Whenever I read the words ‘birth story’ (yes, mine is in disguise) I immediately associate it with gruesome photos & too much information about someone’s bits.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of great stories that are very interesting to read, many very uplifting & can definitely help take the element of surprise away from what you can expect in labour.
Before having Sophie, I would never EVER read these stories.
So when I become pregnant, I eventually realised that I would be experiencing labour first hand (I think that’s how it works right?) so I thought about reading some to get my head around it.
But it just wasn’t for me…
I felt that having that element of surprise (not knowing exactly everything that can happen) helped my anxiety levels stabilise, instead of letting if cause me to fret about all different types of situations I would be potentially finding myself in.
It might not sound logical, but it was my way of painting my own experience without the expectations of someone else’s.
Why am I saying all of this?
Because if you are not pregnant, don’t have a baby & the thought of labour/birth/babies makes you queasy then please, DO NOT READ ON! (you have officially been warned)
I am not the kind of person that likes to highlight negatives & ponder on them, nor am I going to be giving any (hectic) gory details BUT I do believe in being honest, telling the story truthfully & being transparent. So I will be sharing as much as I can for you & I hope you read it the way it is written to be taken – a hard journey to the best destination.
I was hesitant to even share this but after a lot of thought, I decided that you just never know who it might help. So if it helped even one person, it would be worth the uncomfortable job of putting it to paper!
So here it comes, our ‘birth story’ of how we were finally able to meet our Sophie girl…
(Big breath Lucy)…. Let’s do this!
So it began!
To commence the story, let me just paint you a little picture…
12 days overdue…
Crazy leg cramps…
Living in hubby’s t-shirts…
Gestational Diabetes which meant no sugar allowed…
I was NOT in great shape (ha!)
It was Sunday morning the 31st of July 2016, I was sitting at 11 days overdue & booked in to be medically induced by the afternoon.
My ideal was to have a natural water birth, being in my own home for as long as possible throughout the labouring process.
So the idea of being strapped to a monitor & stuck in a bed the whole time? No thanks!
But, being a Gestational Diabetic, I didn’t really have much of a choice, if I was to think of our babies safety first & foremost (of course)
I was told I could go up to 12 days over (which was the next day), so my husband & I decided to wait another 24 hours, I went & got some acupuncture & we prayed that our baby girl would get things going herself.
Sure enough! 6am the next morning I awoke to some mild period pain with a fairly decent back ache, which now we know was the beginning of deployment day!
Unfortunately for me, Sophie had turned from being in the perfect position 2 days prior to being posterior (spine to spine) by the time I was in labour.
Until about 9am my contractions were random, different in length, felt different, weren’t crazy painful & weren’t consistent. They were quite mild at first & felt like a stomach/back cramp…
From 9am though – umm… OUCH!
My contractions became more frequent, more painful & would last quite a long time.
At first they were every 10 mins & lasted for at least 2 mins..
In my head? They were every 2 mins & lasting at least an hour! (haha, yes I was not a big fan)
Once I realised this was only the beginning I decided I needed something to keep me calm, so my wonderful husband drew me a bath, lit some candles & the oil burner & put on our playlist of music we had ready with worship songs to help keep me calm.
The water reaaaaaalllly helped!
The back pain was getting so much more intense with every contraction so being immersed in water felt amazing & was really helping me cope.
Eventually, I got to the stage where sitting down in a confined space was no longer possible so I got out. The minute I moved to get out of the bath I got a contraction, which was odd as I’d only just had one about 30 secs before.
For some reason for me, from this point on, every time I moved, it would trigger a contraction, sometimes it felt like there was no break in between.
We went down the stairs to the lounge room (yep, stairs…ouch) & I hopped onto my yoga ball to do some pelvic movement exercises. It did help in between contractions, but whilst in a contraction I found that I needed a chair infront of me that I could lean over & just breathe it out.
I still feel hazy about that time as I felt my body just go into a mode of focusing & pushing through. But I do remember thinking, “Gee… ‘Suits’ is such a good show but boy does Rachel need a chill pill” (our attempt to try & distract me – I guess it did for that split second right?)
