Laura and her partner Dean were busy setting up their life together, finishing studies, building a home. A baby just wasn’t in the plans, yet.
Laura had also been told she’d need medical intervention to conceive, and was on birth control, so when she started to feel some pregnancy symptoms she wasn’t too worried. But it turns out Laura was already almost eight months pregnant.
A very quick pregnancy
Victorian couple Laura and Dean had been together for six years, and on the horizon was building a new house and getting married. In April this year, Laura had just finished university and their first house build was underway with plans to move in next year. Somewhere down the track, there would hopefully be babies, but not for a little while.
“We figured it would take us a long time to get pregnant anyway,” Laura explained to Mum’s Grapevine. “I have PCOS and was told I would need medical intervention in order to conceive. On top of that, I was taking birth control to help manage some of my symptoms of PCOS.”
Early in April Laura says she noticed a change in her breasts, which she mentioned to a friend. Her friend encouraged her to take a pregnancy test. “I was doubtful that I would be pregnant, considering I was on birth control, which I took at around the same time everyday. But I decided to buy a test to find out for sure … and sure enough it was positive.
“Due to my PCOS, I haven’t had a period since September 2018, so there was no way I could even begin to calculate how far along I was. I went to my local GP who palpated my stomach and informed me that I may be close to 20 weeks along, but will need an ultrasound to know for sure.”
Trying to process not only that she was pregnant, but possibly already into her second trimester, Laura got an urgent ultrasound booking for the next day.
“To my shock, I was already 28w+5d pregnant, with the due date of July 3, 2020. This caused my partner and I to panic, there was a lot to prepare and so little time to do it all. To our surprise, we managed to get everything done in time, somehow.”
A very long labour
Laura and Dean’s baby gave them a little extra time to prepare, with Laura going over her due date by a week.
“By this point, I was over being pregnant and just wanted the baby out (even though I had only known about my pregnancy for 13 weeks). Dean and I went top the hospital on the Saturday at 5pm, at 6pm the Cervidil tape was inserted. Throughout the night, I felt slight cramping but was mostly able to sleep through the pain without any pain relief. My birthing plan was to do labour without any drugs.
“At 6am, the doctor came in to examine me, then determined that the tape would need to stay in a little longer as my cervix was still closed and unfavourable. The doctor decided to leave it a little while longer, if it does nothing then they would start the balloon method.
“Within two hours, the cramping begun to increase, another check determined that my cervix was ripe enough and dilated one centimetre – the doctor removed the tape and broke my waters. The Pitocin drip was started. Straight away I felt constant trickling of water, when standing up, it was discoloured. It was determined that the baby had done a poo inside of me, but the midwives and doctors were not concerned about this.
“The Pitocin drip caused the contractions to come on quickly, and in an intense manner. My original birth preference was to do it without any drugs, no gas, no morphine and no epidural, but as the Pitocin got turned up, my contractions started to stack on top of each other with an intensity that I just simply could not handle as it was causing me to become too exhausted.
“By 10am, two hours after the drip started, I was at my breaking point – something that surprised me as I usually have a very high pain threshold. I started with the gas which helped me breathe through the pain, but I needed something stronger and decided I wanted the epidural. The anaesthesiologist came in to do the epidural on me, they put in multiple doses of local until I was mostly numb in the area, he then tried to do the epidural, and all three attempts he failed to get it in the right spot.
“The anaesthesiologist decided that it would be better for his colleague to do the procedure. This new anaesthesiologist attempted the procedure twice until he was happy with the placement – I remember him saying, ‘There is a lot of local in here, this may be difficult to do correctly’. As I laid down, waiting for the epidural to work, I could still feel the contractions, they were getting stronger and harder to breathe through. After 20 minutes, I was still in a lot of pain. This continued for a few more hours, being able to feel everything as the contractions continued to stack on trop of each other – it became clear that the epidural did not work.
“The anaesthesiologist came back and decided to administer fentanyl, this helped for a while, I was able to relax and get a little bit of sleep. Although, once the drug wore off, I was in more pain compared to before, I was moaning, crying and at times vomiting, It got to the point where I couldn’t move due to the amount of pain I was in. The anaesthesiologist was called back to my room and he decided to try to do the epidural again, to help me get into position, I was provided with the gas so I could at least be a little bit calm through the procedure. The anaesthesiologist tried to time it with my contractions, but they were happening constantly with hardly a break in between.
“He did the procedure a further two times. I am now up to having had the epidural done seven times, and it failed all seven times. The doctor came to check my cervix, after all the pain I’ve been in, I had only managed to dilate 4cms. Due to the drugs not working, I had to grin a bare it – I was allowed to keep the gas to suck onto whenever the pain got to be too much. After a few hours, the doctor rechecked me, I was 5cms dilated. By this point, I had been labouring for 11 hours since the breaking of my waters, and since I wasn’t progressing for the amount of pain and contractions I was having, the doctor decided to give it another hour before discussing our options. 8pm rolls around, it was determined that I am only 4cms dilated with my cervix swelling – bubs head was lifted and in a bad position, this means I was to have an emergency c-section due to failing to progress.”
Laura’s bad luck with medication continued once in theatre, and she had to be put under general anaesthetic for the c-section. While she was frightened because her partner would miss the birth, once she woke in recovery all Laura could think of was her baby.
“The first thing I asked was, ‘is my baby okay?’, thankfully they were. I had lost 1.3 litres of blood and had to remain in recovery for a little while longer. At around 1230am, I was taken to my room where I finally got to meet my daughter, Dylan Erinna Vermeulen. She is absolute perfection.”
(Professional photos: Naomi Seccombe Photography)
Read more birth stories from real mums
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- Birth Story: Diary of an accidental home birth
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