Age at interview: 38
Background: Rumer has two children aged 5 and 3 and is married. She lives in a large city. She is a researcher and comes from an Anglo-Australian background.
Rumer had a difficult first birth resulting in an emergency caesarean. She found early parenthood 'exhausting' and had counselling for anxiety during her second pregnancy. With the support of a doula, Rumer had a vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC). Although she had wanted children, Rumer found parenthood involved a 'huge' shift in identity and the dynamics of her relationship with her husband that took time to 'settle down'.
Read excerpts from Rumer's interview
> Labour and birth experiences - Rumer described experiencing multiple interventions despite planning a 'natural' birth
> Social support during labour, birth and the early postnatal period - Rumer asked two close female friends as well as her partner to support her during her labour and birth
> Experiences of health and allied health professionals during labour and birth - Rumer explained why she engaged a doula to support her attempt to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) following an emergency caesarean with her first baby
> Social support in early parenthood - Rumer reflected on the importance of her friendships with her child-free girlfriends
> Negotiating housework and caring for children in early parenthood - Rumer said her husband's job loss had been a 'blessing in disguise' as it had forced them to 'rethink' their roles and that it was good for their children to see them both share breadwinner and caring roles
> Parents' experiences of meeting and bonding with their babies - Recovering from an emergency caesarean in a public hospital, Rumer recalled worrying about her baby being hungry and crying
> Approaches to parenting - Rumer followed her parents' approach in believing children should be loved but not overprotected, as there was no 'red carpet' awaiting them in later life
> Messages to expecting and new parents - Rumer talked about her concerns about 'disappearing' into motherhood
More about Rumer
Rumer described first feeling a 'strong drive' to have a child when she was in her mid-20s, but 'couldn't seem to find the right partner'. In her late 20s she began a 'casual' relationship that gradually became more serious. A few months after getting married, Rumer and her husband conceived their first child. Pregnancy prompted mixed feelings in Rumer - excitement but also feelings of insecurity in her relationship.
Wanting a 'natural' birth, Rumer had booked into a birthing centre. She labored at home for about 15 hours but after admission to the birthing centre her labour slowed and could not be re-started. Rumer was transferred to a regular birthing suite where she was 'augmented' with synthetic oxytocin (SYNTOCINON), which led to 'sudden full-on labour', electronic fetal monitoring, and limited mobility and options for non-pharmacological pain relief. Rumer said, 'everything that I had imagined just was the opposite'.
After 'hours and hours' of intense, painful labour Rumer had an epidural anesthetic. However, as her baby was positioned at the 'wrong angle' and beginning to fatigue, Rumer ended up having an emergency caesarean. Although she was happy she and her baby were well, she felt there was 'no permission' to talk through her sense of 'failure' over not having a vaginal birth.
During her hospital stay Rumer recalled 'pressure' around breastfeeding as her baby wasn't regaining her birth weight fast enough. After leaving hospital, breastfeeding remained challenging and Rumer sought assistance at a breastfeeding day clinic linked to the hospital she gave birth at. This was 'fantastic' and resolved the problems Rumer was having.
Rumer recalled the first months of her baby's life as 'exhausting'. She had her husband had decided to co-sleep with their baby, leading to frequent night waking for feeding. At eight months Rumer felt her tiredness was 'colouring everything'. Together with her husband they did 'controlled crying' over four nights and transitioned their baby into her own room. This was 'fairly painless' and Rumer felt much better afterwards.
Eighteen months later, Rumer became pregnant with her second child. She recalled this pregnancy as more 'stressful'. Her husband had lost his job and was looking for permanent work and Rumer was uncertain whether to continue working or pursue postgraduate studies. She said seeing a psychologist under the Better Access to Mental Health care initiative 'really helped'.
Rumer had decided to try to have a vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) and hired a doula, which she said was 'the best decision ever'. Her second labour was shorter and she had a VBAC with forceps delivery. Rumer found recovering from an episiotomy more difficult than from a caesarean, but otherwise found her second baby 'easier' than her first. Her relationship with her husband also 'settled down'.
Rumer's advice to expecting or new mothers is to resist the 'enormity of expectations around motherhood' and to hold on to other parts of their identity as there will come a time when as parents they 'recede in importance' in their children's lives.