Seems a strange title for a birth story but if you knew my family you would see how totally apt this title is.
April is Cesarean awareness month and given that this birth resulted in an unplanned section it felt right to talk about this now.
Many of you who have followed for me for some time will know I was diagnosed with Tokphobia back in 2012 (irrational fear of child birth) however this time round I wanted to face my fears and look at overcoming this mental health hurdle and opted for a VBAC much to everyone’s surprise (including mine). I purchased every book on the market about positive birth experiences, hypnobirthing and attended a hypnobirthing course by Siobhan Miller at The Positive Birth Company.
On Wednesday 7th March at 36 weeks and 5 days I was woken up at 1am. I was dreaming I was on the loo and it was beginning to feel very REAL so I shot up out of bed and stood up to liquid running down my legs. Convinced I had wet myself I waddled to the loo, finished what I thought was a wee and got back into bed. I was woken up every so often with what felt like “trickles” so half asleep I got up, popped a towel on the bed and went back to sleep (I know – disgusting but I was a tired heavily pregnant woman and no one wants to sleep in the wet patch!)
I was working from home this day as I had an appointment in the afternoon so I woke up around 6am and started explaining to Trevor what happened. I then requested he smell my PJ’s in a pile on the floor and the bed to see if it smelt like wee because I couldn’t smell anything and surely if I had indeed wet myself it would smell? Now please note, 7 years, a previous c section and multiple drunken nights out then involved holding back my hair as I was sick yet he point blank refused to smell my damp PJs to confirm what I had thought – my waters had broken!
After a huge refusal to sniff the PJ’s and a phone call to my mum I called the Midwifery Day unit at the hospital who told me to come in for a check up so we could see. I did the school run and headed to the hospital and after a quick chat and a check of my pad, within 17 minutes I was told my waters had certainly broken and my baby would be here by the weekend.
Now I cant quite remember how I felt when those words came out of the midwives mouth but there was this underlying feeling of excitement. Something I hadn’t ever felt before about giving birth. Then panic because I was meant to be working and had a conference call at 2pm! (I didn’t go on it before anyone asks). I did the rounds and contacted my Mum, Mother in Law and Husband (who was 3 hours away at work!) and told everyone to be cool but she will be here in the next few days.
I was told I didn’t need to stay in the hospital (still concerned about this but what’s done is done) and was provided with a box of antibiotics “just in case” I caught an infection due to the lack of waters, given a steroid injection in my thigh to help with the baby’s lungs and told to go home and get things going – in anyway other than having sex! I needed to come back tomorrow for another lot of antibiotics and another steroid injection I was booked in for an induction on Saturday morning at 8am. It seemed pretty far away given my waters had broken and it was Wednesday and everywhere I read said a max on 48 hours to be left without them I began feeling anxious but was reassured by the medical professionals who cared for me that everything would be absolutely fine..
Friday came and around 3am I started to feel what I can only describe as “tightenings” and got really excited that this is potentially the start of something! I went back to sleep and woke up in the morning to the similar pain. Trevor had taken from Thursday as paternity leave just in case anything happened so was home to take Sophia to school. He came home and I persuaded him to let me clean the cars..desperation for labour at its finest. Once cleaned we put the car seat in the car and then went for a super long walk..All this before 1pm! The tightenings kicked off and got a little strogmer so I decided to have a relaxing bath as advice from my course was that if you relaxed then labour would come on as your body was getting ready and muscles ready! So bath time it was with my Hypnobirthing MP3’s from the positive birth company and things started progressing to tightenings every 7-8 minutes.
I started feeling quite hot and sick in the bath and decided I had probably been in there too long so hopped out (LOL I defo didn’t hop but you know what I mean), I got dressed and went downstairs and laid on the sofa. The room started spinning and I felt really cold but my face was on fire. I asked Trevor to come and check and he said I “didnt look right” and should call the day unit again. The midwife on the phone told me to come in right away and a quick text to my neighbours who kindly grabbed Sophia from after school club and we were on route to the hospital.
On the way there I felt like I was going to be sick and was physically shaking and couldn’t seem to stop. It was on route to the hospital I realised I hadn’t felt the baby move since I was in the bath and that was now nearly 4 hours ago.
Of course, we are now rushing so the traffic is awful (why is this always the way!) We get there and I am greeted by the midwife on the phone Cheryl who immediately looks at me and practically throws the monitor on me and gets me hooked up. My temperature is 39.8 and babies heart rate is 180…I have NO idea what this means (I guess I probably should but I was just relieved baby had a heart rate at all as she still wasn’t moving). I know Cheryl didn’t mean to but the panicked look on her face said it all. She tried to calmly tell us she needs to make a call to labour ward/delivery suite and get a DR up here asap. I hear here tell the 3 other women in the only 3 other beds in the day unit that she will be with them shortly but she has a urgent patient. An urgent patient? Does she mean me?
She calls downstairs who (I can only assume) told her they were too busy. Cheryl kept repeating the obs to them and saying she doesn’t care and the Dr needs to come up or she was bringing me down there..Her voice is high pitched and panicky. She says “one moment” and rushes in and checks the obs again on the print out thing (no idea the correct term for the machine) and shes back on the phone demanding someone come. And then she said it. She said the words no one in labour wants to hear..she says “you NEED to come NOW because it is an EMERGENCY”. I looked at Trevor and I felt physically sick. I asked him if it was me she was talking about or was there ANYONE else here she could be referring to? He didn’t respond and just asked me to drink more water like they suggested and stay calm. I begged him to tell me someone else had come in and Cheryl wasn’t talking about me but she was and I was beginning to become seriously overwhelmed.
