Birth Story: Madellin & Miller

Pregnancy & Birth

Madellin has bravely shared with us here, the birth story of her daughter Miller:

After what I would call a pretty cruisey pregnancy (other then low iron problems), here we were on the 3rd of February sitting in the midwives office. I was halfway through the 39th week, impending due date on the following Monday and bursting with questions about what happens when I do go over my due date. The worry wart in me had stressed over every little detail from the day we found out we were expecting, after constantly being told of bad birth stories leading up to and the fact that I hadn’t seen any signs of labour yet, I was adamant that I knew I would go over my due date and have a terrible time after being induced. The lovely midwife tried to calm my nerves and swore she knew there was no way I would be making my appointment next week.

I’m so lucky my partner, Torey, is such a level headed and calm person. Especially at a time with my crazy pregnancy hormones through the roof, I walked out of that appointment still freaking out about what could happen in the coming weeks.  He reassured me, almost daily, that we were in great hands and everything will be okay.

Friday the 5th of February came, I’d been on edge ever since our last checkup. I got up, had a shower and got ready for the day, the sun was shining through our back window so I hopped on the spare bed and took a birds eye view of my bump. I posted it to Instagram, as you do, with the caption ‘Just laying around’. My ‘nesting’ had begun at about the 7 month mark, after finishing up work at Christmas time my days were mostly spent cleaning and organising. I sat down after cleaning for a few hours, put my feet up and noticed how awful my toe nail polish looked. I thought if I was going to tidy myself up, today is the day! Off I went back to the bathroom, fresh toner in my hair, nails painted, legs shaved and a bit of tan on. I was exhausted but felt a million bucks.

5pm rolled around and Torey was up to get ready for his night shift, it was weighing on my mind that he’d taken his parental leave from Sunday the 7th and as of yet nothing was happening. He left with a cuddle and told me like he did every time he left for work, ‘If anything happens, just call the midwife and then call me’. Later that night, when I could barely keep my eyes open, I decided it was time for bed. Our beautiful dog Chevy, a Great Dane cross Bull Mastiff was inside and it was time to put her out. I did a few things, walked up to the door and called out her name to come with me, she didn’t. She also wasn’t on her bed anymore, I walked around trying to find her, I looked into our bedroom and there she was, laying at the foot of the bed with her head resting on her paws. She wouldn’t budge, I started to wonder if she knew something was happening. At around 2am I woke in my mountain of pillows with the sudden urge to go to the toilet, this wasn’t an unusual occurrence however something felt different, it was uncomfortable and even a little painful. I launched myself out of bed to find Chevy now laying beside me, I startled her and she followed me to the bathroom. I soon realised that this definitely wasn’t my normal middle of the night toilet break, I was 80% sure my water had broken. Being my first pregnancy though, I wasn’t totally convinced. I phoned the midwife, after running through some questions with me she assured me that my water had most likely broken. From our birthing classes I knew that it could be a while still before anything happened and I was to just relax at home until contractions started happening. Then came the question “What were your GBS results?”. After the test a couple weeks prior, I’d learnt I was GBS positive which would mean I’d need some antibiotics during my labour. “Well in that case I will need you to come into the hospital soon as we will need to start your antibiotics, no rush, have a shower, get your things together, is your partner home?” The water works begun, he wasn’t due home till 7am, if he finished on time that is. I immediately phoned him and told him he had to come home right now!

It was starting to rain when he arrived home, he walked in to the bathroom as I was getting out of the shower to find Chevy laying on the tiles, she wouldn’t leave my side. After a quick freshen up, whip around to grab our last minute items, we were out the door in the rain packing up the car. Chevy followed and was trying to jump in the boot, after a quick cuddle Torey took her back to the house where she cried as we drove away.

