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

Emergency vs elective caesarean – Ali Shattock

RB pic - AliIn a brilliant post, the wonderful Ali shares the birth stories of her two children Harley and Lola – a tale of two caesareans. After finding herself in a potentially dangerous situation in her first labour, Harley was born via emergency c-section safe and well. Ali was then faced with the dilemma that many women have in a second pregnancy – to attempt a VBAC or opt for the elective c-section.

We’d be interested to hear your experience of c-sections – have you had a VBAC or more than one caesarean? How did you feel about making those decisions? What influenced your choices, and did you feel you had one? Get in touch on Twitter @BlogsForBabies or via our contact form if you’ve got a story to share.

Ali blogs at mylifemylove.com

when harley met lola
When Harley met Lola

I often get asked about the labour and delivery that I experienced with both my babies. In truth, both experiences were so completely different even though I had a caesarean section for both of them; the only difference being that one was an emergency and the other elective. So I thought I would share my experience of both, for expectant mums.

At just over 40 weeks, I felt my waters break; well it was more of a trickle but I was pretty sure that this was the moment! I rang the maternity unit and was told to go down, only to be sent home again because they said that my waters hadn’t broken yet. I thought that I was going mad because I kept having the sensation that everyone talks about – when your waters break, you can’t stop it like you can if you’re going for a wee. The next day it was exactly the same, so I went to the maternity hospital again. This time they agreed with me and kept me in.

I started having contractions through the night but the minute my husband arrived in the morning, everything stopped. I was later induced. Before I knew it, I was 5cm dilated and was asked if I wanted an epidural. At that point I wasn’t in any real pain so couldn’t decide whether to have one or not. In the end I took it, as it was offered. I didn’t want to regret it later on when it might have been too late to have one.

Labour lasted 16 hours. I remember watching the Big Brother final on TV and topping up the epidural whilst my husband slept on the floor! Despite being rather drawn out, everything had gone to plan so far but the turning point was when I had my final assessment. The midwife who had been with us throughout the whole labour was due to end shifts. She swapped over with another midwife and a student midwife.

I was told after the examination that I was fully dilated however the student disagreed and felt that I was still only at 9cm. The experienced midwife overruled this and so I pushed for an hour. But sadly nothing was happening and I was getting so tired. The doctor was called and was very disturbed to see that I was not fully dilated and should not have been pushing at all. It was similar to pushing my baby against a brick wall! He then said that I would need an emergency section to prevent further distress to baby. I distinctly remember begging them not to send me home or to make me wait for the op!! The doctor humoured me and said it would have to happen right now.

baby harley
Harley

Luke was ushered out and changed into his scrubs and I was wheeled into the operating room. By this point I was so unbelievably tired and pumped with drugs that I remember drifting in and out of sleep on the table. It was precisely 8 minutes from the start of the operation to getting Harley out. I remember Luke and I holding our breath until we heard his first cry. Harley needed a little bit of oxygen but other than that he was a happy 8lb 9oz baby boy.

I lost 2 litres of blood but fortunately, I didn’t need a blood transfusion and I felt really well. For me, the hardest part about it being an emergency section was that I wasn’t allowed to hold Harley. Luke took him into another room. Even now it breaks my heart that I missed that first cuddle, that first skin to skin contact.

My recovery from the operation was remarkably very quick. Within 5 days, I had no pain at all and we were going for a short walk around the local park. I could move around as normal and wondered why on earth I wasn’t allowed to drive for the next 6 weeks as I felt so well. In hindsight, I now know that I was simply incredibly lucky, as recovery from my second caesarean was not nearly so easy.

For my second pregnancy I was offered a section if I wanted it because of what happened last time. I was actually very surprised that I was offered one and that it took me many weeks to decide what I wanted to do. I weighed up both options as I had done similarly with my sister who was in the same boat, a few months previously.

As much as I wanted a natural birth this time, the memory of last time didn’t leave me. All I could think about was the mistake that the midwife made and the harm that it could have caused my baby. I didn’t want to run the risk of that happening again. Equally, because my recovery from the operation was so quick, that was also leaning me towards choosing an elective.

