My story really begins from 36 weeks pregnant. This is when the “challenges” began! Up until this time, everything had been going smoothly, and I was feeling fantastic.
Then, at my 36 week appointment with my OB, she informed me that a blood test she’d gotten me to do previously had come back showing I had cholestasis (where the liver enzymes and bile acids are raised and can become toxic for the baby, which runs a risk of affecting their heart, and could possibly lead to fetal death; a very rare risk, but still a risk).
I was not totally shocked as this was my second pregnancy, and I had had cholestasis, along with pre-eclampsia, in my first pregnancy. Just to set the background, during this first pregnancy, I managed to keep everything stable with health supplements and diet changes and ended up having a natural, intervention and drug free, hospital birth. Axel Riley came 2 days prior to his due date after a 28hr labour, and was born in perfect health!
Back to where I left off. My doctor was rather concerned, as my levels were a lot more raised than they had been in my previous pregnancy. She told me it looked like I would have to be induced early. I left her office in tears, I so badly wanted a natural and intervention free birth again and of course a healthy baby! I should just mention that I had no symptoms (itching, etc.) this pregnancy or the last, which is interesting.
We repeated the blood test at 37 weeks, and that came back higher again. That was it, I was to be induced the following Thursday, at 38weeks. I am a pro-active type and very much into natural remedies, so in the meantime, I was using high quality supplements (Neways) as recommended by a natural therapist, and again the diet changes (lots of raw foods etc). Before Thursday came, my bile acids had come from 13 back down to 8! The liver enzymes were also back down a lot too!
I was overjoyed, and my husband and I felt that with close monitoring, we felt at peace to cancel the induction, and take it all a few days at a time, hoping I would go into labour naturally. The drs were happy enough to let us do this as long as they could keep a close eye on things. One dr though tried to be very overpowering, and gave me such a hard time about it, and made me feel terrible. I stayed strong though, and kept to what WE felt was best for our baby.
By 39 weeks, all my levels were TOTALLY normal, and at exactly 40 weeks, my body went into labour naturally :)! I couldn’t have been happier.
It was just after mid-night, Tuesday the 24th of January 2012. I felt as though it was beginning, so I text my older sister Karen, who was planning to be at the birth with us. By 3:15am I knew it was the real thing, as my contractions were coming at 2 to 5 mins apart and lasting 40-45 seconds. I also lost a lot of my plug. I couldn’t sleep anymore, so got up, and finished packing my bags for hospital, and bounced on my fit ball during contractions.
At 4:30 I decided to lay back down to try get some rest in-between the contractions. I did get a little sleep which great! As soon as 6:30 came I started making phone calls. I called to let my mum know first, as she was coming to stay with Axel, my 22month old. And I also organised a visit to my chiropractor for later in the morning. Finally my husband woke up (he could sleep through a hurricane!). And told him that this was it – I was finally in labour!! We were both so excited. I kept myself busy during the morning organising Axel for the day, and concentrating on working with my contractions as they came.
Going to the chiropractor whilst in labour was rather interesting. Thankfully I didn’t have any contractions in the clinic, only in the car on the way to and from the clinic!
By lunch time, my sister and Mum had both arrived. I was very relaxed and was able to go into my own little space during my contractions. I showered several times which I found helped a lot. By 3pm, I knew it was time to get everything packed into the car, and leave for hospital.
At this stage, whenever a contraction came, I felt I just had to get down on all fours, as I was feeling a lot of pressure on my coccyx area. Into the car we all got, and drove the short distance to our local hospital, arriving at 4pm. I had been using a snorkel at home to breathe through and bite on, which I absolutely had to take into the hospital with me! The midwife had to ask what it was, to which I replied, “It’s my snorkel. Don’t laugh; it’s just gotten me through 13 hours of labour!” I was smiling inside thinking how funny it must have looked!!!
I stayed in my room for the next 2hrs working hard through some strong contractions (with the help of my snorkel, pounding my fists on the bed, and encouragement from my support team!). Finally I asked my midwife if she thought it wouldn’t be too early for me to get into the bath. I consented to a vaginal examination, to which she told me I was 8cm dilated, and I should “hop in now, and enjoy that water!” It was so lovely when I got in. I felt so relaxed and couldn’t stop smiling. It was just what I wanted, soft music playing, dim lights, my husband Dan by my side, my sister Karen watching on and doing a fantastic job of encouraging me, and my midwife sitting back and letting us go for it.
Not long after I got in the water, I had to go to the loo. My waters broke while I was there, and I knew it wouldn’t be long before our baby would arrive. Back in the water I hopped and immediately felt like pushing. I tried to hold back a bit and take it very slowly. I had second degree tearing during my first labour, which I was trying to avoid this time. Just 40 mins later, at 6:46pm, out she came with her left arm above her head and into my husband’s ready hands.
He handed her up to me (after getting detangled from the umbilical cord), and placed her onto my chest. It was the most beautiful moment!
We didn’t know what we were having, so I lifted her up to look, and said rather excitedly, “Oh, it’s a little girl!” The next few hours were just amazing, cuddling and breastfeeding her while we left the cord attached. My mum brought Axel in as soon as we let her know, which was such a precious moment. Axel was so in awe of her and is still so loving and proud of her today!
Ava Grace weighed 7lbs (3.195kg) and was 49cm long.