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Corah (Host)

You are very welcome to the Ireland's Birth Stories Podcast. My name is Corah Gernon and I created this space for women to share all of the details surrounding their pregnancy, labor, birth, and everything in between. Without feeling shy about the detail. Sit back and enjoy over 100 hours of birth stories told by you, the listeners. Enjoy.

 

Corah (Host)

Hi there. I hope you all had a lovely Easter and enjoyed the long weekend. Thank you to those of you again, I've just had a really nice week of just lovely feedback. People taking the time to send me a message to say they really enjoyed the podcast or they're getting so much from the stories, it's being listened to all over the world. So nice and really rewarding. I put each episodes out on a Sunday night and then I honestly don't think about who's listening or the fact that it is listened to. So it's not until I hear your feedback that I realize  there actually are people behind the statistics and the numbers at the end of the day. So thank you so much for taking the time to get in touch. I really appreciate it.

 

Corah (Host)

So to introduce you to my guest this week, I share my chat with Brenda and Brenda talks me through her two experiences with birth and also suffering early pregnancy loss between her little girl and her little boy. Brenda opted to have a home birth on both of her pregnancies and the reason being she's hard of hearing and she speaks to me about suffering with deaf anxiety. So basically she would be nervous that she would miss her name being called in an appointment. She would be anxious that she isn't understanding what is being said to her, that she's not able to lip read properly, especially with her second pregnancy when there were masks being worn in the hospitals and throughout her appointments. So on both occasions she was actually transferred to hospital. I will let her tell you the reasons why and also how quickly her labor has progressed. Again. On both occasions she had amazing support with her midwife, Caroline, who thankfully going to the hospital with her first experience and was there to really advocate for her as much as she needed to. Last year I tried to transcribe all of the episodes. I really wanted them accessible for everyone, but cost was a factor and that the software I was using was rubbish and wasn't sensitive to accents or anything like that but I'm going to try again. I will at least give you one episode  a month that's transcribed on the website. I will do as much as I can to make sure that the podcast is not limited to any audience. So thank you, Brenda for sharing your story. I really appreciate it. Enjoy and I'll chat you all next week.

 

Corah (Host)

Brenda, you're very welcome. We are finally having this conversation.

 

Brenda (Guest)

Yes, we are. How are you?

 

Corah (Host)

Do you want to just dive straight in and tell us a little bit about you and your lovely family, then we'll talk about your births.

 

Brenda (Guest)

Yes. Hi, my name is Brenda. I am from Cork. I have two children and can't wait to dive in on those stories. To be honest, I feel like we've had such fun births. I am a sign language interpreter. I'm actually hard of hearing. So this kind of plays into a lot of my story and the difficulties of that's about me in a nutshell. So I'm just going to dive in.  So my first born, her name is Casey, and she will be three in July. Basically, at that time, we were back in 2018, we kind of said, you know what, let's start trying. We didn't really do the whole checking dates and all that kind of thing. We just said, let's not use protection and just go for it and see what happened.  Even though we were that kind of, like, blaize about it, it was still a little bit stressful. Month after month, nothing was happening. And there is that little part of you  that does get disappointed. Then towards the end of the year, , I was living in my partner then he's my husband now. We decided to move to Cork, back into my home house, my family home, and, you know, they say new house, new baby. So that kind of all happened at the same time. I was like eight weeks pregnant, having to move house. It was very stressful but it was a good distraction at the same time, I was like, I deal with that when I get to Cork and then decided to see a GP and confirm the pregnancy and all that. So I kind of started looking into the homebirth. So in a weird way, I was influenced by influencers on Instagram about homebirth. This started before pregnancy, i thought "that is something I would like to do" and I kind of had seen these Instagrammers. There were two in Ireland I had followed, and I was like, I didn't realize that was a thing that could be done in Ireland. I just assumed everybody had been in hospital. So this kind of, like, opened up a whole new door to me. And as I was saying before that, I'm hard of hearing  and one of my biggest stressors is what I call deaf anxiety. It's things like going to medical appointments and I'm sitting in a waiting room and I'm waiting for my name to be called. And I get so stressed and anxious. I have a history of anxiety and depression, so this just kind of adds another layer onto it. It's also when I meet new people, it's that battle of hearing. Am I making sure I'm getting the full information I need to?! Am I understaning  accents?!. And it was just the thought of all that in early pregnancy made me think about wanting to go down home birth because I would have the continuous care from a very few group. So, like the GP, the midwife, and I would develop that bond and relationship with them and being able to speak face to face and just getting used to their voices and things like that, it made me feel so much better. So deaf anxiety had a lot to play with when it came to my decision. Honestly, I can't say anything more about the service. It's fantastic. And I was lucky enough to be on the HSE. I cannot say enough good things about it. And because I'm fluent in sign language and I have a lot of deaf friends, actually, there's a group of women that I know, deaf females, who just were on the home birth scheme recently and were able to come and talk to me about my knowledge on it. That trickle effect, once you know one person who's done it, it kind of inspires other people to look at it. So I'm very proud of that. So then with Casey, the pregnancy was pretty good, actually had a very good pregnancy, a couple of issues with high blood pressure, but it was the first one, then the second one will be okay. So that was fine. Pregnancy was good.

