The last month, for me, appears to be somewhat of a blur. It has passed faster than I could have imagined as we prepared for child birth which happened far sooner than expected. For those who are interested in the birth story you can find it below as we formally introduce the latest addition to our family: Miss Charlie Brown.
Too Much Information Warning!
*trigger* Detailed child birth story. Read at own peril.
Miss Brown had an adventurous journey into the world. Given my age there were a few extra things put in place to make sure that we were both safe and one of those things was ultrasounds and measurements. One of the massive upsides we have as being part of a developed nation is excellence in prenatal care which can empower us as mothers to make decisions that reflect the best interests of ourselves and our child.
As you may have picked up from our social media, we went away for part of the July school holidays for a babymoon. We enjoyed the beautiful hot springs of the Northern Territory amongst some amazing remote locations as hidden gems of our nation and ate the most amazing meals by campfire light across locations spanning over 3,600km of the terrain that we travelled. Miss CB was doing her thing, she was active and busy so we knew all was well and even squeezed in a quick maternal health check at Katherine before we made the trip home again. Things seemed great.
We came to ultrasound day, about 38 weeks, and there was an air of concern. We found that measurements of Miss CB were not keeping up with the count and that her abdominal measurement had actually reduced. Somewhere in the weeks between scans she had not only stopped growing but had also lost weight. So, within hours, there was a change of plans to my planned natural birth without induction.
Now, I have had issues with the medical system with childbirth before where the expression of my wishes was actively ignored and the series of events thereafter were unprofessional to say the least. So, induction and any other type of intervention is something I take quite seriously. With it being suggested that induction occur in 6 days with CTG monitoring in the days before I felt that for what was going on that if they couldn’t wait longer then maybe sooner was a better option. Following my gut and my heart knowing what the next week would have been like for me, emotionally speaking, alongside the demands of family I asked to bring it forward. Sometimes you need to make decisions that are for your own head space and if I was going into an induction then I wanted to be emotionally in the right place and drawing it out would only serve to erode that. Induction was booked for 48 hours time with check-in the night before for dilation beforehand.
Now, as I walked out, the midwife briefly engaged an obstetrician about the planned methods they would use for induction in my case. Now, knowing that induction itself was a big deal for me, the planned process was an even bigger deal. I listened to what they said and headed home to consider what was to come. The reality was that their planned process, after deliberation, was something that I did not want at all. This was something though I decided to leave alone until I got to hospital the following evening so that compromise could be found. It was more important that I find the space to breathe, absorb the news of the changing circumstances and prepare myself for a birth that would come sooner rather than later.
I did what I could that day before Jeremy and I, both, headed into ‘parent mode’ for the afternoon. We undertook all those usual after school activities and then went through that usual evening routine of preparing everyone for bed and soon everyone was settled. Then, in a last ditch attempt, all attempts were made to encourage Miss CB into this world of her own accord. Of course, the long list of ways to ‘encourage’ child birth are quite hit and miss with success both anecdotally and in formal research but we gave it all our best shot.
Our efforts got the beginnings of rumblings with enough to say that there was evidence that something ‘might’ happen but we weren’t making bets on it so planned for a good night of sleep. We did give the hospital a courtesy heads up though, just in case. Overnight some pains kicked. They were totally irregular and all over the place so I chalked them up to Braxton Hicks and tried to sleep through them. They did keep me awake for some of the time but I was generally able to get back to sleep in between a cluster of them.
Early in the morning, I made a call to the hospital. I called with a degree of concern as what felt might have been waters breaking but I found to be blood, not waters. The midwife discussed the volume with me and reassured me that the amount I had lost was ‘acceptable’ as possibly being from the blood vessels of the cervix as it dilates. She gave some details of how to gauge how much more was required to cross the threshold to needing to get into hospital and encouraged me to stay at home until the pains became regular. Honestly, knowing that we had children at home who needed to be prepared for school and that this was not my first ride on this Merry Go Round and that baby was already possibly compromised I think that maybe this was the wrong call. This mumma probably should have been encouraged to the hospital at this point. But you can’t change the past.