There was part of me that was expecting the hospital consultants to sway me towards choosing a natural birth but they understood my experience of last time was very traumatic. They assured me that a planned section would be completely different from an emergency, inevitably in a good way.

So I was booked in for the day after my due date. Because Harley was a week late, I never thought that my daughter was ever going to come early – if she had we would have crossed that bridge when we came to it!

So I was given some tablets to take at set times the night before and on the morning of the op and by 7.30am I was down the hospital ‘checking in’.

There were 3 other mums in the ward with me booked in for the same day and it was lovely to see us all so calm. I had an underlying nervous anticipation but ultimately I was excited. My excitement turned quickly to nerves when I was told that out of all of us, I was going to go into theatre first and that I should get changed into my gown.

It was so unbelievably different, walking into theatre as opposed to be being rushed there on a bed. This time, I made the mistake of scanning the room and seeing all of the equipment and the many people in the room with us. It was all a blur last time and I was completely unaware of what or who was around me.

I was so nervous when the anaesthetist put the needle into my back but I remembered the position I needed to get into from last time. I remembered the hideously cold spray which was sprayed up my body to see where the spinal block was working. It took all of my efforts last time, to concentrate about feeling the spray, but this time it was much calmer, I think I was actually smiling. The anaesthetist was fantastic, both times. She stood by my head and talked me through every stage.

baby lola
Lola

Whereas with Harley it took 8 minutes for him to enter the world, everything was much longer this time and it was 43 minutes for Lola to make her appearance. (My bladder was stuck to my uterus so a surgeon had to come in to separate them, which is why it took a little longer than it should have; it didn’t help that he wore a massive mask with ‘Splatter Shield’ written on it – nobody needs to see that!!).

This time, I was holding my beautiful 7lb 12oz bundle while I was being stitched back up. It was so lovely to have that moment that I had lost with Harley.

I lost less blood this time, so I wasn’t in the High Dependency Unit afterwards. However, my recovery once home took much, much longer. I was so frustrated that I couldn’t enjoy my baby because it was too painful to move. I was frustrated that I had to rely on my husband to do everything. I was frustrated with myself for not healing as well as I did last time. I had expected too much of myself. It was a good 3 weeks before I started to feel comfortable sleeping and moving around. All of this was simply due to having a second section and the surgeons having to cut through previous scar tissue.

harley and lola bath
First baths at home!

We don’t plan to have any more children, but if I was in the situation again, I wouldn’t think twice about have an elective caesarean again. I took comfort in it being planned and having a ‘date’; it was calm; it was reassuring; I knew everything that was happening.

They came into the world via the same route but in very different circumstances. Both are beautiful, in my eyes.

Follow Ali on Twitter @aliandlucky

Our tour of the delivery suite – Rob George

RB pic - RobThe traditional tour of the maternity unit is standard practice for most expectant parents these days. It is the chance to familiarise yourself with the facilities before you see them in a whirlwind of contractions and heightened emotion – and it’s a good time to ask any burning questions you might have about pain relief options, using the birthing pools, or where the vending machines are for a 4am mid-labour chocolate fix.

Join first-time dad-to-be Rob as he takes a tour of his local delivery suite, where it’s all a little too quiet.

Rob blogs at www.daddysmurfdiary.blogspot.co.uk

We visited the Worcestershire Royal for a tour of the delivery suite – something which I initially thought might be a bit of a waste of time. I mean, you don’t look at the dentists where you will have the root canal, nor look at the theatre you will have an operation, so why look where you will have your baby? It will have a bed and all the gubbins you see on programmes like One Born Every Minute so why visit?

Well, how wrong was I? What a lovely afternoon, and how reassuring it was to see the layout of the place where J will breathe his first breath. The lovely midwife Dawn had eight couples on her hands including Pam and I but was thoughtful and relaxed as she took us round the delivery suite.

