I Feel the System Failed Me...
Having a baby was never in the forefront of my life goals, until I met my now husband. Everything just fell into place when we met and we’d always speak about how we envisioned our future together with a little baby girl, Mia.
Fast forward 4 years, we weren’t really trying to conceive all that urgently; it was more of a matter of when it happens it’ll happen. Sure enough it happened pretty much instantly and we couldn’t have been any more excited.
My pregnancy was reasonably smooth sailing. There were a few minor hick ups along the way, as well as feeling nauseous and lethargic majority of the time. As a sufferer of various mental health issues, I did however struggle in that department. My anxiety was at an all-time high and I was in a state of depression for the better part of the 40 weeks. Of course, COVID lockdowns in Melbourne hitting 5 months before my due date made everything worse.
Being pregnant wasn’t an enjoyable experience for me. There was no pregnancy glow, no beautifully captured photos of bump and what saddened me the most, none of the excitement from the people around me. I just felt like a miserable mess that had no energy to do anything I enjoyed, with no desire to eat anything but chocolate all day.
It wasn’t until my 36-week appointment rolled around that things took a worrisome turn. Due to COVID, I wasn’t allowed to have many in person appointments, most were done over the phone, this appointment however was in person. I’d noticed a decrease in baby’s movements and the midwife was concerned that bub was measuring small and baby had also moved into the posterior position. They did some checks and luckily everything ended up being okay. We went home and waited for the day we’d return to the hospital to meet our little girl.
38 weeks came, I was offered a stretch and sweep to get things moving. It was an awkward and uncomfortable experience but from my prior research into them, I was feeling positive that it might be the kick start I needed. It wasn’t. I’d lost my mucus plug but that was about it.
I’d made it to my 40-week appointment and there wasn’t much they could really say other than “you’ll know when you’re in labour” and booked me in for a monitoring session were I to make it to 41 weeks.
That night I’d started to feel pains. I told Adam how I wasn’t sure if this was it or not, we started timing just to see. The waves were coming on consistently but there was no real pattern, and they weren’t intense. I went to bed thinking if this were the night, I’d at least try and get a good rest while I could. Sure enough, they were gone by the morning.
The same thing happened the next day, so I decided to do all the things I could to get labour kick started. I’d noticed a huge drop in baby’s movements again, so we called the hospital and they said to come in. Baby checked out okay and I was already 2cm dilated. They suggested I go home and come back when things had progressed. On the way home, we grabbed some vegan burgers and prepared for what we thought would be the real deal, after all the waves were getting more intense and frequent. Tonight, was going to be the night, or so I thought.
I woke up the next day, still pregnant, no more contractions and bawling my eyes out. I was so far beyond done that I wanted baby out then and there and I didn’t care how it happened. In absolute distress, I called my mum to tell her what was happening, she raced over and got on the phone to the hospital. We were told to come in to have a discussion about options.
We got settled into the ward, baby was monitored, I was offered another stretch and sweep, and we discussed the plan. I was told that I’d likely go into labour soon, but it was my choice if I wanted intervention. Up until this point, I had wished for a natural nonmedicated water birth, but it was in that moment I was ready to say goodbye to that. They put me on the wait list for inductions that day. I was told to go home and expect a call by the afternoon.
Afternoon came, still no call, so I called them. They said it had been a busy day, but they’d call me back and let me know when they were ready. I didn’t hear from them again until 11pm that night when they told me that I was welcome to come back and wait at the hospital but was better off getting some sleep for now and they’ll give me a call as soon as a bed was ready. I didn’t sleep that night and then I received the call at 5:30am the following morning. Just like that, I was going to be induced.
We arrived at the hospital, got checked in and settled into our room and met the midwife who was going to look after us. She explained the procedure and asked what I did and didn’t want to be offered and what I was hoping for. I told her I wanted to be up and about, a water birth if that was still possible and nothing more than gas unless I really needed it.
I was 3cm dilated at this point. I was told to settle in and relax as it wouldn’t be until about 6 hours until the doctor came back and checked how I was progressing. Although I was hooked up to an IV Drip, blood pressure machine and baby had a heart monitor attached to her head, I was feeling calm, moving around freely, breathing and having a laugh with Adam. That didn’t last very long! Before I knew it, I was stuck frozen laying on my back in bed, unable to move or bear my own body weight. I was already using the gas at this stage, although the contractions were so intense that I couldn’t stop sucking it in that I was getting very dizzy. I begged for the epidural, Adam knew that I’d only ask if I really meant it and he’d vouch for me if I did. The midwife and doctor stalled. They said I could keep going on my own and that the anaesthetist was busy at the moment. All positivity I had was stripped by now and I was done. Then I felt the urge to push.
I was checked and I had made it to 10cm! I remember thinking how long I’d be there when they said I was only 4cm but thank gosh I wasn’t. I started to push, and it took me a while to get the hang of it. I was in excruciating pain, I felt like I was going in and out of consciousness and my mind was shutting down. Baby kept going back in after every push and the midwife said that I really needed to push because she was getting tired. I tapped into myself for a second and said “okay, you’ve got this!” and after a few more pushes, our baby girl had arrived!!
It was pure bliss in that moment. The first thing I said was “oh my gosh she’s so cute”. Our little Mia Luna was finally here, and I felt like all the weight of the world was taken off my chest. 2 and a half hours from start to finish, it was a miracle. Until everything went hazy.
A swarm of doctors came rushing in. I was holding onto Mia for dear life, confused at what was happening. I felt like everything flashed before my eyes and like I was about to pass out. Mia was then taken away and given to Adam. I remember looking at them, not being able to say a word, and thinking this is it, I’m never going to see them again. No one was telling me what was happening, but I heard a doctor shout “if we don’t start winning, we’re going to have to rush into theatre”. I was handed the gas again while they did whatever it was to slow it all down and eventually stitch me up and stabilise me.
It felt like forever after all that, but I finally made it through and it was just Mia, Adam and I spending some time cuddled up, taking it all in. Mia latched on immediately and didn’t really need much help. It was such a surreal, yet beautiful feeling, that my journey of becoming a mother, comforting and nourishing her was about to begin.
As the labour and birth was so intense, and after finding out I’d had a postpartum haemorrhage along with a second-degree tear, I was required to stay in the hospital. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my own private room and Adam had to leave. It was very unsettling, and I wasn’t ready to be left on my own after such a traumatic experience. Surprisingly though, I managed okay, and I took to my new role pretty smoothly.
I stayed 3 nights and 4 extremely frustrating days in hospital, before we decided to discharge ourselves against medical advice. First, they felt Mia wasn’t feeding enough (fair enough), then we discovered a green bile vomit patch that required further checking (fair enough) and then she’d lost 1% over the average weight. We were given a private room after the first night and Adam was allowed to stay. It made this situation a little easier but the disrespect we received from nurses and doctors in the hospital was appalling. I felt like they thought I was too young or too mentally unstable to know what I was doing. They even had a big problem with us being vegan. We decided it was the right thing for us to leave and that there was nothing they were going to do in hospital that we couldn’t be doing from home.
Everything was so much easier from that point forward. We could finally start the next chapter of our lives as a family of 3, exactly as we’d envisioned.
One year on and I still find myself thinking back to the entire experience and how I never want to relive it again. No matter how traumatising and exhausting it all was, I am so beyond grateful for my beautiful daughter, she is the best thing that could’ve happened to us and I am so inspired and in awe of what the female body can do.