I didn’t get my VBAC – ‘Resident Blogger’ Susanne

mummy and elsieResident Blogger Susanne did not have an easy time of her fourth pregnancy. Suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum (severe pregnancy sickness) in the early weeks, she endured the uncertainty throughout the third trimester of whether her baby would have to be born prematurely due to IUGR, a condition fortunately picked up through the use of customised growth charts and extra scans.

IUGR, which stands for intra-uterine growth restriction, can be indicative of a problem with the placenta which prevents the baby from receiving the nutrition it needs, and is one of the biggest risk factors for stillbirth. Babies suffering from IUGR often have to be delivered early and can experience problems associated with being born very small.

Susanne’s emotions were further complicated by her desire for a VBAC, a vaginal birth after caesarean, which became less and less of an option as the pregnancy became more complicated. Having already undergone three previous sections, Susanne knew from the start it would not be an easy road. Here you can read about Susanne’s difficult journey, which happily culminated in the safe delivery of little Elsie Rose at 37 weeks.

Susanne blogs at www.ghostwritermummy.co.uk where you can read more about her experience with HG, IUGR and the subject of VBAC.

Back in May, I decided I wanted a VBAC. Since discovering I was pregnant, I always kind of knew this was what I wanted to do when it came to the birth. But I remember consciously making up my mind and speaking it aloud.

There.

It was out there. My intentions were known. No going back. I wanted a VBA3C. A vaginal birth after three c-sections. A ‘natural’ birth. A ‘normal’ birth.

susanne bump 20 weeksThis was met with mixed responses. Sensible responses from people such as my mother (“Just wait and see what happens. I’m sure it will work out the way you want it to in the end.”); positively positive responses (“Of course you can have a VBAC! Your body was made for it!”); horrified responses from people such as the first midwife I saw (“After three previous sections? There isn’t a doctor around who will support you in that!”); and vaguely amused responses (“Why would you want to do that? Don’t you know the risks?!”).

Yes. I knew the risks. I joined a Facebook group filled with women who advocate VBAC and natural birth. Women who were successfully getting their VBACs after 3, 4 and even 5 previous c-sections. I knew the risks of scar rupture existed, but I also knew they were very small. So I weighed it up and weighed on in.

In the group, lots of women speak of ‘not being allowed’ a VBAC, according to their doctors. These women routinely reply with the standard mantra

            Your body, your decision.

and it kind of stuck throughout my pregnancy. Whenever I was faced with the question over whether or not ‘they’ would let me birth my baby the way nature intended, I told them the same thing. This was MY body and MY choice.

My choice was to deliver my baby myself. To hold her against my skin moments later and to finally finally understand what it was all about when women spoke of feeling empowered, head over heels in love and like they could conquer the world. To be able to carry a baby to term and to deliver that baby without medication, medical assistance and sterile lighting. To do it the way my body wanted to. That was my choice.

Another regular line heard in the VBAC group came with birth announcements. Babies are born, eventually, after much discussion over how and when and with what interventions, and they are duly announced in the group. We are all waiting to hear. Did she get it? So the opening line of most announcements are either I got my VBAC! followed by wonderfully uplifting words of encouragement to the rest of us still waiting and hoping; or I didn’t get my VBAC but… usually followed by details of whether or not the surgeon ‘allowed’ skin to skin, or whether or not the lady laboured before the decision was made to perform a repeat c-section. So here is my announcement.

I didn’t get my VBAC.

BUT.

But I wanted to. I really, really wanted to. The decision was taken away early into my third trimester and to cut a long story short, my VBAC was pipped to the post by IUGR. Growth restriction meant my baby was too small for a ‘normal’ delivery. Growth restriction meant that my pregnancy had to end early, and a c-section was the only option since my body (scar) wouldn’t be able to handle an induction. Growth restriction meant my announcement in the group wasn’t written the way I’d intended it to be written back in May.

BUT.

elsie rose first 25 hoursBut I got my baby. And she is well. And we love her a lot. And that really does matter, but it is not ALL that matters.

It matters that I didn’t get my VBAC, because I went on a journey to get it. Self-acceptance. Self-awareness. Confidence. I actually, after all these years, believed I could do it. Birth my baby. Scans showed that she was head down, facing the right way and ready to go. During surgery I was told that there was practically no scar tissue at all after my 3 sections. My surgeon was amazed, and told me that my body was in perfect condition for carrying and delivering a baby. And, strangely, that was the nicest thing anyone ever said to me in a long time.

