Our birth story

Birth

This is the moment I have been blogging for. The moment I can finally lay my soul bare and set myself free. I’ve spent the last seven months wondering if it would ever come. Wondering when I would feel brave enough, strong enough to think about, and perhaps write my birth story. Its 1am on a Thursday evening, and its now of all times that my brain chooses to finally regress. I’m trying to sleep, but I can’t. My head is swimming with thoughts of my labour. About that day. Or rather, those three days..

My head is scattered. Jumbled. My story a hash of thoughts and memories, a reflection of the fragments of the moments I remember. It’s so painful to look back, to think back. Because every time I do I wonder if it could have been different. If events were destined to play out the way they did.

It started innocently enough. Waters breaking, gently, slowly. Contractions beginning. Somehow progressing to pain…and fear. I remember feeling intoxicated by the pain. Losing time. Having no sense of it. Just remembering that day became night somehow. Being in our bedroom on the bed, trying to manage the pain. Each contraction a wave of pain which griped me and caused my whole body to shake and sweat. Having a bath, getting out of the bath, crying.. I think.. Throwing up. Putrid, green bile and vomit. Having a bite of pizza that I didn’t feel like. Throwing up. More shaking. Going to hospital. Throwing up. Being examined and told I was only 2cms. Disbelief. Being sent home and enduring the long and what seemed like endless journey home. Hours at a home a blur. How long, I don’t know. Sleeping briefly. Waking. Not being able to bear the pain anymore. Begging the husband to take me back to the hospital. More throwing up. More waters running. Being examined again. Two more centimeters. Not enough. Begging to be admitted. Relief at being allowed to stay in the birthing suite. Lovely doula. Pain relief. Pethidine. At last, sleep. A little, before the pain wakes me from my light slumber. Trying to walk around, but the pain is too much. Nothing is helping and nothing is progressing. We are moved from the birth suite to the delivery ward. 12 hours since my waters broke, no birthing suite for us. No natural labour. Monitoring. Bed. More pain relief. Gas and air followed by an epidural. At last, sweet relief. The pain is gone, with a click of a button. I feel its coolness around my spine. Sweet, sweet relief. I can talk, I can string words together and sentences. I can smile. I can laugh. I feel better. Happy even. I feel sane again. My mind returns to me. I reapply make up in a moment of consciousness.

I don’t know how long it has been. I have lost sense of the hours and days. Changes of nurses and shifts. Syntocinon administered to speed up the dilation, but baby doesn’t like it. Heart rate up, Syntocinon stopped. On and off for hours and hours. Maybe a day. I can’t remember. All I remember is the hunger. The insatiable hunger. Nil by mouth in case I need surgery suddenly. Begging to be allowed just one jelly bean. So hungry… and tired. I don’t remember when I last slept, and then we’re pushing. I can feel the sensation of the waves of contractions building up, but not the pain. I know when to push. I’m not scared. I know what I’m doing. Pushing. For an hour or two, or three. Examinations, lots of hands, and people. Talk of a c-section. Begging not to have a c-section. Being given one more hour to try. More pushing. Nothing. Off to theatre we go. Quickly and swiftly.

Somehow we are there. Its surreal. Scrubs. Bright lights. Scared husband. Being lifted from bed to trolley. Just like TV. Surreal. Lots of people. So many lovely people. Not feeling scared but calm. Knowing that soon we’ll meet our baby. Feeling numb. Legs put in stirrups. Then more pushing, and pulling with a ventouse. Ventouse violently flicking out of me. Thinking that can’t be good. More pushing and pulling. Seeing my baby’s head in the reflection of the glass. Determination and pushing. Being told I’m having an episiotomy. Asking not to have one then conceding. No more fight in me.

Then finally, my baby. On my chest. For a moment, or two, or three. Beautiful baby. Tears in my eyes. Emotions. Watery emotions. Not knowing, boy or girl. Baby whisked away for checks. Urgently asking my husband boy or girl? Tears in his eyes, voice breaking, mine and his. Frustration at not knowing if we have a boy or a girl and what is going on. Feels like forever. Stitching me up. Finally being told it’s a girl. Happiness and relief. At last she is here. At last it is over. At last the pain is gone.

Back in room. Husband goes to make calls. At some point we are moved from the labour ward to the post natal ward. When and how I don’t remember. I don’t remember those precious first few hours, and now that I can bear to think back on it all I feel robbed. I feel sadness, and disappointment. I feel grief. I feel despair, and regret. I mourn what could have been, and I don’t know how to make it better. How to make the sadness go away. It haunts me, and lingers in the back of my mind. I can’t watch One Born, I can’t talk about it with people, I can’t think about it and reminisce. Perhaps over time, the pain and sadness of what could have been will fade away. Or perhaps with another. To have one more and add to our little family. A boy or a girl. But I am terrified. Petrified, of having to go through it all again. I don’t think my heart could stand the disappointment, and my body take the pain a second time. But maybe one day, I will be brave enough to try again..