First stop was the birthing pool suite; Worcestershire Royal only has one birthing pool suite but wowzer, how deep is the pool?! It’s the depth of a swimming pool – I can totally see why mums love it now as it must be like taking the world’s biggest bath! There are blow up pools though and each delivery room has an en-suite so any water-based pain relief can be taken care of.

We were taken round the whole delivery suite, including a glimpse into the theatre which was not in use when we visited. Although I hope our journey doesn’t end in c-section, it could, and more power to the midwives at Worcestershire Royal for tackling the fear head on. I hope it calmed the nerves of some. A tour around antenatal followed and I have to say the facilities were first class and an ideal way for us to welcome J into the world.

A huge thanks to Dawn and the team on the day. When she was asked why it was rather quiet despite eight of the nine delivery rooms being ‘in use’ she responded: “I don’t think any are at the stage where they are making much noise yet”. I suspect things might have got louder when we left!

Follow Rob on Twitter @DaddySmurfDiary

Pre-eclampsia and my role as a MAMA Ambassador – Kiran Chug

Kiran pic 1In recognition of Pre-eclampsia Awareness Month, Kiran recounts her experience of pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome in her first pregnancy, and why that experience has encouraged her to become a MAMA Academy Ambassador to help the charity promote positive pregnancies.

Kiran lives in London with her husband and two children, Milin and Jasmin. She says they are ‘a little family who feel incredibly lucky to have each other’.

Kiran blogs at www.mummysays.net

As soon as I heard the phone ring on that beautiful summer’s afternoon, I knew something was wrong. It was my midwife – she said something along these lines: “We’ve got the results of yesterday’s blood tests Kiran. Can you go to the hospital now please. They’re expecting you.” I had just made it to 37 weeks pregnant. We hadn’t yet painted the nursery.

What followed was a terrifying but ultimately amazing couple of weeks. And then I brought home my first baby. Milin. He was healthy and happy and perfect – but I will never forget the fear that went through me the first time I heard the word that changed my pregnancy. Pre-eclampsia.

That was more than two years ago. I have learnt so much about Pre-eclampsia and HELLP Syndrome since then. Although both are serious conditions that can affect pregnant women, I knew very little about them before being told I had them. My story has a happy ending. However, my experience of these illnesses made me realise how important it is to be armed with knowledge while pregnant. It’s crucial, vital, essential, to seek professional help at the first inkling that something might be wrong. And so it follows that it’s crucial, vital, essential, to be able to recognise that something might be wrong.

My pre-eclampsia was picked up quickly because I phoned my midwife and asked to see her – despite not having an appointment scheduled. I was worried about the swelling in my feet and hands which wouldn’t go down. I hadn’t connected it with the unbearable headaches I was experiencing and the excruciating pain beneath my ribs. However, my instinct was to seek advice. I was sent for tests which showed my blood pressure had risen suddenly, my liver function was out, protein was leaching into my urine and my platelet count was very low. I was admitted to hospital with pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome and booked in for an induction.

Kiran pic 2Milin’s growth rate had been slowing down – perhaps because my placenta had stopped working as efficiently as it should have been. By seeking advice from medical professionals, I had placed myself and my baby in the safest hands.

I will never forget being told I was being admitted. I was terrified because I knew so little about what pre-eclampsia was and what it meant for me and my baby. I couldn’t understand what was happening. I wasn’t ready to have my baby, I hadn’t imagined it would happen this way. My lack of knowledge and understanding made me feel like I was losing control over my pregnancy, and I felt very afraid. Since then, I’ve learnt so much about the condition I was suffering from. I went into my second pregnancy far more knowledgeable and confident.

My experiences have prompted me to join a team of ambassadors for the UK charity MAMA Academy. Its goal is to help babies arrive safely and promote positive pregnancies. MAMA Academy educates expectant mums on how to keep healthy and when they should call their midwife for advice. It also supports midwives by keeping them up to date with current guidelines and research to aid consistent maternity care. I’ll be helping the MAMA Academy spread its key messages of promoting healthy pregnancies and reducing baby loss – and you’ll see more on this in the coming months. In the meantime, do visit MAMA Academy to find out more.