Torey was calm as usual, It was now about 3:30am and there were no cars on the road. I could tell we were travelling a bit faster then normal on the 30 minute trip, it was at this moment that it hit me that we were on our way to meet our little girl. Twice I started to get what I would call, a bad period pain. We decided to leave our bags in the car, assuming there was plenty of time, Torey would pop out later to retrieve them. I was taken to a room in the maternity unit and hooked up to monitor the baby’s heartbeat and contractions. It still amazes me how incredible midwives are, she would look at my stomach and tell me that a contraction was about to happen. Here I was, the most calm I’d felt in as many months, thinking this won’t be as bad as I thought.

The doctor arrived to insert the drip for the first round of antibiotics, we had a little joke and he said being my first baby I could probably expect another 24 hours to pass before she arrived. It was about 7am when we decided it was time to call his parents, they were a 2 hour drive away and I wanted Torey to have some support if he needed it. The pains started to increase, I kept waddling back and forth from the bathroom with Torey’s help. I felt that I was still handling things pretty well, then the changeover of shift came and I met the new midwife, Maria. I was starting to panic that I was going to be giving birth in this tiny room, it was then explained that there was another lady in the early stages of labour and whoever progressed first would be moved to the biggest birthing suite which included the bath. I told them that this didn’t worry me as there was no way I was getting in the bath, I’d thought it through and I didn’t want to try this, I’d even gone as far as to write it in my birth plan that I didn’t want to. Maria, with a raspy but oddly soothing voice, mentioned a few more times how great the bath would be for the pain relief. Torey piped up and told her he was pretty sure I didn’t want to use it, thank goodness he said it. She asked if we were hungry, well we were starving! She left at about 9am to get us some breakfast, I tried some Weetbix but after a few mouthfuls I just wasn’t interested. The pain was increasing, I felt relief from breathing slowly and moving about. Maria arrived back, she noticed I hadn’t eaten much and that my pain was intensifying. It was at this point that I was so thankful she was there, I overheard her explaining to Torey that from this point on she would be giving all of the instructions to him but loud enough so I could still hear, so that I could focus on my contractions. She also mentioned that the fact that I’d lost my appetite was a good sign that my labour was progressing, I had some Panadol for the pain and she demonstrated to us how by Torey pushing into my hips with his hands with a lot of pressure during the contraction would relieve a lot of the pain I was in. Now didn’t that work wonders!

From here time starts to blur, I started to feel sick, a midwife in the room picked up on this cue and dived towards me with a sick bag! Apparently this can be the bodies reaction to pain, Maria again mentioned how great the bath would be for me. All of a sudden I was being directed to the birthing suite, the bath was full just incase I decided I wanted to use it. They told us to get comfortable, we made our way into the bathroom and the pain intensified. I knew I wanted to use the shower, Maria appeared again and asked if I’d like to try the bath and if I didn’t feel it was helping then I could get out and try something else.

I reluctantly agreed, I tried to explain that I would like to try the gas as some pain relief. What happened next I can only describe as feeling like a small helpless child who knew what they wanted to say but couldn’t get the words out. From this point on I could barely talk, managing to get words such as yes/no out, nodding/shaking my head and pointing. I will never forget this feeling, I knew that I would have to rely on Torey more then ever to communicate for me now. I tried the gas a few times, It was incredible, the pain was almost gone immediately! I started to feel quite hot but proceeded to the bath anyway, the temperature was way to warm and I got Maria to let out some water and top up the cold. However the way I remember communicating this was in a very weak voice “Too hot, too hot”. I was then offered some ice cubes to suck on, this brought some excitement as I had been chomping on ice cubes daily as my main craving. Finally with the gas, warm bath water and ice cubes I felt I was able to relax between the contractions. Then he got the call, his parents had arrived. I’d told Torey leading up to that if he wanted his Mum in here with him, then I would be okay with that. I opened my eyes after breathing through a contraction to Debbie holding my hand, she was slightly worried I was going to slip under the water as I was in a bit of a delirious state. She told Torey to go for a walk, have a break, get a drink and she would be here with me while he went. I didn’t think I would but I panicked when Torey left, he was my rock and I needed him. The time had passed so quickly, I had been in the bath for a couple of hours which felt more like 10 minutes. Debbie spoke to me calmly and asked how did I feel, I remember muttering “Epidural, can I have an epidural?” She said of course, Maria arrived back and they decided to help me out of the bath to see how far dilated I was. Somewhere in this time a young Midwife, Emily, arrived as she was taking over the next shift, she was brought up to speed on what was happening. Maria was staying a bit longer to help with me which I really appreciate now that I look back.

