Please give a brief description of yourself, and what number baby/birth you’re sharing with us.
I’m Nicole from New Zealand. I’m 23 years old and spent the first 2 years of my marriage going through infertility treatment due to PCOS. This was my first baby and we conceived him through IVF.
What was your due date, and what was your baby’s birth date?
My due date was August 25th, 2011, and he was born on August 6th by induction.
What was your baby’s name, weight and length?
We named him Roman, he was 6lbs 1 oz – he was not measured so I don’t know his length.
Please give a brief synopsis of your birth.
Like a lot of women I had envisioned a natural birth. I wanted to be able to move freely, including trying different positions in labour and birthing in water. All of this changed when I developed pregnancy induced hypertension and preeclampsia.
I lost my midwife at 35 weeks, as I had to go on medication to control my BP -I was devastated. I had made a strong relationship with her and now my baby was going to be birthed by a complete stranger.
My body swelled and I began to see flashing lights in my eyes – I was 37 weeks pregnant. I was admitted to hospital and hooked up to a monitor to check if baby was ok. I had a scan and they found my fluid was a little on the low side. Over night my BP was out of control, they decided to induce.
I was told I could not have a bath or birth in water. I would also be restricted to the hospital bed with the monitors. I couldn’t believe how everything had changed, my birth plan didn’t just go out the window – it was chucked!
I labored for 16 hours then my waters were broken at 6am. My contractions became unbearable. I wanted to move so badly but all I could do was swing my legs. The OB was worried about my BP and suggested an epidural to try control it. I agreed, I could handle the pain no longer. That was at 8am. At mid-day the epidural stopped working and I was thrown into strong contractions. They fixed the epidural and I slept the rest of the day.
That evening I felt pressure and said I needed to push. I was told I had to wait! I was in agony so I pushed anyway. Roman’s head came out crooked and grazed me on the inside and as a result I got a 2nd degree tear on the outside. The rest of him slithered out – born at 7:51 pm. I held his hand. I wanted delayed cord cutting but I was bleeding uncontrollably.
He was put on my chest and I cried. He was finally here. He was then given to my husband and they rammed towels inside of me. At that point I thanked God I had an epidural. I was in theater for 2 hours being stitched up. The epidural wore off and I began to shake uncontrollably – a side effect. I developed maternal fever so I felt very ill but my baby was brought to me and I was in love.
What did you do to prepare for your labor and birth? Did it help?
My husband and I went to ante-natal classes and I watched a lot of videos on birth, but none of it prepared me for the complications of my birth. If any thing the ante-natal classes made me feel like a failure. I had done everything opposite to what we were taught, even though it was all out of my control
What did you like about your birth experience, if anything?
I liked how my baby was placed straight onto my chest and all the reflexes and checks were performed later so I could bond with my baby immediately.
What did you not like about your birth experience, if anything?
I felt surrounded by strangers which made me fearful. The hospital midwife was foreign and did not like me filming the birth saying it was too intimate. She agreed after I insisted it was what I wanted. I was denied a bath and movement even when the monitor showed my baby was not in distress. That made me feel like I could not cope with my contractions, it felt unnatural.
What surprised you about your contractions/labor?
The way they could take my breath away!
In reflection, would you do anything differently, either before the birth, during or after?
I guess it was all out of my control but I wish I had INSISTED the bath and movement. I just did what I was told.
What do you remember the most about your birth?
Holding my son’s hand when he came out. I felt like I needed him to know I was there to protect him. I had waited so long for him he was my miracle. I also remember my husband whispering, “Oh my God, I have a baby, my baby is here.”
How was your birth experience different from what you imagined it to be?
It was the complete opposite. I had imagined a tranquil natural birth and just letting my body do what it was designed for, instead it was full of medical intervention, tubes, drugs, instructions, bright lights, and noise.
What were your immediate emotions about yourself and or your birth experience after the birth?
I was emotional, for a moment I forgot all the people in the room and thought to myself I made this little person and pushed him out – I’m awesome! I didn’t feel sad or angry like I thought I would. Roman was here and that’s all I cared about at that time.
How would you describe your recovery?
It was long and hard. I lost a lot of blood and my blood pressure dropped dramatically. I was very weak and fainted a lot so I was afraid to hold Roman standing up. My woman parts hurt badly as I had been packed with towels to stop the bleeding and needed pain relief. It took 2 months before I began to feel like a normal woman again.
How has your perspective of your birth experience changed in the last 8 months since the first week of having Roman?
I have not been mentally scarred from my experience and don’t look back on it with regret. I am well and so is he. I never seem to do things by halves - hospitalized in the middle of my IVF treatment with kidney stones, your not so natural baby creation, dramatic hospitalization from an IVF side effect, dramatic pregnancy, so I guess it was only fitting that Roman’s entrance to the world would be filled with drama. We are planning another baby soon and hope to have our original birth plan but now we know to have our plan set in sand not concrete.
Did you learn anything about yourself through this experience?
I learnt my body and mind is amazing at coping with stressful situations, although at times I felt afraid, I managed to control my feelings and not panic. I also learnt that even though it was the most undesirable situation everything faded into the background when I saw my baby for the first time. I was so much on cloud 9 I tried to hop off the hospital bed with Roman when I was still unable to feel my legs from my epidural. Oops!
If you could recommend a certain type of childbirth experience, based on your own experiences, what would you recommend to other women and why?
I would recommend a natural birth where you can move with your contractions. A home birth would be ideal so that you cannot be made to have lots of medical interventions but in saying that imagine what would have happened If I birthed Roman at home…
Any further thoughts, comments or advice you would like to share?
Set your birth plan in sand, not stone. Not everything can go to plan and if it doesn’t go to plan don’t be hard on yourself, the birth is but one part in the whole scheme of the creation of a child. Your body is amazing regardless of how your baby came into the world. Also, my entire journey includeing infertility, IVF pregnancy, and life with baby is on my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/those2littlelines
- The Birth Interview Project | Sara’s Attempted Homebirth w/Hospital Transfer (thebirthinterviewproject.com)
- The Birth Interview Project | Stephanie’s Birth Center Labor w/Transport & C-section (thebirthinterviewproject.com)
- Danielle’s Hospital Birth (thebirthinterviewproject.com)