Follow Kiran on Twitter @kiranchug

 

Indiana’s birth story – Emily Vaughan

emily vaughan 3Our latest post is a looong birth story from Emily about the arrival of her 4 month old daughter Indiana. As I was induced and as a result had an artificially short labour, the drawn out process Emily describes here is unimaginable to me! The strength that she shows being told time and again that she wasn’t dilated enough to be admitted, and having labour pains for the best part of two days, is a great example of what women can cope with when we really have to. Featuring an epidural, culminating in a ventouse delivery with episiotomy and postpartum haemorrhage, this story has got everything!

Emily is 20 years old and lives in Kent with her boyfriend Jack and little Indiana. She is blogging as well as vlogging about their life together and all things baby!

Emily blogs at emilyandindiana.blogspot.co.uk

I was due the 24th November 2013 and after everyone telling me my little lady would be early, I was still pregnant when my due date came around. So I got on my hands and knees, scrubbed the bathroom then went on a long walk with Jack around some local shops. After a well needed Costa break (this will be a recurring theme in my blogs as it’s our favourite place, haha) we headed home.

It got to dinner time and I’d given up hope of a due date baby when all of a sudden I started getting back pain on and off. By 7.30pm they were coming every 10-15 minutes and I was having to squeeze Jack’s hand as it was pretty intense. It was at this point we started roughly timing them and they were becoming more like 5-10 minutes apart. We got in bed to try and get some rest but the pains were getting stronger so I got zero sleep (Jack was snoring away much to my annoyance).

By midnight the pains were around 5 minutes apart and much stronger. I felt an odd ‘pop’ sensation so got up to check. I had finally lost my mucus plug! It was then Jack got up to go to the loo and my waters broke. We had spent my whole pregnancy saying how waters breaking weren’t like in the movies, but boy were we wrong. They gushed out all over our bedroom floor with a massive splash! Jack didn’t even realise they were my waters, bless him. It was after this the pain got 10x worse and we called triage for the first time. We were advised to go in so at 1am off we went.

On arriving I was checked and told I was only 2cm dilated :(. I was given co-codamol as paracetamol was useless (so was this but worth a try, eh?). I was given a sweep and we were sent on our way, much to my disappointment. So home we went and we got back in bed and watched Bedtime Stories. I say we but Jack was snoring away from the second his head hit the pillow. The film ended and the pain was getting worse so I woke Jack up and we called triage again. They suggested a bath to ease the pain.

Baths have never helped me with any pain yet I thought I’d give it a go. The midwife said the water had to be covering my bump for it to work, but I’m sorry this was impossible! My bump was pretty average but there was no way it was going to be covered. I had to lie at a sideways angle to keep my bump under; all that was while Jack fed me gingernut biscuits as I was starving!

No surprise to me the bath didn’t help, so triage was called again and we went back in. Checked again and I was STILL only 2cm dilated. I was so upset, I was in agony and for no reason! I was given another sweep and sent home again. My waters were still leaking too; luckily Jack had a mat in his car to protect the seats, haha.

emily vaughan 2By now it was around 7am and the pain was excruciating. My sister Laura came over as she was my other birth partner. She was so helpful as I was becoming so distressed and upset with the pain and lack of progress. Wherever I was or however I positioned myself the pain was no better. I remember kneeling on the floor with my head in Jack’s lap rocking. I needed more pain relief badly! By 10am I couldn’t take it anymore. I was crying through being so tired and from the pain. So we went back to triage to see where we were.

Anyone who has experienced labour will understand just how bad contractions are. But contractions in a car are by far the worst. You’re stuck sitting with no way of moving, and where my pain was all in my lower back sitting was so so painful. We then had to park ridiculously far from the entrance as I didn’t want to be left alone during my contractions. Crying in pain I walked back to triage.

I WAS STILL ONLY 2CM! Hearing this news made me break down again. I felt like I was doing something wrong. I also had the most horrible midwife who basically told me to take some more co-codamol and go home. She even gave me a sweep during a contraction which was awful! Jack also became upset as he felt useless and hated seeing me in so much pain. So we left again, but decided to go to my mums for more support and change of scenery.