 

Corah (Host)

Do you think that was due to environmental reasons?!

 

Brenda (Guest)

Yes, this was later discovered in my second pregnancy that they reckon I have white coat syndrome. So this is what I will talk more about in the next pregnancy, but with Casey, I think it was because I was completely in denial and I think that helped alleviate my anxiety. I knew nothing. Like I didn't know what was ahead of me, but I was so focused on labor.  I didn't think beyond that. I was like, Wait, let's get through the labor and I was always like, I've a high pain tolerance and I know that because I had spinal surgery, I've gone through worse. Sure I've done Tough Mudur with a prolapse disc, I can do this. I kind of had a great pregnancy, really great pregnancy. And then came the day of the labor.

 

Corah (Host)

So just ask you a question quickly. Did you do any preparation, any classes or hypnobirthing, yoga or anything like that?

 

Brenda (Guest)

No. Like I said, I was in complete denial. I was one of these people who kind of said, let's just go with the flow, see what happens. I looked into hypnosis with gentle birth, but at the time we had really bad internet and I had paid for the program and then I had problems with. I couldn't even watch a video so bad, I just did not have the data. And as well as that, it was all hearing base. And I'm very much a reader than a listener because of my hearing and it's very hard to find resources like that. I did look into Affirmations. Affirmations were a really good thing for me. I did like an affirmation board. I'm very much of, like positive speaking towards myself. But as I said, at the same time, we just moved into my home house, and there was a lot of work to be done. So I kind of kept myself distracted for most of the pregnancy. I'm not joking. I was plastering the wall at like six, seven months pregnant on a ladder. And my midwife is like, no, you shouldn't be doing this. That was my mentality. I was like, I'm fine. Everything is good. Total in denial. But that's just kind of how I face things in general. I deal with it when it comes to the same came for labor day. So it's 39 plus three or something like that I was very much checked in 40 weeks, and I woke up one morning and something just does not feel right. My husband was working the night before, so he wasn't home in the morning yet and I just had this feeling. I don't know. It's a weird feeling that I just can't describe even to this day.  I've experienced it twice. Your brain and your body are just completely different to how it normally acts. That morning as I stood up fluid came out of me. Again, totally not knowing how things should be I tried to avoid Google as much as possible because I just didn't want to go down that rabbit hole. So I rang the midwife and I was like, hey, I think things are happening. And she was like, okay, well, are you timimg the contractions? And I was like, she sadi "you should be". So again, just not with it at all. Just totally going with the flow.

 

Corah (Host)

And were you feeling anything at this stage? Did you have surges?

 

Brenda (Guest)

I had, yeah. So they were coming quite fast, actually, right away. It was like half six in the morning, and they were coming quite fast. So the midwife is on the phone to me, and she was going, okay, yeah, things are definitely happening, and they're happening quite fast. But you might not have the baby until this evening. So lets talk about your waters, what colors appeared?. I wasnt not really sure, but I think it's kind of like creamy brown. She's like, oh, okay, this could be meconium. Never heard the word in my life before. Again, total not knowing what things are. She said, look, if this is the case, then you're going to have to go to hospital. Home birth is called off, and I had total denial but it is what it is. That's always been the thing me and my husband say to each other. If anything, it doesn't go our way we just go " it is what it is, and we'll deal with that" and I like that. It keeps me grounded. Let's just deal with it. So then my husband came home. His name is Keith. He came home from work half seven in the morning after 12 hours shift. And I was like, yeah, I think we're having the baby today.

 

Corah (Host)

Did you let him know beforehand? Had you let him know at all?

 

Brenda (Guest)

No, it only kicked off. I have six. He was home, I have seven. I was on the phone to the miwdife the whole time and like, the poor fella hadn't slept since, like, 01:00 the day before. Keith got the pool set up. We had an old burka boiler of the hot water boiler thing going the hot tank on and he was like, you know what? Let's not fill it just yet until midwife is here, and let's see what's happening. I'm glad we didn't, because we had taken this all day. The midwife came, and unfortunately, she confirmed meconium  so that was it. She did a VE, and then because she needed to assess whether Keith could drive me or did she need to call an ambulance? I was only, like, 1 CM. So she rang the hospital and she spoke  to the emergency room. She said she had a  homebirth patient and hat was fine. They were like she can go in with her husband. He can drive her because she's only 1 CM. Then I decided that I needed to bring everything from the house at that moment. Like, I was just pacing around and they were saying, you need to go now. I  just wasnt  understanding the importance of what was going on. Anyway, we went in the car, got to the hospital, and went into the emergency room, and they checked me there, and I was 5 CM. So within 40 minutes, I had went from 1 CM to, like, 5 CM.

 

Corah (Host)

How did you feel in the car?! Was it managable?

