Birth story: ‘After three losses, I finally held my son’

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Bridget Henry Birth Story

After marrying in 2016, Bridget and Scott were excited to start a family straight away. While they certainly didn’t expect things to be smooth sailing all the way, they certainly didn’t expect the fruit salad of challenges they faced as their pregnancy progressed.
Over the next six months, Bridget would fall pregnant three times only to lose all three babies within weeks.

Bridget shares the challenges they faced leading up to the birth of their first son with Mum’s Grapevine readers.

“After my second miscarriage, I requested a referral to see a private obstetrician but there was no time to see him – I was pregnant again!”

The pregnancy was to last, and Bridget made the appointment to see the obstetrician.

“There was nothing in my family history to suggest we’d have problems. So when my obstetrician ordered a slew of tests, I remember him saying that the odds would have the tests come back inconclusive, and my three miscarriages were put down to just bad luck.”

Bridget wanted answers. “If we had an identifiable cause, it could at least be treated,” she said.

“It turned out I had several factors that weren’t allowing a pregnancy to progress. I wasn’t absorbing folate, possibly causing neural tube defects. I had uterine polyps, increasing my risk of miscarrying. I had low progesterone – the hormone that sustains pregnancies. I had a blood clotting disorder relating to the MTHFR gene mutation, which may have been causing tiny blood vessels in the placenta and cord to become blocked. And on top of that, my AMH hormone levels indicated a very low egg reserve.

“A month later I had surgery to remove the polyps and was taking folate, progesterone, and blood thinners. I recovered from surgery and kept plodding along, still picking up the pieces of my shattered heart”.

My dog started sleeping on my side of the bed

“Another month passed. Then one night my dog who usually sleeps on my husband’s side of the bed was suddenly very protective and clingy all of a sudden. He’d done this at the start of my previous pregnancies – even before the HCG was high enough to be detected on a pregnancy test. So I took a test on my birthday and saw those two magical lines”.

Bridget Wilson 10 week scan

“My pregnancy was managed with medications and progressed well. Mild reflux, and some joint and back pain, but nothing out of the usual. As you can imagine, my mind was full of worry that this pregnancy would too end in heartache, but as each week edged closer to viability I began to relax.

“I remained under the care of my amazing obstetrician and found the continuity of care invaluable. With my losses, my medical conditions, and all the medications, I needed to know that my medical team knew my case. I didn’t want a rotating doctor or midwife to be learning my history from a chart, especially at the last minute.

Bridget Wilson Birth Story

I felt a pop in my abdomen

“I joked that I’d go into labour at 38+5, as that was the day my obstetrician was five hours away in Bundaberg, and it was the last day of the school term, and we’d need to battle school holiday traffic on the Bruce Highway in roadworks to make it to the hospital – Murphy’s Law.

“So at 38+5, just as I was falling asleep at 5 am after a long night of insomnia, I felt a pop in my abdomen and thought surely my water had broken. But there was no fluid. I went to the toilet. I wiggled. I walked. I squatted. Nothing. It HAD to have been my waters breaking; it was unmistakable!

“After calling a midwife a few hours later, they said that the pop could absolutely be membranes rupturing, and there should have been fluid leaking by now. It turned out my son’s enormous head was blocking the fluid from escaping, and after eight nervous hours, he finally moved and the fluid was released.

“In the early afternoon, my neighbour happened to notice I was rubbing my lower back – she told me I was having contractions even before I realised it!

“Contractions ramped up my labour progressed quickly, with never more than three minutes between the start of one contraction and the start of the next. We ran the rat race to the hospital, snaking our way off the highway and shortcutting in and around traffic as best we could.

“On arrival, we were promptly taken straight to a birthing suite. My midwife, Tara, helped me into all the different positions – shower, squatting, on the toilet, leaning over, in the bath, on the bed, on my side. She knew the baby was right there, but moving very slowly.

“I struggled with changing positions. I felt almost paralysed and strained each time I tried to move into another position. I tried the gas, but it did nothing for pain relief and made me want to keep my eyes closed. So I dropped the gas soon after.

“I pushed for more than three hours, and then my baby’s heart rate plummeted. We needed to get this baby out. I was exhausted. Speeding back from Bundaberg, my obstetrician arrived and finally, my mind relaxed knowing I was in his care. An episiotomy and ventouse later, and I finally had my little boy in my arms. This was the first moment I really let myself believe I was finally a mum.

Bridget Wilson Henry

“Henry Arthur was born at 8:55pm weighing 4kg, measuring 53cm, with a whopping 38cm head – No wonder he’d been stuck!

“Recovery was rough. Henry’s head had been putting pressure on my nerves for so long, that they’d become desensitised. And for a few months after I lost the sensation of needing to pee and would have to consciously take myself to the bathroom, otherwise, I’d end up in too much pain from a full bladder. The episiotomy scar thickened and ached for months, but eventually, that too subsided.

Breastfeeding was so painful

“Breastfeeding is the most painful thing I have ever endured. Henry dropped from 90th percentile weight to 40th, but I was told by my midwife, GP, and lactation consultant to keep breastfeeding, keep breastfeeding, keep breastfeeding. Each feed would be toe-curling pain and full of tears.

“Henry couldn’t extract milk well, so he’d feed for hours and hours without much success. When I joined a mothers’ group, I was legitimately surprised that other mums could feed without pain, and even found it convenient and enjoyable.

“It turned out that aside from a poor latch, Henry had laryngomalacia – low muscle tone in his neck and throat. We found out at about four months, but he was already growing stronger. I ended up with nipple blebs, or blockages, which caused razor blade sensations for weeks. I battled on and still have recurrent blebs, but they are managed now and I know how to treat them. Feeding definitely wasn’t a smooth ride for us, but we got there in the end.

“Henry has grown into the sweetest, most gentle little soul. He tells me that I give him joy in his heart. I am beyond grateful for his presence in my life every single day.”

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