How a long journey to motherhood prepared Michelle for the unexpected birth of her son: 'In the hands of the gods'

Picture: Charlotte-Rose Halman/Little Rose Photography
Picture: Charlotte-Rose Halman/Little Rose Photography 

In this new series we celebrate pregnancy and birth by inviting readers to share the story of their baby's arrival. 

For Michelle, the birth of her second child went anything but to plan.

Speaking from her hospital bed just five days after giving birth, the mum-of-two, who celebrated her 46th birthday last month, told how she was given just 48 hours notice she'd have to deliver her baby at 37 weeks. 

Arriving at 5am on a late May morning ready to be prepped for a scheduled C-section, she instead ended up having to undergo a general anaesthetic and woke an hour after her son's birth to find her baby in her husband's arms.

But as the tenacious mum explains, her journey to motherhood never followed an easy path.

"I have another child, a daughter who is 21 months and we tried IVF for 15 cycles to have her," Michelle told Essential Baby.

Picture: Michelle was given two spinal blocks, but neither worked. Credit: Picture: Charlotte-Rose Halman/Little Rose Photography

Picture: Michelle was given two spinal blocks, but neither worked. Credit: Picture: Charlotte-Rose Halman/Little Rose Photography

"And then we tried one attempt with Thomas - we had some embryos left over, and the first go we tired we got pregnant with our son. It was a bit of a journey to get to that point and being older time was not on our side."

Saying the couple had a philosophy of 'putting it in the hands of the gods' for their chances of having a second baby, it was a mix of relief and disbelief when a home pregnancy test revealed they were pregnant in October last year. 

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But when Michelle started to bleed soon after, they felt their hopes had been dashed. Thankfully despite this, all was well with their baby.

That scare was just one of many doubts throughout the pregnancy. As Michelle explained, she spent the whole time anxiously hoping nothing was wrong, checking for a heartbeat at each scan and that the baby was developing as it should.  

Picture: Thomas was born via C-section after Michelle underwent a general anesthetic. Credit: Picture: Charlotte-Rose Halman/Little Rose Photography

Picture: Thomas was born via C-section after Michelle underwent a general anesthetic. Credit: Picture: Charlotte-Rose Halman/Little Rose Photography

"It was just like ticking off boxes, where you're one step closer to things going well. But we needed to keep positive. Even though we did get pregnant, it's not the hardest part. That's getting to the end and having a live baby in your arms." 

Despite this she enjoyed a textbook pregnancy, joking she'd 'finally found something I'm good at', experiencing minimal morning sickness and working up until 36 weeks. 

However, when she developed high blood pressure, Michelle was warned she would have to deliver early. After days of being closely monitored, she was given 48 hours notice she'd have to undergo a caesarean at 37 weeks, one day. 

"We had a 4am alarm, not that I slept much the night before. It was all going through my head 'What will the day look like?'. We came to the hospital, went through the pre anaesthetic checks that they do and got prepped for theatre," she recalled.

Picture: Michelle says she's grateful to have booked a birth photographer, so she can piece the birth together from the photographs. Credit: Picture: Charlotte-Rose Halman/Little Rose Photography

Picture: Michelle says she's grateful to have booked a birth photographer, so she can fill in the gaps. Credit: Picture: Charlotte-Rose Halman/Little Rose Photography

All appeared to be going smoothly at first. After her birth photographer arrived the pair chatted and she took some shots before an IV was put in and a local anaesthetic administered on her back in preparation for the spinal block. When the first didn't work, they tried again. 

"They thought it was OK but after 25 minutes nothing was numb, only my feet. Then they told me I'd had to have a general anaesthetic. It was a bit disappointing that you don't get to be involved in the birthing process at all, but ultimately it was the right decision to take for my health and the wellbeing of the baby."

As the clock ticked over, Michelle guessed where they were headed. When she could feel the ice her team continued to test against her skin, she said she knew things weren't going as they should. 

"When they said we needed to do a GA it wasn't a surprise. But it doesn't make it any easier. It was disappointing to wait 8.5 months to have a baby and literally have one and not know what happened. I woke up an hour later and my husband was holding out baby boy and I'd missed all of it."

Picture: Michelle and Thomas bonding following his birth. Credit: Picture: Charlotte-Rose Halman/Little Rose Photography

Picture: Michelle and Thomas bonding following his birth. Credit: Picture: Charlotte-Rose Halman/Little Rose Photography

While the birth didn't go to plan, the first few days of bonding with Thomas were great. Other than the sleep depravation newborns bring, Michelle was able to quickly establish breastfeeding, something which despite significant effort she had been unable to do with her first. 

And she urged other couples or women experiencing fertility struggles to try to stay positive, despite the 'extreme highs and lows'.​

"The difficult part for us was to keep on going. You hear about and see people get pregnant at the drop of a hat. For us, we weren't so lucky and it was a huge financial investment, a huge emotional and physical investment too and we just eventually got lucky," she continues.

"I think now 'what if' we hadn't kept going. I knew if we continued I could say we'd given it 100 per cent. And we were really lucky. Looking at Thomas, it was all worth it."

Do you want to share your baby's birth story? Send details to editor@essentialbaby.com.au, with the subject: birth stories.