 

Brenda (Guest)

Awful! Yeah. I'm knocking because I always knew I wanted to be standing. That was the one thing I kind of researched was positions. And I knew about tear and, like, the research behind tearing and letting gravity do its work. When you're sitting in the car and you're squeezed in that back because you had to put the baby seat in the car.  I remember looking at Keith going, do not go over those speed bumps  and of course, he decided to take the road that went over to speed bumps. If looks could kill him, that was the day he was going to die.  Things were going very quickly, but inside the emergency room, it wasn't a great experience. The home birth midwife is allowed to come in but they wouldn't let her in. She had to stay outy and wait.  It was myself and Keith inside the emergency room. I kept saying I need, Caroline, please, I need her here. She knows everything that's going on and because of my deafness I was just so stressed at that, and I kept trying to keep up  but repeat what they're saying, because how do women make decisions in the height of labor by themselves? I'll never understand, because your brain isn't there. Like, having an advocate, I feel is so important, and Keith is great, but he felt so useless, and we probably should have done more in terms of educating him on what to do in certain situations but we had Caroline and we had the midwife and she knew everything. She knew my history and she knew what I wanted, and she was well able to advocate for me. But the midwives inside the ER just were not  letting her in. I was like, bring her in and this baby is coming now. I need to push screaming at them. They were like, no, no, there's no rush. Like, in a minute, in a minute. I never felt so upset at how they spoke to me, like, as if I was a little child, maybe they thought I was being over dramatic, but I was shouting at them like, I am having this baby now. I need to push. Eventually, they let Caroline in and Caroline looked at me and heard me and immediately turned around to two midwives and said . "You better get her to the labor ward right now because she's going to have this baby. Two midwives went off and got me a wheelcahir basically because she said it,  that annoyed me, that really annoyed me. How they just didn't listen to me. I'm very in sync with my body, and I know that, and I've known that for years.  I knew I had to push, but they were like, completely like, no, you don't. This is the first time kind of attitude. Okay, yeah. Even talking about it now triggers. I can feel the anger from that. Anyway, brought me down to the labor room, and the midwives are trying to get me onto the bed, and thank God for Caroline. She was like, no, because she got to grab the monitor off and put the bed up high so I could stand because she knew how important that was to me.  I just can't believe how much of an advocate she is. I had to do nothing from there on. She took care of everything behind the scenes for me anytime. She knew exactly what I wanted on my plan, and it took that pressure off, and it was just me and Keith able to enjoy our time together. Not that we had much time because the baby came in 20 minutes. It's funny when you're talking about how things come back to you.  I was standing on the side of the bed, and this lady came into the room but she wasn't supposed to be in the room. She basically deals with the admin side of things. She is midwife, shouldn't have been in the room that day or something. She came in to put a monitor around me, and I was getting so triggered by her touching me.  She was trying to get this monitor on me.  Caroline leans down to her and goes, you might want to pull down her knickers. I think baby is here. Sure enough, she reached down and pulled down my underwear and there I was, crowning and she looked up. I said, Right. I didn't even have time to get to monitor on, thank God! And then my fear kicked in at that point. I started hyperventilating, and I was trying to get up onto the bed. I was like, I just can't get myself up onto this bed. Caroline got me the Cub, the Ushaped pillow thing to put my belly in so I could be on my knees. I still couldnt  get on up on the bed, keith was there just trying to coach me. He was like, "Brenda, what do you say about fear?" he could see me panicking. Then excuse my language, but I shouted, "the fear can go fuck itself". And I jumped up onto the bed. There was this kind of moment when I looked at Caroline and the other lady, and I'm going, what just happened? Like, I just jumped off onto his bed. I'm like, right, I'm ready, let's go but because I was kind of finding hard to catch my breath, they were like hyperventilation. So they gave me some gas but looking back on it now, it wasn't fear of going through pregnancy, I still remember this in my head at that time. My life is about to change as I know it. Like it was that fear of,  there's no going back now. I am having this baby, and my life is going to change. It was that like a Eureka moment kind of going, oh, no, this is it I have to care for somebody else. It was a very strange moment. And that's what I was panicking about. The idea of birthing a baby and what's next?  Anyway, baby came very fast, and I was the first one to pick up Casey and that was the best thing about having Caroline there is that I find with the home birth, it's very much that whole let me give  birth on my knees, and they caught the baby and put her down but then I was the first one, and I got her under me and pulled her straight up onto my chest.  I was convinced it was a boy, 100% convinced but it was just the best day, but the worst day of my life, you know what I mean?!

 

Corah (Host)

Were you able to stay in hospital for those few days or did you have to go home?

 

Brenda (Guest)

Yeah. That's the thing that scares me the most, is I was discharged after three days, and she was there for five days. So even now, I still find out how to talk about that. I still get upset about it. I think it's the most unnatural thing in the world is to leave your child, your newborn baby, and you go home. I don't think I ever quite much my life like it was Josh. However, my husband, he's brilliant for support. He's amazing. And when we got home, I was still quiet in my heart. He was like, run a cup of tea. He produces me with  a new cup  with MILF on it funny moments to remember, but I was so grateful that Casey, she was fine. She responded well to antibiotics however, for the breastfeeding journey, it was very difficult because Caroline, she's a lactation consultant as well, and I needed her at that time to help me with the first feed because there wasn't a lot of support in Neonatal. I felt like those supports they encourage for feeding, especially for neonatal but it wasn't kind of done in the right way.