I didn’t get my VBAC but I got something else instead. I got to the end of that path and saw that I could do it.

Follow Susanne on Twitter @Ghostwritermumm

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How I got my body back with a VBAC – Tarynn Playle

tarynn 1I’m excited to bring you a trans-Atlantic perspective on the VBAC from the lovely Tarynn, who lives in Seattle, and is a stay-at-home ‘mom’ to her three year old daughter, and her son who is one. Tarynn started writing down her experiences with her little ones to document her children’s development but has found it to also be great therapy.

Many of you will identify with Tarynn’s VBAC experience and the feelings she talks about will be familiar to those who have been through the same dilemma of whether to ‘try’ for a vaginal birth after caesarean.

Tarynn blogs at www.mamabyfire.com

Before my daughter was born, I had a birth plan. As well as a certain expectation. She would be born, drug-free, and we would be smitten from the moment our eyes met.

After 17 hours of hard back labour, I broke down and got an epidural. Five hours after that, I was taken in for an emergency c-section.

I was devastated and disappointed. I also felt robbed of the immediate connection I had been looking forward to. It took months for me to feel a genuine attachment to my lovely little lady.

When I found out I was pregnant with my son, I began to mentally prepare myself for another surgery. Then I heard about the possibility of having a Vaginal Birth After Caesarean (VBAC). I decided to find out what I could. I did plenty of research online, which was encouraging with success stories, but also riddled with not so successful stories.

So, a little tentative, I asked my midwife what she thought. She was helpful in that she gave me information and statistics, but she didn’t suggest I do one or the other.

I met with the OB that did my caesarean to see if he could give me any direction. He explained why I had to have the surgery in the first place (the cord was wrapped around her neck) and that it wasn’t likely to happen again. So I was considered a “good candidate” to “try” for a VBAC. (They say “try” for a VBAC, because if anything doesn’t go their way, you’re straight into surgery.)

It was nerve-wracking, but I decided to go for it.

Once I made the decision, I was surrounded by support.

At the hospital, during labour and delivery, you are always monitored no matter your circumstance. But with a VBAC, they monitor a bit more, and if you have a midwife, like me, there has to be an OB on call at all times. This is why they wanted to know ahead of time my intentions for this birth – so they can be prepared.

My due date was on the Fourth of July, and I was miserable. I could barely walk, had to pee every half hour, and I had the impending labour/delivery looming over my head.

I started having contractions the next day. It was a Friday and they were intermittent throughout the day. I wasn’t sure how to tell when I needed to go in because the first time around, my waters broke at home. That’s pretty much a no-brainer.

This time, I just waited through the contractions. By 9 pm, we finally went in because they were pretty close together.

I was only 4cm dilated, but they decided to keep me because the contractions were so consistent.

I always thought I had a high tolerance for pain. My first labour proved me otherwise, so this time, I planned on getting the epidural. I waited as long as I could, but got it a few hours in.

Unfortunately for me, the anaesthesiologist wasn’t successful the first time. Not entirely his fault – I have a severe curve in my spine, 96 degrees to be exact. So I can imagine he had his work cut out for him. Luckily, the second try took like a charm and I was able to get some rest.

At 5 am, I got to start pushing. I was surprised at how much work it was! It was difficult to tell if I was doing any pushing at all because of the epidural, but I had encouraging midwifery staff rooting me on.

My husband was there the entire time as well. It’s a humbling experience when your husband and a few strangers are staring at your nether regions for five hours.

That’s how long I had to push. Five hours. Every time I had a contraction, I would push and he would start to crown….then back in. Out a little, then right back in. The midwife offered me a mirror to see, and I politely (I hope) declined. I know it was an amazing miracle that was taking place, but I was a wreck and I didn’t want to add to that by seeing what my husband had been staring at for hours.

My midwife played it cool, but I think she was a little concerned at how long it was taking. She finally sought out the on-call OB. He played a very important role in the birth of my son. A few roles, actually.

tarynn 2First, he pulled him out. It took about another hour of contractions and pulling during each one. Then, all of a sudden, as if it was nothing, my son was out, and immediately placed on my chest.

There is no other feeling like it. The intense bond, the incredible love. It was overwhelming.

