I started writing this as a letter to a first time Mum. But then realized after you’ve just had a baby, for the first time. You’re not in the mood for a pep talk. You’re just exhausted & surviving hour by hour til the next feed or nappy change.
I was not big on the research or blogs during my first pregnancy. Honestly I was just so sick I couldn’t wait for the pregnancy to be over.
So when the time finally came to welcome our baby girl into the world after 39 weeks & 4 days I was in for a rude awakening.
Read on for a raw, real account of a first birth experience from a young, clueless Mama.
Tuesday afternoon, 39 weeks 3 days. I felt “off” all day. Decided to call the hospital. After a quick chat I called hubby to tell him we better pop down to the hospital (again! I’d been in & out over the last few months) I wasn’t in any pain so told him not to rush.
He picked up some dinner for us on his way home. Got a flat tyre! Once he made it home we sat down to dinner. Feeling pretty relaxed we left for the hospital. I remember saying to hubby as we walked out the door “I can’t wait to come back & have a bath” assuming we’d get sent home after monitoring bubs.
Little did we know bubs & I wouldn’t return for 9 days!
Around 6:30pm at the hospital was when my contractions started. The midwife told us this is finally it. This time is the real deal & we’d be having a baby tonight. We should have expected it as I was 39 weeks 3 days but I’d had contractions & false labour so many times I’d lost count we couldn’t believe it was actually time.
My waters didn’t break so my OB did that for me. I had no idea once that was done contractions would come on fast & furious with barely any time to breathe. Mama’s there is your first warning shall you travel down a similar road. With each contraction more fluid gushes out. I looked to my hubby at one stage & said “I don’t know if I’m peeing or not” (I laughed so hard typing that), remembering his face as he said “pee”. Bless him, he carried the bluey I’d just peed all over to the bin & got me a fresh one. He held it as far away from his body as his arms would possibly let him Lol. Fun times. He says now he’ll never forget that sound. Again lol. That right there is true love!
When my waters broke I noticed my OB & midwife exchange a look. I felt the mood shift & knew something wasn’t right. I didn’t see it by they told me later on the water was discoloured with meconium. Meaning bubs had done her first poo in the womb.
They warned me then that my birth could be a caesarean. I didn’t react too much to that, I trusted my OB so was comfortable with his calls.
Around 8 hours passed & I only dilated 1cm. I’d had gas & an epidural. Baby was now in distress so the call was made to do an emergency caesarean. From this point on my memory is a blur. I got a bit panicky & had to be sedated. My epidural was way too strong & I was numb from the throat down. I couldn’t swallow my saliva or feel myself breathe. To me it felt a bit chokey & as if I couldn’t breathe. That’s when the panic set in. I do recall hubby being in charge of the saliva sucking device. Again, love.
I drifted in & out of the delivery. I do remember the moment Savanah was born. She wasn’t doing too well & neither was I so they brought her over for me to see then whisked her away. I can remember asking if her hair was dark or if it was blood. (It was dark hair!)
Then she was gone & again I drifted in & out as I was stitched up. During my stitching hubby was with Savanah. When I’d come back to my body in that room full of people I felt desperately alone. Far out I’m tearing up now. It’s so strange to describe the feeling laying there, arms stretched out & numb. Numb is probably the best word & I suppose shocked. We took our sweet ass time getting to the hospital, spent hours in labour then suddenly took a turn & ended up in an emergency situation. It was just beyond anything we’d imagined.
I soon find myself in recovery. By this time it was early hours of Wednesday morning. My bed was surrounded by the amazing team who’d been called in at 2am to help deliver my girl. Hubby was there. I cried & had my moment to take it all in, his strong warm hand on mine. God I love him.
I was a bit freaked at the thought of our baby all alone so one of the nurses went to check on her. Next tip coming for ya Mama’s. Pack a dummy, just incase. Savanah was away from me & needed a comfort suckle. I can recall a midwife asking me if I had packed one & I was so relieved to say YES. I had even sterilized it. A small moment of joy!
Savanah was born with “wet lung”. She had breathed in meconium. It took a couple of days of treatment in special care nursery but she was Ok.
I was so groggy & out of it I couldn’t keep track of the hours passing. I honestly can’t even recall the first time I held Savanah. They wheeled me into the nursery in my hospital bed. Could have been Wednesday night? A midwife passed my baby & helped me hold her to my breast. I was so weak & exhausted I could barely hold her. I think I started to doze off so the midwife came in & scooped her up. We hadn’t even established a decent latch, I had a boob hickey.