My mum had run me a bath and made us lunch while we were there. She was literally the most amazing person at this point; I’m so glad we went. She helped me to breathe through the pain and never left my side. The bath helped a bit more this time and I had lots of company while I was in there for over an hour. I got out and we started to time my contractions again. By 3pm they were less than 5 minutes apart lasting about a minute and so painful. So we tried our luck and went back to our second home, triage.

From this point on I had the most amazingly lovely midwives and care. I was given the best news that I was finally 4cm and allowed to stay! Yay! I was taken straight to the delivery suite and given my best friend, gas and air. I loved the stuff and it was such good pain relief. I was more in control and my normal self between contractions now. I had asked for an epidural but while being set up for it I told my midwife Claire that I felt pressure. She checked me again and by 6pm I was 8cm dilated – how the hell did this happen!? It was this point I decided I’d try with just gas and air as things progressed so quickly.

I was laughing and giggling on my gas and air. I remember telling Jack and Laura I wanted to watch Friends With Benefits and even had a giggling fit but for no reason at all. This didn’t last however as it got to 8pm and the pain was getting worse again, and after being checked I was only 9cm. This is where things took a downward spiral again.

I was in so much pain and had stopped making progress again. So I gave in and got my epidural at around 9-10pm ish. The first attempt hit blood so it had to be done twice. But oh my God, it was amazing. Yeah having a catheter and cannula wasn’t nice (this was actually more painful than the epidural) but hey it was worth it. I was also put on a hormone drip at this point to get me progressing again. Soon enough I was 10cm but was told to get some rest before pushing to let her drop into the right place more.

After a blissful 2 hour nap I was woken and told it was time to push! Not the best wake-up call but I was so excited to finally meet my baby girl. Pushing is so hard! My epidural was wearing off too so I felt everything and this was definitely the worst pain yet. My bum felt like it was going to explode. Sorry TMI, but hey I think it’s best to be honest! As I had my epidural I found pushing harder so I had my legs in stirrups with Laura and Jack holding a leg each. By this point the midwives had switched and I had a lovely midwife as well as a student midwife (I was always against having one but she was amazing and I’d definitely recommend them as they’re very supportive!).

I was pushing for over an hour with not much progress. I was literally exhausted, after being awake for over a whole day now I was running out of steam. Labour really does mean what it says! The pain was awful and I remember screaming at Jack telling him to make it stop and saying I couldn’t do it – haha, cringe! A doctor was called in to give me a hand. Within a few seconds the bottom of the bed was whisked away and he had given me an episiotomy! I had asked at my antenatal classes if I’d be told and was reassured I would – this was not the case at all! However he gave me a hand with a ventouse and out came her head, followed seconds later by the rest of her at 2.12am on the 26th November!

emily vaughan 1We were in complete shock; our baby girl was finally here… and she had hair, haha! She was placed straight onto my chest and I couldn’t believe how big she was (Jack was crying again bless him, he’s so emotional it’s cute). I had some skin to skin time with her until she was taken away to be cleaned up. I was upset to learn the doctor cut the cord and not Jack, but I guess it had to happen! She had her checks which she passed with flying colours, and we discovered she weighed a chunky 8lb 4oz!

I was stitched up while Jack and Laura had cuddles with our little girl, who we had decided to name Indiana Rose. It wasn’t until I read my notes that I discovered I had lost 1000ml of blood. This is considered a postpartum haemorrhage. This explains a lot why I was now anaemic and felt awful for the first few weeks postpartum!

I was taken up to my room around 4-5am, which was a private room with our own bathroom and TV. We were given a sandwich each and left to bond with our baby. I couldn’t even sleep despite being knackered as I just couldn’t stop staring at her; she was perfect.

We were allowed to go home on Wednesday around lunch time. We would have gone earlier but I had a high pulse and had to have extra checks. I now know it’s because of my blood loss, but obviously at the time I just wanted to go home and rest with Jack and Indiana, not stay in a stuffy hospital (Jack agreed as he had to sleep on the floor for two nights, haha).

