Polar opposite births

Luna and Ashleigh. Pictures: ROB CAREW

By Casey Neill

Some women always dream of being a mum.

Mount Evelyn mum of two Ashleigh Le Rossignol never saw herself with kids.

“I thought I was too selfish to be a mum,” she said.

“I thought I had no patience.

“It was only when I met (my partner) Gaz that I changed.

“I thought ‘I’m going to marry this guy and have a family with him’.”

That was in 2016.

“Gaz and I fell pregnant five months after meeting,” she said.

“Then I had a miscarriage at nine weeks.

“Then I fell pregnant again six months later and had another miscarriage.

“I don’t know how many weeks I was with the second.

“The third was only very short – I think I was four or five weeks.

“The first one I felt really guilty.

“I remember being in the hospital and saying to Gaz ‘I’m sorry’.”

Ash then fell pregnant with daughter Macey, now aged 2.

“My biggest fear was getting to the 12 weeks,” she said.

“Once I started really getting pregnant I started feeling really comfortable, and all the scans were great.

“I loved being pregnant with her.”

She only experienced morning sickness until about week six, and from there “it was a pretty cruisy one”…until week 40.

“I got a rash all over my body,” she said.

“I was hot, I was swollen.

“They didn’t know what it was. It was like 10 million mozzie bites all over my body.”

Macey was fine, but doctors offered Ash an induction.

“They put the balloon in,” she said.

“They started the induction hormones about 9am the next morning.

“She was out at 11.46pm that night (via emergency caesarean), right on 40 weeks.”

Doctors told Ash there was no reason Macey shouldn’t have come out naturally, but after hours of pushing, forceps and suction, she wouldn’t budge.

“I think it really took four days to get my head around what happened,” Ash said.

“I was completely drugged up on pain relief.

“The drugs were making me sweat, I felt so spaced out. I couldn’t even get up.

“I think I felt butchered.”

When she fell pregnant with Luna, she knew she wanted her birth to go differently.

A gestational diabetes diagnosis threw her at first, but she was able to manage the condition with diet and exercise.

“My headspace was still really good,” she said.

She was determined to try a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean).

“But as it got closer, I didn’t want to go through what I went through with Mace,” she said.

“I didn’t want to be induced again. I made that very clear.”

At 40 weeks on the dot, she started getting cramps about 6pm.

She monitored her contractions and called the hospital, and was advised to take Panadol and try to sleep.

But only 15 minutes later she felt the urge to push. Her contractions started to ramp up as she and Garry packed to leave for the hospital.

“They were so close together and the pain was really starting to kick in,” she said.

“I was trying to get my breath, holding onto the wall.

“Garry’s mum came over and I waddled out to the car. I had two contractions between the door and the car.

“I got to the hospital about 10pm. I was squatting the whole way into emergency.

“But the natural labour for me was really good. It was so bearable (compared to the induction).”

Ash was 6cm dilated and still wanted a VBAC, but felt nervous.

“I just wanted it to be positive,” she said.

“I was really worried it would end in an emergency caesarean again.”

So she opted for an elective caesarean.

“I wasn’t as exhausted, and I wasn’t numb to it. I wasn’t drugged up,” she said.

“I was conscious to make my own decisions.

“Before we knew it, Luna was out.

“She was crying. She came out with her eyes open.

“The anaesthetist said it’s so rare to see babies with their eyes open.

“I bawled my eyes out. I didn’t with Mace.

“They stitched me up and off I went, and she was there within four or five hours.

“The next day I was up and moving. The recovery – it was polar opposites.”

With the birth out of the way, adjusting to life as a family of four became her focus.

Luna was 2 months old when we spoke.

“I was more scared about how I would go about my day-to-day stuff – going to the shops, going to the park,” Ash said.

“Macey is still at an age when she’s learning not to run away, stop when you cross the road, plus trying to make sure the baby’s safe if I have to run off after Mace.

“I was scared at the start, but now that she’s here and I’ve got into some kind of routine, it’s not that bad.

“Macey was all over me, she’d wake Luna up, Macey always needed me.

“It’s still the same but I’m setting boundaries.”

Ash is trying not to focus on the big picture and not sweat the small stuff, and take help when it’s available.

“Take the pressure off yourself. Tell yourself it’s OK,” she said.

“You’re a mum who has to keep two kids alive.

“If you don’t have that external support then you’ve just got to learn to take a breath.

“The washing will get done eventually. The cleaning will get done eventually.”