Category: motherhood

My Birth Story | Guest Writer Kimberley Major

In 2015, our first daughter’s entry into the world left me feeling helpless, anxious, questioning my body and womanhood and feeling cheated of a beautiful birth experience like I’d read and heard about so many times. I was induced at 11 days past my due date and after 12 hours of labour and many attempts to stabilise her heart rate, our daughter was born via emergency caesarean. I felt like I had failed her from the outset and I fell into a spiral of anxiety, fearing I’d ‘stuff up’ with her somehow and this time wouldn’t be so lucky. After counselling, support from my husband, family and friends, a lot of self-care and empowering myself through research, we decided to plan a VBAC when we fell pregnant with our second daughter. My husband and I attended VBAC workshops, worked alongside a student midwife and wrote a birthplan – including both VBAC and repeat caesarean wishes.

My main goal for my second labour and delivery was, that no matter how she was to arrive, I would get those first precious, goopy cuddles with her that I missed with our first daughter as she arrived struggling to breathe and required a lot of attention for what seemed like an eternity. She was all cleaned up and wrapped in a blanket by the time I got to hold her for the first time in recovery, and as precious as that moment was, I knew my hands had not been the first to be wrapped around her. My other main focus in my birth plan was that I wouldn’t be by myself in theatre. Of course, if it was needed (as with our first birth) my husband would go with baby so she was not on her own. This was a huge part of deciding to have a student midwife share our journey. I had hoped I would at least have her, should my husband need to be with baby. With our first daughter’s birth, I was left in a room of strangers, not knowing where my baby or my husband were or how my baby was. So, with these two main goals in mind, we waited for our second baby’s arrival.

I was pressured early on by the visiting obstetrician who performed scheduled caesareans, to book a date for a week before my due date. I was ok with having another caesarean if it came to that, but I was not ok with not giving my body a chance to do its thing. I declined at each appointment to schedule a date in. My due date was the 18th June and, on the 15th June, I reluctantly went along to my final appointment, knowing I would need to book in the following week for a repeat caesarean if baby had not arrived. I got out of the car as my husband pulled into the car park and as I stood in the hospital carpark and waited for him to join me, I felt a sudden pop and a gush down my legs. I looked down and my leggings were drenched through from top to bottom. My body had done it.

We were about to embark on our VBAC journey!

After a quick visit with the midwives to confirm my waters had in fact broken in the carpark, we returned home where I laboured, surrounded by my homemade birth affirmations, essential oils, my big baby girl and my husband. Into the late evening, my surges intensified and were getting closer and closer together. We phoned my student midwife who had been sitting exams all day and she suggested we meet at the hospital. We called my mum and she came to stay with our daughter. Little did I know that when Daddy had put her to bed that night, it would signify the end of our breastfeeding journey together – at 27 months she was still feeding to sleep most nights but that night began a new bedtime routine for her and her decision to not have any more milky cuddles.

Things went smoothly once we were settled in the birth suite and I continued to labour through the night and into the morning, with our impending bundle happily working her way down to meet us. Not once was there concern over her wellbeing, which gave me such fuel to ride each surge, knowing she was safe and coping well. At the morning change of shift, we got a beautiful new midwife and we discussed our birth wishes with her. She was so warm and nurturing and I felt completely at ease with her. I decided I wanted to have an epidural, hoping that it would ease the insane back labour I had been having for hours and it worked a treat. I could still feel my contractions but it took the edge off the back pain and allowed me some rest time.

Just after 10am, I suddenly got stabbing pains very low down. I was in more agony than I was with contractions and when my midwife came to check where the pain was, it was at my scar. My OB was called and after a quick check of what was happening, she said I was at 10cms and ready to push but that she feared I was having a uterine rupture. A Category 1 emergency caesarean was called. I thought my first birth had been a whirlwind when it came to surgery… it had nothing on this time. There were suddenly midwives and doctors rushing in and out of the room, loud machines were placed around my legs as we were being wheeled out (as there wasn’t time to put the very classy compression tights on) and before I knew it we were in the brightly lit surgery and I felt tugging and every single movement (not pain but so much movement, which I didn’t remember from the first time) while it was happening.

