Our second birth is something you would see in your worst nightmare. Our experience is not one we take lightly; we know that it can frighten a lot of mum's. Especially first-time mum's but it’s not common and this is the experience that shaped our journey into Birth Photography.
We went into this pregnancy with a gut feeling it would be another premature birth, but we still weren't prepared. At 31+5 weeks my partner (Lee) flew out to Karratha for work and within hours, we suspected our waters had started leaking. Testing at the hospital showed that I was negative for waters, but I had a positive fetal fibronectin test (membranes separating). We were placed on bed rest with regular medication in the hopes that they could stop labour. It didn't, but it did slow down labour enough to get steroid injections in to mature babies’ lungs. On day 2, contractions became 3-5minutes apart and progressively stronger. Calling Lee at 4am to be on the next flight home was a very quick but direct call in-between contractions.
This is where I say a huge thank you to his company for getting him on that flight!
By 2pm he was at the hospital and contractions were starting to spread out from the medication but not gone completely. Lee went home for a sleep that night only to be woken at 4am again that labour was a go ahead and dilation had begun. Racing to the hospital, my Mother in Law (Jeanette) driving down from Joondalup to be there, little did we know we still have over 12hours to go.
I was extremely tired; I was not dilating well, and my stress and anxiety was reaching its peak. Late in the afternoon I finally hit 7cm and I was begging for an epidural to be hit with the remark "you’re not in active labour" No woman wants to hear that when they are at their absolute mental breaking point, not to mention the fact that her statement is completely untrue, 7cm is active labour. With Jeanette requesting a word with the person in charge, I finally got my epidural, a much-needed relief on my body that allowed me to rest.
Finally, we hit 10cm and the midwife decided to break my waters artificially. My waters splashed her head to toe. I wish someone got that in a photo, would have been a good memory to look back on and giggle. A moment of happiness among a day of anger and fear. We pushed and we pushed, and we pushed some more. 2 hours passed and not much seemed to be happening. Slowly over the 2 hours a few more midwives and an obstetrician joined the team. Upon the obstetrician's inspection it was announced baby was back to back and not descending well. I was given some time to think did I want an assisted delivery, or did I was a caesarean section. "Just get my baby here safely" was the word’s I spoke, and I left the decision in his hands.
It was at that moment the most horrid alarm bells started screaming. Baby was officially in distress and this was the make or break moment. My room suddenly had 30+ people in it from midwives, to specialists, to who knows who else to be honest, and if I saw them today, I couldn't pick any of their faces out of a crowd. The only thing I remember is someone with the head out the door screaming down the corridor "Where's the anaesthetist?" It all happened so fast, before I knew it I had a full spinal block in, I'm being prepped for a C-Section in birth suite and the delivering doctor all of a sudden pulls this tiny baby from me using forceps before any other staff member could second guess the decision. But that wasn't the end of the road.
I laid on that bed for what felt like a lifetime, in reality about 2-3 minutes and I heard nothing. You could have dropped a pin in that room and heard it. The panda bed where baby lay was surrounded with all the medical staff and finally Ben let out a cry. I cannot tell you how magical it is to hear your newborns cry when you aren't even sure if they are alive! He was held in the air for 20 or so seconds for me to have a quick look and within moments he was wheeled away to the NICU, Lee went with him. I was left with no staff in my room and laid on the bed, paralysed from a spinal block feeling alone and empty. Jeanette held me as I cried, she was amazing, but it didn't change the fact I felt alone, empty and no child on my chest doing skin to skin like what every mother dreams of.
Lee returns later, with tears in his eyes and a photo to show. No parent wants to see their child on breathing support, a feeding tube, IV's coming out of their tiny little body but under all of that you see a perfect baby that should still have been inside. It was still a few hours before I would get to see him for myself. Lee picked me up and carried me to the shower, in my complete nakedness, with my only care being to see my child. Finally, as the spinal block began to wear off, I was put in a wheelchair and taken to go see my son. Reality still had not hit home, I was beyond exhausted and I just sat there and cried afraid to touch him in the fear he would break.
After my discharge from hospital we spent 4 long, painstaking weeks visiting him every day in his little plastic humidicrib box. Progress was slow, and we were lucky to have no setbacks but every time you leave that hospital without your baby in your arms, a little piece of your heart crumbles. The unbelievable love you have for them is what holds you strong.