 

Brenda (Guest)

I was very nervous about it. Wondering what am I doing? When my midwife comes up, grabs the boob and just sticks it in,  I'm like, ow, this is painful. Looking back,  a lot of things should have been done better. I didn't know enough about breastfeeding. I did do a breastfeeding class with the hospital, useless! What I know now, my experience now, it wasn't worth it. I kind of wish I had it on a private lactation consultant ones I follow on Instagram, who I know would be worth it again. First time lacking experience, not aware of all these things.  I'm still finding it hard to talk about the NICU situation, and I think it's because I put it in a little box and just left it there. Maybe I'll open it someday and talk about the whole experience, but I don't think I'm ready for that. It's still very raw, I feel the birth part, could have had a little bit of a better experience. That was kind of the damper of the whole experience. Yeah. I mean, it is what it is, and that's how we deal with a lot of things.

 

Corah (Host)

So when you got her home, then, did you just strip down with her, hop into bed, skin to skin, study her, get to know her?

 

Brenda (Guest)

Yeah, absolutely. Because I had such pain dealing with breastfeeding, I've never seen my nipples so cut up. It was excruciating but the best thing was having that homebirth service and postnatal care that is worth everything. Honestly,  I could have somebody there in my house watching me breastfeed my child and go, right, okay and then check the tongue tie and just making sure everyone's okay. So it was a position problem low and  behold then everything resolved then after that. Looking at how I am now with my second baby, first baby is a very stressful time. You're new to everything and you're constantly questioning yourself.  I think a lot of my anxiety plays into us. I wish I had done more of that skin to skin and been more relaxed but he didn't know any different, really. I didn't know any different with my first. So, yeah, it's funny just talking about it now. Like the feelings that are brings up again but you know what? She turned out to be a pretty cool kid. And the time just like.

 

Corah (Host)

Yeah, it really does.

 

Brenda (Guest)

She'l be three this year and I still have a hard time dealing with the whole new NICU situation. Yeah, it's interesting and I'll probably just put that back in this box now and deal with it another time, especially considering, I know, seven month postpartum with my second. So his story is a little bit different, very different and I don't know if it was me knowing everything from the first time and not being able to be in denial. So where are we now? Actually? Sorry, no. So in 2020 we started trying and I ended up having a miscarriage in October 2020, which was very hard because  October is the month of awareness of pregnancy losses in memory. I found that very triggering and really hard to deal with and it's a weird thing because I'd only known a week so it was that kind of like we're pregnant and then very early days of like, accepting like that first week and then had a miscarriage. It was very har  and because of the pandemic, I chose not to go to a professional. I decided to stay at home and just deal with it on my own. I'm glad I made that decision because during my second pregnancy, I ended up in the emergency room. I can't remember how many months pregnant I was, but I had high blood pressure and seeing the women come in by themselves going through a miscarriage in the waiting room, that still is a crazy time. Crazy, crazy time. Okay, so basically I got pregnant with Arden early. My years are mad early 2021. 

 

Corah (Host)

And did you feel anxious in those early weeks then?

 

Brenda (Guest)

Yeah. And I think it was a combination of pandemic, having a toddler, there was a lot of factors and the miscarriage really plays on your mind. Getting pregnant after a miscarriage. I mean, you're constantly even checking what you're eating.  It's just crazy and because I already have the history, it just doesn't help, you know? So with Arden, it was very different but this is where we were talking about the white coat syndrome.  I signed up to the homebirth scheme again, same midwife again. So I was very excited about that process and I thought, right, this is my time, I am going to have my baby. This is it.  I was like, yes, baby is coming home.  I was trying to be so positive about it, but at the same time, the anxiety again. This time I was trying to prepare myself what life would be like with a toddler and a newborn baby.  I was anxious about a lot of stuff and I think the pandemic and anxous  to be on my own all the time. I was able to have support and I said, Are we going to be in, locked in? Can my husband be with me for appointments? Can this happen?