His right hand was on his left cheek the entire time I was in labour, which is why it took so long. He was also 9lbs 15oz. One tiny ounce away from being 10lbs. If they had known he was that big, they would not have let me “try” for my VBAC.

This leads me to the other major role the doctor played. It took him over an hour to stitch me up. I kept my eye on the clock because I was impatiently waiting to hold my son again. So different from my first birth. I loved my daughter with everything I had, but I did not want to hold her after she was born.

This birth was empowering. I had no control the first time, my body was out of my hands. This time, I felt I had regained a part of myself that I had lost.

Don’t get me wrong. I love c-sections. Surgery saved my daughter and me, and they save thousands of others daily. If it was necessary for me to get another one, I would have.

But I didn’t have to, and for that, I am grateful.

Follow Tarynn on Twitter @mamabyfire

Baby C’s Birth Story – ‘Resident Blogger’ Hannah

baby cIt is an absolute joy to bring you Hannah’s story of Baby C’s arrival – or Toby, as he should now be known! Those of us who were waiting for the big announcement on Twitter once we knew Hannah had gone into labour were on tenterhooks to find out what was happening. Here is her lovely birth story – and the first of our Resident Bloggers to welcome their new arrival!

Hannah blogs at www.buddingsmiles.co.uk

Those of you who have followed my bump updates will know that I was due on July 9th and we’d opted not to find out if we were having a boy or girl.

On Sunday 6th, I started getting some mild, irregular contractions. Not hugely painful, but definitely stronger than the Braxton Hicks I’d had for weeks. We had friends round for tea and I was fine cooking and chatting, although I spent a lot of the evening on my birthing ball, willing things to get going!

On Monday morning, Phil and I had decided to go out for a nice breakfast because we were pretty sure we’d have a baby by the following weekend. I was contracting fairly regularly by then, but they were still mild.

Back at home, I had a bloody show and what looked like some of my waters. I was advised to go in and be checked out, so we packed the car up with our bags and car seat and headed off. From then on, the contractions were increasingly painful and I was sure I was in early labour. At the hospital I was told I was 1cm dilated and given a sweep. The contractions really started to heat up after that and soon they were every 7 minutes, reducing to every 5 minutes by bed time.

I say bed time, by then the contractions were so painful I couldn’t bear to lay or sit down, so on went the TENS machine and I spent all of Monday night pacing the living room and timing the contractions. I tried to take some paracetamol in the hope of getting some sleep, but that made me throw up so I just gave up trying to rest and got on with walking around!

By 4am each contraction was bringing me to the verge of tears, the TENS was on full blast and they were 3-4 minutes apart. Phil called the maternity unit and we we’re told we could go in, but that I’d be best staying at home as long as possible. I managed until about half 5, but by then I was in tears because I was scared I wouldn’t have dilated and would be stuck like this for the rest of the day!

Off we went, Phil driving the 35 minute route as carefully as possible and me pressing that lovely boost button on the TENS machine. I loved that button!

hannah ropeTo our delight, I was 5cm dilated and we were shown through to an en suite room in the midwife-led unit. I was impressed by the variety of bean bags, balls, stools and suspended rope available to me, but I still found that my best coping mechanism was walking. I was offered gas and air, but I hated it and felt sick from it, so decided to leave it for as long as I could.

At 08:52 my waters broke naturally, much to my joy. The student midwife who was caring for me called for her senior and unfortunately, due to a small amount of meconium in the waters, I had to be placed on the monitor which meant being on a bed. We walked down to another private room in the delivery unit and I was strapped up to the monitor. The baby’s heartbeat was okay but there were very few movements so I had to go on to my side. The contractions were so much worse lying down, so I began having small goes on the gas and air.

I can’t remember all the details from here, I know that I was sick a couple of times and that it took a lot of encouragement for me to use the gas and air through the whole of each contraction. I remember asking Phil to put my labour playlist on, then finding my favourite songs too emotional so he put Lucy Rose on, which was a good choice!

I lost all track of time but I remember feeling the need to push and informing the midwife of this in a slightly frantic manner! I heard the midwife in charge mention an internal to confirm I was fully dilated, but they decided not to as my instincts had been spot on up to that point and they trusted me to know when to push.

I pushed and pushed, with Phil and the midwives cheering me on, but Baby C kept crowning then going back in. I had desperately wanted to avoid delivering on my back, but with the midwife telling me I had to come off my side, I knew the pain was too intense to get on my knees, so with everyone’s help I went on to my back.

