It was just an ordinary Wednesday night, it was 9:30pm, and I was getting ready for bed as I was super tired being 35 weeks pregnant, and I had work the next day.
I walked out to the living room to say good night to my partner, Brodie…
…As I was saying good night I felt myself leaking a little bit. I hurried to the toilet, and then after I had wiped, I noticed a tiny bit of bloody mucus on the toilet paper (sorry, probably TMI). I was a little concerned, so I messaged one of my girlfriends who advised me to call my midwife.
My midwife was off sick, so I spoke to my back up midwife (who I hadn’t had the chance to meet yet) and told her what was going on. She told me to go to the Pregnancy Assessment Centre to get checked out.
I didn’t think I was in labour but I thought I should quickly pack somewhat of a hospital bag just incase! At this point Brodie had just gotten in to bed as he had to be up at 5am the next morning for work. He was slightly annoyed when I told him that we have to head in to the hospital.
The carpark opposite the hospital was closed, so we had to park in a carpark a few streets away. It was an unpleasant walk to the hospital as I was still having some leakage. Once we arrived at the hospital at about 11pm I was asked to do a urine test to determine whether the leaking I was experiencing were my waters breaking or just urine. I was then hooked up to a CTG machine to monitor baby’s heart rate. His heart rate was slightly elevated, so the nurse asked me to slowly sip on some icy cold water to bring it down.
An hour and a half went by and his heart rate was slowly coming down. The nurse then came over to us to let us know that the test results came back as being urine and not my waters. I knew it wasn’t urine though. There was so much and it had been constantly slowly trickling out for a few hours now.
I had been watching the clock in there the entire time and noticed that every 15-20 minutes I noticed that I was having very minor abdominal cramps.
A doctor came over to give me a check up ‘down there’. After examining me he told me that I was definitely not in labour and my cervix was not dilated at all. We were sent home shortly after that.
On the way home I had some mild pain in my abdomen every 5-10 minutes.” It’s obviously just Braxton Hicks, because the doctor just told me that I am definitely not in labour”, I thought to myself.
We finally arrived home at 1:30pm, and Brodie headed straight to bed as he had to be up in 3 and a half hours for work. I felt terrible for making him drive me in to the hospital late at night for no reason. But it’s better to be safe than sorry.
I got dressed in to my PJ’s again all ready for bed and quickly went to the toilet.
When I was sitting on the toilet I had an excruciatingly painful abdominal cramp. “Holy crap, if these are just Braxton Hicks contractions how on earth am I going to survive real contractions when I’m in labour. There is NO WAY I can go through labour”, I thought to myself.
It was so painful and I felt a little scared. All of a sudden I felt an urge to push. I was definitely in labour!
I yelled out to Brodie to call an ambulance immediately. There was no way we were going to drive in to the hospital, this baby was coming out any minute and I certainly did not want to give birth in the car!
While we waited for the ambulance I jumped in to the warm shower to ease the pain of the contractions, while Brodie packed our things.
The ambulance only took 10 minutes to arrive, thank goodness.
It was about 2:15am at this point. The 10 minute drive to the hospital felt like it was taking forever. The lovely paramedic was doing her best to keep me calm, but I was so scared that I was going to give birth before we arrived at the hospital. Thankfully, I didn’t!
When we arrived at the hospital I was wheeled on the stretcher bed straight to the Pregnancy Assessment Centre, where I was greeted by one of the nurses who I had seen just a couple of hours earlier. She did an examination and said “you are 10cm dilated and ready to push!”. Holy crap. I was so not ready to push. I was so tired, I had been awake for over 20 hours.
I asked if I was able to have a birthing suite, but she said it was too late for that and I just had to go to an ordinary delivery room. I was pretty bummed about that as I was really hoping to get one. I asked what my pain relief options were, and she said only gas as it was too late to have any drugs (which I was happy about, because I had always wanted to give birth drug-free).
Within a few minutes I was in my delivery room, gowned up and ready to push. I didn’t have my midwife present as she was sick, and my back up midwife was at another birth. So I had two other midwives there with me, two nurses and a doctor.
The contractions and pushing were extremely painful, so I had some gas to take the edge off. I ended up having way too much gas and I felt like I was going to faint, oops!
Pushing was definitely the most painful experience I have ever had, but knowing that with each push I was closer to meeting my precious little boy made it all worth it.
After about 30 minutes of pushing and having an episiotomy, he was here!
He was placed straight on to my chest, it was absolutely magical.
We waited until the umbilical cord had stopped pulsating, and then Brodie cut it.
Because he was a premature baby our beautiful skin-to-skin time was cut short as some tests needed to be done.
I then had to have a few stitches, which was very uncomfortable, but thankfully the episiotomy cut was only small, so I didn’t have to have too many stitches.
Despite being born five weeks early, he was in absolute perfect health. And both of his Apgar scores were a 9!
The only issue we had with him being born prematurely is that he hadn’t fully developed the muscles that he needed to be able to breastfeed well. This meant that he had to spend time in the Special Care Nursery, and had to have a nasogastric tube inserted, so that he could be topped up with expressed breastmilk after every feed.
Although I feel so blessed that I was able to meet my baby five weeks early, it was an extremely challenging and emotional time leaving my precious tiny baby in the hospital each night for almost two weeks while we waited for him to develop the strength that he needed to be able to breastfeed. But, it was AMAZING being able to get a good nights sleep in my own bed each night, apart from having to wake up half-way through the night to pump some milk.
I feel so fortunate that I was able to have a super fast labour (6 hours including from when my waters started to leak, or 1 hour and 50 minutes of active labour). And so fortunate for an uncomplicated and almost intervention-free delivery, as I know it is often not the case – especially with hospital births
Giving birth to my beautiful son was by far the most natural and empowering experience I have ever had, and I can’t wait to do it again one day in the future.
Elijah Daniel Withers
Born at 3:22am on the 16th March 2017
2640g and 49cm long
Thanks for reading! xx