 

Brenda (Guest)

Everything went smoothly. Twelve week scan was great. We ended up doing a private scan around eight and nine weeks so that Keith could be with me for the first time. The fact that I had a miscarriage, that I wanted just for peace and mind, to make sure everything was okay.  I think that the next appointment was twelve weeks in the hospital, but I didn't need to print it, so that was all fine. My blood pressure started acting up at home anytime the midwife came to the house. So there was a lot of issues around that  and there was one particular time, normally what would happen? She would come in and then we chat and then she took my blood pressure and it was high, she goes, okay, let's see if we can give it a try it again, because I think she would do it two times and then it would either have to be investigated or it was fine. So usually we could get it back down just by chatting or  if I had anything to get off my chest and talk to her, but there was one particular time it just would not come down.  It was during a heat wave. I think we had like three heat waves that summer. Of course, you'd be stressed if you were very pregnant. I'm pretty sure it was seven months and the heat was excruciating. I just wanted to be in my bra & knickers the whole time and it was so bad, it just made me cranky the whole time. So unfortunately my blood pressure wouldn't come down. Caroline had to send me to the hospital and I just started bawling  because it was kind of my first time dealing with a medical team with masks being hard of hearing  I was stressing about what if I can't get the information that I need? But I probably should have pushed for a sign language interpreter to be present. Legally they have to, but I am a sign language interpreter. It is my profession. It is my anxiety more than anything. I imagine the worst case scenarios all the time and that is, I'm constantly negative and it's something I have to face on a daily basis is to try and keep a positive attitude. At that point, I was just too far gone. I was just so upset on it and I had to drive myself up. Like, what? Keith didn't come because we had the toddler, somebody had to mind her and I'm pretty sure there was a lockdown at the time, so I couldn't hand her to anybody else. It was just the way the situation was. So ended up going into the emergency room again. It was sitting in the Er going, every time I saw somebody come out into the wait room, I had to tell, I'm hard of hearing, you have to come over. I was just stressed about that so much. Then there was different pregnant women coming in for different reasons and everybody's trying to support each other in that room. Not that you could tell, but some women were very open about why they were there and given out that our partner wasn't with them through that situation of going through a miscarriage and we were all like, what do you say? What do you do? You couldn't hug them and it was like, I started bawling in there for them. It wasn't even me, it was for them. I was like, I'm fine. I was like, this is the heat wave that's causing this. I just felt fine. As you can tell, I'm quite an emotional person, so I well up every now and again.

 

Corah (Host)

So am I, don't worry!

 

Brenda (Guest)

We are trying to be very light. It's just such an awkward, sad time, really. I was called in and they took floods, they did scans. Everything was okay. Everything was okay but the blood pressure wasn't  and I was like, listen to me, I'm just over. This is what bothering me and I think this is why I have had the time. It was blood samples and everything. So they sent me back out to the ER and they're like, you can't go home until we've got new blood results back. So I had to sit there for 6 hours waiting for the blood to come back, and they kept going, oh, sorry. Now the lab okay, but why couldn't you just send me home for those 6 hours? And if there was an emergency, I would have come back. What difference is that going to make? Frustration, partly. I was thinking, did they call me? Did I not hear them?! Constatnly questioning myself? But I saw those ladies there and they were like, you're not gone home yet. I could just see each lady coming and going. They're like, no wonder of high blood pressure. Anyway, they were like, we can't find anything wrong with you  but we need you to come back in on Friday because we're going to do like a blood pressure check. Basically you sit there for an hour and they do random blood pressure checks within that hour, and then it'll give a true score of what the situation is in my blood pressure rather than a ten minute one or whatever. So that was fine. Went home, notified midwife. What happened? Went back in on the Friday and I was sitting there going, doing my breathing exercises, trying to keep the blood pressure down. Everything was calm. Bit of music, high blood pressure checks. Why couldn't I do this?

 

Corah (Host)

It was amazing that you were able to control it. That was a huge achievement as well.

 

Brenda (Guest)

