When I reached my due date (August 29, 2021), I was hopeful but certain I wouldn’t magically go into labour right away. At 40 weeks pregnant, the days went by at snail pace and felt long and unbearable. I could hardly walk because it felt like I had a bowling ball in between my legs. My feet ached, my legs felt like they would cave beneath me, and my whole body was just not having it. I felt absolutely useless where I couldn’t clean the house or even pick something up off the floor. Thank god I had G, my boyfriend, with me to help (during lockdown in Sydney). The most exercise I could do at that point was walk around the block and hold on to G for dear life. It’s funny looking back at it now, but it was not fun living it. The most comfort I found was laying on my side on the couch and hugging my Snoogle pregnancy pillow while watching TV. That was my complete day, including getting up a thousand times during the day to pee.
I tried everything to go into labour, from all the doctor prescribed things to the old wives’ tales. I bounced on the pregnancy ball every day, I took walks (as long as I could), I ate spicy food, I drank Raspberry leaf tea, and anything else you can think of.
In the middle of the week, I went to my Obstetrician (OB) for our weekly appointment where he checked my cervix and confirmed I was 2cm dilated. He gave me a membrane sweep to help things along. Some women can go into labour soon after or a few days after. I was excited that things would happen for me but after a week went by, I had to return for another appointment. At that time, I was 41 weeks pregnant and not enjoying life haha. He said all was fine and gave me another membrane sweep but said that if I don’t go into labour naturally soon after, I would be induced. A day went by and still no luck, so we gathered our hospital bags and went to the hospital on September 8. It wasn’t the way I imagined to go to the hospital but it was a lot more calm than how I pictured, which was nice. I always thought I’d be screaming in the car as G drove frantically.
We arrived at the Prince of Wales Private hospital with our bags, checked in, and went to our room. It felt like we were checking in to a hotel which was great. The room was very spacious and we had a window to a private enclosed balcony which provided natural light. I changed into my hospital gown, set up, got some music playing, and waited for the midwife.
She was a lovely Irish lady who was very accommodating. She explained a few things about induction and prepared me to have my water broken. She brought out a tool that looked like a crochet-like hook and broke the membranes of the amniotic sac. The first step was done! My water broke. I was given a Pitocin IV drip to induce the labor further and start my contractions. The contractions came in hot and heavy, they were so strong I couldn’t believe the pain. When your body naturally goes into labour, it starts with small contractions and eases you into stronger ones. Being induced, however, throws you right into around level 6 contractions without any warming up. I bounced on the medicine ball while G coached me through breathing and held my hand to try to ease my pain. After an hour, the midwife entered the room at some point and mentioned that the anesthetist was about to head home and was wondering if I wanted the epidural at that moment, if not, she could always come back. I didn’t know what to say or whether it made a difference if I got the epidural early in labour or not. Then I remembered one of my mom friends telling me that if I got induced to just get the epidural right away, there’s no point in suffering when you don’t need to. Knowing that the contractions were getting stronger and how much pain I was in, I happily requested for the epidural as I didn’t know how long it would take her to come back. They had me sit at the edge of the bed, G sat in front of me holding my arms, they bent me forward and told me to say when a contraction was over as they would insert it in my back right after. Hunched over with a big belly and pain from a contraction with a needle going in my back was not the best time, but once the epidural kicked in, I was in heaven.
I laid back on the hospital bed and the pain had stopped. I was clear-minded again and I was able to converse normally, not like before where I couldn’t finish a sentence or focus on anything but the contractions and the time I had in between them. Since I had an epidural, I wasn’t allowed to walk anymore, so the midwife inserted a catheter and then put compression socks on my legs that were connected to a machine that continuously added pressure to avoid blood clots. A baby heart monitor was also strapped around my belly.
G put on a nice relaxing playlist from Spotify and we took naps. The experience was almost dream like to me. The midwife came in to monitor the contractions, the baby’s heart rate, and my cervix. They could actually monitor what was happening from their nursing station, but they would come in if the baby monitor shifted and they couldn’t see the baby’s heart rate well. That made me feel better to know they were constantly watching even though they weren’t in the room.
10 hours into the labor, the midwife said that that I was 8cm dilated and I got excited because things were moving quickly – 2 more centimeters and my baby would be in my arms! After a lot of pushing of course.
An hour went by and I started to feel this strong uncomfortable pressure in my lower spine. I found that odd that I could feel that since I had an epidural in. The pressure started to feel more uncomfortable over time and I notified the midwife about it. She checked my cervix and felt the baby’s head and told us that the baby moved to a posterior position. This meant that my baby’s spine was facing my spine now which could be a more complicated delivery. She also said that my cervix hadn’t progressed further, maybe because of the baby’s position. I started to really worry at this point. The midwife notified my OB and he gave me a call. He said that due to the baby’s position and that my cervix wasn’t dilating further, it may be a good idea to do an emergency C-Section before the baby is distressed. I had not planned for a C-Section at all and didn’t think it would have to come to that. Since I was young, I always joked with my friends that I would get a C-Section so I could lay there with a glass of wine and relax while giving birth. But once I got pregnant, I suddenly decided natural was the way I wanted to go. I wasn’t opposed to C-section at all since that “joke” had some backing to it because natural child birth scared me a bit! So when I started getting my head around it, I asked my OB if it was possible to wait one more hour to see if anything progressed and he said yes, but after that we would need to move forward with an emergency C-Section. I mentally prepared myself to accept any changes or complications I may have to face. Another hour went by and the strong pressure in my spine didn’t go away and when the midwife came to check me, I knew the answer.
We started to prepare to go down to the Theater, where the C-section would be performed. They put G in a gown and I told him to grab a camera! I wanted to capture the moment my baby took his first breath. I was rolled down to the Theater where my OB and the anesthetist waited for me at the doors. They explained a few things as they set me up. They rolled me and my big belly on my side, put a board underneath me, lifted me up, and transferred me to the surgery table. I was getting a little anxious but I was so tired from being in labour for 12 hours, I was ready for my baby no matter what had to be done. I got the injected with anesthesia and they did the ice test on me to see if I could feel the coldness from my ribs down, and I couldn’t. They lifted a sheet so I couldn’t see what was happening and started their work. G held my head as we waited. I could only feel pressure, pushing, and pulling, but you can hear a lot going on. I started to shake a lot, not because I was scared or cold, but because anesthesia can make you shake sometimes. They said it was taking a bit longer because the baby was deep in the birth canal and they had to really try to safely pull him out. 10-15 minutes went by and I felt them start to pull a lot, I swayed back and forth as they pulled, and suddenly I heard him – my baby boy’s first cry, and all I could say was, “oh my god” in relief. They lifted him up to show me and I couldn’t believe how large he was! My OB said, “Julia, next time let’s do elective C-Section at 39 weeks, you’re going to have big babies.” I laughed because I had that feeling all along – I’m a very petite woman (5’4 and usually 100lbs) and G is 6ft., so I knew we’d have a big baby.
G did a ceremonial cutting of the cord, they wrapped him, and laid him on my chest as they closed me up. I felt so many emotions at that moment, it was very dream-like. G kept holding my head saying how great I did and being extremely supportive – he was absolutely incredible. I couldn’t believe that my baby was finally in my arms and that I had a son. I couldn’t wait to start breastfeeding him and learning how to be a mother. G was so happy and said that our baby looked so much like me. We were both in awe and disbelief at the same time and could only laugh with happiness.
We named our little boy Dylan Ramon Coles.