When I was 20 I became pregnant, I actually didn’t plan to have kids and so this was something that I really didn’t want. My partner and I decided to keep the baby and raise it together even though there was pressure to have a termination. My partners parents were adamant that we should terminate the pregnancy which caused me a lot of shame. I didn’t want a termination but I also didn’t want to have children so there was a lot of stress and I became quite depressed as I felt I had no choice. I had to seek counselling through my pregnancy as I started to experience depression.
During my pregnancy I continued to follow my love of horse riding, but unfortunately I had an accident which left me in a state of having to be in bed-rest or I might loose the baby. This created another level of stress, and I didn’t want to sacrifice something I loved but I realised that I had to do the right thing by the baby and rested. I put on weight and then was diagnosed with pre-eclaimsia which meant daily visits to the hospital, blood pressure monitoring, overnight hospital stays and this took its toll on our relationship.
At 30 weeks into my pregnancy I went into early labour, I was hospitalised, given daily injections to ward off the labour. I spent 4 weeks in hospital trying to keep the baby in before my blood pressure spiked and finally at 34 weeks delivered a baby boy after being induced.
I was only 20 years old and found the medicalised process very intrusive and my body wasn’t ready to give birth so it was a very painful process. My dreams of a drug free, quiet and peaceful labour were gone. I was hooked up to a drip for induction and things went too fast for me to keep up, my body was instantly contracting, it was painful and I felt out of control. My body couldn’t get into a rhythm and my baby became stuck in the birth canal moving up and down, and while I was trying to push him out I tore the top of my lung and developed surgical emphysema where my left lung was torn and air escaped all through my chest cavity. When my baby was born he had developed a wet lung and was immediately sent to special care, I didn’t get to bond with him at all. It was medical management for me and for the baby which was the furthermost from my birth plan I could imagine.
My baby finally came back to my room, I was swollen and couldn’t see properly, my body was still in shock and because I was so unwell and he was so unwell we couldn’t bond properly. He then went downhill and had problems breathing and had mucus on his lungs and was taken away from me again. I couldn’t learn to breastfeed but instead I was ‘milked’ like a cow to try and feed him, there were some respectful midwifes but the older ones were abrupt and lacked empathy for me as a first time mum. I felt discriminated against simply because I was a young mother. It was hard to understand why people saw me this way when I was a home owner, had a good job and was in a committed relationship.
For me, the thing that would have made the most difference would have been my caregivers having empathy and respect for me. I know they have seen these situations many times before but I felt kept out of the loop, uninformed and like I was the last person to know what was really happening. Thankfully my following two pregnancies were very different and positive.
This story was a contribution to the Storylines: Her Voice Matters project, a collaboration between Women’s Health Goulburn North East, Women’s Health Loddon Mallee and Murray PHN.