May 1, 2016

I can’t believe it has taken me so long to put into words my birth experience. Just like that, the months have flown by. It has been five months since my beautiful little man arrived into this world and there are no words that can explain the love I have for him

I can’t believe it has taken me so long to put into words my birth experience. Just like that, the months have flown by. It has been five months since my beautiful little man arrived into this world and there are no words that can explain the love I have for him. It’s a feeling that I have never felt for anyone before and thinking about him stirs up emotions I didn’t even know existed before he was born (that’s not to say, it’s all been rosy. These last months have been so hard, but also the most rewarding, but more on this in a later blog post)

Aston arrived at 6:50 am on Friday the 27th of November, weighing in at eight pounds nine ounces (just under four kilos) and measuring fifty-two cm’s long with a whopping big head. Believe it or not, he came bang on his due date, which we were told is quite unusual.

The few days before he came I had a feeling I would go at any moment. Yes, my due date was looming, but that wasn’t the reason I thought I was close. I was cramping more often than usual, and my stomach was hardening a lot which was unusual. Those Braxton Hicks contractions were striking more often, but they felt different to the ones I felt earlier in my pregnancy. The cramping went all the way down to my groin area, and Aston was much more active.

By this stage, I was so eager for him to come. I was so excited to meet him, but I was also so bloody uncomfortable. Those last weeks are hard. I was so swollen, and the simple task of standing up would take my breath away. Aston was low and engaged for the last four weeks of my pregnancy, so much so that my OB initially thought I would come weeks early but Aston decided to hang in that low position. I could feel his head bounce from side to side down when I walked (pleasant I know) for the last month.

On Wednesday night, I was certain I was going into labour. I couldn’t sleep a wink, and my pain was intense with strong Braxton Hick

I was up and down going to the toilet every twenty minutes. Every time I thought I would look down and see my mucus plug.

Let’s also mention how difficult sleep is in those final weeks. Yep, it’s pretty much non-existent and far worse than anything you experience during your whole pregnancy. Your body aches, and my mind was racing thinking about the baby and everything I had to do before he arrived.

This night, I lay there awake all night. At 5 am I got up and had a shower, shave my legs and decided to apply some spray tan. Errr, so I know applying spray tan because you think you are going into labour isn’t normal, but I couldn’t handle anyone (apart from Jim) seeing my bumpy, fluid retentive and hairy legs, and yes before you comment to say the doctors wouldn’t notice and I need to get my priorities right. You are probably right, but I blame those pregnancy hormones.

Then suddenly by 7 am all my pain went away, and I thought it was another false alarm. I told Jim that I am going into labour soon, mind you I had been saying this every morning for the last few weeks, so I am sure he stopped listening.

Thursday went along like normal. I worked in the morning, as I was still doing a couple of hours a day, which wasn’t too bad as I work behind a desk, so I don’t need to move too much. I then met a couple of girlfriends for lunch.

FIRST STAGES OF LABOUR

Once I got home (around 1:30 pm) I started getting the Braxton Hicks contractions again but this time, it left me hunched over, it was worse than ever before. After a few minutes it disappeared, then twenty minutes later it came back again and was a little more painful, it only lasted a few minutes and so forth back again seventeen minutes later.

These photos were taken the day before I went into labour. Could you tell I was over it?!

It did occur to me that this could be labour contractions and not just Braxton Hicks, but I wasn’t sure, as it was it was pretty inconsistent with no real pattern so I wasn’t too concerned. It was painful but it wasn’t unbearable and I thought I would be in more pain if it were the real deal.

The pain became more regular; I started watching the time and I realised I was getting the contractions closer together and now they were happening every seven or so minutes. It was now about 3:30 pm so I thought I should probably call Jim as I was home alone. He then called our midwife to ask her and she called me straight away and after she had spoken to me for a few minutes, she was assured it was labour. I still wasn’t convinced- and I didn’t want to be one of those people that got to the hospital and told ‘love you are not in labour go home’ so I was hesitant.

AT HOSPITAL 

Jim got home by 4:30 pm and we headed to Epworth Freemasons. We live in Albert Park, so one of the only ways to get there is down Punt Road. Those of you that live in Melbourne know how bad the traffic is on that road that time of day and my contractions were becoming more painful, I was gritting my teeth when each one came and squeezed onto Jim’s hand tight.