Yeah, but what I kind of started thinking about is mask triggers me. So it wasn't the midwife, it wasn't the person. It was like, Caroline coming into my home as soon as I saw the medical gear that triggers me. It's funny because I have a blood pressure monitor and I was checking myself twice a day every day, and I was taking pictures going, I'm fine. The morning of her appointment, I was fine but the minute she walked in, I can feel my heart rate going. I can feel the anxiety. It was just that pregnancy just seemed to be one thing after another. And then I had to do the glucose test, and that added more anxiety to me. Luckily, all was okay. But just for some reason in my head, as time went on, I was like, I'm not having this home birth. I know it's not happening for me this time. I just knew it in my head. I was just like, I just know this isn't it. I forgot to mention, I was also planning to get married at eight months pregnant. So early in the pregnancy, we just said, you know what, let's get married. Let's do this, I have nothing better to be doing while I'm pregnant. Let's get married. So that was to keep me distracted and I don't think that helps my blood pressure either. Plus, bear in mind, there was only eight guests. At around seven months, I was there saying to keep going, I don't think I'm going to get the 37 weeks. So as I'm sure you know, the homebirth scheme, you have to be 37 weeks plus to have a homebirth before that, it's deemed premature. I started to think, I'm not getting to 37 weeks. There's something just in my body, something not sitting right with me. I just don't think it's going to happen. So then at eight months pregnant, I got married thinking I had six weeks until the baby would come  and I'm pretty sure I was having contractions on my wedding day. I was getting very severe, like Braxton Hicks about a week at that stage.  I'm walking around Cork City with the photographer, he was like, you're not up to this. I said, "no, this baby is really beating me up" and really, like that kind of breathing through the pain. They were quite frequent so I knew something was going on. I just kept saying to keep it. I just know the stage is coming early. It's not going to wait long. Behold, two weeks later, labor day comes. My baby came at 36 plus three. So it was four days away from the homebirth.  I woke up again, kind of going, Something's not right here. My body feels different and same again is the first time just feeling out of sorts.  I had an appointment that day in Cork City to get my driver's license renewed because what I didn't realize a few weeks before that was my driver's license was out of dater for a year and a half. So this particular day, I was like, I have to go to  and get this renewed because you have to go into an actual center and get this done.  I can't delay this, I just can't.  It's four weeks away, baby is not coming today. And there I was walking around Cork City having contractions on my own and just rocking my belly.  I was planning maybe to stick around but then I thought, you know what, I better go home just in case. So I drove home and I was definitely having contractions. I was like, yeah, okay, this is getting very close. So I got in the door and I said, Keith I'm going to lay down and just see if I can relax a bit and see if anything changes. So I think that was like 04:00 and I kind of started texting the midwife kind of going, look, here's the situation. I'm going to be real. I think something might be happening. She was in England at the time on holidays and she was like, no, it could just be Braqxton Hicks, you know what, just go lie down for a couple of hours and see how you feel. Maybe just put on a contraction timer and just keep an eye on things. I was there in bed just in total denial. Keep your legs closed, it's fine, everything is fine. It's not coming today. I'm going to have this home birth. I was really trying to push it and it was around 10:00 that night and things were starting to ramp up. Caroline had said to me earlier  look, if you feel any bit worried, just ring the hospital and see what they say. I spent that evening in bed dictating  to Keith what I need in this hospital bag just in case it's happening. Let's just get a hospital bank together and let's call the child minder to see if we need to send Casey just in case. 

 

Corah (Host)

So in terms of your anxiety, did you have any coping mechanisms to help you kind of keep it at bay because you did have a job at hand.  This wasnt what you eanted, you wanted to have your homebirth. So you knew this probably wasn't going to happen. You still had to keep yourself somewhat focused and in labor and birth mode without letting the anxiety take over. So did you have coping mechanisms?

 

Brenda (Guest)

Yeah. So with my anxiety, I always think into the future and I panic, right? As I said my mantra, "it is what it is" and that's all I kept saying that day. As Keith says  it to me all the time. He could see me panicking goes "B, it is what it is. We'll deal with it" and then I do like box breathing. I don't know if you've heard box breathing. So I do have breathing. I find breathing is my biggest help for me. If I start to feel myself unraveled, I can just stop. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold it for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds, and then hold a repetition of four breathing in and out. That does wonders for me. So even now as I'm talking to you, I feel anxious. I do a lot of heavy breathing and that is just to kind of get that oxygen back into me. So breathing works for me, but it is that kind of be present. I don't think about the future because it's out of your control and that's all I can think of. That's why we keep saying "it is what it is". That's just the what we have in front of us. We take it from there. So then I decided to make a call to the hospital at about 10:00 and I said, Look, I rang the emergency room and said, Look, here's the situation. I have a feeling baby is coming. They were like come on in and we'll see how things are and if everything's fine you can go home.  That's a good way to look at the things. So we dropped off Casey to the childminder and made our way to the hospital. Maybe cars bring on  my labor, but it really went up and it was that whole like, I just want to stand up. .  I kept saying, I think this is it. I think baby is coming. I don't think we're going home without a baby. Like this is it!. So we got to the hospital at 12:00  and I actually had a bit of a cold. So when I was on the phone to them, I told them, "Look, I have a little bit of a cough. My daughter had it and I have a bit of a cold, but she had PCOR. She was negative. I don't think I have Covid. I just think I have a cold " They said "look, well, unfortunately you're going to have to go into the Covid pathway." So they made me sit out in the car and somebody gowned up, had to come out.

 

Corah (Host)

That's not what you need to see.

 

Brenda (Guest)

Yeah. So this is where things kind of took a turn and I was constantly like, I'm hard of hearing and I didn't have Keith in the emergency room this time, so I couldn't even have him there to support me. I kept telling him, Look, I'm hard of hearing and I was really contracting at that point. Like I was swinging my hips and a midwife came to me. She was lovely but I think she got cross with me at one point because I was like," Look, I had a really fast birth the last time I was done, within 5 hours from start to finish, this baby is coming and I can feel it and I guarantee you it's going to be very fast."  thankfully. I think I just got lucky with the midwife that I had because she had recently given birth. She had a good understanding of like how a woman sounds and of course, she has intuition, too. I kept telling her, look, I'm hard of hearing and I don't know what you're saying.  I wish there was more  deaf awareness training.

 

Corah (Host)

Yeah, absolutely!

