Ophelia Wren’s birth story | Peas in a Pod by karin Nagel

Our sweet baby girl was welcomed earthside on the 28th of June 2019, at 9:16am. The day we became parents, this was the day our lives changed forever.

We are 5 weeks into our baby-bliss-bubble, and we are slowly waking from our slumber so I thought it was time to write down our birth journey while the whole experience is still raw and fresh in my mind.

If you followed my pregnancy journey, you would know that I didn’t have the easiest time, however medically I had a perfect, low risk pregnancy. What a journey it was, and as I got to 38 weeks, all we wanted to do was to meet our bubba! We were getting impatient, and being low risk we started doing things to bring labour along, so that by the time week 40 came along we would be set and ready to go. Well We tried it all, and I mean all.

We went for long long walks, daily. I ate spicy food, ate pineapple, drank raspberry leaf tea, and had lots of sex.

I can now confirm that none of this works, haha! Babies come when they are ready.

When our wonderful midwife at the Family Birthing Centre in Subiaco, confirmed everything is perfect, we allowed ourselves to come up with a birth “idea”. I didn’t want a birth plan so to speak, as we knew not ALL births goes according to plan…

I wanted to have a calm water birth and everything was pointing towards this becoming a reality. I was over the moon.

By week 40, we spoke to our midwife and decided on a stretch and sweep to see if we can help things along. The experience was a little uncomfortable, however it meant we were one step closer to meeting our bubba. And so we went home and went along with our day, however that evening things started to ramp up. Contractions started, and they were coming in hot.

The next day was a bit of a blur. I was just floating in and out if what I can only describe as the worst pain I could ever imagine. I was in constant pain, as it turned out I was in back labour, and which continued for quite some time. I went on contracting like that for 22 hours, drifting from the shower, to the bath, to the bed, to the bouncing ball, to the couch, going for walks, walking up and down in the house, and crying….so much crying, (all whilst trying to remain calm and breath through it). But I had my rock of a husband with me, guiding me through the pain, massaging, helping me rembering the breathing techniques, feeding me, giving me water, holding me and re-assuring me.

After labouring at home for 22 hours, we finally got ourselves ready to head to the birthing centre in the afternoon, the car journey felt so long, but we got there pretty quickly.

At this point we were both nervous, scared and excited all in one. Our midwife examined me…she suddenly had this look on her face….baby’s heartbeat is a bit high, and isn’t coming back down…before she said it, we looked at one another and knew that our water birth dream was slipping away. I felt uncomfortable and uncertain. Our midwife recommended it was probably a good idea to head upstairs to the hospital. She re-assured us that everything will be okay, that we were in good hands, and we knew she would be by my side no matter what.

So upstairs we went, I had internal examinations, which again was so uncomfortable, had my bloods drawn and had heart monitors put on myself and bub. Little Offie was tachycardic but seemed to come back to a normal heart rate, so we sat there for about two hours, still contracting in my back. It felt like such a long time, yet it all happened so fast.

After speaking to the obstetrician and our midwife, we were given two options: either go home and deal with the pain until my waters broke naturally but maybe head back in for monitoring, or stay in hospital for more continued monitoring and a possible induction. Pete and I sat talking, weighing up the pros and cons. We were so scared.

We decided to stay in hospital and to be induced, as this was the safest thing to do at this point. As we needed to get things moving. Once my waters broke the pain rushed through me, even more, I dilated to 5cm really quickly. This was it! We were so close to meeting our little baby.

The next few hours I can only describe as being in a dream state, I was given gas and air, which made me feel so woozy and out of it. I could see and feel myself in that labour state, like I was looking down at myself. Pete and I went in the shower, lights were switched off, and I just stood there with the hot water running down my back. WIth each surge I felt like my back was being broken, looking back I can only describe it as someone stomping on my back. I felt no relief.

My midwife talked me through each painful contraction whilst Pete hugged, held and re-assured me, I didn’t even have to speak, he knew what I needed and when, he was a birthing partner superhero. I was sobbing through the pain, it felt like my back was tearing up, I cried out for my mum and at this point my midwife asked me if I wanted an epidural…

I remember saying to her, through my tears “Please don’t offer me one….”

After about two hours in the shower, my midwife asked me to get out so she can monitor bub better. Soon we realised that things aren’t going too well, I had another internal done, I was still only 5cm dilated.

I was put back in bed, where I contracted for another few hours, at this point it was recommended to have an epidural done, which I reluctantly agreed to. The anesthetisologist came in…a silly man he was. He made so many silly jokes, which I must say made the epi less painful. There he was - he and Pete giving each other their best lame dad jokes….

The epidural took effect really quickly, my back pain disappeared almost immediately. And suddenly I felt “normal” contractions. It was so far removed from the back labour I felt. Suddenly I had a new found confidence, “I can do this”, I said to myself. My spirits were lifted, so was everyone else’s in the room. I bounced on the ball, did a bit of dancing, everything seemed good again.

Then I was asked to stop immediately, to get back in bed. They attached the monitors again, only to find out not only was bub tachycardic but so was I, and I was developing a fever. They asked me to rest, whilst they attached a catheter, only for my urine to have blood in it. It was now close to 5am and I’d been in active labour for 33 hours and had slept for 4 hours out of 48.

So here I was, one stretch and sweep, an induction, gas and air, epidural, monitors, catheter and synth in running through my system The OB’s and our midwife was getting concerned once more. One of the lovely OB’s - Megan, came to talk to us. She said most likely we need to consider the possibility of a c-section. My worst fear came true. I remember throughout the pregnancy saying I am happy to deliver bub anyway but the last thing I want is a c-section.

