I’ve never written down my birth story. I don’t know why really I mean I’ve relived it a million times and relayed every last detail with all of my friends but as far as putting pen to paper (or should I say badly chipped nails to laptop) I’ve just never gotten round to it. But as April is Caesarean awareness month I felt that now is the time to get it out there, and with another one on the way maybe it would be a quite a cathartic process.
It was way back on the evening 16th of July 2015 that my labour started. I was 39 weeks and 6 days and I honestly couldn’t believe that I could be one of the few people who actually give birth on their due date. I knew I was in early labour because I’d been on high alert from earlier that day, I knew things just didn’t feel right. I spent all of that Thursday night trying to get comfortable, the pain was more than manageable but I was just uncomfortable ALL night.
The next morning my husband went to work (obviously!!!) as I assured him that I was ok and that he would only get in my way at home. (This is the point at which I would advise all husbands to NOT go to work, Stay at home but completely out of our way!) Everything was going ok, nothing out of the norm I guess, until I caved and called my husband to come home at about midday. He found me lying on the stairs face down with my bump resting in the space between the steps. At the time lying like this made perfect sense, looking back now I can see that this is not normal behavior. I’ll save you the boring details of my labour at home it’s not very exciting but lets just say that the other half decided to mow the lawn!!! (again NOT something I would suggest husbands do whilst their loved one is preparing for the birth of their child)
At 10 pm that night I was finally given the go ahead to go to hospital, I had endured 24 hours of labour at this point. We arrived at the labour ward, I was given a lovely room and examined to find out I was 6cm dilated. This was it, I had 2 hours left to get his baby out and be one of the few to have a due date baby. All seemed well. I got in the birthing pool munched away on my pack of jelly babies and let the process take its course. This however was the start of it all going a bit wrong.
I thought I’d only been in the pool for an hour, turns out it was about 3 or 4 so I’d missed my midnight deadline. And I was still only 6cm dilated so everything had pretty much stopped. I was moved out of my lovely room to a ward where they could monitor baby and me. I was ok at this point I think, I mean my ‘plan’ for a very calm natural birth wasn’t exactly going very well but no need to panic just yet. As things had slowed down so much I was given Oxytocin to get things moving again and opted for an epidural because I was assured by the midwife that the pain was about to get a whole lot worse and I’d been making so much use of the NHS’s supply of gas and air that I should probably give my body a break. Again, nothing to necessarily panic about at this point but god was I tired!!!
I had a sense that things were starting to go a bit off course when lots of people started poking their head around the door. Comments like ‘oh yeah that’s obviously back to back’ and ‘its going to be a big one’ were batted around. I think at some point I had to tell people that I could actually hear what they were saying. Thankfully, eventually I managed to get to 10cm and was allowed to start pushing to get my little one out and this whole fiasco over and done with. I’d been strapped to the bed for about 8 hours at this point and just wanted something, anything to happen to get me out of the purgatory. I’d been pushing for just a few minutes when out of nowhere 5 or 6 people rushed into the room. Apparently baby’s heart rate was being monitored by one of the doctors on duty and they had made the call that time was running out to get him out safely.
A c-section had never exactly been off the cards for me, I’m quite practical and just wanted a safe birth and healthy baby. But I did want to do all I could to avoid it. I guess I was sucked into thinking that the ‘natural way’ was best and that a c-section is the easy option. Well let me tell you now it is absolutely NOT. As the midwives handed me a permission form to sign and my other half removed all of my jewellery and put it in what can only be described as an NHS piss pot to be ‘looked after’ I couldn’t help but feel like I was being prepped for the morgue. Ridiculous I know looking back but I was exhausted, I’d not been allowed to eat or drink for hours, my control over my birth had been completely taken away and I just felt like a washed up walrus. My emotional connection to giving birth and welcoming my child into the world had gone, I was void of any feeling and just about had the emotional capacity to sob my way through the whole process.
