Evie Rose MacLeod
6th January 2023
Born at 40 weeks +2
Aberdeen Maternity Hospital
First time parents
Due to my severe Endometriosis, we needed a helping hand to conceive. We had been trying naturally for a few years with little success so following major surgery for endometriosis treatment we went down the IVF route. We were incredibly lucky that we fell pregnant first attempt.
The pregnancy was fairly straight forward; morning sickness, food aversions, insomnia, and pelvic pain. I had suffered a haematoma a couple weeks after our pregnancy confirmation scan. We thought the pregnancy was over, it was crushing, but after waiting 5 days to get a reassurance scan, they thankfully confirmed that our little jelly bean was growing well and the haematoma should not cause any complications.
Best decision for our baby
For different medical reasons we had additional scans. From early on baby was measuring big, so we had multiple appointments with the consultant to discuss the growth. We were told the scare stories of all the things that could go wrong if we were to have a full-term vaginal birth such as: 3rd-4th degree tears, shoulder dystocia, fetal distress, emergency section etc, etc. They gave us the options of early induction, early c-section or to do nothing and take the risk.
Thanks to Lara-Jo we knew our options, we knew not to be rushed into a decision and we knew how to make the best decision for us and our baby.
As the pregnancy had begun in an unnatural way, I had my heart set on a natural birth. Medical interventions could have major consequences for me because of my Endometriosis and previous surgery. The size of baby could have been 10% either way, meaning we could opt for early induction and the baby could be a lot smaller than predicted and we would have taken baby out before they were ready.
However, looking at the stats - I had been the 1-person in...1 in 10 women have Endometriosis, 1 in 100 pregnancies experience a haematoma...We didn't want to be the 1 in 200 for shoulder dystocia (or any of the other scare stories).
At the heart of our decision was what we felt was best for our baby, looking at all the information and all the options.
By 37 weeks the consultant was pushing for a decision, we negotiated with the consultant and chose to do nothing but review at 39 weeks. I didn't want to set myself a deadline to go into labour, it was too much pressure.
In the meantime, we put into practice the natural ways to induce labour, and I also had two early sweeps to encourage baby along.
Lara-Jo helped us see that no matter how the baby is delivered birth is natural and can be brilliant, this change in my mindset really helped me move away from seeing a vaginal birth as the natural way and that I wouldn't be less of a mother by delivering abdominally. We were then able to focus on helping our baby into the world in the best possible way.
When the 39-week appointment came, we had decided to book in for a c-section for a couple days after the due date.
Before doing the hypnobirthing course with Lara-Jo we both had thought that a birth plan was a bit pointless as they never "go to plan"; after the session we realised how important it was and got working on it straight away. It was valuable to have the discussion so we both knew how each other felt about the different options. We created a birth plan that covered both a vaginal birth and additional information if a c-section was required. We both learned it inside out.
Environment and brilliant birth partner
From 28 weeks I was having daily Braxton Hicks contractions, they got more intense as the weeks went on. We used the environment section of our birth plan in the final weeks of pregnancy to create an oxytocin filled environment. This got me through those final weeks as I was struggling to move around and was getting very uncomfortable. We spent the Christmas holidays watching good films, eating good food and practicing the meditations.
Kevin took over the comms with our families and friends because the questions of 'have you had the baby yet' were just too much for me.
His birthing partner role started as soon as we left Lara's course - we discussed every decision, we were open with each other about our fears and feelings, and we knew what was important to one another. We took every step together.
Off the scale
The scheduled day came, I was slightly disappointed that I hadn't gone into spontaneous labour but the main feeling that overwhelmed us was excitement.
We knew our birth plan inside out. We purposefully got to the hospital early, parked the car in a quiet spot and did a meditation. We were ready to meet our baby.
We were shown to a bay in triage, I got into the hospital gowns and we waited patiently. At this point we messaged our families to tell them that today was the day. We hadn't shared our plans with anyone in case I went into labour early or in case we changed our minds. I turned my phone off so that I couldn't be distracted. I wanted to keep the calm but excited buzz. We reiterated my medical conditions and our birth plan to each medical professional that came to see us; we wanted our music, a slow and gentle birth, ECG dots on my back, delayed cord clamping, skin to skin and to breastfeed. The anaesthetist was amazing, she explained the full process and I was confident that she was fully aware of my medical conditions. I asked her to talk us through what was happening during the procedure.
We waited, waited and waited... 5 hours later we got shown to a public waiting room as they needed the triage bed... We stayed strong even though thoughts crept into our heads of just walking out the door and wait for labour to start. We practiced our breathing and stayed calm.
