All birth stories are different and we want to empower and support all kinds of births. We all have individual reactions to reading birth stories; some make us happy, laugh, cry or feel sad. Here at The Merge Journal we hope to give the mother who writes her birth story a sense of empowerment. A time for reflection. We respect all the different types of individual birthing stories.
Sarah has bravely shared with us here, her birth story of son Isaac:
Isaac’s early arrival was a surprise … well not completely.
My pregnancy had gone fairly smoothly until 25 weeks when I developed high blood pressure. I thought it was nothing too serious, I didn’t need to start medication, but just needed to monitor it daily. I saw my obstetrician more regularly & was closely monitored. At around the 29 week mark we were told that it was likely I wouldn’t make it full term as my blood pressure was worsening & my baby’s growth was slowing down. But we still felt confident that I would make it to 36 weeks.
Then one night the following week I awoke suddenly with a sharp pain in my upper abdomen. I tossed & turned but managed to get some sleep. I went to work not feeling 100% but didn’t think too much of this niggling pain under my ribs. However, by lunch time the pain was much worse & I decided to get checked out at the birth suite of the hospital where I work. My blood pressure was 180/110 & a blood test & urine sample showed that I was developing severe pre eclampsia. My obstetrician was phoned & I made my way to Greenslopes hospital to be admitted.
Thirty minutes later & I was at the hospital & in excruciating pain. I could barely breath from the pain & felt like vomiting. By this time my muscles felt very tense & twitchy. Things had rapidly changed & I knew this wasn’t right, for a moment I started to panic. My obstetrician immediately commenced a magnesium infusion, gave me morphine, blood pressure medications & most importantly, steroid injections to help develop my baby’s lungs. An ambulance was called to immediately transfer me to Mater Mothers Hospital where there is a NICU that can accommodate babies born at this gestation & birth weight (it was predicted that my baby was only around 1kg at this time). All this seemed to happen within the space of 5 minutes (although I’m sure it was longer!). The obstetrician looked at me sternly & said ‘is your husband on his way?’ (He wasn’t, he was treating himself to a burger at Grill’d, as I had previously told him not to rush!). It was only at this time that I realised I would be delivering my baby imminently.
I was soon at Mater hospital with my husband & family by my side. My blood pressure was stabilising on the medications & magnesium infusion but I knew things were on a knife’s edge & at any moment I would need to have a Caesarian to deliver my baby. Luckily I was stable enough to receive a second dose of steroids to further help my baby’s lungs. During this time I was not scared. I supposed things were happening so rapidly that I did not fully comprehend what it would mean to have a premature baby born at 30 weeks. Plus I was just so excited to meet my son!
36 hours after being admitted to hospital, I had an emergency c-section. It was the strangest sensation to have people rummaging around in my stomach and after what felt like forever, the curtain was pulled down & there briefly appeared a scrawny, red baby. Isaac was born at 7.44am weighing just 1100g. I was elated. A feeling of complete wonder & amazement washed over me. My husband and I were on a high. Isaac did not cry (& wasn’t breathing, which at the time I didn’t know) but I was reassured by the doctors & nurses that he was OK as he was rushed away to NICU.
The next six days were a complete blur of visitors, trips to the NICU & learning to express breastmilk. I don’t even remember touching Isaac for the first time although there is photo proof! The day came for me to be discharged & this is when it really hit me that I would be leaving the hospital without my son. I sat in the hospital lobby crying my eyes out as my husband went to get the car. As the other mothers pushed their babies out to their cars, all I had to show was a trolley full of flowers. It was devastating. I cried all the way home & things only got worse every time I walked past Isaac’s empty nursery. I felt like I had returned to my old life, where Isaac didn’t exist. Worst of all I didn’t feel like a mother. Almost one year on, I still have flashbacks to this awful day and the total despair I felt.
Isaac spent almost 10 weeks in hospital. Every night when I woke at 2am to express, I would call the hospital to check on my little man. It was a very difficult journey which felt never ending at the time. I knew he was in the best hands though.
I had so wanted Isaac to be home with us but when he did finally come home, things weren’t what I had imagined. We struggled with breastfeeding & I ended up expressing & bottle feeding Isaac full time. I constantly worried about whether he was breathing & was petrified that he would catch an illness. I felt so guilty that I wasn’t completely enjoying having my beautiful son home. I also felt so sad that we couldn’t enjoy a beautiful breastfeeding relationship after what I felt was such an ‘unnatural’ birth. However, after five months of expressing & surgery to fix Isaac’s tongue & lip ties, Isaac was finally able to latch effectively. Although it hasn’t been all smooth sailing, I feel so lucky that I persisted with expressing & have been able to breastfeed Isaac for the last six months!
Isaac is now nearly one year old. It has been the most amazing but toughest year of my life. At times I still feel sad about Isaac’s early arrival. For a long time I also felt a deep sense of loss for my pregnancy & for the healthy, chubby baby I had pictured myself cuddling.
Isaac has had ups & downs since he was born, but he is a resilient & sweet little boy. He has recently been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy but we are hopeful that with continuing therapy this will not impact too greatly on his ability to live an active life. We love him so much and although his arrival didn’t go exactly to plan, it has made us truly appreciate how special our little man is.