My birth story: He wasn’t breathing!

Woody Allen once said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” Anyone who knows me knows I like to make people laugh, so in 2013 I did exactly as Woody Allen said. Joe and I had just purchased our first home in August and we were making the big move that October. We’d been together for 12 years – ever since we were practically babies ourselves – and naturally, babies was a question that was often asked. “No sprogs for us!” we’d happily tell anyone who broached the subject. 

Then, the following conversation happened. 

Me: New house, two full-time incomes with no responsibilities other than our new mortgage and an asthmatic cat. What could possibly happen to change my path? 

Life: I’m glad you asked!

For me, the initial shock lasted about three weeks. I had a lot of bleeding and pain, and it wasn’t until the doctor called me and told me that the pregnancy probably wasn’t viable and to expect the worst that I realised how much I wanted this little energy-sucking nugget inside of me to grow and survive.  

Fast forward to 13th June 2014. It was my last day of work and I was over it. I was enormous. I was a sweaty mess. I was perpetually uncomfortable and I was excited to spend the last six weeks of my pregnancy binge-watching Pretty Little Liars and making demands for savoury snacks from my permanent position on the couch. That day, I said my goodbyes to my workmates and made my way home. I waddled over to the couch, sat down, breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed. 

*POP, GUUUUUUUUSH* Huh. Right, so that just happened and all over my couch. I frantically called my midwife and told her what had happened. We still had six weeks to go! I didn’t have a car seat, baby’s room was in an unfinished state of renovation, and anyway, he hadn’t finished cooking! Never mind the fact that I was only halfway through Season Three of Liars. This was NOT the plan. 

Nothing eventful happened throughout the night, and the next day, my contractions still weren’t progressing so we made our way to the hospital for an induction. I was strapped onto the bed for monitoring and at 9pm on the 14th of June, Joe was sent home. By 11pm, I was begging the midwife on duty to have a heart and give me drugs. All the drugs. She wasn’t convinced that labour had started as the machine that I was hooked up to wasn’t registering contractions. I knew I was, so I called my mum. She phoned Joe who rushed back to hospital to be by my side. 

My midwife had been called and the news had been broken to me that she wasn’t coming. Well, she was coming, but in the back of an ambulance with another screeching mum-to-be who needed an emergency C-section. My back-up midwife was called and it turns out that September 2013 was a month full of lovin’ as she too was busy with another birth. Another midwife from the agency eventually showed up around midnight and, like my own personal fairy godmother, she brought with her the gift of an epidural. By 1am, I was napping peacefully as we waited for the instruction to push. 

The instruction came and I started to push. I pushed and I pushed. I pushed for nearly three hours before Joe was taken away and told to scrub up. Our baby had the cord wrapped twice around his neck and his head was turned, making it impossible for me to squeeze him out without help. I was exhausted, sobbing and scared when it was decided that an episiotomy and forceps would be the way forward. 

Luke Morgan Irving was delivered at 8.40am on Sunday 15th June 2014, weighing 6lb 6oz. He was placed on my chest for skin-to-skin contact. He never cried but no one seemed worried. 

The midwife came to check on us and noticed that Luke was purple and not breathing. She grabbed him like a rugby ball and gave him a jolt as she sprinted to the table, pushing buttons and calling for help as she ran. Suddenly, the room filled with people. I could see them huddled over the other side of the room, working away until he was breathing and stabilised and whisked away to NICU. The forceps had cut over his left eye and cheek, and he was swollen and bruised. After two weeks in NICU, we were allowed to take our sweet boy home. 

I recently stumbled across the maternity book that held our notes from that night. I read it and cried. The enormity of the situation and how close we were to losing our Luke that night hadn’t yet sunk in. Our little fighter survived the pregnancy that we were told he wouldn’t, along with the birth from hell which happened six weeks earlier than it should have. Still, the little boy we so happily spend our days with makes it all totally worth it. 

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BUMP & baby is New Zealand’s only magazine for pregnancy and early babyhood. Our team of mums and mums-to-be understand what it’s like to be pregnant in this connected age, and that’s why BUMP & Baby online is geared toward what pregnant women and new mums really want to know.

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