I can remember my early labour pretty well. Everything started of slowly and just a little uncomfortable. About 19 hours in, my contractions had officially gone from uncomfortable to mildly painful to almost unbearable. The next 21 hours were a mix of trying to deal with the increasingly more painful contractions and trying to distract myself to try and make the time pass faster.
After I went into active labour and went to the birth unit, time and events became much more blurry. The following hours are a blur of pain, tears and vague memories. I can remember crying over and over “I can’t do this”. I didn’t think I could keep going. Every contraction was agony. I refused all pain management except for gas until I was convinced to try morphine, which only made me too sleepy to use the gas. I fought getting an epidural for almost the whole time I was there. I finally agreed after I had gone into Stage 2 labour and they realised there was a good chance I would have to have a c-section. I was devastated at the thought and just wanted someone to tell me what to do. I was scared of the epidural, I didn’t want a c-section. All I wanted was to get through each contraction and for it all to be over. It had been around 50 hours of labour at this stage and I had only had around 2½ hours of sleep in that time. I was exhausted and didn’t want any of these complications. I didn’t want to accept them.
I begged our amazing midwife to just tell me what to do but, of course, she couldn’t. Joel was telling me to do it, probably for different reasons than why I ending up agreeing. I agreed because I was too scared to have an emergency c-section and not be awake. Joel wanted me to because he couldn’t see me in agony any more. Not long after I got my epidural, I had to start pushing. We were having little progress but I begged for a chance to push her out, as long as she was safe, just please let me try. After over an hour and a half of pushing, we got her head down far enough to use a vacuum to help but even with the vacuum, our baby girl was stuck and I had to have an emergency c-section. I was absolutely devastated and was begging them to let me keep trying, promising them I could do it the entire way they pushed me to theatre but I knew that they wouldn’t be taking me there if there was any other choice.
That room scared me more than anything. Joel had to wait outside while they got me ready, making it all scarier. I don’t think I cried more in my entire life combined than I did while I was in that theatre.
Hearing Avery cry when they pulled her out of me at 11:58am, 54 hours after I woke up in labour, made any calm Joel had managed to bring me disappear. I could hear my baby and I just wanted her. They had to check her over before bringing her to me and found she had lots of fluids in her lungs so they had to suction it out and give her oxygen. I was hysterical, just wanting my baby. Joel went and saw her and brought me back photos.
After I don’t even know how long, she was finally brought over to me and I got to hold her. I fell instantly in love with this tiny person in my arms and everything I had just been through was instantly worth it. Nothing turned out how I thought it would be. It was long, exhausting, excruciating and I had to accept an epidural and have a c-section, the two things that were the last things in the world I wanted.
The one thing I am grateful for is Lauren being there. While she couldn’t be there for the actual birth due to the c-section, her presence in the birth unit was invaluable after she arrived at around 3am. Her role was so much more than just our photographer. I remember her supporting me when Joel needed to step away, holding my hand, giving me ice-chips, just being there. She offered Joel support by being someone he could speak to and get some moral support from. There’s so much I can’t remember but I can remember feeling safe and supported by Lauren and was just comforted in knowing that she was there. When we found out that Lauren couldn’t be there for the birth, she offered to come back and get some photos when we were ready, an offer I was immensely grateful for. Seeing the photos now, I realised how much of the experience I either lost or didn’t see. The worry on Joel’s face, how he held me, just how hard it was for him and why it was so hard. We have a way of blocking out just how traumatic the experience can be but our partners carry it with them long after our babies are born. I don’t think I would be truly able to appreciate what he went through and what he did for me without these photos. I will always be so grateful to Lauren for what she did for us in that room and what her photos have given me. I have watched this video multiple times and still can’t get through it without crying. Having Lauren there was the best decision we made to ensure we can look back on this day and actually remember what we went through