Mackenzie’s birth is something that with me for life. It is a memory I hold so very dear. It wasn’t the easiest or smoothest birth but it was HER birth. The universe didn’t let me keep her but it can’t take away that day.
I loved reading birth stories as I prepared to give birth myself. Some people don’t want to know about them but it helped me picture it and I found them helpful. Calming even. So for those who are interested – here is Mackenzie’s birth story.
At 39 weeks pregnant, I experienced some reduced fetal movement. Mackenzie was always a big mover so when she stopped moving as much, naturally we were concerned. We know now that SMA often causes reduced movement in the third trimester of pregnancy but no one could have anticipated that this was the reason in our case. It was hard experiencing the reduced fetal movement, especially as a first-time Mum. You second guess yourself. How much did she move before? Is it really less now? Am I going crazy and being paranoid?
We remembered that our midwife told us that it is always better to be safe, so in my last week of pregnancy with Mackenzie we went to the hospital twice to check. Each time one of the midwives did all the necessary checks on Mackenzie and I. They were lovely and told us we did the right thing coming in.
The checks showed that she was a healthy baby. However, the second time we went in we were advised to start the induction process the next day, which was at exactly 40 weeks, just to be cautious. And she was full-term anyway.
It was the most surreal thing driving home from the hospital knowing this would be our last night together alone. We were so nervous but very excited. While writing this post I asked Jonny what he remembered doing the night before we went to the hospital and he said “I think we basically just went home and shat ourselves”. Seems like an accurate description. I barely slept that night.
The next morning, 9 March 2017, Jonny and I woke up early so we could have a final cuddle in bed before we had to get going. It would have been a peaceful moment but the Cockatoo squawking just outside our window had other ideas.
The drive to the hospital is imprinted on my memory for life. We got to the hospital early and anxiously waited in the cafe for a room to become available. Then I was checked over and given a cervix softener called Cervidil (inserted at 12pm). It was a slightly uncomfortable feeling at first but slowly the small contractions started. My friend Kath visited the hospital as I walked around trying to get things started. That night Jonny got us Thai food for dinner and we watched Gogglebox as I had a heat pack on me. They checked on me at midnight but I was only 1cm dilated so I needed more time with the Cervidil. It wasn’t the best sleep as you can imagine.
At 6am on 10 March 2017 the midwife checked and I was 2cm dilated and we were told that now my waters could be broken manually. I was taken downstairs to the delivery room. Such a crazy thing to walk into the room where you know your baby will be born!!
However, when they did an examination they noticed Mackenzie had popped back out of my pelvis which meant that a doctor had to break my waters instead of the midwife. They were concerned that when my waters were broken Mackenzie would fall back into my pelvis and there was a risk that the umbilical cord would be in front of her face. They had an Operating Theatre on standby just in case that happened.
At 10:30am the doctor broke my waters. I was expecting it to hurt but hardly felt a thing, although I did feel the rush of fluid. The umbilical cord did not fall in front of her face; however, they noticed meconium (meaning she had gone to the toilet in me, and that’s common). They decided that, rather than leaving me to go into labour naturally, they would put me on a Syntocinon drip (which is oxytocin to cause the uterus to contract). They started this around 11:30am.
My parents came in to delivery room around 11:45am to say hi and see how I was going... and they never left.
Around 12:00pm my contractions were coming very hard and fast. They came on so quickly that my parents got stuck helping Jonny manage my pain. The midwife had warned us that when you are induced it can increase the need for pain medication because it doesn’t build slowly like normal labour.
For the next 6 hours I moved between the floor, the bed and bending over a fit ball. My Dad held my hands and gave me the gas, my Mum worked the TENS machine on my back while Jonny pressed down on my hips to give me relief. I was also given morphine. All the while we had RnB Friday playing on the radio - Shoop and No Diggity helped me through.
I had dilated to 6 cm by 6pm.
About 6:00pm, I couldn’t take anymore and asked for an epidural. Next thing I remember I was sitting hunched over on the bed. Mum & Dad had stepped outside the room. Jonny isn’t a huge fan of needles but he stood by ready to support me. However, the midwife and anaesthetist noticed he was uncomfortable when he saw the needle. They asked him to lie on the floor. They were concerned that if he fainted or got sick I would move. So he lay down and I got into the Zone. I don’t know how I was able to stay still through a contraction, while they injected me in the back, but I just did. I'm guessing it was around this time he got the confidence to take a selfie with me....
