This is the birth story of my beautiful and sweet boy… the one who made me a Mother. Ari’s is not the simplest of stories… but really when is Motherhood ever simple…
Firstly a couple of important things to note about Ari’s birth. I as lucky enough to employ a private midwife to care for me in the lead up to birth, during and post. I did this because I was always a little nervous about labour and I liked the idea of having continuity of care. I also attended a Calm Birth course run by a lady called Karen from Fit For Birth in Noosa. Here I gained vital tools which would help me to deliver Ari. In the Calm Birth course Karen talked about how it prepared expectant Mothers and Fathers for all sorts of labours including the difficult ones… Well that’s exactly how Ari’s birth turned out to be….
I had been feeling unwell for a few days and had been using my Calm Birth tapes in the bath to relax. I was up at all hours of the night feeling uncomfortable but having never been pregnant before I just thought that what I was feeling was all completely normal. A few days later I decided that I should say something to my midwife Deyna, so Ryan drove me to her office for an appointment. I was now 38 + 1 day. During this appointment Deyna checked my blood pressure which was a little high, and she was concerned about the pain I had been feeling whilst breathing, so she decided it would be a good idea for me to head to the hospital to have them run a few more tests. I still didn’t think it was to serious (maybe I was hopefully dreaming) as I wasn’t feeling to bad ‘just a bit off’ so I told my husband to head back to work whilst I waited for the results.
Welllllllll it turned out I had Pre Eclampsia and Hellp Syndrome (perhaps I have a high tolerance to pain… or maybe Pre Eclampsia is just sneaky!) I was told that I would need to deliver Ari immediately. Hearing this news I must admit I did get emotional and I started to cry. I had heard of Pre Eclampsia before, and though I did not know just how serious it could get, I realised t could be a huge issue. After I let my tears rolls down I remember my Calm Birth teachings, and honestly took a breathe, and pulled myself together ready to deliver my baby however that might be.
At first the doctors thought that I would need to have a c section due to the urgency of the situation. (Basically with Pre Eclampsia and Hellp the health of the Mother and baby are at risk until the Placenta and baby are delivered.) Before making a decision the doctors did an internal examination where they fond me to be 3cm dilated (yep high pain tolerance right there.) It was then decided that I would attempt a vaginal birth, but that I would be induced to speed things up.
I got hold of Ryan and told him to go grab the baby back rom home and get to hospital ASAP. (We didn’t even have the bag with us because I thought I was just going to discuss a few aches and pains!) I asked the doctors to hold off on breaking my waters until Ryan would arrive, so in the meantime they moved me to the birth suite and got me prepped with cannulas and lots of other wonderful hospital type things. Deyna and Ryan arrived and we were ready to start. Once my waters were broken birth was well and truly on!
I was quite restricted during birth, due to being rigged up to Syntocinon, and was only able to move between the bed and a fit ball. The doctors had also put a catheter in to help monitor my urine output and I was also on water restrictions to make sure that my kidneys were coping. (One of the unfortunate side effects of Hellp is that your kidneys can fail.) I managed to get through most of the 4 hour labour drug free and using what little tools that I was able to. If anyone has ever been inducted you will understand how intense it is (but of course all birth is intense.) Oh and how god are heat packs and cold flannels!
Throughout the labour doctors were regularly monitoring me and doing obs to make sure that I wasn’t going to have a seizure. At one point it did look that I might so it was decided that a Magnesium drop should be inserted to hopefully prevent the possibility a seizure happening. A few times I signed for a C Section however we never got to that point. Throughout all of this I just kept focusing on the baby and myself, and tried to block out as much of the ‘noise’ as I could. I had packed a few birth tools in my baby bag including a picture of the 12 week scan, a baby rattle and my favourite stuffed animal Ryan had bought me years early… all of these thinks helped as distractions to ease the pain. Music was also my haven.
As I headed toward transition I could really feel the pain in my back, and with no resources left to pull out of my bag of tricks I opted for the gas. I know it doesn’t work for everyone but it certainly took the edge off for me! Once we got to the pushing stage I can remember Ryan saying ‘Oh wow it is amazing how bits of his head come out then move straight back in!” WORST THING TO SAY EVER!!! The pain I felt when I birthed his head was interesting to say the least (hello ring of fire) and I can remember Deyna saying ” Oh sweetheart don’t cry” to our baby. Wow he was almost here.
After 45mins of pushing Deyna and with one last huge push Ari James entered this world and was pulled straight up onto my chest. He was happy, beautiful and he was healthy. At this point I started to feel quite giddy and later Ryan told me it was as though I was drunk. My Pilates had gotten so low from the Hellp Syndrome that my blood didn’t clot and I had lost almost 3 litres of it… I could feel it too. I started to ask “Am I ok? Am I ok?”
I can’t remember much of the first few hours of Ari’s life. I remember him being on my chest but I can’t remember all of the details of it. Sometimes that used to make me feel bad, as I guess I felt as though I had let him down in those first few hours, but I know that everything was out of my control and that I honestly did the best. I felt as though I fought really hard for my life, Ari’s safety and for a natural vaginal birth.
For the next few days I was bed ridden with Magnesium running through. I was on seizure watch so had to have a nurse in the room with me 24/7. Not the best way to spend your first few days as a new family but certainly not the worst. I ended up having a blood transfusion and iron transfusion as well. I remember being upset on our first night in hospital when Ari would cry and I couldn’t get up to hold him, I was however able to soothe him with my voice which I thought was magical. I also spent the night asking any nurse around whether I was going to die (I wasn’t I was just so scared.) On day three when the baby blues hit I cried all day saying that I could never have a baby again because if something happened Ari would be without a Mother.
I fainted on the second night in hospital which made me feel nervous to go home. We spent five days in hospital although it was expected that I would stay in a lot longer. I recovered very quickly and two weeks later all of my bloods and organ functions were back to normal. I was so scared that I would get sick again or faint holding the baby, so we made sure that I was alone with him for at least another two weeks.
I was quite emotional for sometime after Ari’s birth, and even still on his first and second birthdays thoughts drifted back of that fear of dying and leaving my family. These thoughts subsided though after reading accurate information relating to Pre Eclampsia and Hellp and also talking to my midwife. I did attended a debrief appointment with the Obstetrician in attendance and this was a fantastic way to get the facts on how things went, why they happened etc. rather then just the emotional of it all in my head. I would recommend this to anyone. After that appointment I decided that in fact I did want to have another child, and I must say that the birth of our second is what has truly healed my fears the most.
Ari’s birth was as beautiful and challenging as the toddler that he is now, but most of all like him it was magical. I have a true understanding of just how sick you can get but your body CAN bounce back. I also have a great appreciation for modern medicine and the time/place that I live in. And honestly how amazing are birth partners… I would have to say that my husband truly would be among the best. He knows when to push me, and when I have had enough. BUT mostly I am so incredibly grateful for that sweet and beautiful boy, and that we are here together today… the one who made me a Mother…
If you would like more information on Pre Eclampsia or Hellp Syndrome talk to your GP.
(If you have read this I would love it if you had the time to read Chloe’s birth story as well.)