Once we got there we had to wait at reception to sign in, it felt like forever. I was thinking, lady can’t you see I am dying here?! She was quite nonchalant, but I guess that’s part of their job, to be calm in those situations.

Once they checked off all my details they brought me into the room. It was a huge room with a little couch in the corner for Jim and a mini fridge. We did a tour of the hospital a few weeks before which put me at ease so I knew what to expect. I then popped on my gown and started unpacking my bag. Strangely, I suddenly felt fine, so I started telling the nurse that I should go home as I didn’t think I was going into labour.

That only lasted about ten minutes and then the contractions started again and. This time, it was more painful than anything I had experienced prior. They hooked me up to a monitor, which measured my contractions while I was waiting for my OB to come and check me.

I was glad I listened to Jim and my midwife and got to the hospital when we did instead of sticking it out at home, as my pain was increasing. It’s strange how you can feel fine and then bang it hits you and you can’t handle it.

When my OB got there and checked me (and by check me, I mean, stick his hand right up you, ouch!). I only measured 3 cm dilated but they could see on my monitor that my contractions were getting stronger and closer together and he explained that some people don’t dilate quickly and that they may need to break my waters.

The TV was on in the background and ARIA awards were on. Tina Arena’s voice will be etched in my memory forever.

TO HAVE PAIN RELIEF…

From this point, it was pretty much a blur, and the pain intensified and never got better (until I finally got the epidural).

I was open to having an epidural, but I also wanted to see how far I could go without it. The nurse never offered it to me, and I felt a little bad to ask for it (like I was weak to do so). Jim and I spoke to her about it and she said it could draw out my labour a lot so we decided to sit on it for the time being. It was in my plan that I would have it if I needed it. My OB knew I wasn’t against it but he was in and out of my room so I never got a chance to ask him until later.

All you ladies that go au naturel without the epidural are amazing, I wouldn’t have been able to go through my entire labour without the pain relief so hats off to you.

I didn’t know what to expect from labour as I didn’t read about it during my pregnancy and I didn’t do any classes in the lead-up. My only concern was the health of the baby.

I didn’t want to get bogged down by my ‘labour plan’. I am the type of person that would then get freaked out if it didn’t go to ‘plan’ so I was open to anything that ensured I had a safe labour. I trusted by OB Len Kliman 100%, he is incredible and has delivered thousands of babies before so I knew I was in safe hands.

I remember Len coming in at about 10 pm to break my waters. If I had done my research, I would have realised just how much pain I was going to be in for (when they have to break your waters), but I was blissfully unaware.

BREAKING MY WATERS

They stick this big razor looking device up there; it looks scarier than it felt. Len was great, and he promised it wouldn’t hurt the baby or I. I then went straight to the bathroom as it was a mess everywhere. I then heard the nurse telling Jim about our baby’s hair colour; I thought I was hallucinating?! I was sure I hadn’t had him yet…haha. Aston’s dark brown hair was all over the razer. It’s funny the details you remember.

After they had broken my waters, my pain intensified to a whole new level. Think your worst period pain times one hundred. It was now getting close to midnight and I now really needed the epidural. Jim knew I wanted it but I was too embarrassed to ask for it. Looking back now, I can’t believe I cared. All I know is that if I am lucky enough to get pregnant again, I would be having the epidural earlier as the pain was so intense by this stage of labour. To tell you the truth, looking back, I can’t remember how bad the pain was (it’s true what they say as soon as you have your baby you totally forget the pain) but I do remember it was bloody horrible and by the far the most intense pain I have ever experienced.

Jim organised the epidural with Len but we then had to wait for the anaesthetist. It felt like I was waiting forever, even though in reality it was only about fifteen to twenty minutes. My contractions felt so intense and unbearable. I couldn’t help but looking at the monitor, anticipating each one.

My anaesthetist was incredible. Along with a new midwife with the change of shift, she was so experienced and I felt super comfortable with her. I had to sit on the edge of the bed, Jim holding me from the front as I leant over. I was told to stay very still, but it was so hard as my contractions were so painful. I was gritting my teeth, thank god for Jim, I was gripping onto him so tight. The actual needle didn’t hurt at all; it just felt like firm pressure. I did wonder at this point if I would be that small percentage of people that end up paralysed, thank god it went well.

I was still feeling my contractions but they told me it would kick in, in fifteen minutes. Soon after, I was pain-free and able to enjoy it. I could see on the monitor I was still getting the contractions but I couldn’t feel it at all. Bliss!

