I was amazed by the resilience and strength that Emily shows in this post about the birth of her daughter Anna. After a long and difficult labour culminating in a forceps delivery, Emily could be forgiven for holding on to some negative thoughts about her experience, but here she looks back on the birth positively and without distress.
Whilst her labour was highly medicalised, the support she received and the fact that she still felt as though she retained some control over what was happening, means that her story is an empowering and encouraging one.
Emily lives in the Midlands with her husband and 6-month-old daughter, Anna. She recently left a career in banking to return to her passion, teaching music, though is doing more nappy changing than piano playing for the moment.
Emily blogs at confessionsofafailedbreastfeeder.wordpress.com
When I look back on the birth of my first baby, Anna, I wonder how I managed it. People talk about how childbirth has become too medicalised but, even though I needed significant assistance during my labour, I still marvel at what my body (and mind) achieved.
Like most new mums, I waited for the slightest twinge as my due date approached. It quickly passed with no sign of labour. Once or twice I had some lower back pain in the evening, so I decided to go to bed and hoped to sleep through some of the early parts of labour. Each time I woke up in the morning after a good night of sleep and without any further symptoms.
I turned up at for my allocated induction slot (now 12 days overdue) to discover that I was, in fact, already in labour and probably had been for a day or two. The midwife said that I probably wouldn’t need a full induction using a drip and might just need a “kick-start” with a pessary.
She was right – I went into labour at tea-time on the first day, my waters broke and I dilated to 5cm very quickly. The problems started when things started moving too fast: the contractions were so strong that they made me sick EVERY time, so I couldn’t keep any fluid down. The midwives tried two sorts of anti-sickness medication and neither made any difference so I had to resign myself to throwing up until the baby made an appearance.
By lunchtime on day 2, I had been in hospital for 30 hours and in labour for 20. I was tired, weak and dehydrated, but the thought of being so close to meeting my baby kept me going. I was active, I used the pool and generally followed everything I had been told to do in my antenatal classes. The midwives said I couldn’t be doing anything any better but the pain got worse as I got weaker. I used gas and air throughout and then had diamorphine when it just didn’t cut it.
A few hours later – tea-time on day 2 – an examination showed that my labour had stalled and I had not dilated any further in 4 hours. This was probably due to either the dehydration or the fact that the artificial hormones had done their job and my own hormones just weren’t strong enough to keep going alone. The hospital staff acted quickly and I was swiftly hooked up to a saline drip, a hormone drip and constant foetal heartbeat monitoring.
At midnight on the second day I finally started pushing. I had not eaten anything (or at least kept anything down) or slept for more than a few minutes for 2 days. I think what I’m like now after having only a few hours’ sleep with my six month old and wonder how on earth I was still conscious, never mind prepared to give birth. I pushed for nearly two hours to no avail.
I clearly remember the point where I started to doubt whether I was going to be able to do it: I was in the bathroom, one leg on a stool and leaning over my midwife and husband. It was as if the midwife had been waiting for me to say something because she took me seriously straight away. A doctor soon appeared using the words “theatre”, “c-section” and “urgent”. I thought “I’ve been doing this for two days, I am pushing this baby out!”, but like the good patient that I am, I nodded and got on with it. The midwife must have read my mind because she took the doctor aside and all of a sudden we were going for a forceps delivery instead.
And the rest is history? No, not quite! My daughter’s head was delivered using the forceps and then nothing happened. After a few moments, my husband asked if everything was ok. “Yes…”, was the response, “the baby is fine but the her body is going to need some more help to come out”. His reaction was one of relief – the baby was fine! Mine was more one of complete horror that the forceps had to go back in! Eventually, Anna was born at 2.20am on my third day in hospital.
My labour was long and eventful, but it was never truly distressing in the way that some women encounter. If anything, my memories of those days get more difficult as time goes on. Biology continues to do its work, however, because my experience is one that will prepare me for another childbirth rather than put me off. Though medication and medical procedures saved mine and my baby’s life, I still feel as though my body was calling the shots. It wasn’t the birth I would have planned, but the outcome – my beautiful baby girl – is more than I could ever have imagined.
Follow Emily on Twitter @failedfeeder