So life went on, kids got ready for school, I hid in the bedroom for each contraction, madly dashing in preparations in between causing a few raised eyebrows but, oddly, no questions. Then things got worse really quickly, honestly, it would have been easier to set the kids up with a movie rather than have Jeremy take them to school but I was acutely aware of other obligations that we had so I asked Jeremy to dash them to school quickly and gave him a courtesy heads up that I was going to call an ambulance and, in worst case scenario, would meet him at the hospital. He already knew that this would be because I had crossed the haemorrhage volume threshold.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, that one of our children had minor surgery two days earlier so was still in bed asleep so Jeremy would have to return and collect him too before heading to the hospital himself.
I rang ‘000’ and the operator waited on the line. She didn’t throw me any of the questions that they would give an offsider who might be present. She was silent just waited on the line for the crew to arrive. I stepped into the shower to manage pain, Spotify playing my birth playlist as I breathed through contractions that had gone from irregular, short and painful to back-to-back and almost constant. With a knowledge of the crescendo of childbirth and the burn of the ring of fire that I expected was ahead I mentally assured myself, “The pains will increase from here, this is not the worst it will be, I can just breathe through this because the real pain is yet to come.” I know, it can sound negative in writing by really it mentally prepared me for what I expected ahead and allowed to draw comfort what I was experiencing in the moment.
Now, I will say the crew were lovely and they did their job well but an experienced Mum can pick a novice birth attendant in a glance and simply being asked, ‘Why are you in the shower?’ was enough to tell me that experience wasn’t on my side and that it was just extra hands on deck, especially as attempts were made to turn off the water without providing an alternative pain relief. No stress, that happens. It isn’t every day that paramedics and their freshly on-road interns attend a birth – even they need to have their ‘first birth experience’ within their job role too.
Without hesitation I was given, after the required questions, penthrox. Without even thinking, I accepted it as an alternative to the shower. I was very, very aware that if baby Charlie didn’t come soon that her welfare was on the line because significant haemorrhage indicated that the placenta was probably separating from my uterus. After a contraction, I was asked out of the shower to pull on the basics to get to hospital. The intern, freshly trained in Operational Safety, had already taken my pile of towels and spread them over the wet floor. Never forget work, health and safety! I didn’t get very far from the first steps into towel-toe comfort before the next contraction hit. The paramedic took that chance to see if the baby was presenting. Nope, no crowning, so it was decided that it was time to get moving.
The intern had also just gotten things set up and the paramedic turned around and stuck their nose out of the bathroom to ensure the plan for my extrication from our home was in place. Whilst his back was turned, unbeknownst to me, Jeremy had just passed him having just arrived to see another contraction hit. The intern was in the doorway with Jeremy just behind watching as I grabbed the edge of the bathtub and sucked the guts from the device. This was a nasty contraction which timed with the intern asking, “Are you feeling the need to push?”
In my head I considered this thought and the answer was, “Yes,” which I did not actually speak out as I kept sucking hard on that green hero, and then I took it as permission to do so with an immediate ‘swoosh’ of movement. I’m not exactly sure when my waters broke in that process but, in that moment, baby, sac and placenta all came at once. Thank goodness for the towels! Somewhere in the process and lot of haemorrhaged blood also passed, not just to the floor but also under pressure over the wall tiles making it more like a murder scene than a birth but I didn’t notice that until later as the moment it all happened there was a loud scream from a child who had to plans on being guided into the world and, as a result, got the rude shock of hitting the heavily towelled floor with a jolt.
Jeremy then spoke up, making me aware that he was there, “Kristy, you need to step forward now so we can get to the baby.” Shocked at what I was hearing and realising it acknowledged what I thought I just felt I stepped forward, Miss Brown picked up before I could even spin around. Crikey, she was here.
Lots happened in the hours that followed but it is easier to say that Charlie and I were both well enough afterwards to choose to stay at home and not attend hospital. We opted to hang out at home and the midwife would come up to see us. We left the placenta and sack attached to Charlie too for a while. It was a specific request of some of the children that they be present for the clamping and cutting of the cord and they were able to do that with the midwife after their collection from school and then get individual cuddle photos with their new sister.
Oh, and eventually, a teenager hobbled sore post-surgery out of his bedroom to see a baby in arms, a little astonished and checking the lounge to see if it was a visitor’s child before pushing on my belly. Yep, he’d slept through the entire saga!
It made for a day of joy and surprise for us all. We had Charlie Brown in our world safely and without the messiness and stress of hospital interventions. We had cuddles and joy, oh, and we also had birthday cake! But that’s another story…