Almost 2 weeks ago I went into labour. The same very day I would feel the most joy, and the worst pain ever imagineable.
I’m writing because right now it feels like the only way I can get out my emotions with control. It feels like I can live the excitement over and over again before the pain has a chance to return.
I want you to know about my pregnancy, my labour story and the days that followed. I don’t have to share any of this, but through sharing I’ve learnt how rare our little boys illness was, but also how possibly it could have been prevented. Knowing many of you are young, and may start families of your own. If my story can make you question things a little bit more, then I know my beautiful little Foxx could be saving others lives.
On Saturday night 25/3/17 at 8:30pm I began to get tightenings in my belly that ached my back and felt like period cramps. Just before I was about to go to sleep I noticed everytime I tried to relax for sleep that they were enough to keep me awake. I began to time the contractions. 8 minutes, 11 minutes, 7 minutes, 7 minutes, 12 minutes. They were irregular but close and I couldn’t sleep. As two hours passed on the same cycle I left the bedroom and went to the lounge room and bounced on my gym ball thinking if this is going to happen, I’m going to help it along. 12am, 2am, 4am. The time passed and I hadn’t slept a bit. I didn’t feel tired. I didn’t feel exhausted.
It hit 7am, and my contractions were 5 minutes, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes. They were getting closer but not close enough for me to be convinced this is “really” happening. I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I had spoken to the hospital about the contractions throughout the night and was told once they reach 2 minutes apart for an hour it was “time”. When ted came out of the bedroom (I was nice and let him sleep) I told him about it all and how if we got contractions 2 minutes apart it’s time!
I was in a fair bit of pain at this point and had a portable tens machine vibrating on my back but with determination I said let’s take the dog for a walk! Now when I think back I laugh, because what kind of woman goes walking with their dog and partner when in full blown labour? By this point my contractions were 2 minutes apart as we left the house down the street I would have to stop and freeze through each contraction. I remember being so determined though that not even the pain was going to turn me back home. I walked up and down gutters, in 37 degree Darwin morning heat. My contractions regulating between 1 minutes and 2 minutes. I knew it was time to go back home.
The midwife came over to assess me. She checked me and was amazed I was 4cm! My waters were bulging and told me to keep riding the pain at home as long as I could. She forgot to mention that the stretch and sweep she performed would amp up that pain even more. Still just surviving by using a tens machine and bouncing on the ball while watching the tv show sex and the city I was like seriously ted I think it’s time to go at 11am.
I’m such an idiot though and decided I would have a shower, wash my hair, blow dry my hair and everything before we left haha. I knew the pain was about to get worse! But I felt content trying to remain as normal as possible.
Ted kept timing my contractions, you can definitely feel when one is coming on! Mine were lasting 30-45 seconds so in hindsight I just kept reminding myself that pain is only temporary.
I wrote a “labour sheet” for myself and ted to utilise suggestions so that I could cope through a natural labour. He kept reminding me of moments and things to focus on, to keep breathing and keep in control. It’s so easy to lose it if you give into the pain. You can either focus on the pain, or focus on the outcome and we just kept trying to focus on the outcome.
On the way to the birth centre I had only 3 contractions on the 25 minute car ride (thank god) but then I thought this might be the end of it and not progress?
A week prior to birth I played the song “latch – by uncle jed” and I sat in the car crying because I felt so connected to this song and knew I wanted to birth my baby to this song. So when we played the song on the way to the hospital I had those same memories and it kept me calm.
Once we arrived at 11am I got in the shower, I bounced on the ball, I walked around, I got in the bath. Ted was right next to me at every step. Eventually I said I needed more! I needed help with the pain but determined to still have a natural birth I opted for gas. Which to be honest does nothing at all pain wise haha, but the rattling of the machine as you breathe in slowly helps to focus your mind again I believe.
The time passed, at times it felt slow and other times fast. I got to a point where I begged for the epidural only for the response “there are no beds available upstairs so it may be a while before you can get one” lies, lies, lies. I knew that was a lie but I also knew I didn’t actually want an epidural all along and my midwife knew that so I knew I wasn’t going to get one.
I kept going and it was getting more intense every second, she offered me pethadine but I denied it? I don’t know why I denied it. I think it was out of fear of prolonging the labour. I think I thought if I’ve made it this far I can honestly keep going! I’m still alive after all right?
When it came time to push, Wholey. I felt every ounce of that. It’s like pushing a watermelon through a concrete donut. It does not fit! They lie and tell us it fits but ouch it is not meant to fit. Every push feels like you take 1 step forward and 2 steps back. I thankfully only had to endure pushing for an hour.
Once the head is out, the rest of the baby kinda just falls out haha. The head is the hardest part. His head came out on the side, his cord was lightly wrapped around his neck but not affecting him.
He came out stunned, and they had to cut the cord quickly and rescuciate him. I didn’t feel stressed though. I felt totally at ease because I felt like everything was going to be okay. Our little baby was 6 pound 12, 48cm long and perfection to us.
I kissed his little head and learnt how to breastfeed him. Ted cut the rest of his cord, and ted cuddled him long and hard while I got up to have a shower. I came back out to ted just sitting there staring immensely at our little baby happily asleep in his arms. It’s honestly amazing seeing your partner become a father. It’s like it was always meant to be. He was so proud, not only of our boy but of me and I felt like I was superwoman.
He passed Foxx back to me to keep feeding, when we noticed him starting to cough up bloody mucuous and began strangely breathing and grunting. I still felt like everything was going to be okay? Why did my instincts not kick in? We were about to go home before the midwife then too became concerned.
We went up to see a specialist who immediately said he was critically unwell and diagnosed him with group b strep. He was placed in NICU and given antibiotics before being placed on life support as his condition continued to deteriorate.
It normally takes 24 hours to grow cultures to diagnose an infection like that, but it took 6. He was so highly infected. He was lucky to live the 3 days, in that time giving us just as many scares as he did with improvements as well but it was on the 29th of March that he ultimately went into a seizure he couldn’t come out of. The infection won.
Just a week and a half prior to birth I had a group b strep swab. I tested negative. Women who test positive are routinely given antibiotics during labour that helps their body to kill the infection before a enters the world.
The swans are known to be inconsistent, one week you can test positive, the next negative but in that very moment in time I tested negative and I’ll forever question why it had to be me?
They say this infection is rare and even more rare to kill a baby but just in the last 2 weeks I’ve learnt of over 10 women who also birthed babies in the last 6 months who died prior to birth (still birth) with the infection crossing unbroken membranes (waters) or mothers who lost their babies within hours of birth. That’s 10 women in Australia, and many more that I’m sure I don’t know of so I am really questioning “how rare” this is?
There definitely isn’t enough research, because I had no signs and symptoms even during labour of the infection along with the other 10 women. Group B Strep is also not something nearly enough talked about to pregnant women. Even though I gave birth in Darwin and it is apart of their testing procedure. Back in our home in QLD it is not a routine test given to pregnant women.
As paranoid as pregnant women get we already research everything and anything we can. We overthink it all – but why was there nothing about this? Why did I not even consider it could harm my baby when thousands birth healthy babies everyday I’ll never know why we were chosen for this road.
No mother and father should ever have to kiss their baby good bye in the same week they meet them. They shouldn’t ever have to kiss them good bye. My heart breaks everyday. It hurts. We will love you forever.
RIP baby Foxx.
Foxx John Fitzgerald 26.3.17 – 29.3.17