So I don’t know about you but I didn’t really have a strict birth plan. I mean I did, I wanted a natural birth, although I was scared stiff with anticipation, and I knew I wanted an epidural if the pain that everyone spoke about got too much, though I’d rather just the gas and air.
I was under no illusion it was going to hurt like hell, though I wasn’t going to beat myself up if I couldn’t cope with the pain and make myself out to be a legend if I did it without. I was just going with the flow and the best intentions.
With my first born, I was aged 40. They induced me, as I was classed a geriatric mother (over 35) and there were possible risks so they wouldn’t let me go over 38 weeks.
The midwife explained that being induced causes immense pain as it’s kind of false pain brought on very quickly, rather than slow progression of labour. It’s very sudden.
I was induced with a pessary – nothing happened for a while so I sent my partner home. Then I was induced with the the second pessary and, within minutes, my waters broke everywhere and off I went into labour.
I had that heavy feeling you get below your tummy when it feels like the baby is going to fall out of it! I remember they suggested going for a gentle stroll around the hospital, my partner went to sort out the car park and both mum, dad and I went for a walk. I was linking my dad’s arm, whilst walking slowly, then started leaning over with horrendous creeping pain. and puffing and panting. It was getting worse and worse.
Within a couple of hours, I had my own room in the labour unit, where it had a lovely couch that dad sat on, whilst mum was mopping my brow and my partner was holding my hand and reading the monitor. By the way: my Dad wasn’t there for the whole thing, I kicked him out when the going got tough!!
By now my contractions were in full force, with the gas and air underway. I tried for a good while to have nothing, being the cool cat I was, though as this was my first time in labour I didn’t know that I had an infection I just thought it was labour – how would I know the difference? I just know somewhere along the way that it got too much; the gas and air wasn’t really working and they offered me stronger pain relief.
A drip is inserted into your vein and and attached to a pump which you can press every time you get pain providing pain relief on demand.
This worked, though I was tirelessly sick, actually vomiting at the side of the bed, and it was like a drug filled moment of being completely out of it! My temperature was now rising with the infection and I was vomiting severely. They asked if I would like an epidural – I agreed – they tried it and came back to test if my limbs were numb to see if it had taken. Well it had, but it had on only worked my face!
Can you bloody believe it?! My face was numb but my legs weren’t! It didn’t work, they tried again (all whilst I was having contractions by the way!)
‘Anita, Can you feel this?’ Prodding my leg and spraying liquid on it.
‘Ok, we’ll need to take you for an emergency c section, the baby is now in distress!’ they said.
Both my partner and I agreed, off I went on the bed down the corridor, trying to climb up on the bed and bend over whilst a contraction passed. I remember the consultant saying, ‘let her have the contraction, then lift her up.’
Into theatre I went: delusional, petrified, shaking… I was hyperventilating with a scorching temperature.
Now you must stay completely still with this procedure, and bend over as far as you can whilst sat on the bed, as they make the spinal injection into your spine. I was still shaking and petrified in case I paralyses myself. I was praying to God to look after me. The next thing I knew, the curtains were over my tummy and out they pulled our little boy.
I felt delighted that the ordeal was over, though I felt detached from him emotionally. I just felt like, here he is now look after him. I wanted him to pop out naturally and lift him up onto my chest, like you see in the films and we’d kiss. I didn’t hear him cry, I cried but I couldn’t hear him. ‘Is he crying? Why isn’t he crying?! I am!?!?’ I shouted.
Off we went to recovery, where they told me I’d had a blood transfusion, as I’d lost too much blood. I didn’t feel right in recovery, I felt so ill that when my consultant came, I couldn’t explain how I’d felt, as this was my first time, but when my mum and partner left, (I didn’t want to scare them ) I asked him: ‘am I going to die??!’
He said ‘not on my watch! I’ll get your notes.’
A midwife passed me and asked ‘are you breastfeeding?!’
I couldn’t even lift my head off the pillow! I said ‘no.’ I was so weak, yet filled with guilt that I wasn’t going to try, but I couldn’t even raise my head up for God’s sake..
Next up, my second blood transfusion:, it turns out what I was feeling wasn’t death, but I’d lost too much blood so it needed even more replacing! I was severely anaemic.
Both our boy and I were placed in isolation for a week, for both of our infections and his jaundice. This, coupled with the intense pain of being cut through seven layers of tissue, catheters and pessaries, trying to walk to the toilet for the first wee and blood pouring down my legs onto the floor along with urine that wouldn’t stay in… slowly going along the floor to the door edge, I just broke down into tears, stood like an old lady and thought: this was just not how I imagined it at all.
The pain was immense of the c section, dear lord, its a pain you can’t describe, it feels numb to touch on the outside, though horrendous inside.
The seven layers are the skin, fat, rectus sheath (medical term for the coating outside the abs), the rectus (abs, which are split along the grain somewhat more than cut), the parietal peritoneum (first layer surrounding the organs), the loose peritoneum and then the uterus, which is a very thick muscular layer.
How can this possibly not hurt? It’s MAJOR surgery!
One of the benefits of having a vaginal birth is that it has a shorter hospital stay and recovery time compared with a C–section. … Women who undergo vaginal births avoid having major surgery and its associated risks, such as severe bleeding, scarring, infections, reactions to anesthesia and more longer-lasting pain.
Trying to bed upwards for the first time is a new thing, you have to roll over sideways, yet you can feel every ab in your body completely bruised.
I felt slightly less of a mother that I hadn’t delivered naturally. I didn’t know what I had was an infection; I thought it was natural labour. I couldn’t help the way it went, it just did.
After the horrendous first time round I was then having my second child aged 41. The consultant suggested that I opt for an elective c section to avoid potential complications.
I was happy to do so and I have to say it was a completely different experience. Just beautiful.
Someone asked me, have you actually ever been in labour? Meaning natural labour, I knew she had, and I instantly felt like I had to justify myself. I was like ‘yes I have and it was bloody awful! I did feel hurt and pain for fecking hours and hours at only 6cm.!’ As if to say that I don’t actually know about child birth unless you’ve done the whole thing.
Some people’s natural labour progresses well and baby flies out; some have a high pain thresh hold; for some it’s not as bad as they thought; some natural labours nearly cut them in two with the pain and everything in-between. Every labour is different.
I don’t feel it makes us more or less of a mum whichever way we deliver. Though, having had two children, I would have liked to deliver both ways to be able to identify to others. But I do thank God for the health teams and their knowledge of knowing enough is enough, now we’re in danger and we need to get you both safe.
When speaking to other mums, I wouldn’t disrespect them though, by saying ‘you had a natural birth not major surgery’; likewise I hope they wouldn’t say, ‘you didn’t pass a watermelon out of a small a hole smaller than your nostril!’ I think we all do fantastic job, however we delivered.
Though there is definitely a stigma attached to c-section births, that we need to get rid of.