The epidural was AHHHMAAAZING! The relief, after 30 hours of contractions, 6 hours of which were intense contractions, was Huge. Finally, I was able to get some sleep. It also allowed my poor parents and Jonny to take some time off. They went out for dinner, wine and, for Dad and Jonny, a whiskey each in a café near the hospital. I suppose they had earned it.
While I was sleeping one of my favourite midwives came on shift, Gemma. She is someone who would have easily been our friend if we met outside of this process so it always felt like we had a friend in the room with us.
About 11:00pm, Gemma told me I was 10cm, it was time to push. I pushed as hard as I could, three pushes per contraction. I pushed so hard I felt like I would snap something inside. I did this for two hours until we realized it wasn't working.
A doctor came in to see me. After examining me, she said Mackenzie was in the wrong position now. She was posterior, her back was facing my back,and her head was facing up. I had spent two hours pushing her head into my pelvis. They explained that they would need to use forceps to get her out or I had to have a Cesarean (C-section). At this point my Dad left the room. He had been standing this whole time in the corner up the ‘no view’ end but, at this point, it all got too much for him. Mum and Jonny remained holding my hand.
For a second I started crying, I couldn't imagine anymore pushing for the forceps to work but was also unhappy about the idea of a C-section after all this hard effort. I felt like I had done all the work and got so close. I had been labouring for almost 40 hours at this point. I was in so much pain. Suddenly I started hearing a loud buzzing noise and the sound of Mum and Jonny talking got distant. I knew I was passing out but it seemed like no-one around me could tell.
I came to and gathered my strength as they wheeled me into Theatre. I remember seeing Mum as we left the room and the bed rushing past Dad who was standing outside. Jonny stopped to explain to him what was happening before he gowned up.
I am forever thankful to my parents for being there for Jonny and I. It makes the memories so much more special - my dream team.
When we got into theatre they did another exam and decided that forceps wouldn’t work. It was to be a C-section, after all. It was just after 2:00am.
They topped up my epidural and with Jonny standing by my side we started. I kept whispering a mantra to myself ‘healthy baby, healthy baby’. Then suddenly I saw Jonny stand up and begin taking photos, and in that second I heard a cry.
That sound signalled my relief. She was crying. She was healthy. She was ok.
Mackenzie was born at 2:44am on Saturday 11 March 2017 weighing 3.89kg and was 54cm long.
She was taken into the resuscitation room for her checks and Jonny went with her. I tried desperately to keep my eyes on them. By this point I was SO tired I kept falling in and out of sleep no matter how hard I tried. They bundled her up and Gemma brought her to me while Jonny filmed it. She was beautiful. Pure perfection. We just stared at her in amazement as I tried not to sleep - during this time the doctors were delivering the placenta and stitching me up. But I was hardly aware of it.
Around 3:30am I was taken to recovery as Jonny took Mackenzie down to the delivery suite waiting room to meet the four Grandparents. They tell me that when they had this first sight of Mackenzie, she was wide awake and quiet, staring at them all with her big eyes. Their excited chatter on seeing her slowly quieted, as they looked down at her, and she gazed up at them. There was a lot of love in the room right then.
At 4:30am, I was taken from Recovery to my room in the Postnatal ward. I remember waiting for what felt like ages looking for Jonny to walk into the room with our little girl. I wanted so much to see her, to touch her, I missed her already. Finally they came in with Gemma. I gave Mackenzie her first breast feed. I have never felt so at peace, so complete. Jonny and I looked at her and decided that her name was Mackenzie. Strong and beautiful.
The three of us stayed in hospital for the next six nights. Five nights were to recover from the C-section and another night was due to my blood pressure being elevated. All up we were in hospital for eight nights.
Finally, we were able to leave with our baby girl our new little family.
Whilst my birth was not ideal, and wasn’t quite how I’d imagined, I wouldn’t change it for anything. I now have a beautiful permanent scar on me, Mackenzie’s entrance into this world. It is a scar that Jonny will often now tenderly kiss to feel close to Kenzie. I am so proud of her birth.