The Birth of Aubrey Judith May
An honest, raw and detailed recount of the birth of my first baby. Here's the story of the moment I became a mum...
Very pregnant. Very unaware of what was to come. Me, 42 weeks pregnant, days away from having my baby.
The plan was always to deliver at Wyong Hospital through the Midwife Group Practice (MGP) there. I had developed a great relationship with my midwife, as I had seen her for every checkup throughout my pregnancy. I was so comfortable at Wyong, I felt relaxed around all the staff there, the birthing suite was big and private, I wanted my midwife present at the birth, I trusted that I would be in great hands. I was nervous, and a little scared - I just had no idea what to expect being a first time mum. But I was confident that I had all the support I needed. I had a bit of a plan.
But plans change. At 42 weeks pregnant it was decided that I was now “high risk” and that meant that I could no longer deliver at Wyong through the MGP. I would have to birth at Gosford unfortunately. It’s not that I didn’t trust the care at Gosford Hospital, I was just disappointed because it wasn’t the plan. I felt a little loss of control over a situation that I pretty much had no control over anyways. My midwife was also on holidays at the time, so I was really sad that it was looking unlikely that she would be there to deliver my baby after having her care so well for me during my pregnancy.
During our 42 week appointment at Gosford Hospital.
I attended an appointment with the midwives and doctor at Gosford Hospital on the Monday, 9th of April - right on 42 weeks pregnant. I wanted to avoid an induction but I also wanted a beautiful healthy baby. I was willing to get a thorough checkup and make my decision from that. The lovely doctor checked my CTG results and did a quick ultrasound scan. She advised me that my fluid levels were on the low side; sitting at around 3? She advised me to be induced ASAP. I was reluctant but as soon as a little risk was mentioned I gave in. We agreed to come back to the hospital that afternoon to prepare for an induction. Before we left the midwife checked over a few things, including my cervix. Not much had changed since my post dates appointment on the Friday. Cervix pretty posterior, no dilation, head engaged…
Everything hit me all at once at the end of that appointment. I was going to have my baby real soon. I was so nervous, so excited and suddenly felt very unprepared. So far everything wasn’t going to the plan and I felt a bit out of control. I had a little cry and was comforted by Aaron and the midwife.
Aaron and I left the hospital to have a meal, then made the trip home to collect everything that we needed. We returned to the Hospital at about 4pm that afternoon.
The maternity ward had been busy that afternoon and my induction preparation wouldn’t be started until about 8pm. We were shown to a private room. Aaron had a mattress on the floor to sleep on, and we settled in for a night of sleep while filling out paperwork. Little did we know what we had in store for us that night…
Aaron and I, just before the cervidil tape was put in. Taken by my Mum and Dad while they were visiting. They left just before the induction process was started. The last photo taken of us together before the birth of our baby! We thought we were in for one last good nights sleep. Little did we know...
At 8pm the midwife on shift came in to start the induction process. The idea was to ripen my cervix overnight by using a Cervidil tape medication that was inserted behind my cervix. I was told that this should take 12 hours to work and that during this time I should try to get as much rest as possible. I might have some dull pain, and they could give me some Panadol for that if I needed it. In the morning they would start the induction medication drip in the morning. The CTG was put back on and everything was checked before the tape was inserted at around 8:30. Within about half an hour to an hour I started to get some cramping. It felt like mild period pain - I suppose this is the best way I can describe it.
By 10pm I started to think that I might be in labour. The pain was getting pretty intense and it was coming in waves. I remember pacing, bending over the bed, sitting up, lying back down, going to the toilet, rolling around the bed. I just couldn’t get comfortable. I was in pain, but I was not convinced I was in labour because I was told that the tape would take quite a while to work. ‘I should be able to sleep through this’ I thought. ‘Try not to wake Aaron, he needs sleep. Surely I’m just carrying on about nothing. Maybe I have the worlds lowest pain tolerance. I’m not going to be able to get through labour if this isn’t it!’ I tried very hard to convince myself to just grit and bear it. It was pretty intense. I could describe it as very very bad period pain, like I had never felt before. It felt like I needed to poo and wee all the time. Back pain, pelvic pain and abdominal pain. And I felt VERY swollen down there - more so than I had my entire pregnancy. So much pressure!
