the ground - like I was hovering.
The midwife I had previously had went on her break, and a relief one came in. I told her I wanted to keep her, she was so nurturing, and the best thing about her was that she asked if I wanted an epidural. The gas made me so sleepy and relaxed, and each contraction was only tense. It helped me breathe through each contraction. Each contraction lasted around 45 to 60 seconds. Everyone tells you they feel like forever, I found the opposite. I thought they went quite quick.
After two hours on the gas, the pain started to return to my back as the water injections wore off.
The epidural came, and I had to curl over the bed as they did what they needed to in my spine. I didn't feel a thing. The epidural kicked in pretty quick, and it was an absolute dream. I would see a contraction happening on the monitor and just feel tightness on my stomach; it was a weird experience. I was able to nap on and off which allowed me to rest in preparation for delivery.
After 16 hours of labour, I hadn't fully dilated, so an obstetrician (OB) came to assess my progress. The OB assessed me for what felt like two minutes and said: "you are going for an emergency cesarean".
How about NO.
I didn't make a birthing plan as I wanted my body just to do what it needed to do and I would make decisions on pain management as I went on. I knew my options and was very determined to push this baby out. The baby was moving around, and his heartbeat was fine.
The obstetrician was abrupt and said it was too dangerous for me to deliver naturally. There was no explanation, and I was confused as to why.
A caesarean was not my plan. I had heard the recovery was horrible and not being able to pick up my baby was not an option. The OB left the room, and I sobbed to the midwife and my husband that this was not to happen. The sympathy in my midwives eyes told me she didn't see this coming. And while she couldn't say that this wasn't supposed to happen, I could tell she was thinking it. I asked the midwife for a second opinion and if we could have another obstetrician come in to assess the situation, but she said the risks were too significant and she would not encourage a natural delivery.
I had blood in my urine, and the baby was pushing on my bladder. The risk was my health, not the baby. The obstetrician came back to explain the dangers of the procedure and got my husband to sign the permission forms.
I was hysterical; this was not my idea of meeting my baby. While the epidural brought on quite severe shakes, I was also shaking with fear. Despite this, the theatre team were lovely and kept me as calm as possible while prepping for the procedure.
The procedure felt like it took five minutes.
I remember seeing my baby boys hand come over the sheet in front of me and tears of happiness rolling down my face. The anaesthetist was dabbing my face with tissues and telling me how beautiful he is.
They put him in the crib next to me, and he was HUGE. At 10 pound 3 1/2 ounces I was so glad I didn't push him out. Who knew that huge baby was hiding in my not so big bump. My husband was absolutely smitten, and it was a beautiful moment. The fear of birth was gone, and I would happily do it again, with pain relief.
The recovery was difficult for the first 24 hours I was very tender. After that I recovered quite well, I just took each day slow and listened to my body. At four weeks postpartum I was walking 3km a day and resting when the baby slept. Don’t be scared of birth, the midwives and doctors are there to help you and look after you. Every birth is so different. Being a first-time mum it was scary to think about, but we have powerful instincts, and there is so much support around us.
I wouldn't change being a mum for the world. We are absolutely smitten with our Jackson Leo.
Candice Educator // FTM