Torey was back again with all of our things, he got out my birth plan and sat it on top of my bag. They all helped me out of the bath, at this point I was now completely naked but it didn’t seem to worry me, they helped me into a hospital gown. I waddled out, needing to stop a few times on the way to the bed to use the gas through the contractions. The room was so hot, Debbie got the air conditioner going for me, (apparently it wasn’t hot at all, that was just me, everyone else froze which I learnt later on). It took a long time for me to get onto the bed. Stopping in between to sway with Torey through the contractions, putting one foot on the stool helped immensely. The gas didn’t seem to have the same effect anymore, I knew within myself that things were really happening. Debbie left to sit outside while they examined me, I’ll always remember this next moment. Emily with her beaming smile and wide eyes leaned in to me and said “Madellin, you are almost there, I can see, there is about this much to go” she motioned to the tip of her fingernail, “ you’re baby will be here in what may seem like a minute”. I smiled and with all my might said “Will she really be here in one minute?” We all laughed. “Okay maybe not one minute, but I promise you, you are close. I also think it would help if you tried to empty your bladder”.

Right well, lets do this I thought. I hobbled very slowly back to the toilet, Torey left to get my iPod as of course, I’d left this out of my labour bag and in the car. All of a sudden I felt alone and terrified, all I could call out was Torey’s name. Emily came rushing back in, she reassured me that she was here and helped me through the increasing pain. All of a sudden Torey was back, there was talk of inserting a catheter to drain my bladder as they felt this was slowing things down. I made the painfully slow journey back to the bed, grasping for the gas at each contraction. Maria appeared and said to me that she knew how strong I was, could I try go through the next contraction without the gas. I nodded, with everyones help I took the pain on my own. They praised me, I felt good, by the next contraction I used the gas to help me breathe, after that I didn’t use it again.

From the birthing classes I knew full well that if you are fully dilated the epidural was not an option, however during labour I totally forgot this. I kept grabbing on to Torey, “Where is the doctor?” and “Epidural” was all I could muster. “He is coming, he is on his way Mads, you are doing amazing” was always the response. Little did I know, everyone in the room knew I was too far gone and said Doctor was not on his way. Though hearing that he was, gave me a sense of relief in some of those hard moments. Emily got me comfortable on the bed to insert the catheter, she tried a few times then explained that baby was so far down and pushed on the bladder that the catheter is bouncing out. The contractions were at an all time high, I was struggling to deal with this laying on my back on the bed. Then I must have let out a moan that sounded different to before, “That sounded like a bit of a push?” Emily said staring into my eyes with a smile, I nodded, it definitely was and I was ready to push.

A little bit more time passed, the ladies had read my birth plan and asked if I wanted to try a different position like I had written down. They helped me up and to turn around on my knees, the bed bent in half, Torey standing face to face with me, I had one leg bent with my foot on the bed. That is when the pushing began, this stage is incredibly hazy. I remember telling Torey I couldn’t do it anymore, I was exhausted beyond a point that I could have ever imagined I would feel. He kept reassuring me that I was doing an incredible job and that I could get through this. Nothing seemed like it was happening, I continued to ask where the Doctor was (I know, right), Emily mentioned that if I felt like I could try to empty my bladder again that it could help. Me in all my modesty wanted to go back to the toilet to try this, I found a lot of relief sitting on the toilet and pushing. Emily had a look and told me that I wasn’t far off and it might be safer to move away from the toilet to give birth. I had been pushing for quite some time now, baby’s heartbeat was being monitored continuously and Emily could see I was wearing out and that if nothing progressed soon she would need to call the Doctor in for help.