As she said those words, my heart broke into a million pieces, I sobbed uncontrollably. I was so upset and tired, I couldn’t think straight, I was disappointed in myself and what I couldn’t achieve, I felt like my body was letting me and little Offie down. I could not accept this. The whole team left Pete and I alone fore a bit to compose ourselves.

They came back into the room, Megan asked what our feelings and desicion were, She was really understanding, and mentioned that at this point this is the safest thing for bub, which made me sob again. I was so scared. A c-section is not just something that could be shrugged off. It’s major surgery. I know its pretty much the norm for people to opt for them, so its understanding that this misconception of it being a quick and easy with easy recovery exists.

As I spoke to Megan, I could tell that she felt my heartache, she suggested that once we were in theatre that she would internally examine me again, and if I have dilated more at that point, we can go ahead and push.

They wheeled me off, things were moving so quickly. I searched for Pete through the crowds of scrubs, there he was - I felt safe again. I remember feeling so cold, I trembled and shivered for what seemed like the longest time. They topped up my epidural and wheeled me into theatre. Megan examined me, but sadly still I was only 5 cm’s, at this point they also determined that baby was in a transverse position. So the c-section was going ahead.

I remember seeing so many people. The team of 12 people, were so kind and caring, they kept checking in with me, the anesthetisioligst, stood on my left, I remember telling the anaesthetist that’s I was nauseous. He grabbed a sick bag and held it by my mouth, as I vomited all over his hands, not once, but twice. I felt terrible and kept apologising whilst feeling almost stupefied from all the anaesthesia and fatigue. .

I remember looking up into the lights that above the bed. There, in the reflection of the many bulbs I could clearly see where they made the insicion, I turned my head and told Pete, I felt in a daze but scared, my wonderful husband and rock kept me from looking back up, he kept my eyes on him, he talked to me and again re-assured me. Talking me through what they are doing and telling me that everything will be okay.

My mouth felt so dry, I was still so scared, and just trembling uncontrollably. After what seemed like forever, actually 36 hours- we heard a little cry. Again I started sobbing and so was Pete, it was a moment I saw in his eyes that I will treasure forever. He went over to cut the cord, which made me so happy, as I this was one of those moments that I didn’t want him to miss out on. We already missed out on so much during this traumatic experience. I Shouted at Pete to take a photo, talked him through it, and I must say this is one of my most treasured images. So Perfect! (Thank you my sweet man!!)

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Pete went over for a cuddle. Everyone cheered for us and congratulated us. They sewed me up and wheeled us out to recovery, where Offie and I had some skin on skin. She latched and started feeding immediately. That moment of holding my baby and having that skin on skin time felt so perfect, so complete. Pete hugged and held us both, our little family was complete.

I was taken to my own room, where I spent the next 3 days, It was a testing time, I was alone for the most part - in a cold, sterlile room. All I wanted was to go home, be with my wonderful better half, our sweet pooch and our bub.

Once Offie and I finally got released, I was overwhelmed with all the emotions, I let out sighs of relief and sobbed once more. I was so happy to be home.

Both Pete and I just sat there staring at little Ophelia, at how perfect she is. We are so in love. She has the cutest little button noise, squishy cheeks and lips, with the fluffiest ears, and little brown patch of swirly hair on the back of her head. We are so lucky…AND again the tears were very real, but this time my sobbing was pure joy, I felt so content.

THE AFTER-AFTERMATH…

Reflecting on my experience. I was and am still traumatised. I felt I needed to write about my experience to work though the emotions. Yes, I have the most amazing, happy and healthy little baby, however it does not make me not wish for a different birth experience. I have had amazing support, not only from my amazing man, but also the midwives at King Eddie’s, my personal midwife, friends and family, All who have “given” me “permission” to grieve the birth I didn’t have. We are so thankful for the care Offie and I received, every person that cared for us, went above and beyond, and we are so grateful.

I had the odd older person say things along the lines of “Well you have a happy and healthy baby, you should be happy about that” - which in itself is sad, as it would seem that there is a stigma that as women we suddenly only exist for our babies now, that we should be grateful and aren’t allowed to feel sad, or complain. The post partum movement is making amazing headway, which is wonderful. However, I cant help but feeling that the older generations are “brainwashed” to believe that the post-partum emotions, feeling disappointed and heartbroken is a sign of weakness and not valid. That we should get “over” it and be grateful, but it leads me to want to speak up more, to stick it to the man, to say “no, actually, allow me to grieve - I just had major surgery, I am working through the emotions but as a gender, and millions of women who have done this before me, we should come together and support new mums, and mums who have and are having multiples. Hold me, hug me, talk to me about your experiences, buy me a coffee and let me open up. Be my friend, be understanding, Allow me to work though this, allow me to heal…after all, a happy mum means a happy baby.

NOW…

Ophelia is 5 weeks old. We are calm and relaxed around her, which in turn is making her a chilled out and relaxed little bub. She is calm and doesn’t cry a lot, sure we sometimes struggle with little sleep at night, but all and all things are going really well. We are so I love with her and our lives have changed forever in the best possible way. Our little family is complete. I find myself just cuddling her all day long, staring at her chubby cheeks and perfectness.

Thank you for reading, and I do understand things could have been so much worse, and I know that others do experience harder times, and from a glance it might seem that our struggles weren’t that bad, however I do feel each persons expeience is relevant. So this is my story, and I feel so much better for getting it out. If you haven’t already, have a little read over at “One month of Ophelia Wren”, to see what we’ve been up to, ALso if you’ve not had chance to read my wonderful husband’s take on the experience, follow this link. “Pete’s take on our birth”