This beautiful birth story comes from Julie, who felt compelled to write down her birth story on the eve of her daughter’s first birthday. Reaching that first birthday is such a significant milestone and I wish I could give every family a trophy on that day to say: Well Done! You made it through the toughest year ever!
Julie’s story is so inspirational for all parents and pregnant mums out there. An epic love story of 5 days’ labour, her little one taken into NICU straight after birth, different doctors, etc. But Julie and Steve were able to keep hold of their ‘unshakeable positive attitude’ they had gained at She Births®.
I could not agree with Julie more in regards to parenting; ‘there is nothing straightforward about parenting and it’s full of surprises.’ Amen sister! Scroll down for the full story.
Love and gratitude,
The Birth of India – by Julie Spatt
Even though for the most part my pregnancy went well, throughout my entire pregnancy I was terrified something would go wrong. It had taken a long time for us to fall pregnant. In an ironic twist our daughter decided to come 6 weeks early. She took 2 years to conceive but could not wait any longer to join the world!
The hardest part of the birth, having now had a year to reflect, was that she came early.
Around 4am Tuesday morning, my waters broke at 33 weeks. We called the hospital and went in. The nurse did a swab test and the result was negative, I was sent home and told it was my pelvic floor. Feeling pretty upset all day that I would potentially spend the next 6 weeks effectively “weeing” myself, particularly when I prided myself on regularly doing pilates, was pretty deflating. So be it. I spent the day gushing water and feeling pretty weird.
The best thing about the nurse getting it wrong was that I had a great night sleep at home in my own bed, which was a real blessing.
The next morning, Wednesday, I had a “show” we rang the hospital again, went in early morning and I met my new obstetrician, as my current one was away, and was told that I would likely give birth in the next 4 to 6 days. I was instantly stabbed with adrenalin and given drugs to stop labour. The longer I could keep my baby in the better. My doctor said for every day the baby stayed in my womb meant 2 less days in NICU. Getting my head around all of this was not really possible. I went into a mental state that I think of now as an outer body experience. I wasn’t really in control of what was happening to me at the hospital nor did I know when my baby would arrive. The not knowing was difficult. Her heartbeat was strong throughout the whole experience, and until she took her first breath, her heart beat reassuringly calmed me and gave me strength.
Thursday morning my contractions became stronger around 4am, the nurse monitored me and wouldn’t let me get out of the bed. I was on my back and it was horrendous, and against all the She Births® preparation of having a safe calm space to move through the contractions, instead I was confined to a sterile hospital bed and they were hard back contractions.
Finally, I was sent to the birthing suite which was a relief at the time. I liked the midwife and my main support was my husband Steve. I am not sure how many hours we were there, but I had my first experience of proper labour, pacing, TENS machine, breathing through the contractions. I knew I could do this and it felt natural and manageable. She Births® had prepared me well.
After something like 7 hours of solid contractions, they slowed down. Steve and I lay down for a rest and passed out in the delivery suite. No baby arrived. We were sent back up to the prenatal unit. We were deflated. We thought our daughter was going to arrive that day and she didn’t, which medically speaking was a good thing, the longer she stayed in my belly the better. Psychologically it was hard, wondering when she would come. That night I tried to gather myself and my thoughts. I still think I was in an outer body experience, running on adrenalin and trying to remain calm and positive.
The next day, Friday we sat around the hospital, I was on “bed rest” and much to my horror, pushed around in a wheelchair and not allowed to leave the grounds. We mainly spoke to family and rested. I don’t remember much of Friday.
On Saturday, we woke up and the contractions started again. We started timing them and they were getting closer. I met my third obstetrician that morning and he told me I would likely have the baby that day. I begged him and said please don’t send me down to the delivery suite unless you are sure it will happen, and he was confident I would give birth that day. It also happened to be Steve’s birthday so we wondered if she was deciding whether or not to share a birthday forever with her dad.
It was around midday we were sent down to the delivery suite. The contractions seemed easier than the first false start and I felt comfortable moving around like a wild animal. I found the breathing and positions I had been practising for so long helped me through the contractions. Steve was an amazing support I certainly couldn’t have done it without him.
I recall 3 different midwives, all of whom were good. About 4 hours into the labour my cervix had not dilated as much as I had thought it would and the midwife offered Syntocinon. This was my fourth day of contractions on and off, I was frustrated that I wasn’t closer and said bring on the induction. This did speed things up and I also discovered the gas, it was a bit late in the day and I am not sure why I had not tried it sooner as I found the gas helped tremendously for relieving pain.
It was after the gas that it all sped up pretty quickly and the next thing I knew my doctor, who I had met that morning, was telling me to push. I screamed in a way I had never done before, and he told me to not push from my heart space but to feel it in my womb and push from there. I was pretty delirious by this stage but I somehow managed to breath in the way I was being told and I saw a dark head appear. The next thing I knew, my daughter was handed to me and I was allowed to hold her for some time whilst I was stitched up.
Considering she was premmie I wasn’t sure if they would take her straight away or allow me to hold her, I felt lucky to hold her for so long. She was born with no complications and healthy at 34 weeks. She weighed 2.24kg and was a good size for her gestation. Still she was premature.
My next experience was probably harder than the labour and the last four days. Nothing prepares you for NICU. Steve wheeled our daughter into NICU and I was left alone in the birthing suite. I had given birth to our daughter, it was extraordinary and I had no idea what it meant, how fundamentally my life had changed.
I saw my daughter for the first time in NICU at 2am. She was in an incubator, with a feeding tube in her nose and all the monitors attached to her. My brother had his third child born at 30 weeks, and I had been to a NICU before so it wasn’t too confronting. The hardest bit was not being able to hold her. We were told that skin to skin time was incredibly important but for brief intervals, maybe two to three times a day for no more than 20mins. Feeding was like a marathon for a baby that size so the less handling the better.
The routine over the next 2 weeks became 4 visits a day, during which we had a crash course in feeding and nursing a newborn. The nurses were amazing and they were incredibly generous with their time and knowledge. We spent Christmas and New Year’s Eve in hospital, and we brought our daughter home New Year’s Day.
Going in and out of hospital was physically taxing. Emotionally it never felt right being home and my daughter being in hospital. A mother should be able to take the baby home and be with them 24/7 once they are born. I didn’t have that and there are many mothers who have much longer periods in NICU. It’s incredibly tough. On the flipside I can say what we learnt in those 2 weeks was invaluable and helped shape the way we cared for our daughter for the first 6 months. It gave us a good routine.
Our daughter turned one recently and is thriving, she is still the most beautiful creature I have ever known and the year has been incredible. I have learnt so much and above all else I have learnt to be a mother to my daughter. I think I will continue to learn what that means for a very long time.
Now when I think of the labour, that was the easy bit. She Births® did a good job of preparing me and when I think about the birth not being at all what I expected, She Births® gave me an unshakeable positive attitude towards the experience. No matter how it unfolds, birth is incredible.
The last year has taught me that there is nothing straightforward about parenting and it’s full of surprises, so the birth was just the start of the journey, which continues to get better every day.