Trying to prevent myself from completely going into meltdown because that wasn’t going to help anyone – especially not me and especially not baby – I popped my headphones back in and listened to Siobhan’s MP3 calmly tell me “My body was made to have this baby”. It repeated over and over and over and I kept trying to do my breathing…in for 4…out for 8…in for 4….out for 8….
A Dr comes up (he looks like Will-I-Am) and says he suspects I have an infection and this is causing the fever and in turn the lack of movement from baby and increased heart rate. I feel like hes talking really really slowly to me when he explains they will get me on a drip of antibiotics and fluids and if nothing changes in the next hour they will have to take me to theatre. I nodded and with that we went down to the ward.
I meet my midwife Jade and she sets me up in my room. She goes through my notes and asked all the regular questions, previous children, previous births. I answer them all and then she says the question I get so frustrated having to answer (and subsequently explain) “Why did you have your previous section” . I tell her I was diagnosed with Tokphobia and much to my surprise Jade looks at me with a gain and says “Really!! I did my dissertation on Tokophobia as my sister was diagnosed too”. It was the first time in the last few hours that I smiled. I was so grateful and suddenly felt safer, like she understood and didn’t think I was just crazy.
Despite the comfort in Jade’s knowledge of my mental health issues the next 30 minutes were stressful. Willing everything to change so I could push this kid out my vajayjay like I bloody well planned! I didnt spend all that money training myself for this moment for it not to happen..I even bought Vajayjay Spray and everything! 40 minutes in and the Dr comes in and confirms that things haven’t got better and in fact they have gotten much worse and the babies heart rate was now dropping considerably at moments and they needed to prep me for theatre.
I take a deep breath and nod and the next few minutes I have visits from anaesthetists, midwives, and the Dr who ask me to read and sign various things and keep asking me “do you understand?” “Are you ok”. Next thing I know Trevor is being taken to change to scrubs and I am being wheeled into theatre.
I have been here before. I have done it. I know what to expect and I know whats coming. I keep telling myself this over and over again to try and calm my nerves because despite knowing I will be absolutely fine I cant shake the anxiety. I ask them to slightly dim the lights because the brightness makes me feel uneasy and vulnerable. Although obviously I’m vulnerable – I have two women sticking a catheter in my fanny, a man I met minutes ago sticking what feels like hundreds of stickers on my saggy tits (I mean he had to put one UNDER MY BOOB…Ladies..I had to actually LIFT my tit. LOL I am actually laughing whilst typing this and I am naked in front of a bunch of strangers I just met with only a open hospital gown and hairband on!
Trevor reappears just as I am about to have my spinal. I remember this bit and I brace myself but the support from the team and my husband holding my hand I feel ok. I hug the cushion they give me and lean forward..They tell me to arch my back and I think it was probably arching my back that got me in the delivery suite in the first place. Moving on..
I lay down and my legs begin to numb, people are constantly smiling at me and asking if I am ok and I just smile and nod. Trevor sits on my right hand side and starts stroking my hair which is both annoying and comforting at the same time. The surgeon asks everyone to do a call round – like when you go to a training day at work and have to introduce yourselves. Awkward much. David, Jade, Bethany…more names get shouted out and then it goes a bit quiet and for some reason I shout “I’M JESS” and everyone laughs. Of course they know who I am!
It felt so relaxed and everyone was so lovely Trevor even took a bloody selfie!!! I cant tell you how long it took because I don’t know but I felt no pain and apart from some what I can only describe as rummaging a few moments later I hear a cry and my baby is here! She is here! She is here and she is tiny. Trevor shouts “she has so much hair!” and they lower the curtain so I can have a good look before the midwife takes her away and they explain she needs to have a tiny cannula in her hand and antibiotics right away. Trevor goes over to cut the cord and it feels like the room goes really quiet and suddenly I felt really alone.
Trevor was with our new baby who at this point had no name, the surgeon and her assistant were sewing me up and talking about holidays, the midwives were with Trevor and the baby and there was just me. Lying there. I felt like my bit was done and I suddenly felt really strange. What seemed like forever could have only been minutes and Trevor was back next to me with the baby in arms. I sat and watched him looking at our new baby girl, our second child. This tiny human who was 50% me and 50% him and I fell more in love with him all over again.
Once we were all done and I was moved over to my recovery bed that was it. They cleaned up in seconds and everything was done. It was over and my baby was here, with me and this room was now preparing for the next queen who was going in to have her baby.
People asked if I was disappointed with my Section and someone even said “oh don’t feel bad about your failed VBAC”. I’m sorry but I have not failed at anything! There is no failings in birthing your child regardless of where they exit your body. My C section experiences have both been amazing – both planned and otherwise. How could they not be when I got such an amazing gift at the end?
My advice to anyone having a section (whether planned or unplanned) is 1. You are in safe hands. Everyone in that room has your best interests at heart, they are experienced and want your baby out just as safely as you do. 2. You still have the right to make it as comfortable for you as possible so ask for music, ask for dimmed lights, don’t be afraid to request anything that will make you feel as calm as possible and 3. Your about to meet your baby! What can be more exciting than that!
In honour of C Section awareness month I just wanted to end this by saying there is no shame or guilt attached to having a section. It took me a while to shake this off after having Sophia when people asked if I had a “natural” birth and when I said no they looked at me pitifully. Please don’t – whilst the build up to this experience was a little scarier than I would of liked my actual Section experience has been amazing. When I think how these incredible people have been trained to know how to safely cut me open, deliver my baby and put me back together again and I cant even find the lid to my tupperware its pretty friggin amazing!!
All in all – regardless of the way your child gets here, Vaginally, Section, Adoption or otherwise – the love you will have as a mother and the feeling of holding your child for the first time is the same universally.
Thanks for Stopping By x
The Fat Funny One x
P.S – Here is said Selfie!