From here my contractions were pretty consistent, raring their ugly head every 5 mins but different in length & a lot of the time, overlapping. I decided I wanted to be in the water again but knew if I sat down I wouldn’t be getting up without a crane’s assistance so it was time for a hot shower.
Although the water did feel so great on my back, the back pain I was experiencing by this point was so intense I felt I just couldn’t cope. I remember thinking I could totally handle these contractions if my back wasn’t being stabbed by an invisible knife.
So we jumped on the phone to my midwife & let her know where we were at.
By this time it was 2pm & I decided I wanted to be at the hospital, I wanted to have this baby & I felt that if I was at home it was longer away from happening (obviously I wasn’t exactly thinking straight!) so we decided to get ready, jump in the car & head up to the hospital.
The thought that the hospital was at least a 30 min drive away was pretty daunting & that the car was constantly moving was super scary as it pretty much involved constant contractions. But with the windows down, the hazard lights on & us getting there the quickest we could, I coped.
We are here, let’s have a baby hey?
By the time we got to the hospital my husband had called ahead & asked my midwife to bring down a wheelchair for me to get to the birthing suite as it was quite a walk from where we could have the car. So when we pulled up I went towards that wheelchair like a teenage girl meeting Justin Bieber but to my dismay, my midwife WOULDN’T LET ME SIT IN IT! She said it would be better for my body to walk… I was so annoyed at her I nearly clocked her square in the face, but I knew at the end of the day, she knows what she’s doing.
So I walked through the hospital cafeteria, heaving like an exhausted cow being herded to safety & having to stop every 2 mins to have a contraction. (not my finest moment)
We arrived in our birthing suite & my midwife examined me.
This was 3pm & I had been in labour since about 6am so I was pretty pooped, to put it nicely.
I’m lying there thinking, this is so intense, surely I am at least half way there if not more, maybe I’m about 6 or 7cm dilated? Not long to go & then I push right?
So, the midwife did her examination…
“Okay Lucy, we’re going to put you in the shower now…” said the midwife.
“But how many centimetres am I?” said the heaving cow.
“Let’s just jump in the shower & soon you can jump in the bath, I’ll fill it up for you now!” said the now suspicious midwife.
“HOW MANY CENTIMETRES AM I?” I yelled.
(insert high pitched noise to signify a moment of horror)
“THREEEEEEEEE??? Get me the juice!” (ie. Epidural) I responded in absolute disbelief & defeat.
But, I am thankful that my midwife & my husband were so encouraging. They were reminding me how well I was doing, that I didn’t need the epi right now & we will just try a few other things first.
From this point onwards I didn’t talk much, when I am going through pain, or trying to cope I isolate myself & just wonder around my own mind trying to navigate myself through.
For the next 3 hours I sat on a mat on the floor of the shower, with my hubby holding my hand & hovering a shower head over my back while I had one on my belly.
We sat & spoke about meeting our daughter, listening to worship music & asking God to watch over & sustain us.
By 6pm it was time for a re-examination..
So with great difficulty I jumped (flopped) up onto the bed…
You have got to be kidding me! My labour just wasn’t progressing.
From here on in, I felt looking back that I should have had an epidural at this point, if the back pain wasn’t there I think I wouldn’t have even thought of the epidural but I was just feeling totally overwhelmed & like I just couldn’t do it. But so it went on!
We then went into the bath/pool, it was amazing, it really helped but the back pain was just getting more & more intense to the stage where I could feel bubby pushing against my spine on the inside throughout the contractions (so yucky)
So again, I asked for the epi & again they distracted me to keep persevering to have the natural labour I wanted.
I was offered sterile water injections, which I heard can really help with the back pain but are incredibly painful to have done. So I decided I was already in crazy pain it couldn’t be worse than that so I’d try them.
Oh… my …. goodness…. In our classes we attended before having Sophie, we remember hearing the lady explaining that the injections feel like 2 little wasp stings in your back…. HOW ABOUT 5,000 WASP STINGS IN YOUR BACK! They were crazy painful if you didn’t catch that… Serious ouch. Never again!