 

Brenda (Guest)

 She could of had the decency to step back two metres and pull down the mask, that's all it took. She didn't actually need to be in my vicinity. I can see you. I feel much more confident if I can see something while you're talking to me, especially when you're in labor. They were asking me things, and I have no idea to this day what they were asking me. So it turned out that my heart rate and the baby's heart rate were extremely high, and there was a cause for concern at that point. They were getting everything checked but the worst thing I've ever had done is getting a covid swab done mid contraction. It was brutal. Absolutely brutal. So I kept telling her, I'm hard of hearing and I just had to keep reemphasizing it because I couldn't remember which midwife was which coming in, because they were all gowned up so much, I couldn't even see their faces. She kind of snapped me a little bit and said "I know you told me" I was very frustrated with her, but then she was like, look, I'm going to turn the lights down. I'll just give you some time while we're waiting on some results to come back. While she was gone, I was able to just kind of decompress a bit and just kind of focus on me. That was very important, and that's where I could really feel things coming along to the point I was like, hello? Anybody coming to help me? I panicked again, and she came back, and she just looked at me and goes, okay, let's do another vaginal exam. Because when I first went in, I was only 1 CM then she said to me, "look, you know what? Let's not. I'm going to bring you straight down to labour. I can just tell your past". Like, she knew I was ready. She was like, "I can tell by the way you're moving, and it sounds what you're making progess". And I was like, Brilliant. That's amazing.  So they're like,  call your husband and I was able to call my husband at that point. He just left me. He was like, what? I'm coming in already? They're bringing me straight into the labor room  and I was like, I really hope you don't miss it, because I just felt it was going to be so fast to get into the labor room. Things were very different this time. Honestly, it's a shit show. I'm trying to share this in a way that is being respectful. So there was one midwife in the room with me and I was telling her I can feel this baby coming and I've had a very fast birth already. I just want gas and air she was very young and she was so focused on getting this bloody monitor around me they couldn't do it they were like "we have to do it". This monitor is not going to be any good for this baby right now you're stressing me out, get rid of it but I wish I could say these things but I couldn't. I was like pushing I just tried to keep telling them to get their hands off me like leave me alone, I just want to have this baby eventually they got it on and this is the biggest mistake I ever made was they asked me to get on my back because they wanted to do a vaginal exam and I wish I had a refused I was very strong up until that point kind of saying yes and no to things and anytime they ask me something I was like give me a minute no. For  the first VE  I said "no" but they kept asking me. I said "not yet, I'm not ready" I was very firm, no you can't do it I will let you know when you can do it so I was trying to be that empowered person who had all this knowledge and it just got to a point Ijust couldn't. I was tired I think it was like 02:00 in the morning and I had a long day and I was just  too tired at this point to argue I suppose and not having Caroline there that time it really showed the difference. So this midwife was there and she was doing the VE exam and somebody popped their head in and  I remember this, somebody popped a head in  and I heard her say she's only 3 CM. So she asked me did I want to have my water broken to help the pressure I was feeling at that point like it was intense and I could feel the baby's head. I could feel like he was stuck like he needed a little bit of help he was so close and I could feel him but to hear her say only 3 CM I was like I know he's just got to pop out. So I didn't really educate myself enough about when your water has been broken and I said look can you quickly tell me pros  and cons right now as her hand was there and she said well "it would speed things up and it would help with the pressure"  is what she said I can't be 100% sure again masks! I had to get Keith to repeat everything to me. So I consented. . So she broke the waters and then she went over to her computer monitor thing and I said "Look, I have to push" She said "Don't push because it's not dilated enough". I told her I couldnt stop " My body is telling me to push. I'm going to push". So I just pushed and one push he came out. I think it was one or two push. She told me I went from 3 CM to 10 CM in six minutes very fast. So I was kind of off my head on gas and air. Theres things I didn't really know happened until Keith told meafterwards and he was telling, I don't remember this, but apparently she was panicking and she was shouting, "Press the red button on the wall, press the red button on". I don't think she was meant to be there by herself. And he was like pressing this button and the button wasn't working. She was freaking out, he was like, I'm trying to focus on my wife here. There was a lot of panic from her, but I was just so in the zone. It was super fast and then I do remember her at the end going, "help, somebody help me. Oh, my God". She was in absolute shock.  I don't think she had seen anything like that before because she was with me and I was on the Covid pathway. She had to stay with me. She was bringing us up  and thankfully they couldn't find me a room for 6 hours because I had to be isolated in my own room. So Keith got to stay with me in the labor room  for 6 hours afterwards. That was lovely. That was great actually. Then unfortunately he had to leave but there was already restrictions at that point, so I knew he was going to leave. So I was moved into my own room. And the midwife came with me that delivered Arden. She stood there and was like, "you're amazing, what you did was just amazing". She was just in absolute shock of what she saw. "No pain relief". It was as if she had never seen an actual birth before. But I suppose it was a very fast one though but from what I have heard, they don't see a lot of natural births. I don't really want to go off an attention on that topic, it makes me angry. At the same time, she also said sorry to me, which I find very interesting. She was like," I'm very sorry that I made you go on your back" because I ended up with a tear. Not saying that I might not have had a tear on my knees either. You can't say 100% it was because of that.  I didn't have a tear of my first and I got a tear on my back with my second and that was the one thing I had written down on like my birth. Birth plan. I didn't really have a birth plan but on my way into hospital, I was writing a few bits and pieces on paper. Yeah, that was all very last minute, but she did apologize to me and I was like, yeah, whatever, you know. There was no point in having that discussion, but I could not belive the look on her face when she was like, "you're amazing, you're amazing". When she kept telling me, I was like, Shut up, go away, leave me alone. You're embarrassing me. It was odd, very odd. But I understand there's a lot of shortages in the maternity hospital, especially now and I can't put the blame on her. If somebody else should have been in that room, they should have been there. The best thing was being in that  moment and having that time with just me and him and this time was very different. I was very much that I neede to look at him everywhere. Am just going to put you on my chest and let you cuddle me to death. It was a very different experience and Thankfully I only had to stay in hospital one night with him. I was able to leave early because I was being transferred back to the home birth service and I had  posnatal  care again. I nearly had that moment of a doctor coming in going, ""his breathing is a bit labored, isn't it? No. I was like, I'm not doing it again. No, but luckily the doctor just said, "you know what, keep them on your chest, just spend some time with him. You've had a very fast birth and that sometimes transfers into the real world and take some time to catch their breath again". So thankfully by the time the doctor came around again, they're like, yeah, it's fine. This time would have been a lot worse because of the restrictions and Keith wouldn't have been able well, actually I can't remember now whether partners were allowed in, but things would have been very different compared to the first time. I didn't have the mentality to go through that, but the experience in the hospital was very confusing. That's the only way I could describe that maternity experience, but very confusing. Dealing with midwives coming in, doing those tests and checking you, checking the baby. Every time I ased a  question and she'd give me an answer, the next one could have a different answer. So they all were working off  different sheets. There was one lady came in to me and I was like, look, "I spoke to my midwife, the homebirth midwife, and she said that I could be discharged to her care now, provided everything was okay." She said "No, you have to stay for 48 hours "but the other one said, like, there was a lot of this up and down with my emotions and sure is already a roller coaster. But they were adding this other layer that was unnecessary when they should all know the facts and know what works. But I just got so lucky that there was this particular midwife who actually worked on the domino scheme. So she had full awareness about homebirth patients and that you shouldn't even be here. I'm going to get you home today. And she did okay. So the other thing that we had to do is that he had a hole at the base of his spine. So that was very worrying. The  doctor come in and she did an all over check,  it was spotted when he was born, but they had to get somebody in to assess it. There's a hole, like, a Dimple hole in the base, of his spine. She said, "now, look, this could be nothing, but it could be something too",  oh, my God, that baby has the hairiest bum I've ever seen in my life. Like the whole lower back. Just a hairy, hairy baby. I've never seen anything like that before. She's like, that's probably something  to do with prematurity. He hadn't shed it or whatever, but she was concerned about this hole in his back. So, of course, I break out Google. They managed to get us seen within two weeks and got the  all clear that apparently there is something like 10% of adults walking around with a hole they don't know about, which is normal. I didn't know any of this, so the doctor was trying to reassure me, but I was like, only 10%. That's not enough! So, yeah, it was a journey. Looking at the two pregnancies when you're on the home birth scheme and you have that care of the midwife, whether you have a birth in the hospital or home, like having that one person that you build that relationship with and who understands you and your wants and your needs, and not having her the second time really showed me how important she was to my journey.

