Birth Story: ‘I gave birth on the lounge room floor’

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Birth story Jess Wheatley FI

With barely a hint of morning sickness, Jess had loved every minute of her 30 weeks of pregnancy, until she started bleeding. Next came trips in and out of hospital, uncertainty, and the completely unplanned homebirth of a tiny baby girl.

“I had such a great pregnancy up until just after seven months,” Jess tells Mum’s Grapevine. “I was still mowing the lawns, going for walks, and stayed really active. Only minimal morning sickness – nothing out of the ordinary at all.”

A shock discovery

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With a couple of months left of her pregnancy, Jess woke one morning to find blood in her bed. “I panicked, I was scared I thought the worst immediately! My partner was at least 12 hours away and I didn’t want to worry him, so I didn’t bother calling him until I knew what was happening.

“So I called the midwives who told me to call an ambulance. I didn’t even have a pad on me as I hadn’t needed to use them in such a long time. When the paramedics arrived one of them was lovely enough to give me one of her own sanitary pads. After a short 15 minute drive, I got to the hospital and everything seemed to be fine and baby was still happy inside. I then decided I should call my partner. At least I knew I could tell him I am at the hospital but we are fine.”

Jess spent the night in hospital, but everything seemed to have calmed down. She was crossing her fingers that she’d be home in time to feed the animals, but it wasn’t to be.

“As the midwife came in to do the usual checks and asked if there was anymore bleeding at that exact moment I had started bleeding again. I was absolutely terrified and they rushed me to a birthing suite at just over seven months pregnant. I was not ready for this. They gave me the steroid injections and explained that it would help with bub’s lung development.

“They then tell me that they have organised another ambulance to transfer me to another hospital as they cannot take babies born under 32 weeks. So off I went in the ambulance to the hospital in Brisbane an hour away. They checked me out and said that they will keep me here under observation and see how I progress.”

“Something wasn’t right”

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Two days went by, with only a small amount of bleeding. But Jess couldn’t help thinking the worst. “My mental state being in hospital, just being a ticking time bomb, was not good. Not to mention this was all in Covid times and my mum and dad live interstate and my partner was away for work, all while we are building our first house so we definitely needed the money.

“It came to day six of hospital and there was talk of being discharged but someone had to be home with me. My mum came up to spend some time with me.”

But Jess had a niggling feeling something still wasn’t right. She told the doctors the baby felt very low. Even though it was her first baby, Jess knew it didn’t feel normal. “I ended up being discharged that day and they didn’t check me over, not even a scan, an internal, nothing! I wish I knew better to speak up. I had minor contractions on and off and they just told me to take Panadol so that’s what I did.”

The worried expecting mum went home, and her nesting kicked in. After being on bed rest for six days, Jess and her mum got to work on the baby’s nursery, washing clothes and putting together the pram. “Night came and I felt a little off, so I lay in bed and I felt the contractions coming back (I didn’t even know they were contractions), apparently I have a high pain threshold.

“I took some Panadol and went to bed. The next morning I woke up to the same scenario one week earlier – bleeding in bed. I woke up mum called the midwives and told them we would be there shortly (my hospital bag was still packed).

“I didn’t want my mum to reverse over our water meter so I got in the car to reverse it out of the front yard and that’s when my contractions became very intense. So back inside we went and called an ambulance while trying to get back in the door. That’s when I knew I had to pick a spot. It was going to be the garage but I couldn’t walk that far, so the lounge room floor it was.

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“The pain was worsening and I was so terrified and hoping the paramedics would make it in time. Next thing we knew mum was yelling, ‘SHE’S CROWNING!’. Then my waters broke. As soon as the waters broke bub was out and the placenta straight after!

“The paramedics came through the door and began CPR on my 30 week-old, 1.3kg baby! I couldn’t even bring myself to watch, I was still in shock, in pain, and just plain disbelief! Ninety seconds later the paramedic said she felt her little heartbeat start in her hand as she held her! This was at 4:40am in the morning. It all happened so fast!

Birth story Jess Wheatley

“Summer is now a happy and healthy cheeky 15-month-old baby. But I am so, so scared to have another baby. Next time I’ll be a little more prepared!”


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