At 11pm I couldn’t stand it anymore. I woke Aaron up with: “I’m in pain Aaron. I think something is happening. I know it shouldn’t be but I am in pain!” Aaron Tried his best to help me through every wave of pain but it was just getting worse and worse. “Please get the midwife.” I said while breathing heavily through the pain. “This just can’t be nothing.” I think I apologised to Aaron for waking him up/keeping him awake a few times.
The midwife came in just after 11pm. She popped the CTG on and had a look at what was coming up on the chart. She explained to me that when the cervix was ripening and thinning it can be a bit painful. She didn’t think I was in labour though and offered me some Panadol to help me get to sleep. “Please! I’ll take anything for this pain.” I'm normally not much of a Panadol person, usually if I have a headache or a bit of period pain I just grit and bear it. I was hopeful that the Panadol would help me sleep because I knew that I would need all my energy for actual labour.
I really tried my best to get on top of the pain over the net few hours, but it was very difficult. I could feel myself loosing control. ‘If this isn’t labour,’ I thought. ‘I’m not going to be able to do this. I need an epidural right now. I can’t do labour. I’m not strong enough. I’m not going to be able to handle the pain if it’s going to get any worse than this.’ I was seriously loosing control.
At 2am (10th of April now) I asked Aaron to get the midwife again. I couldn’t handle it much longer. She came in and looked at the CTG for what seemed like a really long time. I think I had started to make a bit of noise with each wave of pain. Like groaning sounds. The midwife left after checking the CTG for a while and said she would be back in a moment. When she came back she said we were going to head to the birthing suite. She said nothing about the possibility of me being in labour or anything. I think her exact words were “We are a bit busy over here, they have more staff in the birthing suite. That’s why I’m taking you over now. They have more staff over there to look after you.” We quickly packed our things and made our way over to the birthing suite.
Aaron getting some sleep whenever he could. He looks so peaceful! Me on the other hand - not so much! Haha.
I remember having one wave of pain in the hallway on my way over. I was still not sure they were contractions yet. All I knew was that it was painful, intense and I needed help. It was around 3am when I got to the birthing suite. I was loosing it. We were introduced to our new midwife, and I was handed over. While they were organising that I remember saying to Aaron: “Help me. I need pain relief. I need the best. You need to tell them. I want an epidural. I can’t do it if this isn’t labour. Help me. Tell them!” Aaron was starting to worry I think.
“I can’t tell them” he said. “You need to tell them. Tell them what’s going on.”
“Just. Help. Me.” I’m pretty sure was my reply.
I was loosing control. Completely. I had no idea what was going on. I was so worried that I wasn’t in labour and that I wasn’t going to be able to handle what was to come.
The midwife talked to me about what was going on. “Am I in labour?” I asked. From what she was saying I got the impression that they didn’t think that I was, but that they would check my cervix if I could lie on the bed. “I need pain relief.” I said. Actually I begged.
“What would you like?” She asked.
“The best!” I said.
“Do you want to try some gas and air and a bit of morphine?”
“Yes, whatever! Will it help?” I was desperate.
The midwife said that it takes the edge off a bit. She said that before she could give me morphine she had to get me laying on the bed so she could check my cervix. I wasn’t too keen to lay down because of the pain. I was most comfortable standing. I made my way onto the bed in between contractions so the midwife could do some checks.