3rd piece of advice for first time Mums. Breastfeeding can be very difficult. You & bubs may not be naturals. You both might need a fair bit of practise to get it established, if you decide to breastfeed.
I really wanted to breastfeed. I had high hopes. I was very disappointed in myself when I struggled so much. Savanah & I were off to a rough start so we never established great breastfeeding. I had a complication after the epidural, a “dural leak”. It gave me an excruciating headache when I sat up. So much so at times I couldn’t sit to breastfeed. Savanah was bottle fed my breast milk from early days. With formula top ups. I think from early on she preferred the bottle so never took well to the breast.
I did manage some breastfeeds for 12 weeks. But it was mostly bottle. I was forever expressing milk. It was exhausting. I put so much pressure on myself. Too much. As beautiful as the breast feeds were, & I knew I’d miss them. Secretly I was so relieved when my supply ran dry.
Note number 4 Mama’s. Nipple cream! Bring it to hospital & apply it, generously. If you think it’s too much apply more!. I wish I knew to pack some. I ended up with a crack & when I tried to feed Savanah the pain on that raw, tender skin was worse than I ever imagined possible. I was just about in tears from the pain. I couldn’t bare it & ended up using a nipple shield. Right here is probably a good time to mention that when my milk came in it introduced me to a not so little thing known as engorgement. I had a new found understanding for the term Rock Melon. I woke one morning to my new Dolly Parton, sensitive, painful chest! I actually had to express a little for comfort.
By now at around day 4 or so I felt pretty much anything that could go pear shaped had. I’d had a small procedure called a “blood patch” done to patch up the epidural hole that was leaking spinal fluid. It was unsuccessful & I was still unwell. This is the reason I spent 9 days in hospital. I couldn’t go home until I could sit up & feed Savanah.
Hubby stayed overnight most of the time we were in hospital. I don’t know who was more scared. Him to leave me, or me to spend the nights on my own. I had amazing support from my midwives & OB but always felt better knowing hubby was close by.
The days passed & I began to feel better, I was up walking about more, able to sit up for feeds & walking down to the nursery when I needed breastfeeding support. Savanah was ticking all of her boxes in the many, many ways she had to early on. And with each passing day my condition improved & Savanah was gaining weight.
After what felt like eternity & once I had ingested many tiny cups of sweet oily stool softener the dreaded bowel movement happened. I swear my nurse did a happy dance when I finally answered the daily question YES! Other daily checks of mine were a boob check, blood loss, cut & the stingy belly injection. I did have one toilet incident the first time I took myself. The day my catheter came out I hopped up for my first post birth wee, I don’t know exactly what happened but I passed out on the toilet. I came to with my pants down, hubby & a nurse staring at me. I was banned from solo toilet trips til I could manage on my own.
The day finally came where I was well enough to go home. Day 9. We were pretty excited by now & sick of the hospital room. We were a tad over excited & rushed out of there. Rookie mistake! Mama’s if you don’t have to vacate your room stay. Do a feed, then go. We didn’t make it home before Savanah woke for a feed. So our first ever family car ride was with a hungry, screaming baby. Savanah & I were both frantic by the time we made it home.
I was so nervous doing my first solo breast feed at home. I missed my midwives. But I did it & we were home.
9 days later & it was my time. To be a Mama. To sit with my beautiful girl in the rocking chair hubby had gifted me & take it all in. My baby. Our girl.
I’d done it. We were home. And we were Ok. It wasn’t a smooth transition into motherhood by any means but it was mine. I had no idea at the time but it was the beginnings of my shape in my motherhood mould.
This blog has been a great opportunity to reflect on my first birth experience. It’s telling of when & where you draw that strength you didn’t even know you had from. And in your own unique way become Mama.
This was one of my 3 caesarean experiences. I can share those too. Each birth has been different & I will say baby birth stories number 2 & 3 are completely different to my first. I’d even go as far as to say good!
Each pregnancy & birth I have been very lucky to have an amazing OB, team of midwives, the love & support of my husband, friends & family.
Thank you for reading. I love to hear from you guys so please share your experiences with me or just reach out to say hello. It's so nice to connect beyond the screen.