Because she was basically ready to rock, they needed to really dig around with forceps in my pelvis to get her out.

Very quickly, our beautiful midwife we had shared the morning with was suddenly up at my chest and her words ring so clearly as she cut my gown from me ‘I’ll probably get in trouble for this, but I don’t care!’ She pulled my gown down and at 10.19am on 16th June 2017, a goopy, warm and perfectly healthy little girl was placed on my chest! I was the first to hold her close at just seconds old and for the rest of my life, this precious memory will be etched in my mind. I continued to hold our daughter close and feed her when she went looking for a boob while the minutes ticked by and had no idea as to what was unfolding behind the curtain. They didn’t interrupt us for any measuring or checks, we just got to hold her close and take in the fact she was here and safe. Over an hour passed by and they weighed and measured her with my husband as we were getting ready to head out to recovery.

When we got back out to recovery we were told that my scar had thinned excessively, to the point of rupture and I had haemorrhaged during my surgery. I didn’t quite process it at this time, but I was very lucky. Recovery was not wonderful as my body had a lot to heal from but my labour and birth experience was so very different to my first and it was so healing in so many ways. I felt like my body had done what it needed to this time. I got to live out the labour I prepared for for months – labouring in and out of the bath at home, with my big baby girl by my side and surrounded by my positive birth space and despite the rush in the end, the whole experience had been relaxed and beautiful (well, as beautiful as labour can be!!)

And the hugest saving grace, was that skin to skin I got as soon as she was out. For my midwife to encompass how precious and vital that was for me, I cannot put into words. She gifted me so much healing in those moments and I’m eternally grateful for that. I’m also so grateful for the fact we have this life saving procedure and that my girls and myself are safely here today because I was able to have a caesarean. I don’t regret our decision to plan a VBAC. And we came so very, very close to fulfilling it. But in the end, the whole experience was a beautiful, healing and positive one and brought us the most perfect little Everley Kate.

Beauty in Small Things: My Birth of Daisy | Guest Writer Toni Gordon

Being pregnant was pretty great for me. I was lucky enough to not get morning sickness, I stopped working at 5 months, I went to yoga, ate ice-cream, watched Netflix, lazed in a hammock and snuggled with my pup. I was such a calm pregnant person. My husband who worked away was very caring and made sure that I was as comfortable as possible from afar. He’d send me flowers, and make sure that I had everything that I needed. My doctor ensured that I had to relax, as I was “high risk” with psoriatic arthritis. I was in a moderate amount of joint pain, from my hips and lower back, but I managed because hey… women have been doing it for centuries. I was really lucky. My obstetrician seemed to be very attentive, he told me “Don’t worry, I will be there through out your journey because you are high risk” As my husband did work away, and that I was high risk, we all decided on a date in which I would be induced.

(Mistake #1)

The day before my induction date, my husband flew home. I had my bags packed and we set off for the hospital. I was pretty excited to meet Daisy. Daisy was always going to be Daisy… it was a very strong lightning bolt that hit me in 2012 which was a whole year before she was even a sparkle in my eye. The day started like expected, the tried to ripen my cervix and the doctors and nurses wore my privates like an old glove. I think that was the point where I left my dignity at the door. Anyway, I was in the zone. I had no drugs, I have the song playlists, the calming lavender mist sprays, pillows, breath mints you name it, I had it I was prepared AF for the labour. I had watched every episode of born every minute and I knew there was no turning back. 8 hours passed and I was 4cm dilated.

They warned me that I may need to have a caesarian because of the risk of infection. I was fine with that, my OB would call in every 30 minutes and I was on the happy gas. I was fine. Then, the next call, the babies heart rate was dropping with every contraction, we are prepping you for surgery… I was cool, I was prepared for any which way they were going to give me Daisy as long as she was okay. They doctor care to give me the epidural. My mother and husband nearly fainted as 3 attempts to place the needle were too much to take. But that was fine. Finally after 10 hours I was getting prepped for surgery.

