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Episode 167

Gemma Pranita

In today’s episode I chat to Gemma Pranita about her second pregnancy and birth with her baby boy, Iggy. Gemma is the first to admit that pregnancy is not her friend and while she had a challenging time in her first pregnancy (listen to the story in episode #66) her most recent experience brought her to her knees. She was overwhelmed with severe nausea and vomiting till 18 weeks, she then developed early onset PUPPPs rash which resulted in weeks and weeks of severe itching and subsequent sleeplessness and in her third trimester pubic symphysis and pelvic separation made walking very painful. 

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The start of Gemma’s pregnancy was an entirely different story. With her daughter, Raffaella, she spent close to two years trying to conceive, before she resorted to Intrauterine Insemination IUI (she describes it as a beautiful stepping stone to IVF). Gemma admits that unexplained infertility is a very frustrating journey and not one she would wish upon anyone: “You want to know what the problem is so you can find the solution and when you’re told there’s nothing wrong and you’re just in the waiting zone…you just want to bang your head against the wall.”

Fast forward two years and no one was more surprised than Gemma when she realised that her period was three weeks late. It turns out that Iggy was conceived on Raffaella’s first birthday and Gemma and her husband were elated (albeit also in complete and utter shock). One week after the positive pregnancy test Gemma was hit with severe vomiting that persisted well into her second trimester. She was able to stay in a better headspace this time round, simply because she knew that what she was experiencing was antenatal depression and yet it was just the beginning of her pregnancy hurdles.

She experienced four weeks of grace between the end of her vomiting (it turned off like a switch at exactly 18weeks) and the start of PUPPPs rash. She first noticed it in her stretch marks on her hips and before long she was covered – head to toe – in a rash that itches with such intensity, it feels like you’re being bitten by thousands of fire ants. She was scratching so persistently that her skin was bleeding and her Obstetrician let out an audible gasp when Gemma showed her the severity of it. After two weeks of little to no sleep, crying every day and persistent discomfort, Gemma started on steroid medication that, thankfully, started working nine days later.

The weeks leading up to her due date were anything but comfortable for Gemma, who developed pubic symphysis and pelvic separation. “Iggy was due on the 7th of Jan and I felt really motivated to get past New Years Day. The fires were burning in full force, it was such a bizarre time of my life and not celebratory at all. I was sombre and sad, we were also living with our in-laws as we’d bought a house and settlement was the 9th of Jan. It was a really weird time…I had crazy urges to nest and I couldn’t. They’re all first world problems but I felt really displaced, strange and uncomfortable. I wasn’t in a great headspace and I had to remind myself to take a deep breath,” she says.

Whilst Gemma hoped that her labour would start naturally, she set an induction date to ensure her OB would be present on the day. Coincidentally, she was induced on the very same day that the house removalists were booked so while her husband was unpacking boxes, Gemma’s mum stayed by her side for the first part of the induction process.

“I went in first thing in the morning and got the slow releasing gel but nothing happened for six hours. My OB came in around noon and broke my waters and she said that if contractions didn’t kick off naturally we would start a syntocin drip. Out of nowhere my contractions started on their own, I jumped in the bath, I was chatting with my mum, I was a few centimetres, everything was tracking nicely and it got to 3pm and my OB suggested that hubby should come. From the time that I called him to the time that he arrived, my contractions intensified; they were coming hard and fast and I couldn’t catch a break. And that’s when I decided to have an epidural. I got it and loved it! My husband arrived and we hung out, I had the loveliest midwife, we were all having a laugh, she checked me and told me I was 7cm, so we all had a bet on the time of baby’s arrival and then I decided to have a nap because we knew that Iggy would be born soon.”

Gemma woke to see her OB and midwife looking at the monitor with concerned expressions on their faces and they told her that they didn’t like the way her baby’s heart rate was tracking. Her OB examined her and immediately declared an emergency situation.

“I went from being in a calm, dimly lit room to the alarm pressed, lights on and eight people in the room. I was transferred onto a bed on wheels, adrenaline hit me and I was shaking so hard that I was convinced I was levitating,” she says.

She was quickly wheeled into the theatre without her husband, who had to stay in the prep room, and was terrified at the thought of being separated from him. Thankfully he was brought in just before surgery began.

“The tugging of the cesarean was intense, I felt like they were pulling all of our internal organs out. Suddenly my baby was lifted and he was born. He cried straightaway which was a relief because I didn’t know what was wrong. I was being stitched up and my arms were quivering uncontrollably… they put Iggy just above my boobs and I couldn’t see him because he was basically around my neck. I don’t know what to say about it, it was weird,” she says.

Gemma had to have a category 1 emergency cesarean because of a placental abruption (where the placenta comes away from the uterus and deprives the baby of oxygen). It’s an extremely rare occurrence and usually only happens as a result of physical trauma. She admits that it was an absolutely terrifying experience.

“I had this incredible six days in hospital, bonding with Iggy, it was everything I needed to heal. I got to know him on my own and it was really special. That said, managing a c-section scar was really brutal. Day 4 was the first time I stood up and it was like my body didn’t want to open up for me to stand up straight. The recovery of an emergency caesar was really hard but he’s 10 weeks now and I’m recovering really well.”

Images: Rachel Tagg

Topics Discussed

PUPPP, Placental abruption, Caesarean

Episode Sponsor

 Today’s episode of the show is brought to you by ErgoPouch. If you are yet to get your child’s Autumn or Winter swaddle or sleeping bag, don’t worry because ergoPouch Australia are still operating as usual online at ergopouch.com.au, with delivery worldwide.  Selected retail stores that are still open are also receiving regular stock deliveries.

And when we said they had your back we meant it; they’ve given us an exclusive heads-up that tomorrow the 7th April, a big Easter sale is starting and you won’t want to miss it.  You’ll receive an extra 15% off already discounted Outlet products, which is up to 45% off the RRP! It starts at 8am Tuesday 7th April on ergopouch.com.au and runs until Thursday, use the code EASTER15 at checkout when you shop.

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