 

Corah (Host)

Did you breastfeed Arden as well?

 

Brenda (Guest)

I did, and it was such a good journey. What I recently discovered, though, I think the reason that I had problems with Casey is that she's got quite a severe overbite.  I think that had an effect on how she latched and doesn't have the same issue. So honestly, I don't want to make anybody jealous but he's the dream baby. He slept all night from the day he was born. Now the drawback is that you get your period back very early . He is a brilliant baby but you're also not a first time mother. You learned a lot on your first journey and you're a lot more stressed .So he's seven months old now and he's just the happiest content baby. He doesn't sleep through the night anymore unfortunately. He's a  dream and absolute dream and today actually was my first day back at work.

 

Corah (Host)

Okay.

 

Brenda (Guest)

So it's been a big day today and what I realized recently is I've pretty much been at home since Casey was born because when I went back to work after her I was only at work one day and everything got shut down so I lost my work and then I had to adjust to interpreting from home. So I've just been home most of it. So today it was my first big day of face to face meeting adults and dropping my kids off to a child minder. So it's a day to remember and now I'll have it recorded.

 

Corah (Host)

Thank you so much, Brenda. Thanks.

Brenda (Guest)

Lovely talking to you, Corah!.

 

Corah (Host)

Likewise. Thanks, Brenda.

 

Brenda (Guest)

Mind yoursef.

 

Corah (Host)

I hope you enjoyed this week's episode. If you would like to share your story, you're more than welcome to just get in touch over the website ireland'sburststores. Ie which I've linked in the show notes and pop your details into the share your story tab and I will get in touch with you as soon as possible with a recording date. Enjoy the rest of your week and I will chat you on Monday.

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