My name is Nicci Murtagh and I have recently had a baby girl much earlier than anticipated at 27 weeks, 4 weeks ago. I’m writing to tell my story as although it’s been a scary time, and that delivery day was unexpected and confronting, I have to thank Dani for helping me to make what could have been a horrendous outcome, a much more positive and successful one, due to what I had picked up in Prenatal Yoga classes with her. She’s not going to accept any responsibility, but I’m going to try to force her to, or at the very least encourage others to participate in her classes so that they too may benefit from the myriad of skills that her classes offer mums to be.
First, a disclaimer: Obviously everyone is different and I don’t mean to share my story as a one size fits all success story. Nor do I mean to put pressure on Dani or any other mums to be that may find themselves in this situation. Quite the opposite. I mean to just share an example of how I managed to implement a skill Dani had shared with her students and why I believe it helped me.
Second, a bit about me: I’m 27, and although I consider myself a bit of a science sceptic and can’t say I align toooo much with Eastern medicine at all, I have a Psych Major from uni and recognise the power of the mind. I had been reading my Hypnobirthing book and although we never made it to those classes, and there were some things my cynical scientific mind was screwing its nose up at, there were plenty of philosophies that did resonate with me, including the idea of breathing, a positive mindset and meditation to assist with birth.
I have been practising my own mindfulness exercises for a few years now, even with my secondary school students and am a full believer in using such exercises to remain grounded and calm where need be. Yes I am good in high pressure situations, my job as a teacher has demanded it with the odd fight, medical emergency and stressful situation, and I am usually seen as ‘that girl’ who handles those situations really well (afterwards I am a mess and have learnt to deal with that adrenaline plummet and mental debrief with mindfulness). I have also done lounge room yoga on and off for the last few years too and know it is good for me physically and mentally and have seen the benefits there too.
When I became pregnant, I knew that I needed to get out of the lounge room and start going to specific prenatal yoga classes. Dani is an old school friend of my Husband Dean and I and I knew she was offering prenatal classes so signed myself and a girlfriend up. I loved how she asked us all to let her know any ailments or concerns we had and she would tailor her classes to target these areas but in a fluid and anonymous way. I never felt silly asking Dani to repeat instructions, help me with my positioning or even to have a session in a class on how I could tell if I was lifting my pelvic floor properly!! I also loved the end of session relaxation moments where she would even bring awareness to bub. I was struggling to identify with the fact that there was a tiny human (my son or daughter) inside of me and it was nice to have those moments of connection. I could keep chatting about what happens in her classes, but I’ll get to my story now.
There were a few sessions that I went to where Dani did some visualisation exercises at the end of the class. I distinctly remember one where we placed ourselves on a beach with an associated soundtrack, and another forest scene too, all while practising breathing exercises to drift away and calm the mind and body. I really found myself there! Particularly the beach one where I immediately found myself on the Sand at Noosa Beach where my husband and I had spent some time earlier last year. Other nights at home, if I was struggling to fall asleep, I would take myself there too and found it very useful to calm the mind and body.
On the 15th of May, the day after Mother’s Day, I found myself needing to go to the hospital in an ambulance. I won’t get into the details publicly but welcome any questions directly. Within half an hour, my amazing doctor, who I have always trusted, was needing verbal consent to take my baby out (whose heart rate had dropped dramatically) and possibly give me a hysterectomy at the same time. My husband and I remained calm, there aren’t many ways to respond in such situations but I knew my doctor was all over the situation and would not be doing anything unnecessarily. My husband and I were able to almost say goodbye before they rushed me into the operating room. Meanwhile, I was already at Noosa. I was working soooooo hard to practise the breathing techniques Dani had taught us, visualising myself in a much less confronting situation on a towel with my baby and was talking to it (at that stage we didn’t know the gender). Whether it is coincidence or not, by the time they were ready to operate, my doctor asked to see my babies heart rate one more time...it had gone up considerably. Enough to buy us some time for me to have some extremely important injections to assist with my baby’s brain and lung development. Once I heard that, I was in super mum mode. Doing everything I could to keep communicating with my baby, my husband was allowed into the theatre at this stage as my doctor had decided we were both well enough to wait for a bit longer. She got onto a Neonatal team from Melbourne and had them flown up.
I was in some pain, while not in labour, my placenta had come away from the wall of my uterus and this was very uncomfortable. Despite this, I was able to remain far enough away in my Noosa with my breathing, to stay on that same table for a few more hours while we waited for the team to arrive and for my baby to get the medication to her to greatly increase her chances of survival. My husband says we were in there for such a long time. But it no joke felt like half an hour, right up to the last minute where my body was trying to tell me something and I lost my mojo, my pain became quite bad and my blood loss increased to the point where we had to begin without the Neonatal support team from Melbourne.
They arrived soon after and were able to make the checks of my beautiful baby girl Mayla Joy before swinging her past me in the recovery room (uterus intact!) and then flying her to the Mercy Hospital for Women where I too was taken the next day via air ambulance. She is doing so well. It has its ups and downs but I constantly think of Dani, her classes and what I had picked up, and those few hours where all I could do as a mum, was try to calm our farm, cope with the shocking situation and trust the professionals around us would do their very best for us. Dani, if it hadn’t been for the Prenatal Yoga Noosa you provided, I am just not convinced our story would be the same. Mayla, Dean and I thank you for not only helping me cope during those terrible hours, but anecdotally (I haven’t discussed this with my doctor yet) I truly believe you helped me to settle Mayla and myself enough to buy that precious time where things changed so much for the better.
We love you and your yoga!!
Nicci, Dean and Mayla xxxxxxxx
You can follow Nicci, Deans and Maylas journey over at @niccimurtagh