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Episode 352

Laura

In episode 342 Laura details her experience with gender disappointment, a confronting experience that she never anticipated but one that she shares without reservation. After being diagnosed with placenta previa, a scan at 32 weeks revealed that she had a shortened cervix. Bed rest and progesterone pessaries definitely helped and she was induced at 37 weeks and experienced a quick and positive vaginal birth. She fell pregnant with her daughter two years later and regular scans showed that her cervix was shortening quite quickly so she went on strict bed rest at 23 weeks. Thankfully she remained pregnant till 39 weeks and used the TENS machine and breathing practises to navigate a quick labour.

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“We conceived Zephaniah quite easily. I knew that I wanted to go privately but that was without knowing what my other options were. I’d heard good things about my local private hospital but I didn’t know much about birth options. I chose a private obstetrician and I saw her just before 12 weeks. I was in survival mode with awful nausea and she was just so kind and I felt like she was a really good fit for me. We opted to have the NIPT to look for chromosomal abnormalities and to find our the baby’s sex.

“When I received the results, I couldn’t stop crying; I was crying because I was upset he was a boy. Christian comforted and reassured me but as the days went by, I was still upset that I was having a boy. My reaction scared me and I couldn’t work out why I felt that way. I went on to google to look for resources about gender disappointment but I couldn’t find anything. I felt guilty that I felt the way I did and I felt like a horrible person. I had a deep predisposition to wanting a girl. I had a lot of conversations with people around me and I think the loss of my two nephews from SIDS definitely concerned me and I had a complicated relationship with my brother at the time. I spoke to my mum and she emphasised how much she wanted a grandson. After about four weeks of considering it, I realised that I was ready for this baby boy, he’d already sent me down a path of deep thought, a path I didn’t know I needed to go down. Once I accepted it, it was so easy to connect and bond with him.

“At the 20 week scan I was diagnosed with grade 3 placenta previa which meant I couldn’t have intercourse or an internal examination because it increased the risk of placental rupture. At 28 weeks I had to reduce my workload because I’m an occupational therapist and it is active work. I opted to have a few appointments with the public hospital in case I did need to transfer there and they were a lot more conservative in their medical advice. Thankfully the placenta moved out of the way at 32 weeks but at that ultrasound they noticed that my cervix had shortened and was effaced so my obstetrician recommended that I stop work immediately because I was at risk of premature labour.

“The day after my baby shower – at 33+2 – I had a few symptoms that my obstetrician had warned me of. I called the birth suite and I couldn’t really explain what I was feeling but they encouraged me to go in and get checked over. The midwife did an internal and I was 3 cm dilated. My obstetrician came in and she reassured me and put me on medication that stops contractions as well as progesterone pessaries to stop the cervix from dilating. She did tell me that both medications weren’t foolproof; there wasn’t evidence to suggest that they would stop labour. She just recommended bed rest. I stayed in the hospital that night and heard so many women screaming and babies being born and the next morning the midwife came to see me and I admitted I was so nervous. It was at this point that I discovered Australian Birth Stories and it made me feel less alone. I had no idea how beautiful and helpful listening to birth stories was.

“I rested and Zephy stayed put till 36 weeks which was when I came off medication. I was allowed to return to normal activity and could walk for thirty minutes at a time. At 37+2 my waters broke and it was such a thrill to have reached full term. I called the hospital straight away and they encouraged us to come in. They confirmed it was my waters and my obstetrician gave me a few options; stay and wait for labour or go home for 12 hours and come back in for a review. We opted to go home but nothing happened and every 12 hours I was in and out of hospital for review. I eventually agreed to induction with the syntocinon drip and the midwife encouraged me to rest but it all happened very quickly.

“Within thirty minutes I had my first contraction and they were coming quite fast and they were really strong. I couldn’t get in the shower because of the monitor and everything felt so uncomfortable. I was on all fours when the midwife told me I was 10cm so I got in the shower and my obstetrician came in and guided me with my pushing. I could feel his head but I couldn’t get him out so after 40 minutes I got cold and tired and that’s when my obstetrician encouraged me to get on the bed, on all fours, and I collapsed onto the pillows between contractions. I pushed for almost two hours but with that final rush of strength and adrenaline and out he came. That feeling of meeting your baby…I’ll never forget it.

“He was a bit gurgly when he was born so they took him to the resus table and my obstetrician stitched up a small tear. I was shaking with adrenaline, my legs were rattling and then I got so hungry so I ordered food and enjoyed the first few hours with my little boy. I stayed in hospital for four nights because once my milk was in I was finding it really hard to latch him so I’m glad I stayed a bit longer to get that support.

“I breastfed Zephy till he was over two and I got my period back at 18 months. From then on we decided to start trying and we used a specific method to conceive a girl; it’s called the baby dust method so I ate certain foods, I avoided foods high in potassium and sodium and I checked my ovulation and had sex once. The method recommends that you don’t breastfeed because it can affect your cycles. We did it for two months but my ovulation dates were all over the place so we decided on the next month just to try without rules and we actually did conceive a little girl.

“It was the easiest decision to go back to my obstetrician and she opted to do fortnightly scans to measure my cervix. At 23 weeks it rapidly shortened and I was at risk of premature labour so I was put on strict bedrest which meant I couldn’t lift my son, I couldn’t breastfeed, nothing could go inside the vagina and I couldn’t work. I also went on progesterone and if that didn’t work the plan was to have a cervical stitch. I saw another specialist and he thought I was too far along to have the stitch which was disheartening. Luckily at 25 weeks my cervix extended to the normal range which meant I could return to work and normal activity. At 33 weeks my obstetrician made the decision to stay on the progesterone till 35 weeks but I didn’t need any more scans. I went into labour at 39+5 and I had been quite frustrated that I was still pregnant at 39 weeks.

“The contractions built up slowly through the day but once Zephy was in bed I got in the shower and they started coming on so strong. I did The Birth Class and I had printed the booklet and written my birth preferences. I loved the TENS machine and Chris put pressure on my hips which was really helpful. We arrived at the hospital and I was 8cm. My obstetrician was on her way and I needed to go to the toilet but the midwife advised me not to. I was 10cm when my obstetrician arrived but I didn’t have the urge to push but because my waters hadn’t broken it was a really strange sensation. She offered to break my waters and I agreed and it was so painful but it felt so much better; I could feel it all. I did one big push on the bed and trusted my body and Aslan’s head popped out. Then she was born and she was on my chest and it was so beautiful.

“When the placenta was birthed I lost quite a bit of blood. I had Azlan on my chest the entire time and they were pushing on my stomach and everytime they did a big gush of blood would come. They gave me specific drugs through the cannula and my obstetrician started talking about needing to go to the theatre. I had 12 syringes of expressed colostrum if I did need to be separated from her but thankfully the bleeding stopped and we transferred to the postnatal ward.”

Topics Discussed

Bed rest, cervical insufficiency, gender disappointment, Induction, Placenta previa, Private obstetrician, progesterone pessaries, shortened cervix, Two Vaginal Births

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