By The Time I Turned 21, I was Pregnant and Married!
My life changed at a very young age. At 21 I fell pregnant and got married! I have suffered crippling anxiety most my life, particularly when I was young. Being a newlywed with turbulent anxiety and a baby on the way was so difficult to process.
Being young meant I couldn’t afford private health and so I delivered publicly. My pregnancy was rather uneventful, but it was drawn out to 10 days beyond my estimated due date and this is not uncommon in the public hospital system. I was booked in for my induction of labour at 6am. on the 10th April, 2009. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
The Second Stage of Labour
I really think it’s impossible to prepare for labour. Particularly when you are 21 and pregnant. 4 1/2 hours in and holy shit I was in a world of pain. “Please, I need the epidural” I asked as my contractions escalated. I waited 2 exhausting hours. By the time the anaesthetist arrived, each attempt to administer the epidural failed as my contractions were too close together. Between the anaesthetist getting nowhere and me howling in pain, my calm father (who was with me in the room and is also a doctor but kept that hush-hush) exasperatedly asked the delivery team to do a vaginal examination. I was crowning!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
The Ring of Fire
There’s a term for when the baby is crowning. “Ring of fire” – It most certainly rings true! My vagina felt on fire and every inch of my pelvic anatomy felt as if it were about to split apart.
It was at that point I had a flashback to my birthing class. There was emphasis to not panic at the pushing stage to reduce the risk of baby freaking out and baby’s heart rate sky-rocketing and you also risk tearing. Well, I’m 4”11 and incredibly petite so that advice wasn’t about to work for me.
With the faded hope of an epidural, delivering this baby safely became my focus. For 25 minutes I pushed like a warrior. My beautiful daughter arrived safely but I wound up with a third degree tear with a chunk of my cervix torn off. With no time to bond with my new-born, I was raced into theatre to be put back together.⠀⠀⠀⠀
Post-Birth and Postnatal Depression
The following days were excruciatingly painful but the emotional trauma lasted longer. Whilst I loved being a new mum, within me was a deep heaviness from my experience. I’m the first to admit that I allowed my pre-existing anxiety to scrutinise my delivery. I felt robbed of the vaginal birth I had hoped for. I felt failed as a woman because I “failed” at the second stage of labour.
Eventually my anxiety and a new baby was the catalyst to my marriage eventually breaking down. Anyone who has experienced this knows how turbulent this moment can be. Never did I expect to be 21 pregnant and married, nor did I expect to be 22 a mother and divorced. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Fast forward to today, I have two gorgeous littlies age one and two with my new partner. My daughter is now ten – This is how long it has taken me to prepare for the labour and delivery of new family members. For these two pregnancies, I elected to go private.
As an anxious person, this for me was the most methodical approach. I felt in control of my journey and guided gently but professionally by my obstetrician. That’s the part I loved the most with my last two pregnancies – I saw my obstetrician at every appointment. In the public system I met the Obstetrician twice; Once at 20 weeks and Once at 39 weeks to discuss induction of labour.
My pregnancy days are over, but my OBGYN will forever remain my gynaecologist 💗