So that’s it, that’s my very long story! You wouldn’t believe I left bits out, but I tried to be as thorough as possible. I hope you enjoyed it and I look forward to reading others’ stories as I love seeing what other people went through to get their babies!

Emily xx

Follow Emily on Twitter @EmilyVaughanx

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

Our bumpy journey – Sarah Knott

Sarah Knott picSarah is our very first Blogs For Babies contributor! She is a 26 year old mum-to-be, currently 32 weeks pregnant with her first child. Sarah is originally from Scotland but grew up in the Middle East and Holland and now lives in London, where she works in the international division of a retail head office. She is married to a Royal Navy sailor and is obsessed with cats!

Sarah blogs at theknottbump.blogspot.co.uk

I decided to come off the contraceptive pill in September 2012, two months after we got married in August. If he’d had his way, the husband would have had us trying earlier – he was the broodiest man alive! I suffered from anorexia as a teenager, and into my early twenties, and had been made aware that my hormone levels might have been affected as a result. The fact I’d been on the pill on and off for ten years was in the back of my mind as I wasn’t sure how much of an effect that would have had too.

Even though I knew my hormone levels might be affected, nothing could prepare me for how messed up my cycles became. The first cycle was over 100 days and the symptoms of coming off the pill mirrored early pregnancy symptoms, which was bizarre – nausea, dizziness, sore boobs, etc. I had read that you should give your body a few cycles to get back into the swing of things before trying properly. My problem was I wasn’t really having cycles. They just went on and on with no signs of ovulation and it became the most frustrating thing trying to figure out what was going on.

I was reluctant to go to the doctors because of my age (25 at the time) as I felt that I wouldn’t be taken seriously. I investigated a little online and decided to try some herbal remedies – mainly agnus cactus and evening primrose oil. These didn’t seem to do much for me and I tried tracking my basal body temperature instead. That was all over the place and didn’t tell me anything either. I also invested in a digital fertility monitor from Clearblue but there was no pattern in terms of fertility readings.

After a couple more months I relented and went to my GP. He did blood tests to see if that brought anything to light and when that came back looking ok, he eventually referred me for an internal scan of my womb/ovaries. That was an interesting experience! Everything came back looking normal though which was a relief.

The doctors advised the next step was for Rob to get tested before any further testing would be done on me. After talking it over we decided that we’d give it another couple of months which would have meant almost a year of trying before we considered any further testing. We were tired of constantly monitoring and worrying about everything and to be honest I was getting exhausted by the disappointment of negative tests.

We went on holiday to Ibiza the following month, had an amazing time, came back, tried to carry on with things not thinking about trying for a baby and within a month I had fallen pregnant! The only thing I’d been kind of looking at in terms of signs of ovulation was my cervical mucus. It had gotten to the egg white fertile stage earlier than it had done in previous cycles – around day 25 – which made me think my period would come earlier than it had been. It didn’t come and I waited ages to test because I didn’t believe I could be pregnant…but I was!

Despite being absolutely over the moon at being pregnant, early pregnancy didn’t treat me well as I suffered from bad morning sickness until I was around 20 weeks. Nothing I did calmed the symptoms; I tried every trick in the book! I also had a bleed and had to have a scan to make sure that everything was ok at around 9 weeks. Next, I was told at my 20 week scan that my placenta was low lying and that it would have to be monitored to see if it moved up in time for a natural birth or not.

We carried on as normal and I started to feel a little better at around 22 weeks. Unfortunately, at 28 weeks I had another bleed and had to call the labour ward as instructed by the midwives. They wanted us to come in and it led to me being admitted for 4 days for investigations. There is a separate, more in depth post on this on my blog if you’re interested.

But after all this here we are now; bump and I are doing really well and I’m settling into the third trimester well. I love all the kicking and constant reminders that baby is in there and continuing to grow and thrive. We now just have to focus on the big house move from London to Portsmouth when I go on maternity leave and of course…the even bigger event…the birth!

Follow Sarah on Twitter @KnottBumpAndUs