A birth story – by Amy D
Healthy baby + Healthy Mother = Successful Birth right?
This could not be more WRONG, for so many women.
I have no physical injuries from the birth of my son 2 years ago for which I am so grateful for, but the scars are endless, and only just starting to heal.
I had my heart set on a drug free, natural birth in the birthing pool at the birth suites in Mater Hospital in Brisbane, with my Doula and partner at my side. I did all the prep with hypnobirthing classes weekly, and keeping active by working up until i was 35 weeks. This transition to motherhood was supposed to heal my birth, an emergency c section at 26 weeks as my mother could no longer breathe for the two of us. She died of a lung condition when I was 11 months old, so this was my chance to make it all right.
I was under the GP shared care program and at my 34 week check up I was urged to take a urine sample to check for protein, as I had an Odema on my right foot and slightly high blood pressure. I was told to ‘not rush, but go to the Mater Mothers Hospital today’ . My Doula came with me and I was admitted to hospital with pregnancy induced hypertension and was told I would be induced the next day.
My dream of changing the story of my own birth was shattered and I was devastated, as I knew full well that once the ball of intervention started, it would gather speed and size and would grow out of control. I felt bullied, scared and not listened to. Just another number with no chance if individualized care. The obstetricians were very unhappy at my choice to be monitored rather than induced, as I knew that at that time, my body and my baby were fine.
The swelling in my foot had disappeared with a low dose of blood pressure medication and my blood pressure was just a little high, made higher at the time due to my white coat syndrome. I have always had very sharp reflexes, and have for as long as I remember. The Dr tested them and concluded I had early onset pre eclampsia and kept me in for 4 days, with testing every few hours day and night. I had no rest. They did not listen to the fact that I knew my body. I wish I had known to ask them to check my elbows, as elbow reflexes are not affected by pre eclampsia.
Every day, more than once, a team of doctors stood round my bed trying to coerce me into an induction that day. They used fear tactics and told me daily that my baby could die if I did not induce today. All the while my body told me we were fine. I had no headaches, no swelling, no blurred or flashy vision. All I needed was to be left alone to rest. I knew the procedure in the UK was bed rest and home monitoring. Why couldn’t that happen here?
I managed to get discharged at 36 weeks under the condition that I come in daily for monitoring. 5 hours a day I spent in waiting rooms, being hooked up to various machines, ultrasounds, taking blood EVERY day for 2 weeks. And being told everyday that I was wrong and that my baby could die if I didn’t induce each day. I was exhausted and broken and the staff were getting increasingly frustrated with my polite decline for induction.
The fear tactics worked with my partner, who also did not believe me that my body felt fine and I knew our baby was safe. He became angry and frustrated with me. It was the beginning of our relationship breakdown as the trust we had in each other was broken. I finally agreed to be induced at 38 weeks, completely worn down, fearful and believing that I didn’t know my body or myself anymore. My partner and I went into the induction on separate pages. I felt unsupported and scared and wept and shook with fear as the obstetrician started my first induction via pessary.
I knew my son wasn’t fully engaged and I was terrified that when they would break my waters, the umbilical cord would come out first, leading to immediate emergency c-section. I had to be induced 3 times over 24 hours. I was not dilating as I was so scared and the contractions were so intense. I finally dilated to 4 cm 28 hours after the first induction and a lovely midwife was able to break my waters using fundal pressure on my belly to push our baby boys head down into my pelvis to stop the umbilical cord coming first. The intervention ball had begun.
I was hooked up to Syntocin at 7pm that night, afraid, exhausted and only trusting my Doula. I felt like the devil, the hormone was so intense and so different to the early labour I had felt the last 28 hours from the Pitocin ripening my cervix. It was hard and fast and not natural. I dilated 1cm in 7 hours with no pain relief. I wasn’t allowed in the bath as I was hooked up via IV, and the baby heartbeat monitor was digging in so painfully to my contracting belly it was unbearable. I sat on the birth ball and stood in the shower…I couldn’t do it anymore, they had beaten me and I asked for an epidural after 8 hours. I just knew our boy wasn’t ready, I wasn’t ready. It all seemed so unnecessary.
