36 Weeks & Reflections on Leo’s Birth

2.5 years since the birth of Leo and I’m just now telling his birth story. Well, not so much his birth story as a reflection of his birth while I organise my thoughts leading into this second birth, just a few weeks away.

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on Leo’s birth and my body over the second half of this pregnancy. I think I pushed a lot of stuff down, and as every new mum knows there’s not a lot of time to unpack the emotional stuff with a newborn and the level of demand which you can never prepare for. I realised I need to face some fears around this birth taking the same path as the last. So let me back track & fill you in.

I was so in my power during my pregnancy with Leo.

I felt SO good, so confident, emotionally and physically. I felt strong and ready, convinced a natural labour and birth was on its way. And then, just as I was feeling that Leo and my body were aligning themselves for his perfectly timed earthside arrival, my platelets began to decline rapidly. All of a sudden there was a shadow of fear – talk of a platelet transfusion and induction asap, as my platelets were continuing to drop and Leo’s size meant that vaginal birth would become more challenging by the day.

I felt like my birth experience was derailing before me.

As we approached Leo’s due date I stood my ground and delayed the induction, but the concerns were stacking up and my confidence was fading. So, we booked it in. The morning of the induction I had the platelet transfusion (for anyone playing at home, my levels at this point had dropped <50), followed by my waters being broken. With no progression to natural labour and with blood stores on hand in case of haemorrhage, I was induced, and Leo was born on his due date.

The birth itself looked like this: 4 hours of rapid and intense labour. His head got stuck on his passage out, and was freed by a twist from the hand of my obstetrician which allowed him to crown and finally join us in the world with the help of an episiotomy. A healthy 9 pounder, birthed vaginally, without epidural, and complete with a broken tailbone.

This pregnancy I desperately want to avoid induction. However concerns have already been presented to me that if this bub is big like Leo we may need to induce early to give me the best chance of vaginal birth because last time “9 pounds and a 36cm head was just about my limit”. But here’s the thing… I truly believe that had I gone into labour naturally, laboured gradually and as my body intended, Leo and my body would have engaged in the dance they were designed for and the gradual shifting and opening of my body would have allowed Leo to birth without getting stuck. It’s my deep belief that my body would not make a baby it wasn’t designed to birth, and that it was the intervention of induction that meant rapid labour caused him to get stuck, not him, and not me.

What’s more, I can also see clearly in hindsight that natural labour was actually absolutely imminent and I only wish I held my ground a few more days. My body had presented me with all the signals – I had lost my mucus plug and I was dilated 4-5cm 2 days before the scheduled induction (my Ob seemed quite surprised, “you haven’t had any cramping or anything?”…I laughed and said, no but I’ve been meditating A LOT). Ultimately fear to got me, at a time when everything is already overwhelming enough.

So where does that leave me now at 36 weeks? Well I’ve got a new Haematologist who is amazing. Young, female, mother, game-changer. She immediately put my mind at ease by telling me that with cases of ITP studies show that there’s actually no greater risk of haemorrhage than women without ITP, and that in many hospitals women with ITP are routinely birthing naturally without intervention. PRAISE. (What’s more, my Ob who is also young, female, mother, and very well educated on the most up to date research is in full agreement and on board with the Haem’s recommendations). She also discussed in detail why blood products should not be the first option in women of child birthing age, and she’d avoid another transfusion. So, the only concern then is that if my platelets plummet again, and I decline (steroid) treatment that due to hospital policy if something goes wrong I would be taken to theatre and caesar would happen under general rather than epidural.

At the moment, I’m working closely with my acupuncturist and herbalist to work on blood strength and Qi, which is such a fascinating holistic path to be on, and a path that’s seen my platelets remain stable – so far.

I’m not going to lie… As the weekly countdown moves toward a daily countdown I’m feeling anxious. But then I look at these photos from Leo’s birth and I’m reminded of how damn strong I am. That this story will unfold the way the universe intends. And ultimately how grateful I am, for all of it. Wish me luck x

*My beautiful birth images were captured by Exist Images. Ashleigh is a special human and I felt so comfortable having her in the room. I wasn’t sure I’d ever share these, but here’s to celebrating all that we are, and all that is. Life is truly magical.

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