The birth of Sunny Alexander Ruszkowski
Trigger warning , this mentions emergency Caesarean section & birth trauma. This is my personal experience & while induction and c sections are 100% necessary in some instances, this was just my journey.
As a Hypnobirthing Australia practitioner and Naturopath, I felt well versed in what to expect going into childbirth. On a day to day basis , I advocate on behalf of women, for natural uncomplicated birth & the importance of standing up for your rights as a birthing woman in Australia.
Nothing could have prepared me for how things went. Let’s start at the beginning.
At 30 weeks pregnant i was feeling great. I had only gained 10kg, my fundal height was spot on and i was super active.
I decided to do the glucose tolerance test, mostly as an experiment on myself (health professionals will understand this) so that I could understand what my clients go through.
This test is quite controversial & many would argue is not an accurate assessment of blood sugar dysregulation. Much to my surprise and horror, my test came back positive for gestational diabetes. I was 0.1 over & was still labelled with GD.
Anyone who has had GD will understand that once you have this label it is VERY difficult to lose it & it shapes the WHOLE rest of your birthing trajectory. From then on I monitored my blood sugar levels 4x a day (finger prick) & not once did I have high blood sugar levels.
As someone with GD, you are required to have regular growth scans to track the size of your baby. Despite my perfect blood sugar levels they tried to put me on insulin, as baby was measuring large (growth scans are also highly subjective). I politely declined & continued to be diet managed.
From then on, it was an uphill battle to minimise the medicalisation of my pregnancy. All I wanted was to be left in peace to go through my pregnancy & labour without unnecessary intervention.
At 38 weeks I went in for another growth scan & once again baby was measuring large. The doctor said to me word for word “your baby is fat , if you don’t have an induction in the next two days , you won’t be allowed to have a vaginal birth next week, if you decide to try and attempt a vaginal birth next week- your baby will likely get stuck & we will either have to break his collarbone to get him out OR he may have nerve damage in his neck & have a permanent disability for the rest of his life”.. “oh but it’s your choice”. At this point I broke down.
This doctor was training another doctor & this is how she spoke to me. I had never felt so vulnerable or fearful in my life. How is this supposed to empower women to birth their babies ? I was balling my eyes out, but I said to her that I felt that how she had delivered this information was not only unprofessional but lacked empathy & that i felt that I had no options. She seemed surprised that I was giving her feedback, but if we can’t have a partnership of respect and empowerment with our care providers who can we have them with ? I’ve since lodged a formal complaint .
After the growth scan, they did a stretch and sweep , from which I bled quite heavily from. I then had to drive 3 hours still bleeding back home.
I then had a big decision to make , to have an induction or not . I spoke with my hubby and we decided that we wouldn’t forgive ourselves if something did happen (& frankly we were scared shitless after that horrendous appointment) so decided to have an induction two days later . This is where we got on the conveyor belt of intervention, once your on -‘it’s difficult to get off.
Two days later we went to the Royal Hobart hospital for our induction. I had tried to get into a good head space , but to be honest I felt that it wasn’t really our choice & struggled to feel comfortable with our decision, I cried most of the car trip to Hobart.
We arrived at 4pm on Thursday the 9th of September , I received a balloon catheter at 7pm that night . Essentially they insert a rubber tube with two balloons which they inflate, to ripen the cervix. It’s extremely painful but I used my breathing to get through. I had to leave that in overnight & Reagan wasn’t allowed to stay with me in the hospital (despite us living 3hours away).
The next morning at 7am , they ruptured my membranes (broke my waters) , essentially they insert a giant crochet looking hook and snag your membranes. After an hour they wanted to start me on a synthetic oxytocin drip (syntocinon) but I requested to have more time to try and go into labour myself. We then pulled out all the stops, nipple stimulation, birth ball , heel drops, you name it we tried.
Labour hadn’t started , so after five hours we started the syntocinon drip. Due to me being induced I needed continual foetal monitoring which meant that I couldn’t be in a lot of positions (knees, the shower , forward leaning) so it was really difficult to get comfortable .
My surges started coming on hard and fast & I was in active labour for over 11 hours (4 contractions lasting a minute , in a 10minute period). Because it is synthetic oxytocin, you don’t have the natural endorphins being released like you would if you were in natural labour. Endorphins are your natural pain killers. Synthetic oxytocin also makes your contractions faster and more intense , so both you and baby have less of a rest period. It was so painful.
My mantra was “don’t be afraid of the pain”, it kept me going, along with my amazing hubby and midwife’s support . By this stage id been in labour for over 27 hours and had only had gas as pain relief. I was spent , I had never been so tired. At 11pm on Friday i asked for an epidural . I didn’t think I would but I did and it was bliss.
At 1am on Saturday the 11th , they said i wasn’t progressing and that I needed an emergency C section because baby was getting tired & was getting stuck. Turns out he was posterior and because they had broken my waters he had nothing to turn around in. Me and Reagan felt so defeated & so angry that things had progressed this way.
There we were in theatre & Reagan was holding my hand. I felt his hand go clammy and asked if he was okay, he was almost passing out. They got him some cold cloths and he was okay . Next minute they dropped the screen and placed baby Sunny on my chest. Our perfect boy. I was in shock.
I couldn’t believe we had created such a magical little being . I could feel my heart exploding. After a few minutes of him being on my chest, I started to not be able
to breathe & started getting very dizzy. I was slipping out of consciousness & to be honest I thought I was dying . Later I found out they had given me too much drug ( a high block) and so my chest felt paralysed & I couldn’t breathe properly. After a while I came to & I tried to latch Sunny.
We then were wheeled back to our ward & were left to process the trauma of what had happened. Despite our care before Sunny being born being traumatising, the care we received for the next week from the midwives at the royal, was AMAZING. Literal angels.
Anyone who has had a C section will know how painful it is, so not being able to stand or move around was a real challenge . Thankfully Reags was the best partner a girl could ask for & stayed with me in the hospital for the week & helped immensely .
We ended up debriefing with the midwife’s & anaesthetist , which helped a great deal to process what had happened. We’ve since spoken in length about our experience and feel much better about everything .
Is it the birth I was hoping for ? No. Did I end up with the most incredible baby? Yes.
While it’s so important for the baby and mum
to be healthy, your birth journey is ALSO equally important. We should be empowering women to birth their babies with all of the strength, grace & instinct that we innately have. Our birthing system is broken & never before have I felt MORE passionate about being a childbirth educator .
If I could have my time again , I would say “trust your instincts, you are the expert of your baby & you and your baby are working TOGETHER “. “Stand up for yourself and your rights & know that it’s not your job to be a good patient in hospital , it’s your job to make informed decisions and ask questions or for more time if you need it”. I would say “ Mumma you KNOW how to do this, you were designed to do this , allow your body to do what it was made to do”.
This story isn’t to spread fear, it is to educate on my experience, so that hopefully yours is different. I wish all mums could experience their dream birth , but also acknowledge that birth can take many twists and turns. Thanks for reading xxx