Heidi has bravely put her story forward to share with other women the sometimes brutal reality of childbirth.
The truth is that childbirth is risky, there is so many factors that have to align to have a blissful birth and sometimes intervention is the only solution as Heidi found out. When it comes to the life of our babies though, that intervention is truly a gift!
I must have only been one week pregnant when I had the sudden inkling to pee on the test stick... while anticipating what that 'two stripe' outcome would entail I couldn't help but smile, as we weren't trying or hadn't even been that careless so, I’m not even sure what urged me to check. To my utter disbelief I was pregnant and immediately I felt the most content I had ever felt in my life as well as being scared shitless. I had one extremely terrifying moment at around 5 weeks pregnant; I woke up in a pool of blood. I thought for sure I had lost our baby, through tears I called the hospital and I was taken in for an emergency appointment. As the radiographer glided her stick over my tummy I don’t think I drew breath once while awaiting the news. One of the biggest moments of relief in my life was when I knew our baby was alive and thriving… pheeeew! At 4 months pregnant my baby daddy and I packed up our life in Melbourne and moved back to our hometown, Byron Bay.
From that time on my pregnancy was a breeze! No complications, minimal weight gain, I wasn't thaaaat much of a psycho bitch and it was relatively stress free although, I had started a new business at 5 months and basically worked up until the day I gave birth... but anyway lets take it back a notch. Because I was working so much I didn't exactly have the pregnancy I had envisioned for myself (which was walking on the sand, bare foot along Wategos beach in a flowing white gown every morning- with a green smoothie in one hand and my belly in the other!), but I was happy and excited I had my own business to work on as I think I would have been a lot more neurotic during pregnancy if I had too much time to 'prepare'. I didn’t want to read every book under the sun and I found taking advice from everyone was just becoming confusing. I was starting to freak a little so I booked my partner and myself into a Calm Birth class, which was run by a lovely lady who was basically the Dalai Lama himself. After we completed the Calm Birth course I was set! I trusted my body, I knew it knew what to do, I wasn’t afraid. All the foundations were there for a beautiful, natural; complication free birth in the water at Mullumbimby hospital… destiny had other plans!
I was now 40 weeks and 10 days pregnant, Mullumbimby allow you to be 12 days over then you're out! My mid wife sent me up to Tweed for a mandatory check up, they checked over the baby and everything seemed fine, so my plan was to go back home and hope for my labour to start naturally. I had three hours of contractions two days prior to this so I felt there was still a chance to have my baby without intervention. Right before I was about to leave a different doctor decided to do a quick bedside scan where she discovered low fluid around the baby... I had no idea what this meant but she was terrifying me as she immediately said it we needed to ''induce me and get this labour started" I burst into tears as this was just supposed to be a check up and I was supposed to be going home. It wasn't supposed to happen like this I didn't even have my hospital bag which had been packed for 3 months... ironically my birth plan was to have no birth plan at all as birth is so miraculous I just wanted fate to take its course but I still couldn't help but feel quite devastated.
We convinced the doctor to give us some time to see if my labour would start on its own after she had broken my water. My partner and I went for a walk along the river and to get a burrito (such a bad choice, well for the nurses sake anyway). It was about 3pm and my contractions started almost right away and they were getting strong fast. We went back to the hospital and they showed us to our birth room. To our surprise the setting was so nice, lights were dimmed, the atmosphere was calm with lit candles and lovely relaxing music. As we settled in my partner assured me I was strong and I could do this- oh gosh I’m actually getting emotional and tearing up as I write this part.
I was hooked up to the monitor and the Syntocinon drip was administered which meant I had three large needles in my hand, which was extremely restricting. My contractions were regular and extremely strong however the doctor wanted to speed them up. I was now having contraction on top of contraction with no break. I felt like my only means of survival was through each breath of gas. I could no longer communicate at all; my partner consoled me through his own tears and told me how great I was doing. After a while though he could no longer bare what he was witnessing anymore and the nurse agreed. I was granted temporary freedom from the drip to have a shower and regain some strength. It had been about 8 hours, I could hear the chatter amongst the current crew of medical staff in the room “3 centimetres dilated” was mentioned… excuse me, did I hear that correctly, after all that I was only 3 centimetres? It broke my heart into a thousand pieces I thought to myself "I am going to die" I can't survive another contraction. I was back on the drip with the renewed thought that I just have to do this for my baby. Up the dosage went on the drip and things escalated quickly, one hour later I was 9.5cms dilated! They were monitoring the baby's heart rate and things weren't looking good and they needed to act immediately. All of a sudden it seemed like a hundred bodies in white coats had rushed through the doors and were scurrying me down the hallway to Theatre to perform an emergency Caesarean. At the time it didn't seem real, I was moments away from pushing my baby out without surgical intervention and now they were about to stick me with big needle. The feeling after the epidural was administered was like an angel had come and put an invincible cloak on me, the pain had stopped and I was about to meet my baby. My feelings were mixed at this time but mostly I felt relief that I would soon see my daughter.
After coming in for an afternoon check up and going through the wildest night of my life things were now coming to an end rather fast. Lying on the bed now unable to move, I felt the "dishwashing" sensation of the doctors brining my baby into this world and before I knew it I was looking over and seeing my partner cut the umbilical cord. It was both the most incredible and heart wrenching moment of my life. There was a real life baby in his arms; nothing seemed real until I laid eyes on her. The worst part was the uncontrollable shaking in my upper body; I just wanted to hold my baby! The spasms made it difficult and that was sad.
Although my birth story is nothing like what I ever imagined for myself, it is true what they say, "as long as your baby is safe and healthy" – you just have to do whatever it takes. Our baby girl 'Ivy Jean' was born at 3:15am weighing in at 6 pounds 9 ounces. If I were to leave some words of advice to expecting mamas it would be to not let other women's birth stories deter you, or make you feel afraid, whether the experience be completely blissful or the biggest challenge of your life, just go with it and trust in the journey because it is all worth it.
Introducing Ivy Jean.
Thank you Heidi for sharing your journey. It is incredibly important that people understand that you may experience moments of sadness during the birth of your child. I think it is amazing that the current mindset toward birth is so empowering and positive but, yes it is a serious time in a woman's life and Heidi you are so right, we have to trust our bodies as well as the journey as a whole and always make the safety of Mumma and Bubba number one. You are brave and powerful, so proud of you! If you would like to follow Heidi you can find her on instagram through her epic buisness page --> @skindivinitybyronbay