Things really got moving then and I was able to reach down and feel the Baby’s head, which was amazing. I kept asking Phil if he was okay standing up and apologising to everyone for making noise, apparently that was quite funny!

hannah and tobyAfter what I was told was about an hour of pushing, I felt Baby C make a final descent into the world and Phil and the midwife placed our baby on to my chest.

“What is it?” I asked Phil.

“It’s a Toby”

Our beautiful son arrived at 11:58, weighing a fantastic 7lb 9oz, he latched for a feed soon after and we both spent a long time having skin to skin cuddles with Toby. Phil and I are overwhelmed with love for our son and can’t speak highly enough of both the student and senior midwives, Liz and Laura, or any of the other wonderful staff at Peterborough hospital. We were discharged 6 hours after his birth and off we went, taking our son home.

Follow Hannah on Twitter @BuddingSmiles

Anna’s birth story: dad’s perspective – Ben Harrison

emily harrison picLast week I posted the birth story of Emily and her daughter Anna – a long and arduous labour culminating in an assisted delivery with forceps. I was thrilled when Emily got in touch to say that her husband Ben wanted to write a post about the experience from his perspective as the first time dad in the situation.

Obviously as mums we are often in our own little bubble when it comes to childbirth, with memories clouded by the intensity of it all. Here Ben tells us how he supported Emily through her labour, but with great clarity details some of the things he wishes he had done differently. He raises some really interesting points about how involved birth partners actually feel and how much influence they can have in the delivery room.

Huge thanks must go to both Emily and Ben for sharing their experiences with us. Can any other dads relate to Ben’s post?

Emily blogs at confessionsofafailedbreastfeeder.wordpress.com

Ben does not have a blog but is happy to be known as ‘Emily’s husband’.

When my daughter, Anna, was finally born, my most overwhelming feelings were not related to joy, love, instant recognition or even ‘What Do I Do Now?’, like all the parenting books said they would be. Some or all of those feelings were there, of course, but my overriding emotion was one of relief. Relief that, after 42 weeks of pregnancy and the same number of hours of labour, our little girl had arrived and was healthy.

If you are reading this, the chances are that you have already read Emily’s birth story, so I will not go into details of the birth itself; suffice to say that I spent a lot of time pacing the floor, holding my wife’s hand, getting her what she needed, saying that everything would be fine when I wasn’t sure that it would be, and eating rubbish food.

As Emily has already said, the outcome of the birth – a beautiful baby girl – was more than we ever imagined, so from that point of view, nothing that preceded it really matters. However, as time has gone on and memories of the experience crystallised, I have increasingly felt that the labour could have been shorter and less eventful had I been more assertive. There are three specific points at which this is the case:

1)  When Emily was in the induction suite and we were waiting for the pessary to kick start labour, I was sent home at 11pm and told to get a good night’s sleep, as there was ‘no chance of anything happening for at least eight hours’. I did as I was told, which meant that when Emily’s waters broke at 5am and she was in a lot of pain, unnecessarily having to convince the midwives that she was in labour, I was 20 miles away, failing to get a good night’s sleep. I wish now that I had refused to leave the ward, or at least the hospital.

2) In the middle of the next afternoon, the labour was progressing as planned but Emily couldn’t keep fluids down and she kept being sick. As a result, she became dehydrated and the labour stalled.  When Emily was being sick, I suggested to the midwife that she be put on a saline drip to avoid dehydration but was told that there was no need. Looking back, it was clear that Emily was dehydrated and I wish I had insisted on the drip.

3) After the labour stalled, Emily was quickly put on a saline and hormone drip and things started proceeding very quickly again. However, we had to wait another 4 hours to check to see that Emily was sufficiently dilated to start pushing. This proved to be the case, but things had moved so quickly that I wondered whether it had been necessary to wait the full four hours.  I wish that I had suggested checking to see if Emily was ready to start pushing sooner – had she been, then her exhaustion may not have been so severe and the forceps may not have been needed.

It is difficult to be assertive in this situation – the midwives and doctors are the professionals and they know far more about labour and birth than any first time dad, however many books or articles on the internet he thinks he has read. Many readers will think that me having such thoughts after the event is at best pointless, or more likely utterly self-indulgent, and they would be right.

