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Episode 183

Jame Telfer

In this week’s episode I chat to Jame, a mother of three and the owner of @earth.blended. Jame lives on Gumbaynggirr country, is a proud Gumbaynggirr Nyami (woman) and she talks from the heart about her three births, including the trauma of emergency cesarean and the anxiety and grief of having a sick child with a life-threatening condition. While she had always longed for a natural birth, it wasn’t until she fell pregnant with her third son that she listened to her intuition and consciously prepared for a VBAC2, an experience that filled her with immense pride and left her in complete awe. Jame’s story goes full circle, from the shock of hearing she needed an emergency cesarean with her first to the redemptive and healing experience of birthing and delivering her third and then having the opportunity to bask in an uninterrupted golden hour with her newborn.

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When she was 18, Jame was diagnosed with polycystic ovaries and told that she may never have children. So two years later, when she randomly took a pregnancy test, she couldn’t believe it when it was positive. Her pregnancy was smooth until she was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia at 35 weeks.

“I woke up one morning thinking I had broken my ankle because it was so swollen so I went to hospital and they explained that I had fluid retention. They talked about pre-eclampsia but I was so young and I just didn’t realise, or I didn’t know how serious it was. I went back the following day and they explained that my blood pressure was really high and that if I started to experience headaches or blurred vision, I needed to come straight back to hospital.”

At work the following day she had a headache and started to see stars so she was admitted overnight for monitoring and yet still no-one explained the severity of her condition or the fact that an induction was inevitable. They administered the gel first and once she was 1cm they took her to the birthing suite, administered the epidural because they said it would help to lower her blood pressure and then they broke her waters.

It was Jame’s mother who noticed that the new midwife after the shift change was hooking Jame up to a third bag of fluids despite the fact that Jame hadn’t passed any fluid through her catheter. The OB promptly came in to tell her that she would need an emergency cesarean sa they feared her kidneys and liver were started to fail, a symptom of pre-eclampsia.

“I remember balling my eyes out and saying to my mum: I don’t want to die, I’m scared of dying!

She was wheeled into theatre alone and given a general anaesthetic and 35minutes later, her baby, Jordy, was wheeled out to her husband with no explanation about what had happened or how Jame was. Jame woke in recovery alone and was wheeled around to the ward and took a glimpse at Jordy before she fell back to sleep.

“When I woke up I was by myself and I looked over and saw my baby and I just kept pressing the buzzer till the midwife came and told me that it was my baby! I just couldn’t believe it.”

Once home, Jame suspected that Jordy had an issue with his breathing but regardless of how many times she took him to the doctor, she was told that it was most probably mucous that hadn’t been pushed out during the birth process. However, her intuition was right and when he was two-months-old, he was admitted to ICU and it was discovered that one of his heart vessels was wrapped around his airways.

“He ended up getting a tracheostomy and we spent the majority of her first year in hospital. I would stay by his bed for most of the night until the nurses encouraged me to go to my room which was attached to the hospital. I survived on hardly any sleep that year. The tracheostomy was taken out after his first birthday and he had an open stoma till his 2nd birthday which is when they closed it. We had support from our families during that time but there was no psychological or cultural support. It was all behind us until Jordy developed severe pneumonia a while back and that really triggered my anxiety.”

Jame fell pregnant with her second son, Tiger, shortly after Jorsy’s first birthday. Again, she had a very smooth pregnancy but developed high blood pressure at 37.5 weeks, four days before Christmas. The midwife wanted to book her in for a planned cesarean but Jame was adamant that she attempt a VBAC so she asked for an induction without syntocin (mandatory after cesarean) and after breaking her waters they discovered that baby was lying breech.

Tiger was born via cesarean and whilst it was the first birth that Jame and her husband had witnessed and subsequently, overwhelmingly beautiful, Jame felt a distinct disconnect in recovery and hated being away from her baby.

Jame suffered postpartum depression after birthing Tiger and her anxiety was constant; she was worried about something happening to him, she thought of ever possible scenario and found herself always evaluating the danger risks. She suffered a missed miscarriage shortly after Tiger turned one and soon after, moved back to Gumbaynggirr country on the mid north NSW coast, the place where she feels grounded, connected and whole.

When she fell pregnant with her third son, Rain, she was adamant that she would birth naturally. She was nervous when she first saw the OB at her local hospital and rightly so; the OB rattled off a list of risks associated with VBAC after two cesareans.

“I went home and did all the research I could possibly do and the more I looked into it, I discovered that with a third cesarean there’s high risks involved and yet they never mentioned that to me. I was listening to my body and I was connected and I just knew that this was how I was going to birth my baby.”

She was blessed by the matriarchs in her family, a sacred ceremony on country and at 40 weeks she went into spontaneous labour. The OB came to her room to warn of the risks involved with a natural delivery but she felt supported by the midwives and they allowed her to labour with a monitor placed on baby’s head.

“I really got into my zone and practised my breathing techniques, tuned into my body and laboured beautifully through the night. When she was 6cm dilated she asked for some pain relief, hated the gas and felt woozy with pethadine, but loved the walking epidural which allowed her to be relatively mobile without the pain of contractions.

When she was 10cm dilated the midwife held her arm and said: Honey, you’re having this baby.”

“And i just bawled my eyes out. I’d always felt this longing to have a natural birth and there I was, about to do it. I didn’t push for long, needed an episiotomy, and I lifted him up onto me and I was in awe. It was probably one of the most emotional moments of my life. I birthed the placenta soon after and we just sat there for a really long time, 2-3 hours, and he just moved his head and latched on perfectly and I just lay there feeding him. They left me, in my bubble, didn’t measure or weigh him, and I was in awe. I can’t do the story justice, it was such a moment. I went on to feed him for almost two years.”

Topics include: Pre-eclampsia, emergency cesarean, high blood pressure, VBAC2, Indigenous culture, birth on country.

Topics Discussed

Vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC), Indigenous culture, Birth on country, Pre-eclampsia, High blood pressure, Emergency caesarean

Connect

To find out more about Earth Blended and connect with Jame head over to Earth Blended

Episode Sponsor

Today’s episode is brought to you by Maternal Instincts by Amberley. Amberley Harris is a Melbourne based Endorsed Midwife in private practice with her own breastfeeding consultancy business. Amberley has over 10 years’ experience working as a Midwife in both the public and private hospital setting and is a proud co-producer of two small humans. With a highly engaged audience of over 21k followers on social media, Amberley is also a micro-influencer in the world of motherhood & maternal wellness. Amberley’s move to entrepreneurship was for two main reasons. Firstly because it was where she knew she could make significant, impactful change to global breastfeeding statistics and secondly because she could be philanthropic every step of the way.  Amberley has a 662movement, where it is her aspiration to help mothers learn how to successfully breastfeed over the first 6 weeks, so they can go on and follow the World Health Organisation guidelines for breastfeeding, including exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months and complementary feeding (breastfeeding and solids) until 2 years of age or beyond, this being the 662.  Amberley offers in-person Packages over the first 6 weeks of breastfeeding plus she does Digital Appointments with mothers interstate and overseas. Amberley’s content on social media, Packages, Appointments and Membership, revolve around her inspiring 662 framework. find out more: www.maternal-instincts.com.au

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