I didn’t know what to expect next, but naively I thought once I got the epidural the baby would just come. I didn’t realise that the hardest work was still ahead of me.

TIME TO PUSH

I also felt really nauseous so they gave me some anti nausea medicine. By around 4 am I was fully dilated and ready for the baby to come. Yippeeee! I noticed that the pain was coming back to my left side and my left leg was cramping. The midwife then realised the epidural drip had fallen out of that side during the night, she said she could increase the dosage but that would mean that I wouldn’t feel a thing and wouldn’t be able to push as well. It also meant I probably wouldn’t have the baby until the afternoon. I decided to push through and not get extra as I was just so eager for him to come.

Now it was time to push. The midwife told me to imagine a concrete wall with a small hole the size of a pea, and I have to push a watermelon out of that pea sized hole. That’s how hard I had to push.

It was only Jim and the midwife in there with me for most of this time. Jim was holding one of my legs up in the air and the midwife was holding the other leg. I was pushing with all my power, once I pushed, they had to push their weight against me. This part of my labour was even harder than the pain I experience initially. I was sweating profusely and felt like I was going to vomit because of my nausea. I could also feel the contractions, with every contraction I had to push with all my might

This went on for two and half hours. With every push I could feel his head slightly pop out but once I stopped pushing it would suck back in.

I am so thankful I did pilates during the later part my pregnancy; I honestly believe that it helped me engage with those muscles and push. Once I started pushing the midwife said that I was pushing so well and If I kept going I would be able to have him out without them needing to cut me or using suction on Aston’s head. It is hard to explain the deep pushing you need to do. I felt like giving up a few times as I was so tired of having my legs high in the air for so long and I just felt like I didn’t have the energy left.

Once Len arrived it gave me the energy to keep going, he is so cool and calm, and I couldn’t have asked for a better OB. There were also suddenly more nurses in the room. They wanted to use the suction,and at the time I wanted it too as I was too tired to push but Len was keen on me getting Aston out naturally, he said I could do it. He was right, within fifteen minutes of him arriving I pushed Aston out, and it was such an incredible feeling. Len knew that my recovery would be so much better without stitches and it is also better for Aston. I did end up with a tiny tear, but it wasn’t bad.

MEETING THE MOST PERFECT BOY 

Len placed Aston on my chest, and then Jim cut the umbilical cord. I just couldn’t stop staring at him in awe; he was this perfect, pink, chubby little boy with a gorgeous little squeal. He then opened his eyes and looked straight into mine, and I will never forget that feeling when he first looked at me. Jim and I were looking at him and couldn’t believe he was ours.

I then vomited everywhere (classy I know), I had been holding onto it through all the pushing, thankfully I didn’t get any on poor little Aston. Jim was there to catch it.

I felt so incredible after he was born, I didn’t feel any pain at all, it all magically disappeared. I was only a tiny bit numb from the epidural as most of it had worn off during the pushing. Within twenty minutes I got up and had a shower. As I stood in the shower, I just couldn’t believe I did it. I actually did it, and he was a perfectly healthy little boy.

After a few hours, the adrenaline started to wear off and I felt a lot of pain. I suddenly couldn’t walk, which was super scary. I couldn’t lift myself out of bed or move my legs at all. I felt like my pelvis could no longer support me. Jim had to carry me to the toilet. I thought it could have been the way I pushed out Aston because my legs were up for so long and I was pushing a lot. I couldn’t even lift Aston up. After frantically googling (I had never heard of this after giving birth, so I was scared) speaking to the nurses, Len and getting assessed by a physio in the hospital, they diagnosed me with pelvic girdle pain, with a form of Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD). The way I pushed Aston out (with my legs spread and up) also contributed to making it worse. I did experience a little lower pain during my pregnancy and I went through periods where I felt a lot of pressure on my pelvis, especially at the end of my pregnancy because Aston was low and engaged but nothing like this. At the end of my hospital stay I could start walking a little and a few weeks later it was a lot better. The physio said I had to rest for the full twelve weeks with no heavy lifting, walking, etc. so it could repair. I almost cried when she told me I couldn’t walk at all (she then explained I could walk very small distances but only around the house and to the car etc.) I like being on the move, so this was very frustrating, but I am glad I took the time to rest properly as I feel really good now with minimal pain.