However, us men are the ones who know our wives or partners best, and are therefore well placed to respond to their needs in any given situation. It may be the case that none of the steps I’ve outlined above would have made any difference and I must stress that much of the care we received in hospital was outstanding, but I still wish that I had been more assertive.

If and when we have a second baby, I will certainly not hold back from saying what I believe to be in the best interests of my wife and child.

Follow Ben’s wife Emily on Twitter @failedfeeder

A Midwife’s Birth Plan – Roxanne Stanyon

SONY DSCRoxy is a lovely mum-to-be and midwife I ‘met’ on Twitter, and she offered to share a post with us about being pregnant from the perspective of a health professional who knows more about the whole process than most of us! Here she tells us how she is preparing for the birth of her baby – with some tips you could certainly benefit from if you are expecting. Roxy introduces herself:

“I am a midwife who has been qualified for 5 years and am now expecting my first baby. I am 24 weeks now and looking forward to motherhood with the same excitement, fear and expectation as any other mother. I enjoy promoting normal birth for women and providing women centred care and feel very privileged to be surrounded by colleagues who will do their best to facilitate the same care for me. I enjoy photography and I am looked forward to plaguing Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with daily updates of my newborn!”

Roxy blogs at midwifebecomesmum.wordpress.com

I’m generally a planner. Some may call it procrastination but I am the woman who likes to at least try to plan for every eventuality in life.

I meal plan, I write a shopping list, I pretend that I adhere to a cleaning schedule drafted on Evernote (in reality I spend far more time altering the schedule and printing it off in pretty colours than carrying it out), I could map out the holidays I plan to go on for the next 20 years…the list of lists I own could go on.

So have I planned my birth?

This is one element of my life that I feel cautious about ‘planning’. Planning for me usually means that I could become set on a list of ideals and therefore a preset list of requirements that I will either pass or fail at. I just don’t feel entirely comfortable with the idea of failing. The very fear of failing in itself could hinder my birth experience so from now on I am going to use the phrase ‘birth preparation’ instead.

As a midwife I have the benefit of experience and knowledge of birth. This includes experience of the highs and lows that childbirth can bring, the reality of the transition to motherhood, the beauty of the moment when the precious bundle arrives and occasionally the heartbreak involved when losses happen.

It is a matter of opinion whether this knowledge is a help or a hindrance to a midwife’s own transition to motherhood and their personal journey of childbirth. I also think that to each individual midwife this prior knowledge can have very different effects on birth ideals, preparation and fears. I certainly feel privileged to be involved in childbirth and I am thankful for the opportunities to learn that this has given me.

Knowledge can be empowering, midwifery has given me midwives as close friends, links to local pregnancy services, an addiction to midwifery related reading material, a Twitter feed obsessed with all things birth, bonding and breastfeeding. It is however worth acknowledging that whilst all of this gives me a support network and an above average knowledge of the process ahead, it certainly does not promise me ‘the perfect birth’.

Ideally in labour I will be hoping to disassociate myself from my ‘midwife brain’ and get in touch with my ‘monkey brain’ (see Bump: how to make, grow and birth a baby for further explanation of how your inner primate can help). Knowledge and using the ‘thinking’ part of your brain does not always allow for ultimate relaxation and therefore can hinder the physiology of birth. Part of my birth preparation therefore will involve switching off the thinking process, which as a midwife I admit may be challenging.

My Birth Preparation:

  • I intend to use hypnobirthing techniques and have my first session booked at 26/40
  • I will express colostrum from 37 weeks for the following reasons: to have a little colostrum stored and ready if needed, to help boost my lactation and to try to avoid going overdue
  • I will take a short walk (if I feel well) every day from 37 weeks to help myself maintain fitness and remain active
  • I intend to set up a birthing pool at home to use when any tightenings start
  • I intend to give birth wherever I feel most comfortable when my labour commences, whether that be at home or in hospital (I do not have a local birth centre unfortunately)
  • I hope to have the time and opportunity to read Ina May Gaskin’s books from cover to cover whilst on maternity leave
  • I will write a list of positive pregnancy and birth affirmations so that I can begin to repeat them daily
  • I will surround myself with positive people when I labour
  • I intend to use aromatherapy oils to assist my journey
  • I will keep well hydrated and fed when my tightenings start
  • I will have familiar and relaxing music available to use if I wish
  • I will adopt any position that feels natural
  • I will follow my natural instincts

 

If something happens that I wouldn’t have hoped for I shall try to remain calm, composed and be kind to myself. I am a midwife but I am human. Being human does not mean I have failed.