BUT, in saying that, they did absolute wonders for my back pain. There is no way at all I would’ve ever been able to cope through the rest of the night of labour if I hadn’t had them.
By this stage it was 9pm, I was absolutely exhausted, at the end of my tether & pretty ready to give up. I’d had a little bit of gas to help with the pain, had the injections for the back pain & the midwife had performed 2 stretch & sweeps. (if you don’t know what they are – you don’t want to)
So when the midwife examined me, mentioned that bubby’s heart rate was slightly dropping & I heard her say “7cm” I just lost it. I burst into tears & just said I cannot do this.
I remember that feeling – I’d never considered myself someone who gave up, I was always pretty determined, believed in myself & through my life as a dancer, it was engrained in me to always persevere & give it everything I had. But at that moment, I had absolutely nothing left.
I was feeling ripped off, like the experience I longed for wasn’t happening, that they weren’t listening to me & that I just couldn’t reach down deep enough within myself to pick up the pieces on the ground that resembled my endurance.
My husband sensing this & seeing where I was at, said to the midwife, you have to do something.
She said that because my waters hadn’t broken she thought it would be best for her to break them to get things moving quicker. By this stage I was quite out of it & the ending to our labour story felt like an out of body experience I couldn’t grasp was happening.
Just after 9pm the midwife broke my waters.
All of the sudden, my body was pushing, and there was NO way I could stop myself.
The minute the waters came out, it was like Soph was too.
She was probably thinking.. “Finally someone has moved that silly puddle & I can make my debut!”
So into the bath I went, it was the most intense moments of my life.
It was the most painful experience I’ve ever felt, unfortunately I was not dilating at the same speed in which Sophie was moving through my pelvis so a lot of damage was done, & traumatically, I felt every tear. So I went into my head & sucked on that gas tube like it was going out of style.
To this day I still feel sorry for my husband in those moments, I like to think his previous image of me was one of grace, joy & love… What he was faced with at that moment was broken fingers & a heaving cow for a wife. (sorry babe)
But what followed this was THE BEST MOMENT OF OUR LIVES.
Regardless of everything that preceded it, we experienced true euphoria.
Hello little darling!
Out came, our beautiful BEAUTIFUL baby girl, Sophie Isobel Martin. She went straight on my chest, let out a massive scream on her arrival but then calmed being against her mummy, me…. I was a mummy. I was HER mummy. My hubby squeezed his girls in his arms for the first time.
She was everything.
We had done it, I had a natural posterior birth. (go glen coco!)
I still remember looking up at my husband & we were both in tears, realising that we had just become parents, we were meeting our princess we’d dreamed of meeting for so long, the little girl we knew she would be was here with us & everything we prayed for, a healthy baby girl, had come to pass.
Until we have another baby I am sure that feeling will stay as the most amazing moment in my marriage – seeing another human who was created purely out of the love we have for each other & seeing us in her. It’s just the most incredible journey.
I was then told I needed to get out of the bath, I was very big on having skin to skin time with Sophie for as long as possible. So throughout the next 2 hours, there she stayed.
As I was lifted out of the bath I was given an injection in my leg to help the placenta come out. Unfortunately the minute the placenta came out, so did a football field worth of blood.
From this point I don’t remember a lot, only snippets of memories as I was in & out quite a bit.
My husband was asked to press a button on the wall to signify that there was something wrong & the midwife needed assistance.
He said that within seconds there was 6-8 nurses/doctors in the room with scrubs on ready to assist with whatever situation they were stepping into. And boy did they act fast (thank you!)
For the next 40 mins they put in ALOT of stitches as I had torn all of my internal walls where bubby had come out. It took so long that they had to re-do the anaesthesia a few times as it kept wearing off (not the nicest injections!)
I remember hearing a nurse say “Hi Lucy, I’m Louise & we’re going to look after you”, apparently my response to her was “Louise, that’s a nice name. But I don’t think I want to call my baby that” (oops, how rude Lucy) But I’m very thankful with how lovely the staff were to me & to helping calm my hubby. It wasn’t a nice experience for him.
This then started the most bizarre, intense, traumatic but in the end amazing experiences I have ever had in all my life.
