For three years, Leigh Campbell and her husband Rich tried to have a baby.
But what started as an exciting, life-changing decision soon became fraught with anxiety and distress. There were miscarriages. Unsuccessful rounds of IVF. Bad news over and over again. as the idea of becoming a mum seemed to slip further away.
By the end of 2018, Leigh was ready to accept that her future wouldn’t have a baby in it. Then, she fell pregnant. Naturally.
Writing for Mamamia in February, Leigh said that while she’d expected to be overjoyed, that’s simply not how she felt. She felt scared, and guilty. She was terrified something would go wrong.
In June, Leigh and Rich welcomed a healthy baby boy, Alexander. Just two weeks after the birth, Leigh sat down to share her birth story on Mamamia’s podcast This Glorious Mess, hosted by Holly Wainwright. She wanted to share the unpredictability and unvarnished truth of giving birth, where even the most well-intentioned of plans can be derailed in an instant.
“I didn’t have a birth plan. I had one wish.”
Leigh says one of the advantages about having a tumultuous fertility journey was that she had learnt not to expect things.
As a result, she didn’t have a clearly delineated birth plan. She just had one wish.
Watch: Midwife Cath busts some birth myths. Post continues after video.
“I didn’t want to go through 30 hours of labour and then caesarean,” she says. “I wanted to either have a vaginal birth, that was my preference, or a planned caesarean. Just something I could plan around.”
In the weeks leading up to the birth, Leigh was booked in for a medical induction, which relieved some of her anxiety. “I had huge anxiety around stillbirth,” she says.
Leigh’s induction was scheduled for 8pm, and once she arrived at the hospital, she says the process was efficient. By 9pm, a gel had been put into her cervix to induce contractions, and she was told to wait six hours.
“They come and check on you at 3am, and of course I hadn’t slept at all,” Leigh says. “I’m so excited, I’m so nervous, and the gel induces what I would call moderate period pain so it feels like stuff is happening.”
Despite the pain, Leigh was only slightly dilated, so the gel was inserted again, and she was told to wait another six hours.