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Episode 346


In episode 346 Mikaela discusses her eating disorder and tendency to over exercise which prompted her body to stop menstruating. She was intent on conceiving so she stopped exercising, ate well and then fell pregnant within six months. Her first birth was positive and after feeling indifferent to breastfeeding, she was surprised to discover that she really enjoyed it and went on to feed for two years. Her second baby was diagnosed with omphalocele (when the bowel grows outside the abdomen) at her 20-week scan and after an amniocentesis and many specialist appointments, baby Macy was born via caesarean and had successful surgery soon after.

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“Isla was planned but it took us four years to conceive her. Within that time I was engaging in disordered eating and overexercising and my menstrual cycle stopped for a while there. I went to a gynaecologist who diagnosed me with PCOS but it didn’t match up with my experience. I left feeling frustrated and defeated so from then on I stopped all forms of exercise and dieting and my period returned within three months and three months later I was pregnant.

“It was so weird gaining weight, I felt really uncomfortable in my body for a while there. It was mentally hard not to fall back on those behaviours. I had a missed period and then I got pregnancy acne, morning sickness and tiredness but apart from that it was a smooth pregnancy.

“I saw my first GP for the first 20 weeks and then I was referred to the local hospital. I’ve got anxiety so I googled birth information which is when I found your podcast and we went to a class at the hospital. At my 38 week appointment I had to walk 1 kilometre to get to the hospital and when they took my blood pressure it was high so they scheduled me for an induction the next day.

“I woke up at 2am the next morning and my waters broke so I made myself a cup of tea and called Justin to come home from work. As soon as I got in the car to get to the hospital my contractions started and they were strong straight away. When we got to the hospital they hooked me up to the monitor and left us in the room and an hour later the midwife came in and encouraged me to get in the shower. A few hours later my mum arrived and she took me for a walk. I could have killed her, but she encouraged me to get moving even though I had to stop every few minutes. Once I was back in the birth suite I got in the shower and I was bent over an exercise ball just going through the motions. The midwife came in and checked me about midday and asked if I wanted the epidural but my mum told me I was doing fine without it and I agreed with her. I eventually got out of the shower and on the bed and I was on my back pushing Isla out. They wheeled out the biggest mirror for me to see her and I was like oh my gosh, my vagina! 

“Isla latched straight away. It’s funny because I was one of those people that thought I wouldn’t bother breastfeeding, I thought it was a waste of time and no one really does it anyway…but then I breastfed her for two years. I enjoyed it more than I thought and it was challenging at the start but I liked the challenge and wanted to make it work. We were discharged the next day and went straight into motherhood. I thought I was the best thing ever, I had a newfound appreciation for my body after what it had done so my postpartum body didn’t affect me

“I always knew I wanted two years between my girls. My period returned five months after Isla was born. I had a few chemical pregnancies before I conceived Macy. At my 20 week scan Macy was diagnosed with omphalocele which is when the intestinal organs are outside the body, through the belly button. We were sent to Brisbane Royal Hospital where they did another scan and we also met with a genetic counsellor who advised us to do the NIPT and to consider an amniocentesis because she may have trisomy 18 and may not be compatible with life. I was a bit overwhelmed at that appointment.

“The NIPT results took two weeks and it’s so hard to do normal life when you’re waiting for results like that. I also had constant nausea and exhaustion and low iron. I did put off lots of things in the pregnancy because I didn’t want to get too excited because I didn’t know what was going to happen. The results came back clear which was a big relief and then on the second appointment the scans looked good again and it was at that appointment that I opted for the amniocentesis and the results from that were also clear which was great.

“I was referred to the Mater Hospital and they were preparing me for a caesarean birth because there was a risk the omphalocele could rupture during a vaginal birth. They didn’t know the extent of the situation until Macy was born so the unknown was confronting. We knew she would need surgery but they couldn’t tell me how she’d be at birth or whether they’d operate soon after birth or later when she was stable. The doctor warned us that she may not have a belly button, either.

“I needed to relocate to Brisbane at 35 weeks so my mum came with Isla and I while Justin stayed at home to work for a bit longer. I thought I was going to go into spontaneous labour because we were out shopping and I started having mild pains but nothing eventuated. I was scheduled to have a caesarean at 37 weeks. My blood pressure kept dropping and I felt really unwell and clammy and as soon as she was born they held her up and then took her away. I was crying because it all of a sudden felt very real.

“When we saw her they had wrapped her abdomen up. They decided she was strong enough to have surgery on the first day so she went to the children’s hospital and it all went well. They got her bowel back in and stitched her up and she stayed in NICU for the first five days and I was discharged on day three. I remember sitting outside the hospital waiting for Justin to get the car and I just cried because it’s so hard to leave your baby in the hospital. She ended up being discharged on day 7 and we were just told to keep an eye on other symptoms.

“I highly recommend any pregnant women who have a baby diagnosed with omphalocele to join the facebook group Mothers Of Omphalocele (MOO).”

Topics Discussed

omphalocele, Amniocentesis, Two Babies, Eating disorder, Caesarean birth, Public hospital, Vaginal birth, Breastfeeding

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