They took away the happy gas and as I entered the taxi rank my OB approached me and my husband… “Look, its my wife’s sisters birthday and she would be very disappointed if I wasn’t there, I am going to put you in the hands of my associate… do you mind?” WHAT THE FUCK do you want me to say? Where do you go from there? I had been in induced labor for 10 hours, 3 botched attempts at an epidural and now my OB that said he’d be there all the way through as I was high risk, was not going to see my delivery through? FINE. Go …

The surgeon that I did have was lovely, for someone that had been called in last minute and had literally just come from having his evening run. He cracked a few jokes, made the delivery and seconds later, I had this red slippery vulnerable thing on my chest. All I could think is you need to bond with this child this is the most important time. You need to breast feed right now. All I wanted to do was vomit and pass out. I just had my belly cut open and all my organs were pushed around which feel bloody terrible. Its not painful but I will never forget that feeling. The nurses ripped down my gown and latched the baby on to my breast.

(Mistake #2)

I don’t remember much for a few hours, but I remember being back in the room and having absolutely no idea what to do. I was pretty happy and success my baby was healthy. On day 3, I began to complain of an incredibly sore wound and I could hardly walk. I was sweating and became violently ill. My wound become infected, I had a super bug MRSA. I was transferred to Fremantle hospital isolation ward. My new baby and I, stuck in a cold room and everyone who came in had to wear top to toe infectious disease gear. I was isolated. My husband was in Mandurah, he came everyday but he also had to go home. This was not part of my plan… I had been pretty open to anything until this point, I wasn’t fussed how Daisy came into this world as long as she was okay. I didn’t care if I had to stay in hospital, but as long as I got to take her home.

I started spiralling into depression, They told me it was the baby blues and I needed to rest. They suggested that my husband take my daughter home. I was mortified, there was NO WAY anyone was taking my baby away from me. They told me I needed rest I refused and told them that I didn’t trust them. A nurse finally talked me into letting Daisy go into the baby ward for a night so I could sleep, I agreed and they let me sleep. After 2 gruelling weeks stuck in that shit hole, having blood tests, X-rays, endoscopies I was finally discharged.

I had a pic line and had to carry a bum bag of antibiotics with me 24/7 for another 2 weeks. I was home though, I had a whole 5 days left before my husband was due to go back to work. He was FIFO 4/1 so I was scared shitless what the hell was I going to do? The last 5 days, I couldn’t sit back and let my husband wait in me. He was doing everything and I had to learn how to do it. Because of the fact I was on such heavy antibiotics, I stopped breastfeeding. It was a huge decision, but the added pressure of it all was too much. Yes, I felt like a failure and yes I felt super guilty but I didn’t have time to dwell on it. I was now a single mum for the next 4 weeks. I remember how the air really chilled off as soon as I was alone.

A Revelation

Four years later, chilly April mornings still bring back the daunting feeling of being abandoned. The next few weeks, alone with my newborn, a daily visit from a nurse to change my Vank (Vancomycin) alone with my thoughts and the changing of season, was the perfect recipe for deep depression to slip in. I felt so alone, I felt so silly for feeling so alone. I felt like I was weak for feeling abandoned. You may think that my feelings of abandonment was from my husband going back to work?

No, they were from my doctor. The one who said he would be there through it all because I was high risk. The one who made me fill in mental health forms because I was a fifo partner and because I had a chronic auto immune disease. It was he who abandoned me. I thought of ways that I wanted to end his career. How was a dinner more important than my health or the health of my newborn? I set up a meeting. He apologised for what had happened. It wasn’t at all sufficient. But it woke me up. I realised, that there was not anyone that was going to make me feel better, but myself. I realised that my child (thank the universe) was 100% healthy and that I had to make sure that this child never ever felt abandoned or that she was a burden. It was hard, I never knew how hard being a parent could be. I was one of those women who thought that being a mum was an easy way out and a way to not work!

Yep. I was one of those. Well, there isn’t a man alive that I respect more than I do a mum. We do the best that we can with what we have with the absolute bear minimum, which is primal organic love. I could never have thought that I would be where I am now, with clear vision and goals, without have being a mother. Before being a mother, I was flippant and fickle. I swayed with the wind and was as shallow as a spill of milk. I may still be flippant and go with the flow, but there are things I will never do again and one thing I know I will never give up on and that is Daisy. Being her mother has taught me how to be patient, and to realise that things grown with time. I have also realised that the things you say today will not be forgotten tomorrow. I wish that I had some incredible thing to end with, but I don’t. I just want to say, the love that motherhood has given me is closely followed by the love I have got from fellow Mothers since.