All of the sudden my body started going numb, it started from my toes & was working its way up my body as if it was running water streaming over me. I got scared when it went over my chest as I struggled to breathe, at this point I started gagging as if I was going to vomit & I slightly remember my head being thrusted to the side. Shortly after I heard my husband say “What’s going on? Is she alright? Is she going to be okay?” I didn’t know what was happening but I felt so much fear flood my mind.
Where am I?
Why are all the voices fading? I remember thinking.
Jaylon was speaking with the midwife & his voice was beginning to fade.
I felt as if I was being lifted out & away from him, like I was loosing his grip he had of my left hand. I remember saying to him “Please keep talking to me” but the more he spoke, the more I couldn’t hear him.
At the same time as this happening, on the right side of my eyes (they were obviously closed at this point) I felt this insane bright light, like the sun had made a debut in my hospital room, a light I don’t feel I’ve ever seen before. It was warm, comforting, it made me feel safe but most of all.. I felt an immense joy wash over me & ALL fear left me. I felt myself smiling (not sure if I actually was) and I felt content to be there, experiencing what I was. For me, I knew exactly what it was, Jesus. Whether or not medically I was not in a good way at that moment, I may never know.
But I KNOW that God found me in my fear & carried me in his wonderful hands.
I know that He showed me what His true peace, joy, love & happiness feels like. I’d been a christian all of my life & NEVER experienced Him like that. For the first time, I felt like I KNEW who I was & who my creator was. Nothing else mattered. Because He is it. He’s the reason I’m breathing.
When I was a kid, I went through a time in my life where I suffered PTSD, it affected two things majorly in my life. One was my eye sight (random hey) & the other was my sleep. It created something in me that made me fearful that something bad was going to happen to me or my family, so I slept on my parents floor in their bedroom because I felt that if I was with them, I would be safe, that they would be safe & I could sleep.
From this chapter of my life, I have come to realise that it buried a deep anxiety in me that told me something bad was going to happen to me, it gave me a fear of dying, it put a barrier up with my ability to love God more than people. So I lived in fear, anxiety & worry. (a lot)
But you know what? God IS real, He IS about freedom & He’s changed my life from one encounter.
I no longer am afraid of dying, because I get to be with Him. And He loves my family way more than I ever could so I have no need to be concerned for them. I am well aware that this does not mean I am void of anything bad happening to me – but I know that whatever I face, I do it with the King of Kings on my side, doesn’t get much more comforting than that.
Our story from after Sophie’s actual birth was a bit of a rocky road to start. Long story short is that I got an internal infection & ended up back in hospital, Soph kept getting thrush of her mouth (ulcers), we had trouble with nursing after a bad experience in hospital which then turned into 10 weeks of pain throughout trying to persevere, 3 lots of mastitis & then to find out our poor bubby girl had quite severe reflux. It was a hard road.
And you know what, the amazing encounter I had, didn’t actually make me feel great until about 11 weeks postpartum. At first I was angry, bitter, exhausted, tired of being sick & in pain emotionally that I had forgotten my Joy! But God reminded me in a humble chat I had with my mum over a cup of tea when I blurted it all out to her. It was the first time I had actually opened up to anyone about what I had experienced. A wave of emotions hit me as I was sitting & explaining it to her.. Like I re-experienced it afresh, it turned everything around for us & I was on the mend. As soon as my mind found clarity & peace again, my body started to heal.
It’s a crazy journey isn’t it, we carry & grow these beautiful little babies in our tummies, they are born into this world via our will & determination to last through labour, then we start being parents with no manual, no one walking us through every step and yet through all of the hard parts, the intense love you experience & new found purpose just supersedes it all.
I would do everything over again to have her here with us.
There’s plenty more I’d like to chat about but for now, my fingers are tired & my heart is full.
So I might leave it there.
But I hope you enjoyed hearing about our journey, we are so happy to have shared it with you.
If you have experienced something similar, or just want to say hey? Make sure you email me or leave a comment below.
Don’t forget – there’s always a reason to smile, so don’t forget to give it a go.
Big love. X