Emily & Torey helped me back onto the bed,  then Emily began to talk me through the contractions and pushing, which was just what I needed. Torey held me and looked me in the eyes while I took every breath, I’m sure I cut off the circulation in his hand but he didn’t show it. I still felt nothing was happening, It was then that I decided to stand beside the bed and push. It was happening, this was it, this was where I needed to be to push.

I remember looking at the clock, it was after 4pm, where did that time go? Emily asked Torey if he wanted to come down and have a look below, there were towels set up everywhere on the floor. All of a sudden I heard him say “the hair!”, he could see the head, there was dark hair all over her little head, I could hear the excitement in his voice. After what seemed like a lifetime, which had only been about a minute or so, I was ready to push again. Off I went, this time I put my head down on the pillow and held onto the bed so tightly, this next part happened so quickly. Another midwife came in, Emily told her I was about to give birth she needed to stay, to which she responded that she quickly had to get help for the other lady in labour and she would be back. I was ready to push again, the second midwife was not back, then all of a sudden I heard a blur of chatter that Torey would have to step in if he felt up to it to help deliver our girl. I knew he would step up to the plate, he got right down with Emily holding the towels, she said “When I tell you to, hit that big green button on the wall, okay?”. I was ready to push again, “Hit the BUTTON”, Torey leapt up, hit the button and jumped back down underneath me. Then with what I can only describe as the biggest relief of pain I’d felt, Torey caught our bundle of joy in his arms. We were crying, gawking, all of a sudden I could talk again, he passed her up to me from underneath the gown into my arms. There she was, our beautiful little girl, it was 4:32pm on Saturday the 6th of February, two days before my due date. They quickly helped me onto the bed and placed her onto my chest where she began to cry and soon after, would start feeding. I looked at Torey and seeing the smile across his face is a moment from our birth experience that meant the most to me. On her way out, our precious Miller Natasha Bell passed her meconium and it was everywhere. I literally mean everywhere, we all had a laugh at the fact that Emily’s shoes were covered in it. The three of us stayed in this position, Miller on my chest and Torey by my side till about 7pm before I decided it was time for a shower and Miller had her weight and height taken, 51cm and 3.348kg.

The Merge Journal

I am so thankful for many moments during my labour, after hearing all of the bad birthing stories I had in my mind that this would be an awful experience. I had the support of an amazing partner who was so hands on and was the first person to hold our baby, my midwives were absolutely incredible and I couldn’t have done it without them. They read my birth plan, respected it and made sure that they helped me implement my wishes as much as they could. My birth plan also stated that I wanted to know the last moment of when I could have an epidural, prior to my experience there is no way I thought I would be able to get through without it. I’m so glad I did as it showed me how strong I truly am and I needed that. The doctor appeared sometime after the birth for some stitches, I was offered the gas as just a bit of pain relief as this part could hurt quite a bit. I took some in, I felt like I was floating and I couldn’t stop smiling, it was at this point that I found out from the time I got out of the bath I wasn’t breathing in gas, it was just air. I was in shock, I had been doing it on my own for so much longer than I thought. Maria and Torey knew this, that was why she asked me to see if I could breathe through without the gas, because she knew I had already been doing it for sometime. The relief from the gas was mostly in my head, having the distraction to breathe with it, is what was helping me. I’m also gobsmacked that after months of planning I never used anything out of my labour bag other then my birthplan.

I sit here writing this while Torey is on his night shift, Miller is 4 months old to the day and I am in tears. Why? Writing down what I can remember of my birth experience has made me realise how truly blessed I am that I was shown so much love and care in a time when I was in need. I’m so proud of myself, of Torey and I, of how far we have come as a family and just how incredible it is that we made such a gorgeous little human being together. Miller definitely got the best of both of us, I cannot wait to see what the years ahead bring us.

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. 

If you would like to share your birth story with us, please email us at TMJ.submissions@gmail.com.

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