Being the first among most of my friends to get pregnant, and without a sister who’s had children, having my sister-in-law Courtney (Mum of two boys!) to totally harass during my pregnancy has been amazing. Between texting when she started to feel her baby move, to asking about scars from her stitches (over dinner, with our husbands wide-eyed beside us), I’ve felt so lucky to be able to ask the tough questions.
As Courtney didn’t have the easiest labour with her first baby, and then had a small complication with her second, her experience has also encouraged me to work on my own birth-plan early on. I’m so excited for Courtney to be an Aunt to our baby, I know she’s going to be amazing!
Courtney’s two babies, my nephews!
Do you remember the day you found out you were pregnant with your first?
I found out I was pregnant with my first baby at 6 weeks. I was so nervous but also excited, I knew that I wanted to become a Mum. I told my partner, Dad, Step-Mum, Nana and my Mum (and all my friends) and then announced to others after until my 13 week scan.
How would you describe your pregnancies?
My first pregnancy was interesting, as I had no idea what to expect. I was lucky not to be sick with either of my pregnancies, but I was very tired and hungry (those two did not go well together for me).
The hardest thing was waiting 9 months to meet him. I can be quite an anxious, even paranoid person, so it was a long 9 months – even though the technology to be able to see them was amazing. I was so excited to become a Mum.
I really loved feeling my sons move, it’s seriously the best feeling in the world.
I wasn’t as worried with my second, mainly because I was so busy with an eighteen month old. I was a lot more tired (for the obvious reasons) but it went so much faster as I was busy.
With each of your boys, who did you choose to be your lead maternity carer?
With my first pregnancy, I used the midwife team at my family GP. There was a team of about 5 and I met them all throughout my pregnancy. They were amazing, answering all of my questions and helping me when mum passed away. They were also very supportive during my birth – three of them attending.
For my second pregnancy, I used the hospital midwives because the services at my GP had been closed down. They were all lovely, but if I was to do it again I would not have picked them because it wasn’t a personal experience at all.
Though with my first pregnancy I didn’t have any complications, with my second I tested positive for Strep B at 35 weeks, meaning I had to have two lots of antibiotics when my waters broke and before I gave birth – because otherwise I could potentially pass it to him during the birth.
Did you have a birth plan? What are your memories of each of your boys’ births?
I had planned to attend birthing classes, but unfortunately when I was booked in for them, my Mum passed away, so I actually didn’t really have a birthing plan.
With my first baby, Dallas, I was 40 weeks and 3 days when I went into labour. I woke up at around 2am, and as I stood my waters broke, so I thought the contractions would be starting later that morning. However, by 9pm that night, absolutely nothing had happened, so I had to go into hospital for antibiotics (the amniotic sac protects the baby from potential infection).
Because my waters had been broken for so long, I had an epidural really early, so I actually didn’t feel my contractions whatsoever, and was able to sleep in the hospital. I woke up the next morning to some pressure, and they were able to see Dallas was really close.
The birth itself was actually quite stressful, in part because I didn’t know what to expect. The baby was distressed, so the hospital obstetrician, along with a paediatrician came in to deliver him – along with my three midwives, anaesthesiologist, as well as my partner and Step-Mum standing by.
I couldn’t feel a thing and I was really scared, and in the end I had to get a ventouse (vacuum) delivery, with Dallas arriving at 11.16am at 6 pounds 7 ounces. I felt quite lost and didn’t have a clue what I was doing – at this stage I should have been asking so many more questions, Dallas wouldn’t “latch” to breastfeed, I really didn’t get any help from anyone, and my partner wasn’t able to stay either.
Two days later my nipples were completely blistered from trying to breastfeed, I hated being a Mum and I couldn’t stop crying. At this point I decided to formula feed, because I really wanted to enjoy feeding and bonding with my baby. I know that I was frowned upon by people for doing so, but both of my sons are healthy, and I had to do what worked for myself and my family at the time.
With my second birth to Brooklyn, two years later, I had a lot more idea of what to expect, but I still got incredibly nervous. Because I had tested positive for Strep B at my 35 week test, when my waters broke at 10pm and I went straight to the hospital for antibiotics. My labour started the day before his due date, and he was born right on time.
I dropped Dallas at my Dad’s on the way and actually felt really emotional, I started shaking and crying with nerves and the thought that he wouldn’t have all my attention anymore.
At the hospital, I had my first round of antibiotics and a little bit of pain with my early contractions, and a few hours later as my contractions became stronger and much more painful, I called for the midwife for some pain relief. I wasn’t yet in “established” labour, but I was in quite a lot of pain at 5cm dilated (which they could stretch to 8cm). I was able to have some panadol and nitrous oxide (gas) for pain relief, and was told I wouldn’t have long to go – but I said I still wanted an epidural.
As I was getting my epidural inserted, I actually felt the need to push and should have told them, I know I’m silly for not doing so, and because of having the epidural too late in the labour, it wasn’t very effective. It all happened very fast after that, in what felt like only 5 minutes of pushing, and I felt everything despite the epidural, and he was born at 6.11 am without any complications – though I had to get a few stitches, as I did with my first.
Honestly, I don’t remember the pain of either of them really – I knew that it hurt, but the labour was soon forgotten once I had my little baby to hold.
Do you feel like becoming a mother has changed you?
Becoming a mother has changed me 100%.
I am so much more affected by other people’s emotions, and so much more considerate of other people.
I am more mature and more loving… still just as paranoid if not worse. I also apologised to my Dad and Step-Mum for how I acted growing up because I have since realised that being a parent is so hard, and they only want the best for their children.
With two boys now, you’ve decided not to have any more babies, was that a hard decision?
The decision not to have any more babies hasn’t been a particularly hard one – though I’ve often thought about having another, I always return to saying “no more” (and so does my fiancé Jamie). My boys are at such a cool age where I can take them on adventures and do lots of really fun stuff.
Life with two boys is busy… and loud. They fight all the time but then they have moments where they play together and show so much empathy for each other – which makes up for the fighting.
What advice would you give to someone about pregnancy and birth?
Stay off google (and don’t just ask people on Facebook pregnancy groups) if you’re worried about something – talk to your midwife. Choosing your midwife is also a really important decision – find someone you are 100% comfortable with and ask as many questions as you can think of. No question is a silly question!
I wasn’t into exercise when I was pregnant but I do wish someone told me to exercise – I think the whole process would have been better mentally and physically if I had been fitter.