A surrogacy story: Part 1

Pregnancy & Birth

Guest post: Anonymous

“Red! Red!” screamed my almost 2 year old. This is my most vivid memory of my second pregnancy. I felt like my life was over and my loved ones were being ripped out of my arms. My first-born was kicking and screaming as I was being taken away. I thought it would be the last time that I ever saw him.

My experience of labour and childbirth is very unusual and uncommon but the trauma and fear is something many women experience. I want women to feel liberated and know how incredibly powerful their bodies are, especially during childbirth. If I had my way I would have had home water births with incense, music and all the earth goddess goodness! Unfortunately, my experience is one of the ones you want to avoid listening to when you’re pregnant. I avoided them! It wasn’t going to happen to me!

I was a fit and healthy 25 year old ready to have my second child. Many of us hope to have the perfect natural births and it’s easy to get caught up in these expectations and beautiful images we see on social media of home births. We need to find the lessons and strength in our imperfect births.  Mine led to enormous self-discovery and spiritual growth. I realised the perfect outcome is simply a healthy baby in your arms, not so much the way it happened!

My first pregnancy had been complicated but I was told I could go again, under the watchful eye of my new OB. I had just moved from one side of Australia to the other for my partner’s work and was preparing to have a planned C-sec due to my ‘complications.’ The night before the unexpected birth of our second boy, I asked my husband to take belly photo’s as I hadn’t had many.  I then asked my Mum again the next morning (who had luckily arrived after cutting her holiday to Bali short to be closer to me at 37 weeks.) I woke up feeling a slight back pain but nothing major so I decided to go for a light walk. I came back after 5 minutes due to discomfort but nothing unusual that I hadn’t felt late in my last pregnancy. It was just the ‘waddling like a duck feeling’ that most women get and a lower backache from the pressure of your baby getting into position. I got home and laid down and asked my Mum to get me an early lunch at the café 300 metres away. I remember saying, “what would happen if I ate and then had to have a c-sec?” Usually a planned one you would fast for.  She left and I laid on the couch.

I then felt a slight dampness down there and touched my pants with my hand that now had blood on it. I thought my waters had broken. I had no idea what that was like as I had never experienced it before. I strangely assumed there would be a bit of blood and it was normal so I went to the bathroom. I calmly sat down, tried to clean myself up a bit and called my Mum to tell her my waters had broken. I then realised the toilet bowl was quite full and very red! I felt a bit light headed so I laid down on the tiles with my head on the carpet peacefully waiting for my Mum (who had called an ambulance without my knowledge). Lucky for me, my Mum’s instincts were right and my voice must have sounded unusually worried to her. When she got back and found me in a pool of blood I don’t remember the look on her face, I’ve probably blocked it out. I was spookily serene.  Looking back, my body was releasing a variety of opiods (such as endorphins) making me relax and saving my energy as I began to shut down and go into shock. I still feel a little bit angry with myself for not ‘fighting’ for my life and feeling so peaceful because I had a little baby and a toddler to live for. Not to mention the rest of my family!

My husband couldn’t be reached on the phone and the ambulance was taking forever. When it did arrive, they couldn’t tell me much about my baby, I just wanted to know what was happening to us. Once they took me away my Mum woke my toddler and put him in the car whilst he was screaming and banging on his window, “Red! Red!” I felt so bad for him seeing me and I couldn’t even yell out I love you. Everything felt slow, sleepy,  I guess I felt outside of my body in a way. I was aware but couldn’t speak or react very quickly.

My husband met us at the hospital where they whisked me away and put me under anaesthesia for surgery. I recall lying on the cold metal table, shaking from shock and them telling me no family were allowed in. I felt so alone and cold. I asked if my baby was ok and the nurse looked at the surgeon who sternly shook his head at her and she looked at me with doubt and sadness. I was terrified! As they counted down for me to relax and sleep I was, sadly, a little relieved that they were going to put me asleep so I didn’t have to live through this fear. I was terrified for my baby and thinking of my confused toddler waiting outside for me. I asked if I would wake up from this and the nurse pretended not to hear and just tried to tell me to count down when they injected the needle but I was out before I felt that cool sensation. I think I beat it and passed out naturally!

I don’t recall much from the next few days other than wanting to know if my baby was ok and if I could cuddle him. I was on so much medication and had such a huge blood loss that it’s all a blur.  My notes say that I refused to see him which breaks my heart and confuses me because that’s not how I remember it. They told me that my baby came out screaming and did a wee on the Paediatrician, which we later had a good laugh about. I met all of the staff there on that day, they wanted to express how happy they were that we made it! They were all amazed that he was breathing after discovering my whole placenta had abrupted (Entire/Severe Abruptio Placentae,) leaving a large wound that would have continued to bleed had they not worked so fast to save us. This made me realise the severity and seriousness of it all, the way they were all gathered around in amazement.

Within days, my thoughts turned to having another baby in the near future. Did this mean I couldn’t? I was fortunate that they hadn’t performed a hysterectomy, it was debatable at the time they said. I was lucky that I responded well to the transfusions.

I had always wanted a big family and to find out the even greater risks now involved (for myself and baby) was devastating news. It had been a similar story for my Mum, having to stop at two and my Aunty who had one, as well as a heartbreaking loss resulting in a hysterectomy.  I was determined to find a way to bring more little people into my life.  Although I had a full, grateful and blessed heart,  in no way did I feel ‘done’.

As grateful as I was, my heart and determination was taking focus on an interesting path! I worked on being present, seeing holistic practitioners to heal my mind, body and soul. I saw Mark Umstead, a leading trauma specialist and OB at Melbourne Women’s. His medical and personal opinion were both negative and encouraged me to seek other options. I got many medical opinions worldwide about my options and making certain that I couldn’t carry safely myself. I loved carrying my babies! I even went back to Mark a year later to ‘double check’ nothing had changed.

The alternatives to me giving birth myself seemed very uncommon and difficult in Australia. I quickly realised I needed to be stronger than ever for this next journey and most importantly stay present and in tune with the children I have so as not to miss being in the moment with them. This challenge was going to take a lot of time and commitment. My newest little miracle and his incredible big brother deserved all of my attention and unconditional love. But I was also focusing on my secret wish every time they slept. A secret I then shared with their Dad, my parents and my best friend. One I can’t wait to share with you…

More info on Placental Abruption found on Better Health; 

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/placental-abruption

  • Placental abruption means the placenta has detached from the wall of the uterus, either partly or totally. This can cause bleeding in the mother and may interfere with the baby’s supply of oxygen and nutrients.
  • The cause is unknown in most cases, but risk factors may include maternal high blood pressure, abdominal trauma and substance misuse.
  • Without prompt medical treatment, a severe case of placental abruption can have dire consequences for the mother and her unborn child, including death.

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