We finally got called through. After spending most of the day waiting, once we went to theatre it all happened at lightning speed. There was little time to think so we were glad that we had memorised our plan. Kevin got taken to get his scrubs on and I was leaving my belongings in a corridor being helped onto the table.
The theatre was run by a full female team, they were incredible. I told the midwife our plan as the anaesthetist was prepping me. She was wonderful and supported us to get our requests.
As I was sat hunched over getting the spinal, the midwife and Kevin encouraged me with the long breaths to keep me calm. One of the medical team helped Kevin get the music playing in the theatre. As my spinal kicked in, I got spun round onto the table as our tunes started playing. The room filled with joy, the staff were singing and dancing to our music. I was overcome with excitement. I looked over at Kevin as he was holding my hand, I felt very safe.
The anaesthetist talked us through everything. I was getting shoogled around a lot and could see the surgeons over the screen, it looked like they were on a see-saw. Turns out they had to make more room to get baby out.
I heard her say that they had broken my waters, I was just watching Kevin. There seemed to be a delay in getting baby out. They were struggling to get the head out of my pelvis, baby's head was lodged. After lots of pushing and pulling the forceps were used to dislodge the head. When they got the head free the staff let out a cheer, a sigh of relief. There was more pushing and pulling, someone was actually sitting on me at one point! The anaesthetist said to me, your baby is about to be born! The excitement rushed over me and I said can I see?! They quickly pulled down the screen so that we could watch baby coming out.
They held up this massive baby, I couldn't believe that my body had created it! We were both so taken a back that neither of us noticed the sex of the baby, they just looked like a mini Kevin.
The next thing I heard was "I'm not waiting", the cord was cut immediately and the midwife was seeing to the baby. It felt like the longest time, there was no cry, at that moment I doubted our choice - had we waited too long, should we have waited longer, should we have waited for spontaneous labour. Then we heard the loudest cry, I bawled my eyes out with happy tears. The baby was stunned because of the struggle to get baby out.
Kevin went over to trim the cord and to see our baby girl. I cried some more. She got a check over, measured and weighed. Kevin had to help her be weighed because she was literally off the scales! She was 9lb 8oz and 55.5cm long.
They placed her across my chest; the feeling of her on my skin was incredible, I was overcome with happiness. The feeling was so new, but her movements felt so familiar.
The pink knitted had was too small for her head, and the anaesthetist was concerned that the weight of her on my chest would stop me from being able to breathe properly. She was finally in this world, there was no way I was letting her go. Plus, from doing Lara's course we knew how important it was to have that contact after a section for both the baby and for my milk to come in. We were transfixed.
I had hoped to see the placenta, but seeing the nurse use two hands to carry it in a plastic bag across the room to be weighed was enough for me.
As the surgeon was finishing up, she said to me that we had made the right decision to have a section as they struggled to get her out through the section wound, she said I wouldn't have been able to birth her vaginally, it would have been an emergency section. This was reassuring to hear in a way.
Kevin went to get changed and the staff came up to me individually to congratulate me, they were truly wonderful. The midwife helped me latch Evie on before we left the theatre, she was straight on and there she stayed for the next little while. Kevin had the biggest smile on his face when he saw us be wheeled into recovery and she was feeding already.
We didn't really get to have time just the three of us straight after the birth as there were nurses with us all the time. But by zoning out the background noises we got to enjoy the first cuddles together. Keeping the love flowing, making informed choices, and being heard by the team helped us to focus on the present and truly enjoy the moment.
The tea and toast after giving birth truly is the best thing!
We kept the oxytocin levels up when we got back to the ward. We sent out a quick message to the families then focused on our little bubble. It really helped with my hormone levels and helped with feeding. My milk came in within 2 days of having her, she was back up to her birth weight by day 10.
Even though Kevin looked excited and strong, he told me later that he was scared when he saw me strapped to the table, there was a lot at stake. He knew it was important to keep me calm so put those feelings to one side.
It is really important to know what you do and don't want so that you can make an informed decision when you are asked the questions, but also so you know what to request. There wasn't a lot of time to go through the options on the day, or even to know what is available to us and the impact those choices would have. Our birth plan and all of the techniques that Lara-Jo taught us made the birth of our daughter the most amazing experience in the world. The actual birth and hours after it filled us with the most incredible joy. It has set us up to have the best fourth trimester, our daughter is so calm and confident. The meditations and breathing techniques have also helped us through the more challenging days.
Lara's hypnobirthing course isn't just about how to breathe during labour; it supports you through your final weeks of pregnancy, helps you birth your baby and aids the transition into parenthood.