Aston is so perfect in every way, I am too obsessed with him and every little thing he does. He was a fussy baby from the start and he cried a lot in the hospital ( I am sure I am not alone here, as most babies do). We later discovered (when he was about 4 weeks old) he has silent reflux, which was hard to manage initially. I will be writing a post on my experience with it and my tips that really worked for me.

Just wanted to say Thank you to everyone for your beautiful support I have received throughout my whole pregnancy and after. All your thoughtful comments on Instagram and facebook definitely got me through. It has been such an incredible period.

Aston was about ten seconds old here. 

Jim and I bonded with Aston for a few hours after he was born in the delivery room. It was so nice just being us three. 

Our first night at hospital- we were up all night. 

His first bath..he has been a strong little fella from the start. Holding his neck up.

Day two with my little man. I popped this photo on Instagram, and some people thought I had my hair and makeup done. Ummm, after pushing out a little human, when would I have the time? (or more so, why would I bother?!) This was two-week old hair that needed a wash. As you can see by the other pictures, my hair definitely didn’t look that good it was just a good photo. 

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  • Maree

    Perfect timing for this story. I’m in my last weeks of pregnancy and it’s great to know the things I’m feeling are just normal. Thanks for sharing!

    • http://chroniclesofnadia.com.au/ Nadia Bartel

      Hope your labour went well xx thanks for reading

  • luisa

    Congratulations! And my fave part was when you vomited right after, but luckily not on the baby!!.. Thank you for keeping it real! Best of luck for your beautiful family

    • http://chroniclesofnadia.com.au/ Nadia Bartel

      I know sooo attractive haha thanks for reading x

  • Carrie Adams

    Thankyou for sharing. And thank you for keeping it real. Birth and becoming a parent is such a raw, powerful experience and can never be truly understood until you experience it with your own child. The love is truly amazing. Great to see dad Jims support throughout too. All the best to a gorgeous family

    • http://chroniclesofnadia.com.au/ Nadia Bartel

      Thanks for reading x

  • Lf

    Thanks for sharing Nadia. My little one is 7 weeks old and our birth stories are so similar, even down to the guilt of an epidural. I had 13 hours of contractions that were 1-2 mins apart and I was exhausted having not slept for days, and I felt ashamed when I finally asked. I look back now and laugh at why I was so worried of what people thought – it was MY labour after all and MY decision to make! Well done to you.

    • http://chroniclesofnadia.com.au/ Nadia Bartel

      Thanks x

  • Nat

    Great story. I am totally against epidurals or any form of pain relief and even decided against an OB, opting for a private midwife and having all pre natal care through my naturopath. Let me tell you though, when the pain started; holy mother of God, I so badly wanted to ask for one. The only thing stopping me was a pre existing disc herniation at the site of the needle. Worst pain ever.

    • http://chroniclesofnadia.com.au/ Nadia Bartel

      Haha I know the pain really is as bad as they say haha

  • Sharnie

    Such good read, I love others labour stories. Yours is so so similar to mine. I was the same was open to an epi and god, it was the best relief ever!! I unfortunately had to get a cut and forceps but all went really well, I didn’t have the energy or strength to go any further and bub was getting unhappy so it was that awake or c-section 8 mins and she was out. Recovered perfectly was out shopping 5 days later. But thinking next time round Pilates may be something I should start that could help a lot. Your little man is gorgeous. X

    • http://chroniclesofnadia.com.au/ Nadia Bartel

      Thanks for reading, defiantly try Pilate, i think it helped me so much x

  • Natasha

    Wow, thank you so much for sharing this Nadia. I am at the point where I am about to start trying for a baby, but can’t shake the fear of the actual birth. This has actually helped! Thank you and congratulations! X

    • http://chroniclesofnadia.com.au/ Nadia Bartel

      Thanks for reading x good luck

  • http://yukovadesign.tumblr.com Yukova

    I’ve just visited my sister and nephew today. Al;most a year ago she went through the labor and he appeared in our lives, The most exciting thing is actually to see how the boy/baby changes every day. It fascinates me. Thank you for sharing your story and photographs. I wish you to be the best mum on the planet :)
    Yukova Blog by Yuliya Oleynykova

    • http://chroniclesofnadia.com.au/ Nadia Bartel

      Thanks for your message x

  • http://chroniclesofnadia.com.au/ Nadia Bartel

    Sorry the post has taken me so long to put up but it is coming soon x