Birth Story: ‘There was no time for the epidural to work’

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After a complicated birth with her first baby, Annaliese was understandably nervous when, just eight months later, she found out number two was on the way.

But little did she know that she had an angel watching over her. And while it wasn’t all smooth sailing, there was a happy ending.

“My firstborn son Taj was born October 2019,” Annaliese told Mum’s Grapevine. “With his pregnancy, I had low Papp-A, which led to low birth weight. His balloon induction started at 37 weeks on the dot, he arrived 37+2 weighing a tiny 2320g and spent 24 hours in special care.”

Baby number two on the way

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Despite the traumatic birth, six months later Annaliese and her partner Nathan decided to start trying for another baby. And just a few weeks later, they were surprised to find they were expecting.

“Nathan has a son to a previous relationship and after TJ we so desperately wanted a little girl to complete our family. We were so sure it would be another little boy. And when we got the call from my GP with the NIPT test results, and she asked why we wanted a girl so bad with a ‘You’re going to be disappointed’ tone in her voice, we thought she was definitely going to say it’s a boy.

“But, she said, ‘I’m just stirring, you got the GIRL!’ We were ecstatic, we both cried and couldn’t wait to tell all our family and friends.”

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Annaliese was convinced that she would have another Intrauterine Growth Restriction baby and that her pregnancy would once again be fraught with worry. “But I was proven wrong with all the extra scans we had to see she was growing perfectly.”

While the Victorian mum wanted to experience a ‘natural’ labour, dreading the idea of another two-day induction process, she was also terrified of the unknown. “I spoke to the OB and asked if we could induce at around 39 weeks, due to limited options of someone to watch TJ last minute and the stress and anxiety it was causing me about going into natural labour. He agreed and we were booked in for 39 weeks on the dot.

“I had prodromal labour for a few weeks leading up to the induction, but nothing came of it. On the day of the induction booking (March 19), we went into hospital with all our bags and waited to be examined. The prodromal labour had done its job and I was already 3cm and was highly favourable for induction with no need for a balloon or anything. But because it was so busy on the ward and my reasons for induction weren’t health-related to me or baby, we were sent home. They told us they would get us in as soon as they could and to call back later that night to see if it was quieter.

“I went home feeling super deflated as I was mentally prepared to get things going but I could understand there were women with needs more important than mine that needed to come in before me.”

On again off again

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Annaliese called the ward that night, but there was still no room so she’d have to wait until the morning to call back. “I got up at about 5 am the next morning, the 20th of March, and was again told, ‘No luck at the moment, try again at lunchtime. So I do that and yep, you guessed it, was turned away again. Safe to say by now I was frustrated and emotional and just really wanted to get the ball rolling.

“I called back at 6 pm that night as they asked and was told it’s not looking like it will be today at all. I asked to speak to the head midwife on that night and explained to her my situation and frustration and she said she would see what she could do and to leave it with her. I got off the phone feeling incredibly flat and wondered whether I should just cancel the whole induction and wait for nature to do its thing even though it wasn’t what suited me or my family.

“To my surprise, I got a call back from the head midwife at about 7:30 pm and she told me, ‘We’re good to go if you can get here at 8 pm’. We rushed around dropping off our toddler and making sure we had everything and arrived at 8 pm ready to roll.”

It wasn’t until they reached the hospital that Annaliese realised her baby’s birth date was going to be a special one.

“I realised that the next day, the 21st of March was my nanna’s birthday. My nanna was my best friend and she passed away in 2018. She never got to meet either of my kids but I tried to tell myself that all this is happening because Nan is pushing it off, hoping she’ll be born on her birthday. Thanks Nan!”

A very special birth date

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After being hooked up to the monitor for half an hour, Annaliese had her water broken, and it was action stations. She assumed she was in for another long labour, so held off asking for an epidural. “I got an epidural with my first birth after being stuck at 4cm for five or so hours, and my birth with him was peaceful, pain-free and incredible. So this time around I knew I wanted the epidural again but just wanted to wait and walk around and bounce on the ball for a bit before getting it.

“Safe to say, things moved ALOT quicker this time around. Up until about 11 pm I was coping so well with the contractions, they felt so different this time, more like period cramps so I thought we were still so far off but come 11:15 pm I was in pure agony. I tried the gas, it helped for a little bit but by midnight I was screaming for the epidural. Just for some insight, I almost fainted getting my first and only tattoo, which is a tiny anchor on my wrist, I don’t cope well with pain!

“The midwife checked how far I was and to my surprise, I was already 6-7cm and stretchy so there wasn’t long to go. She said I could get the epidural if I wanted to but we’re so close now. I requested to go ahead with it and she made contact with the anaesthetist. What felt like hours went by and finally at about 12:45 am the angel arrived with the good stuff. While trying to stay still during contractions and pain I had never actually felt before I felt I was getting closer.

“I could feel the baby’s head pushing down onto the bed with every contraction and my body was naturally starting to push all while the needle was half in my back! We didn’t get time to add the two other doses because I screamed, ‘SHE’S COMING!’ and the anaesthetist said we can’t finish this. I rolled onto my back and felt my body pushing, I was so scared because the epidural hadn’t even kicked in yet.

“I didn’t feel all this with my first, I couldn’t even feel myself pushing last time, yet here I was, birthing my baby girl with just a bit of gas and an epidural in my back that is completely useless. It was the longest 12 minutes of my life pushing. The whole experience was traumatising because I expected to be pain-free again. But, at 1:09 am, on the 21st of March 2021, my little girl screamed for the first time, and what a set of lungs on her!

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Birth story Annaliese Groves

“Our Stella May Maree was here, named after her great nanna and born on her birthday! She weighed a healthy 3180g and took to the breast for her first feed like a champ. While I was loved up for a short while, it was time to birth the placenta, and remember, I never felt this with my first birth, I never pushed and never felt any pain. But this time, I had to get Nathan to take Stella because the pain I was in was next level.

“I managed to birth the placenta and started losing a fair bit of blood. All up I lost three cups and had I have lost another cup, it would have been classed as a haemorrhage. As I was birthing the placenta the epidural finally kicked but only worked on my right leg. It didn’t take any pain away from where it was supposed to and I spent the next 10 hours not being able to move my right leg.

“After 11 hours in the hospital, I signed myself out so that I could get home to my first baby. The protocol with an epidural is 12 hours but I felt good enough to go and just wanted to take my new baby home to meet her big brother because with covid no one could visit.”

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