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/lab2112/1119445345/”>Lab2112</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

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9 thoughts on “Our birth story

  1. Oh hunny. Such a moving birth story, and one I can relate to so much (not myself, but in my work). I’m guessing this is your first baby? Unfortunately it is quite common (more than anyone realises) for prolongued latent phase with first babies, which in itself often leads to epidural, which can lead to a slowing of dilatation, which leads to synto, which in combination can often lead to instrumental / emsc. This is why we need caseloading midwives. I have seen such a difference since working with a caseloading team – midwives who can come to your house to examine you rather than having to traipse back and forth to the hospital in labour (which can really slow things down in itself), to support you in the latent phase, which can be the hardest. When you have another baby you should ask to go with a caseloading team, it is not always possible and some areas reserve them for those who need them as they are in such demand, such as women with previous traumatic births. Not that I’m saying your birth is traumatic, but if you are having these feelings and thoughts then you may be experiencing some symptoms of PTSD – which you don’t have to have a terrible birth to have, it is often caused by things not going as planned/unexpected and the feeling of the loss of control / things being taken out of your hands – such as the ventouse. Anyway I won’t ramble too much on your comments, but please consider talking to someone about it, if you do have PTSD they will be able to help you through it. You can also request to see your notes and talk through them with a midwife, which some people find really helpful as it can be so hard to remember – but it’s all documented and kept for 25 years. Anyway. I hope you feel better about the experience soon, and thank you for sharing your story x

    • Oh thank you so much for your detailed comments. It really is helpful to hear from others more in the know on the “why” in regards to labour. At the time I felt prepared (as much as you can be for your first labour), but in hindsight going through the experience I did, and hearing from others such as yourself about how common these types of labours are and why they are so common makes me realise that actually I knew hardly anything. I think if perhaps I was more knowledgeable about the complete labour process and how long things can take then I may not feel the way I do now about labour.

      I will definitely look into the caseloading team suggestion if/when we have another baby. I hadn’t even heard of this option before you mentioned it! Its a shame that it isn’t more broadly mentioned within the NHS as I can imagine it could be very useful, especially for first time mums who are probably a little more anxious and on edge about going through labour. I hadn’t heard of PTSD before you mentioned it either. Its hard for me to classify how I feel. I feel traumatised by the experience when I think about and reflect on it, but otherwise it doesn’t affect me. I think the biggest impact it has had, is changing how I feel about having more children. But im hopeful that over time that the way that I feel about labour will improve, and Ill be less scared to do it again.

  2. Thanks for sharing your story. Feeling robbed of that experience that you possibly may never have again is awful. I am still bitter that I was ‘robbed’ of it but I deal with it in my own way and ultimately m beyond grateful to have a happy, healthy family.

    • It is a terrible feeling isn’t it. I cant bear to think on it for too long. But I am really hopeful that the way that I feel will start to change over time. What makes it better as you say, is having a happy, healthy family at the end of it. Like you, I am very grateful and despite everything, I would do it all again for my daughter.

  3. I loved reading this story; incredible writing, seriously.

    I’m no expert, but childbirth is an incredibly fraught process; we are lucky we live in an age in which there is so much intervention available. Previously 100s of women and babies just would not have survived. So although you have a lot of negative feelings around how your birth went, please don’t feel as if you have let anyone down. Nobody ever said that getting 8lb of human out would be a straightforward process!!

    I was unbelievably lucky with my labour and the more I talk to other mums, the more I realise this. Your experience is no less real or valid than mine because you needed a bit more help; it’s just different.

    I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: we beat ourselves up enough without being angry at ourselves about things like this.

    xx

    • Thanks for your kind words. Im glad you enjoyed reading our birth story. I know that we do give ourselves a hard time as mums. I agree with everything you have said, and although it all makes sense in my head and I know what you are saying is true, its so hard to emotionally let go.

  4. I’m blown away by this, and by your courage. It takes a lot to admit all these things about the birth of your child – a time when you’re meant to feel such joy and happiness, but sometimes things happen that are beyond our control and rock us to our core. I was told last week at my debrief that what I’m feeling is akin to grief, and you have to let it take it’s course.

    I’m glad you’ve found the courage to get this down in words. A lot of it I feel myself; loss, anger, sadness, sorrow. I personally will never have another birth to allow any healing to take place that way, I have to try and find positives from my experience and move forward with them. I will find my healing in other places and I hope that you can find ways to help recover from your experience.

    It will take time, but keep talking, I’ve found bending people’s ears about what happened to me has helped in the 10 weeks since it happened.

    • I cant believe it has taken me so long to reply to your comment – sorry! Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post and share your thoughts and feelings. It always makes me feel slightly better when I hear that I am not the only woman to feel like this about their birth experience, even though I would never wish a similar experience on anyone else. I really do hope that over time the rawness of it all will fade and I can start to look forward to thinking about maybe having another child sometime in the future. For now though, im just glad that I can actually think and talk about it more than I used to..

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