I haven’t contributed to this blog in while as I have been wanting to write this post for ages but feeling ill, physically and mentally has just drained me lately so firstly apologies for that. I have also been watching a lot of episodes of the highland midwife and one born every minute lately, which although it’s lovely and inspiring to see women and their brand spanking new offspring, it highlights to me all the stuff (that I can remember) that was crap about my labour/my son’s birth and I know I’m in trouble when I’m watching one too many episodes!! It also sets off my stupid ovaries, which I can now actually hear ticking from, but how in all honesty could I cope with another child? That’s another subject for another day!
The story (very condensed version) should you wish to read on starts from my waters breaking first-not exactly usual to happen before the labour pains but I didn’t know this at the time. I fully expected to get turned away from the hospital, which I was. The pains started the following evening but not too badly and as we were told to return to the hospital by the 8 am the morning after that, that’s what we did. The cramps weren’t bad enough to warrant rushing in before then (although they did hurt!). By 10 am after the trace and the examination it was determined I was 4cm dilated and could proceed to labour ward. All going swimmingly so far. I thought of all those ladies on one born every minute and smugly thought how I was going to join their number. Perhaps even in a lovely pool of warm water, as per my birth plan, if the pool was free. A lovely midwife, also pregnant herself, introduces herself, settles me and my OH in a new room and discusses pain relief. I didn’t need any then! This was going to be absolutely brilliant!!!
Things started to go a bit tits up after the midwife does my observations. My temperature was over 38 degrees. Cue a huge commotion of doctors rushing into my room to establish venous access. In that moment the water birth goes out the window. It’s also established that they want to induce my labour as it’s now not progressing fast enough for them and also set up a bag of fluid and IV antibiotics. In my nursey head I know this is bad. I know the cannula, the antibiotics and the eventual catheterisation I was to receive (just another way to lose my dignity) are parts of a sepsis pathway. Did I even think this at the time? Hell no as my head is not in the game at all. Unquestioningly though I let the chaos ensue all around me. This is my turn to be cared for by the professionals. My work hat was taken off the minute I began maternity leave a couple of weeks earlier. The point where the pitocin drip ramps up my contractions and the gas and air gets wheeled in is where things become very hazy. More monitoring, and another examination (what I think is hours later) reveals I’m still only 4cm. Cue an anaesthetist waving papers under my nose to give my consent for an emergency caesarian section and bang went the whole natural birth idea.
Well that escalated quickly!! I mean of course it does in an emergent situation, and of course I wanted doctors to do what ever was necessary to save my baby. That part was never in question, no matter how high on gas and air I was but at the time if I’d have been told it was necessary to have my legs amputated in that same theatre I would have agreed to it. In theatre they took the gas and air away from me and gave me spinal so that bit I do remember because of feeling the pain without the gas!! Being made numb was a massive relief after that but also a very strange sensation. I must have been given some pretty good stuff then because here’s where it all goes hazy again. Which is pretty sad because near enough here’s when my son was born. They took him to be weighed and cleaned up straight away from looking at my OH’s pics. There’s one of him with his mouth scrunched up in that crying face of his that has now become so familiar, completely naked, with massive red bollocks, being weighed on the scale (6lbs 3oz). I do remember hearing him cry, and the crying seeming like it was miles away. By the time they brought him back to me I was completely off my tits. The anaesthetist took photos of the three of us, which was a lovely gesture, but I look like I’ve just got in from a weekend bender on all of them. I also couldn’t hold him properly because as I remember it I think the spinal had affected my arms, but no sooner as he had been presented to me in his wooly hat and bundles, he was whisked off to special care, as because I had needed antibiotics in labour, he needed them now. I’m in recovery for what seems like ages, being brought round from my buzz by kindly nurses and ODPs talking to me occasionally but I don’t get to see my son until we are both back on the ward and he’d had his IVs done. He was born at 19.19. I know that because that’s what’s documented in his red book. First skin to skin was later that night. I don’t know what time. The magnitude of what had just happened never hit me as you see it hit those families on one born every minute. In those moments you see their lives change. Mine also changed in those moments, but what I guess I am saying about my birth experience is that the most important part passed me by. Obviously I’m not saying a c section is any less of a way to give birth. You are cut open and pulled apart at the end of the day. The recovery from which alone is a bloody nightmare. Add to that the fact you’ve just had a baby pulled out of you, well that’s actually a kind of horrific isn’t it? It’s also the amount of drugs I was given. I can’t remember anything exactly, I only have pictures to tell me what happened. I look at them often but can’t really remember what was going on. I just felt out of control and very scared. Especially since I was paralysed. Not a nice feeling to remember when you want to know what it was like holding your child for the first time.
A few days after my son’s birth I was told I had sepsis which had infected the amniotic fluid and sac surrounding my son. That’s the reason for my waters breaking first. It’s unknown how I got the infection. Some women are just prone to it, I have found out from further reading, that it’s a main cause of women rupturing their membranes early and having a premature baby, or even losing them. Thank heavens for small mercies but I still feel somewhat traumatised from my son’s birth. I have often wanted to write/talk about it so essentially I want this to be cathartic. It is in a way. If I could offer any advice to myself nearly 2 years ago and also other mums in my position it would be to not let it make you feel guilty, don’t let it define you. Try and talk about it and put it to bed. Talk to your partner. Unfortunately mine is useless when it comes to the emotional stuff, hence why I’m writing, but only do it when you feel ready. Sometimes the memories will come back strongly, but try and own it as your experience. It’s still a birth experience after all. I’m trying to reclaim it now, to try and put to bed the anxiety and depression the birth of my own son has caused me. I want to get rid of that way of thinking that it shouldn’t be like this, that it’s unfair somehow, but actually it is what it is, and eventually no matter how far you are down the line it helps to face it head on and deal with it. That’s what I’m trying to do now. The availability of counselling that isn’t private in my area is appalling but I have had a bit of CBT which I’m trying to apply here. Wish me luck!
#birthstories #pnd #traumaticbirth #maternalmentalillness #postnatalanxiety #mumwriting #mentalhealthawareness