It was around 3:30am when the midwife was checking the CTG and about to check my cervix. She said that the babies heart rate was dropping a bit at the end of every contraction. It was the first time someone had mentioned contraction to me. Confirmation that I was actually having contractions and not just carrying on about nothing. She had given me the gas and air and I was trying to use that during every contraction. It wasn’t helping very much, but it was reminding me to take big breaths. I was still feeling very out of control and a bit panicky. The heart rate thing was worrying me and I got this horrible thought that this was going to end in a c section. I was spiralling. Where was the morphine? What was going on? Am I in labour? Then finally the midwife checked my cervix. She said she couldn’t even reach it properly, that it was very unlikely that it was dilated at all. She said she would have to let the doctor know about the heart rate dropping occasionally. So she left the room to find a doctor. Where was my morphine? I was in so much pain and I wasn’t even dilated!? Why!!!? I lost even more control.
When the doctor came in she had a look at the CTG. “I would really like some pain relief please! ANYTHING! If I’m not in labour please give me an epidural.” The doctor said she should check my cervix too, just in case it had changed over the past 20 minutes since the midwife had checked it.
“You’re 4cm dilated.” she said.
I was in labour!
The tape was taken out, my waters were swiftly broken by the doctor. I felt the warm waters leak onto me and the bed. It was game time. I felt a little sense of composure again. But I was still very keen for that pain relief. They were on it. It seemed like a bit of a flurry at this stage. The doctor was looking at things, there were a few midwives in the room looking for veins for a cannula to start some fluids, the CTG was being double and triple checked, checking if there was meconium in my waters (a very very small amount apparently). There was some rushing around. It was making me nervous. “Please! The morphine!”
During the flurry, I was stabbed in the arm and I felt a pretty sharp pain as the morphine was going in. It actually really stung. I remember crying because of that pain. 15 minutes later “It’s not working!” I worried. “I think I need an epidural!”
“Just give it a little more time” they said.
By 4:30am I was feeling in control again. It was like a breath of fresh air. The morphine and the gas and air were doing their job. I could still feel the contractions pretty strong, but like the midwife said before, the morphine took the edge off a bit. The gas and air was helping with my breathing and rewarding me with a little bit of a high in between contractions. Yep, I was feeling better. I could breathe. It was around this time that one of the Midwives from Wyong Hospital arrived to help me deliver my baby. It wasn’t my midwife, but I had seen her around Wyong hospital before, so I recognised her. I was glad to have a familiar face there. I thanked her for waking up through the night to come in for me. I remember telling her what had happened. How I didn’t know what was going on, that I was feeling weak and worried that I couldn’t do any of it. I told her that I was feeling much better now, I was feeling stronger. I was comfortable. I remember telling her not to let the morphine run out and that as soon as I could, I wanted another hit.
At 4:32am I sent Dad a text to let him know what was going on because I wanted Mum there for the active labour. Mum had a job interview at Asquith Boys High School at 11:30am, so I was worried that she might not have had enough sleep. I told them not to rush, but that I was in labour and that they should come in soonish. I knew mum was an early riser so I expected she would come in at around 6am or 7am.
A selfie I took once the morphine had kicked in! Haha! This was taken at 5:04am. I forgot I had taken it until I was looking through my phone a few days later.
Between 4:30am and 6:30am I was feeling pretty good. Don't get me wrong, the contractions were still painful, but I could work with them. At least I knew that they were contractions and that they were actually working towards something. Aaron got a little sleep in the chair while I had a few chats with the midwife, had a bit of a walk around. I had a bit of a vomit at one stage and I either peed myself or my waters leaked as I spewed. I assume I was a little sick from the morphine, it could have also been the beginning of the transitioning as I’ve heard that can often happen. Aaron and I found some towels to clean it up a bit and my midwife came in to help.
I had the radio turned off (I can't stand the commercials) so that I could have Missy Higgins playing in the background. One thing that finally went to plan! I did want to have a water birth as well, but at the time I completely forgot about that. Also, there was no bath in the room. I think it would have taken too long to fill one up anyways.