Toni Gordon is a social media marketing & content creator. She started Left Coast Australia to showcase the best of the West Coasts people, places and products. If you would like your brand to stand out with video content that show the authentic you, get in touch.
Visit us: www.leftcoastaustralia.com
Or Email: Toni@LeftCoastAustralia.com

Exercise, Motherhood & Me | Guest Writer Erin Puckett

My name is Erin Puckett and I am an Exercise Scientist and a Mother. Fitness has always been a part of my life in some form or another. We were active children playing hockey, basketball, cricket, swimming, you name it we probably tried it. So when it came to choosing a university degree, Sport Science seemed the perfect fit.

I have been working in the health and fitness industry now for over 12 years. I have trained women through every stage of pregnancy including myself and I can unequivocally say, every woman’s experience with pregnancy and exercise is truly unique, including mine. When I fell pregnant I was exercising 5 days a week, teaching RPM classes and weight training as I had been doing for several years. I was a healthy weight with no serious health concerns and injury free. My beautiful daughter turns 3 in June and I am only now managing to maintain a regular exercise routine…. and I work in a gym!

So why has it taken so long? A number of reasons both physical and mental. My body wasn’t the same post pregnancy and my energy levels were nowhere near what they used to be. Lack of sleep will do that to you! Additionally, I suffered from pubic symphysis (early separation of the hip bones) thanks to hyper mobility and was cautious about injury.  But mostly, my procrastination was a mental battle. Whilst I well and truly know the benefits of exercise and the positive effects it can have on mental health, I couldn’t seem to match that knowledge up with my new mum brain.

Trust me I tried. Daily walks with new bub were easy but they werent enough and they definitely weren’t helping shake the baby weight. I returned to the gym aiming for sessions 3 times a week. Seems reasonable right? But I would get there and feel guilty for not being at home being a mum. My workouts were ineffective because I was distracted and eventually, I just stopped bothering.  And I am not the only one. With all the Mums I have had the amazing pleasure of training over the years, there are a few commonalities. So here are a few key things I have learned through experience that will hopefully help other Mums reading with their journey to health and happiness.

1. Exercise is different for everyone and so is pregnancy. So always seek the advice of your doctor regarding what type and intensity of exercise is best for you. Supervised training sessions with an exercise professional are highly recommended for specific conditions such as gestational diabetes etc. This allows you to continue exercising while controlling those factors.

2. Mindset is everything. As a new mum, you tend to skip out taking care of yourself. So make sure you make yourself a priority. You need to be happy and healthy to take care of that bundle of joy, so schedule some me time and get those endorphins flowing. Make a plan for exercise and stick to it. Your body and your baby will thank you for it. And ditch the guilt. You are being the best mother you can be by taking care of yourself so you can take care of your family.

3. Keep it simple. I have seen women give birth and return to Pump class with a 6 pack 8 weeks later. I have also seen women gain 20kgs in 9 months baking their babies. Don’t expect the same results as someone else. They’re not you. Simplicity wins when it comes to healthy choices especially when kids are involved. Move More, Eat Fresh. Aim to get 30 minutes of moderate to high intensity exercise 3 times per week. Stack your diet with fresh produce, lean meats and whole grains. The less processing the better.

4. Rest, relax and recover. Your body needs it. That doesn’t mean you absolutely HAVE to get 8 hours sleep a night (which would be impressive to pull off with a kid in the house anyway!). It means downtime. A slow down where you can let your muscles recover and your brain reboot. A warm bath and a good book are my go to.

5. Love yourself the way that kid loves you. Unconditionally. And they always will. So take care of yourself body, mind and soul so they know how to do it too.

It wont happen overnight. It has taken me 12 years of exercise experience and 3 years as a mum to reach where I am. I’m still a work in progress, like the rest of us.  So take your time and enjoy the ride.

 
Erin Puckett is a qualified Exercise Scientist with over 12 years experience in the health and fitness industry. She specializes in functional training and injury rehabilitation from adolescents to elite level athletes and everyone in between. You can reach Erin at Facebook or Instagram to arrange a free consultation.