I was given the epidural at 3am and finally got some relief. The Drs outside were pushing for me to have a c-section as I was ‘taking too long’ but I refused. I could do this and the midwife changed for the 4th time during my labour. Thank goodness it did. This woman saved my birth. She got me a peanut ball and placed it between my legs and turned me over every hour to help our little boy down into the birth canal. We had to have a fetal monitor put on his head as his arm was up by his face and pushing against the umbilical cord each time I had a contraction so his heart beat kept dropping and the regular monitor wasn’t keeping the Drs happy.
That afternoon I was finally relaxed and trusted her enough to be fully dilated and his head was born at 1.37pm, 52 hours after I was first induced. I pushed our little boy out in 40 minutes, unassisted. I was exhausted and terrified and elated meeting him for the first time. He screamed at his daddy for so long, almost saying ‘I wasn’t ready’. He was fine, I was fine apart from a small perineal tear which healed well. I was transferred up to a ward a few hours later and was told I could go home in 2 days.
The nurses might have been busy but that night my colostomy bag fell and broke all over the floor as I was trying to get up to feed my new baby. No one came when I rang the bell for help. I had to waddle and shout for someone to help me from the doorway, embarrassed and in the new mum post birth fog. I was terrified that night I didn’t sleep a wink. 2 days rolled around and I asked when I was going home. The nurse asked if a Dr had been to see me and I had said no. No one had come to check on me or my baby.
My pregnancy blood pressure medication was not changed or checked so my blood pressure was still on the high side, and I was still taking the medication. I was so horrified and upset I asked for a private room after a lovely midwife told me that I had been discharged from the birth suite incorrectly and basically forgotten about and she thought I needed to know.
I was moved and put on the right medication but had to stay another 3 nights for monitoring. I just wanted to go home, I was so emotional and crying all the time. I felt like I couldn’t cope as my partner was at home with his 9yr old daughter. Finally, the Dr that admitted me a few weeks before came to check my blood pressure had stabilised and check reflexes after a few days of the new medication. She was shocked that my reflexes were still as sharp. I hadn’t been wrong, but my self confidence had taken a huge beating. I wasn’t the same person, and things got worse when I got home.
I was so obsessed that something was wrong with our baby, I was stressed, anxious and couldn’t cope. I felt like he should have a different mother, someone who wasn’t as useless and failing as myself. I felt I had failed my son, my mother and myself for the birth we had. My partner tried but wasn’t there for me emotionally. I was diagnosed with PTSD and postnatal depression and received some help and therapy over the last 2 years.
I fell pregnant again a few months ago and we sadly decided to terminate as our family could not go through any of those birth related traumas again. We are still not fully healed and I still have relapses at times of high stress. My partner and I are having relationship counselling and things are looking up, and more peaceful in our home. Our son is thriving and through his life everyday I am healing. He has shown me the meaning of unconditional love and trust and is the biggest reason to live and enjoy life. Even though it was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life, I would not change it for the world.
Amy Dominey Artist Biography
Brisbane based emerging artist Amy Dominey has been making art full time since August this year. Graduating from Birmingham City University (UK) with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Amy had previously taken a 10 year break from painting, claiming that art school stole her creativity. Mainly working with acrylic, and becoming increasingly excited by mixed media, Amy takes inspiration from mother nature, the feminine, the female form, energy and emotions. Much of her art is autobiographical and a response to female issues like childbirth, post natal depression, pregnancy loss, trauma and healing. A portrait of a woman may refer to an emotion linked to a personal event, or a scribble may resemble a recent argument or feeling of anger. Texture and markmaking all tell a story of their own, all through a very therapeutic process.
Her most recent work, ‘The Womb Series’ shows exper‐ imentation with abstraction, texture and markmaking to tell the story of the relationship between woman and womb and to give that a visual voice wirh the hope that other women can identify and relate.
Amy is showing work in a group show for International Women’s Day in 2019 at Netherworld, being published by online magazine For Women Who Roar in may 2019 and exhibiting a solo show at Greaser Gallery in
2019 and exhibiting a solo show at Greaser Gallery in Brisbane in March 2019.
You can view Amy’s work on Instragram.