Mum arrived at 6am (ish) and i filled her in on what had happened so far, and how I was feeling much better now. As we were talking Mum said “I think your contractions are getting closer together. I think you might be transitioning. You’re starting to look different. You're starting to sound different”
“No, surely not.” I said. “Really? Do you think so?”
Mum took this photo just before I started to transition! It was taken at 6:34am.
Mothers know best. Sure enough things started ramping up! I think my midwife could sense a change too. I was soon getting checked again at around 7am. She said I was at 6cm. Then 45 minutes later I was 8cm dilated. I don’t remember things very clearly about this stage. I just know that the contractions were intense. It was hard work. I didn’t like moving from a standing position to lay on the bed for checks. I remember asking if Aaron was okay a lot in between contractions. And I remember telling Mum that she couldn’t miss her job interview and that she had to keep an eye on the time. Everyone thought it was quite funny that I was worried about everyone else other than myself. I was asking if I was doing a good job. "Is everything okay? Is my baby fine? Am I doing it right?"
"You're doing amazing." The midwife reassured me every step of the way. So did everyone else.
At around about 8:15am or 8:30am it was time to push. It felt like time had gone so fast for me from the time Mum had gotten there until now. My body just took over. I was standing along the side of the bed leaning over the mattress, holding onto Aaron’s hands as he stood on the other side. With each contracting my entire body just pushed with everything I had. Each time I pushed I got down into a deeper squat. In between contractions I could feel the head come back up a little bit. The midwife told me that this was happening each time. At the time I found it so frustrating because I had just pushed so hard to get the head down. Why was it going back up again!? With each push the head came down a little bit further. The noises that came out of me were from deep inside. They were unworldly. They still echo in my head as I write this, and they probably will for the rest of my life. It was just the most guttural, natural sounds. Like a lion. A deep roar. It came pouring out of my mouth from deep in my belly.
I remember asking at the end of each push. “Can you see the head yet?” “No not yet, but nearly, keep going!” Everyone was doing such an amazing job helping me. Everyone was encouraging me. It makes me teary just thinking about all the love and support that was in that room with me. At that stage there was Aaron, Mum, my midwife and another midwife helping and supporting me. I asked again “Can you see the head yet? I feel like you should see it!” “
Yes!” Said my midwife. “I can see the head.”
“Do they have red hair?”
“Are they bald?”
“Oh, what is it then!?” I cried in between one contraction and the next.
“They have a lot of dark hair!” It was announced.
I cried out to Aaron the news. I couldn’t believe it. A beautiful thick head of dark hair. I wasn’t expecting that. Hearing the news gave me even more incentive to push down harder.
Pushing was such hard work. I didn’t want to do it anymore. But with each contraction my body just went into auto drive and pushed with all it’s might. Then in between each contraction I used every second to recover, ready to go again. I felt the head crowning. I felt the tearing. I could feel myself wetting myself (I think). I could feel my midwife pressing on the pressure points in my lower back - that really helped. Most of all I just felt so so powerful. I felt so supported! I was doing it. With the last push out came my beautiful baby. Born at 8:56am on Tuesday the 10th of April.
Everyone was telling me to catch the baby but I just couldn’t. I was exhausted. “I can’t, I’m sorry, I just need to rest for a moment. I’m sorry.” The midwives tucked my baby forward into my arms. The cord was fairly short so I couldn’t pull her all the way up. I made my way onto the bed with my beautiful baby and just cried and cried. Cried with relief, with happiness, with exhaustion - just pure emotion! My baby was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. A big, beautiful, healthy baby! After holding for a few minutes everyone asked “What have you got!” I didn’t even think to check what sex the baby was, I was just so happy that they were beautiful and so healthy. The midwife said “Have a look! What have you got!?” “
I don’t know I can’t see!” I was crying so much!
“Have a feel then and look.”
I looked down. “Is it a girl?” I asked (they are so swollen it’s hard to be sure).
“Yes, it’s a girl!!”