As mothers-to-be we can prepare ourselves for the best chance of success but we cannot control our destiny. We all try our best with the circumstances we are given, and I intend to do just the same. Best of luck to any other mothers out there who are also expecting. How are you preparing?

Follow Roxy on Twitter @Roxy_xxxx

Anna’s birth story – Emily Harrison

emily harrison picI 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

Jake’s birth story – Lisa Edwards

lisa edwards 1Lisa contacted us about her traumatic birth story and the arrival of her son Jake. Her compelling tale of induction followed by an emergency caesarean, and all the fear and uncertainty that went with it, is a tough read. However, I think it is important to share the trials that some mums unfortunately go through, and I hope it helped Lisa to write about it.

Lisa is a 28 year old stay-at-home mum who lives in the Midlands with husband Jamie and 9 month old baby Jake. Prior to having Jake she worked in procurement but decided to give it up to have and raise a family. She started her blog, The Life of Wife, at the start of this year as a way of keeping her brain in gear, whilst documenting their adventures as a family and keeping connected to the wider world.

Lisa blogs at thelifeofwife.com

I was originally planning to write Jake’s birth story on his 1st birthday. However as it turned out I found the birth quite traumatic so would rather spend his birthday celebrating him and looking to the future. I have found that writing things down does tend to help me come to terms with the things that have happened to me so hopefully telling the story of Jake’s birth will help me let go of the negative feelings I have towards my experience.

I had a brilliant pregnancy; no sickness, just some nausea in the early days and some tiredness. I was a completely happy healthy pregnant lady; I didn’t even get a single stretch mark (really its true!).

Towards the end of the pregnancy I did start to get a bit fed up, as every pregnant woman does I’m sure. So we did loads of walking as my due date approached to try and get things going, but to no avail. On my due date, probably due to the frustration that a baby hadn’t magically appeared, I started to worry that something may be wrong, so we popped to the hospital and asked to be checked. At the hospital I was put on a monitor and told everything was fine; a scan showed that Jake was looking to be larger than my “bump measuring” had indicted (they estimated him to be 9lbs 3oz) so they gave me a sweep – which I found very painful and uncomfortable.

Despite the sweep nothing happened. So we continued to do lots of walking as I got more and more frustrated and uncomfortable and upset that my larger size was causing me to have some mild bladder control problems (pregnancy is not glamorous!). Five days after my due date I was particularly annoyed and fed up and burst into tears telling Jamie how upset I was that I kept weeing myself whenever I stood up. After I had calmed down I started to think that perhaps this could be my waters??

lisa edwards 2So off to the hospital we went again, and lo and behold they told me I wasn’t weeing myself but my waters had been very slowly leaking. Now I like to think of myself as an intelligent woman, so how 5 days over my due date I didn’t realise my waters were breaking I do not know – let’s just put it down to extreme baby brain stupidity!

The hospital told me to come back in the morning to be induced. At 7am we got to the hospital, where we were left on the ward until midday. This was very frustrating, as if they weren’t going to start the induction until midday why didn’t they just let us stay at home? Anyway, once they came and collected us we were taken to a delivery room and I was put straight on the induction drip (I don’t know what the actual term for it is); it was administered via a cannula in my hand, which again was a process I did not enjoy.

Every half an hour the drip dosage is increased. Now from this stage I really started to lose the concept of time, so apologies that I can’t be too exact with everything that happened. The drip did start to do its job and I was getting regular contractions; all the while the drip strength was gradually being increased.  I complained a number of times about the cannula being uncomfortable in my hand; each time it was checked and I was told it was fine.

I kept complaining about my hand feeling strange to Jamie and he started to notice that it was looking quite swollen and blue. Jamie went to find the midwife to get them to check the cannula (again). When they came and checked it this time, they realised that it hadn’t been inserted correctly and some of the “induction juices” had been pooling into my hand. The cannula was removed, and reinserted which again was extremely unpleasant. Then the midwife massaged my hand, pushing the “induction juices” down towards my arm – and this is when my problems started.

lisa edwards 3It was like I was hit with a triple whammy of super strength “induction juice”; my contractions got much stronger and much more regular extremely quickly. I was quickly put onto gas and air, and very shortly after administered an injection of pethidine. In my birth plan this was as far as I wanted to go with pain relief as I hate needles so really, really, really, didn’t want an epidural. Despite the fact that the drip had now been reduced to try to steady my contractions, they just kept coming; the problem was I was getting little to no break in-between. After about 40 minutes of a more or less continuous contraction the midwives convinced me that I needed to have an epidural.