As it goes the c-section went well and we welcomed our beautiful baby boy Stanley Noah Brooks at 12.57pm on Saturday 18th of July weighing 9lb 2oz around 38ish hours after I went into labour. I felt this huge sense of relief, it didn’t matter how I’d given birth to him, he was here, I was alive and I could get out of this horrific operating theatre. But then the panic started again. The room filled with doctors and next thing I knew Stanley was being rushed out of the room. I remember screaming ‘but I’ve not even seen him yet’ he was lifted high enough for me to see the top of a blue hat and then he was gone. And that was it, I’d given birth and then my baby had been taken away. He’d been having trouble breathing so needed to go over to special care straight away. In hindsight I can rationalize this process, of course it’s more important for him to be looked after than to be lovingly swaddled and placed on my chest but this isn’t what happens in the books. It’s not what people tell you could happen and it’s certainly not what I had envisaged for my first few hours of motherhood.
To cut a very long and emotional story short Stanley was on antibiotics for a day or so and I didn’t get to meet him for what seemed like hours. In fact the first time I saw him was on a video that my husband was allowed to take whilst I was in recovery. We had to spend our first night apart which was horrific at the time but looking back I didn’t have anywhere near the energy required to be able to care for a brand new baby that night. As the drugs wore off and I could finally start to feel my legs again the realization of what my body had just been through kicked in. A C-section is a major operation and people that have them are never given enough credit. Especially if it’s an emergency section as usually the operation happens just at the point at which your body is so exhausted that it has given up on you. I felt like half a human but with this huge responsibility to look after someone else. And they make you WALK!!!!!! I mean who in their right mind wants to walk after they have just been cut open from left to right?!?! But walk I did and swiftly got my mother hat on and quite frankly just got on with it, what choice did I have?
4 days later Stanley and I were released. I say released because I feel like I’d been negotiating it with the midwives for days. It was like I was on trial and I was having to provide a case for the defense on why home life would be more beneficial than being locked up!!! The joy of being at home made me feel like I could do anything, including taking our new son for a walk around the village. DO NOT DO THIS!!!! The second I got home I realized that my body was not ready for exercise just yet and to take it easy. Also do NOT miss out on taking your pain killers, I fell asleep on the sofa and missed a dose of paracetamol, when I woke I couldn’t get up! I was like a turtle on its back I had to rock my body to get the momentum up to crawl onto the floor and then up the bookcase to standing!!
So in summary, my experience of having an emergency section wasn’t a great one. But my attitude to c-sections in general has altered massively. My fear and anxiety at the time were all due to being so tired, I look back on the experience and can rationalize every action, I was not a failure for not giving birth naturally. I had a happy healthy baby boy (eventually) and that is the most important thing. It is NOT the easy way out, its bloody hard work!! The recovery process is long and painful. You feel the after affects from giving birth weeks after the main event and its silent, people can’t see your pain or discomfort. You see all these new mums springing back into jeans when all you can manage is an elasticated waistband, you can’t drive so rely on others for help to get out and about and well, you have a huge scar. It does fade and to be honest now mine is pretty much non-existent. My advise to all of those of you out there with any sort of anxiety about a c-section is, what will be will be. If you have to have one then well, what choice to do you have? The most important thing when you have a baby is that you are both as healthy and as well as can be and if this means having a c-section then it is 100% worth it. Its nothing to be afraid of and it does not make you less of a mother.
So with the next one due in June I guess you are all wondering what I’ve decided to do this time round…. Well, the plan at the minute is to do the same as last time. I want to go into labor naturally and just test my body again, as I reached 10cm there is no medical reason why I would have to have an elective section however if things change then so be it. What I do know is that this time round I will take more care of myself during labour and remain calm in the knowledge that the people looking after me know what they are doing. And I’ll probably pack a bag for a few days rather than 24 hours!!!
And I guess the other big question is will my husband go to work when I’m in labour this time round? Well the answer is ….probably.
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