“IT’S A GIRL!!!” I cried even harder! Through the whole pregnancy I secretly hoped for a baby girl.
She was perfect. Absolutely perfect in every single way. I always say those 2 extra weeks were worth it. She was comfortable in there, and wanted those two weeks to grow into the beautiful baby that she is.
It's a girl!! My beautiful baby girl, freshly born. The most amazing moment. This is a screenshot of a video that my Mum took as Aubrey was born. I am so grateful for the videos that she took of my labour. Such amazing moments captured on film.
We had our first feed and she latched so well. While she was feeding I was injected with oxytocin to help me deliver my placenta. The placenta came out fine and Mum cut the cord. Aaron is a bit queazy around medical things. We had people come to collect the cord blood for stem cell storage. They were a little late to arrive because labour went faster than we all expected. By the time they arrived we had already done a bit of delayed cord clamping and I had already birthed the placenta. But we kept it under a warmer and they tried to get as much blood as they could. We later learned that they couldn’t collect enough for a transplant but they are storing it for us anyways. There is a lot of research going into replicating stem cells - we might have enough in the future with further medical discoveries.
Once the placenta was delivered, it was time to stitch me up. I had a 2nd degree tear. My cervix had also fallen outside of me. So the midwife was reluctant to do the procedure and got the doctor to check first. The doctor came in with a few students and it was SO painful when she pushed my cervix back in and checked to see if the tear had also gone to my muscles. I was absolutely abusing the gas and air at this stage and crying pretty hard through all of this. Once the doctor was happy my midwife started injecting the area with local anaesthetic (which was pretty painful) and stitched me up. She did a great job. It probably took a good 45 minutes to stitch me up. “That was so hard!” I said over and over again. “I’ll never, ever do that again! I’m so exhausted!”
Aaron cuddled Aubrey while I had the most amazing shower!
Mum left with the perfect amount of time for her job interview. Aaron and I got to spend a few hours in the birthing suite with our amazing daughter, Aubrey. Aaron was shown how to put a nappy on her. She was weighed in at 3880g (8lb 9oz), 51cm long. 35cm head diameter. And 200% perfection. Aubrey was given two immunisations and she barely made a peep. She was, and still is a very peaceful babe. Aaron got to have his first cuddles while I got to have the most amazing shower I’ve ever had in my entire life. I was sighing with relief in there. Lisa tucked her head in to check on me because I was making so much noise! “I’ve never felt better!” I called out. It was an amazing feeling in that shower. I had just done the greatest thing I had ever done. I felt so strong. So happy. So relieved. So completely in love.
I was asked if we would like to go home after the six hours or if we would like to say. I opted to stay the night just to rest (which I didn't do much of because I was just staring at Aubrey the whole time) and get as much advice from the midwives as possible. We packed up from the Birthing Suite and made our way over to the Maternity Ward at around midday. Aubrey and I spent two days/one night in the ward learning how to feed, change nappies, how to settle. We got medical checkups and lots of help from the amazing midwives. It was a good decision to stay. We left on the Wednesday night to come home to our new lives as a family of four (including Walter the Dog of course).
And that’s the story of the time that I became a mother. At the time it was traumatic, hard work, intense, painful, and scary at times. The day after I was still a bit traumatised by what I had gone through. I remember just laying in the hospital bed crying about what I had gone through the day before. But now, looking back, I just feel so empowered. I just think I am amazing. My body is amazing. I can’t believe what I did. I now feel so enlightened, like I have a new confidence because I did something so super human. I created the most beautiful life. Labour is something you will never be able to experience in any other way. The emotions and sensations are completely unique. The way that your hormones just know what to do is almost magical. I’m a new person - I have a completely new outlook on life. I’m a better person.I have learnt so much from going through labour. I’ve already learnt so much from my daughter. It was quite an honour to be able to experience the whole thing.
I know that at the time I said I’d never do it again, but now I can’t wait!