I always said that I would do whatever was best for the baby and would take the advice of the midwives. So I agreed to have the epidural. I was absolutely terrified whilst the epidural was administered; I think they only thing that stopped me from moving during the procedure was my extreme fear as my contractions were still coming thick and fast. Once the epidural kicked in, it did feel like a welcome relief and allowed me to have the first rest I’d had in hours. Unfortunately the midwives still couldn’t seem to control my contractions, and they started to discuss a C-section.

I am petrified of the concept of a C-section; before getting pregnant I had never even given blood. The concept of any kind of operation scares me senseless. My whole birth plan basically revolved around NOT having a C-section. The consultant was brought in and I was strongly advised that a C-section was needed as the constant contracting was becoming too much for the baby, and I had been stuck at 6cm dilated for hours. By this point I was crying near hysterically, but agreed to the C-section as I was told it was necessary.

Within minutes of the decision being made I was taken down to theatre. I can honestly say I have never been more terrified in all my life. The anaesthetist tried to console me and offer me reassurance; my main question to him being is it possible for someone to actually die simply from being so scared and what if my heart stops because I become so frozen with fear? (In hindsight I had completely lost my mind, but this just shows how scared of operations I am).

To top things off (as if all this trauma wasn’t enough!), the anaesthetist declared that my cannula still wasn’t correctly inserted into my hand (no wonder my contractions couldn’t be properly controlled) so it was removed and reinserted for the third time. Once this was done Jamie was allowed to join me in the theatre and the section was started. All I remember is saying to Jamie over and over “keep talking to me, keep talking to me” and I have to say he did an amazing job of providing me with a constant running commentary of complete random conversation, despite me being unable to in any way say anything other than “keep talking”.

lisa edwards 4Jake was successfully born at 3.47 am weighing 8lbs 15oz; the first thing I remember Jamie saying was “look at his hair”. I saw Jake and was happy he was ok, but to be honest I was too lost in my fear to really experience any other emotion. As soon as Jake was out of me I was given a sedative to help me to calm down. Though I still felt extremely panicked through the rest of the procedure.

I had never really been told how long the sewing you back together part of a C-section took, but it started to feel like there was a lot of activity on the other side of the blue curtain and I quickly became panicked that something was wrong. I wasn’t told what was happening just that everything was “fine”. After what seemed like a very long time, the procedure was over and I was moved to recovery.

I was hooked up to a morphine drip and given a quick cuddle with Jake before he was whisked away by a doctor. It was Jamie who then told me that whilst the C-section was being performed, the surgical team had noted that my placenta smelled “off” which to them indicted that it had become infected. The reason it took so long to close me up was they needed to very thoroughly clean everything out.

The infected placenta meant that both Jake and I had the infection in our blood stream and we both required IV antibiotics (via the dreaded cannula!), and would both have to stay in hospital until the infection was gone – they hoped we would be in hospital for three days. In the end we were kept in the hospital for six days!

During our extended stay in the maternity ward both Jake and I had to have our cannulas put back in again (that totals four times for me and twice for Jake!). I generally found the stay in hospital ok, and am convinced Jake and I both found breastfeeding so easy due to the extra time and care we had from the midwives to help show me what to do.

lisa edwards 5A couple of days into my stay I did have a panic attack where I was re-living the birth experience, which was distressing for both me and Jamie as I basically started writhing around on the bed as if I were in labour again! It took me a long time to calm back down and made me quite on edge that the panic attacks might happen again, but thankfully they haven’t.

In summary, my birth experience was everything that I didn’t want and everything that I feared all rolled into one. It has taken me a long time to come to terms with what happened and I still find it difficult to look at my C-section scar. I didn’t fear childbirth throughout my pregnancy but now when we get pregnant again I think I will struggle with the fear of the same thing happening again and know I will require a lot more emotional support.

Follow Lisa on Twitter @thelifeofwife1

Not even a bag of sugar – Kylie Hodges

Kylie Hodges picBlogs For Babies is thrilled that the wonderful Kylie Hodges offered to contribute a post about the premature birth of her son Joseph after she developed pre-eclampsia in 2009. Kylie is an inspiring figure in the blogging world and is someone I have long admired for sharing her experiences so honestly. Her birth story below strikes a real chord with me as I had pre-eclampsia with my son – also named Joseph!

After suffering two miscarriages Kylie finally gave birth to her son at 27 weeks in May 2009. The experience completely changed her world view, and she started her award nominated blog Not Even A Bag of Sugar, and started working with charities and other parents touched by preterm birth. She now works for Bliss in Manchester recruiting volunteers to help support families with babies in hospital care.

Kylie blogs at notevena.blogspot.co.uk

On 7th May 2009 I went to the delivery suite, at 3am with my husband driving nervously. I was 26 weeks and 6 days pregnant. I had a headache. My midwife said if I got a persistent headache to attend delivery suite, so being a good patient that’s exactly what I was doing, expecting to be told I was being silly and that it was nothing.

M the midwife who met me there was reassuring, professional and caring. She ran some tests. My husband left to go to work, and I felt calm and safe. Then suddenly the room got busy. A young female doctor took charge “Mrs Hodges you have severe early onset pre-eclampsia” I felt like a guillotine was over my neck. All pregnancy I had been waiting for this. Something to go hideously wrong.

She went on “we don’t know when we will deliver your baby but it could be today or tomorrow”. I remembered my hypnobirthing and concentrated on my breathing. I was about to have the fight of my life and I needed to be strong. Everyone left and I was transferred to the antenatal ward. I rang my husband and suggested he come back. Before he could arrive I was assigned a locum consultant.

Dr K came in with a midwife. He held my hand and called me Dr Kylie. He treated me like a colleague, not a patient. He said I was amazing, that it’s rare anyone would act so early and by doing so I had bought them time. He had booked theatre for 9am the following day. First I was to have two steroid injections to improve the baby’s lungs, and an emergency scan. My husband arrived just in time.

The scan was the most awful experience of the whole thing. People awaiting scans are usually happy. There was another scared lady with complications, and we held hands and talked. I was taken down. The sonographer said “I’m sorry” and I lost it. Nothing she said made sense and I was sure the baby had died.

I remember so strongly a midwife, my husband and a random grandad in the lift going back to the ward and I apologised to the man for being a mess. I couldn’t stop crying. We finally go to the ward and I heard the midwife say to the consultant “she’s incredibly distressed I am worried for her”; no-one was more worried for me than I was.

Dr K came in and held me close. He explained the baby was alive but he was very underweight for dates, he was no longer getting nutrition from me and that without delivery we would both die. I looked at him “What do you mean, die?” He held me and said “pre-eclampsia is fatal, it’s estimated you have around 6 hours if we do nothing but we are doing everything to keep this baby in and deliver safely”.

Die. Deliver or die.

Joseph Hodges picThen he said words I never ever will forget – “you are a mother, right now. You need to protect your baby, believe in yourself, believe in your baby and stay very strong. You have no time for this”. That was the best thing he could have said and immediately I remembered the last words I read in “Up the Duff” by Kaz Cooke – if your baby is born at 27 weeks they have a very good chance of survival. Ok then.

The night was horrible. I had to be catheterised, I had to have magnesium sulphate and Hartman’s solution. I was not allowed to sleep. My husband went home, and I tried hard to keep focused, singing, looking at pictures and thinking about my baby. Reassuringly my baby was kicking me hard as if to say “it’s ok mum I know what’s coming and I’m ready”.

At 9am the next morning I was taken to theatre, my husband by my side once the spinal was in place. My baby was delivered at 10am. No one told me what the gender was, I didn’t catch a glimpse.

I did hear a cry and I was confused at first and then discovered it was my baby. My baby was crying! I was so so happy and reassured to hear that sound. Then I was stitched up, taken to recovery and it was over. My husband went to see the baby and accompany them to special care. He had the photo and toy to take that I had packed. And I was left with a midwife. Alone with no baby. And I didn’t cry. I knew if I did I would never stop. The anaesthetist came to see me “Hey did you see what I had?” I asked. “A baby?” He replied. “I mean what gender?” Finally confirmation “I think it was a boy”. That’ll do. Joseph.

Joseph was born weighing 1lb 7oz on 8th May 2009. He is coming up to his 5th birthday. He is at reception.

In the words of Wires from Athlete “looking at you now, you would never know”.

Follow Kylie on Twitter @Kykaree