I want to share with this inspirational HBA3C birth story from my friend Caroline.
Felt odd all day and tightening coming often but not regular but were reasonably strong. Had to stop the car during the afternoon school run as they were rather uncomfy. At 430pm I rang my CMW for advice, during that call she said I’d had 2 in 5 mins so would call the on-call MWs to see how they are fixed. A MW (Serena) came out, got here at 530pm. I rang Loz to come home if he could, he already knew I hadn’t been feeling great. MW was here from 530-830pm. Having tightening some close together and strong, some spaced apart and strong and some weaker than others. Head was pressing on my groin. Had a VE before the MW left to see what was what, cervix not ready really but she could feel the head is engaged. So I ate when i felt like it, drank water and went to the loo frequently, went to bed soon after the MW left.
Awake on and off all night, roughly up every hour for either a contraction a wee or hip/pelvis pain. Feeling really sore today, like I’ve been kicked in the lady bits by a horse. MW rang at 930am to see how my night was, she wondered if yesterdays tightening were a reaction to the head engaging as that is very common and a hormonal response. Went for a gentle walk round Tesco’s to get Nipple shields with James and Loz, this seemed to restart the tightenings, at one point they came every 4 mins lasting about 1 min at a time. Had lunch in bed and a snooze and they seemed to ease again. Pretty much stayed around all evening but nothing progressed. Went to bed at 910pm.
Had a good sleep but woke feeling deflated. Why is nothing happening? Why keep stopping? Yes the sleep is good and hopefully a sign my body is storing energy for the job ahead. Pottered about doing bits bobs but had problems getting comfy, sitting or standing for long isn’t fun. Only comfy place is the loo. Baby moving lots so that’s good. Went for a short walk with Rachel at 3pm things seemed to pick up again with tightenings feeling stronger but with no pattern. Doula came to meet Loz and for a chat and we had a lovely evening. Loz and I tried sex but it wasn’t comfy for either of us, gutted! Offering more boob to James seems to be only thing to help the contractions come and stay stronger at present.
Woke up, restless night, am truly fed up. Things all seem to have stopped, aside from the sore lady bits. WHY?
Losing my PMA and trying to remember to ‘GO WITH THE FLOW’ but worried my body can’t do it after all and after 8yrs being told its broken am worried it really is, will things ever progress? Also am worried as Loz has to go back to work if things stay this way. Mooched about, did some food shopping but nothing to report, tried a spicier pizza at tea time-big mistake.
Had a terrible night’s sleep, heartburn back with gusto and baby having a good old wriggle about. Now it’s pressing on something so when I want to have a wee its slow and tricky so a quick pop to the loo becomes a long trip! But woken up at 7am thanks to eager children and decided to get some housework done. Feeling extra miserable as it is my mates birthday today (unless baby chooses to share this day with her) and it is too far to go to as I’d have to drive back so gutted I’ve not gone for the day. Tummy tight again on and off today, possibly due to baby changing positions more than CXs. Also more pressure down there, like it’s engaged a lot more but I guess it will still pop in and out at will. Going to have a nap I think, take some time out before the Sunday afternoon/evening rush takes place. Ahhh that’s better, I had a nice 2hr ish nap, shame about the heartburn again but going with what my body needs was a nice feeling. Dinner and bath time for all now and then DOI if I get time to watch.
Thought my waters went today. I had been to my Physiotherapy appointment that for the SPD and felt tired and strange. The loss wasn’t much but it wasn’t clear.
I contacted my doula and the Maternity unit who got twitchy about it. I was already miffed as during the initial phone call I didn’t mention my previous CS history, it was only when I said it was 4th baby (when asked) and the MW said well you should know if it’s your 4th! When I replied “but my waters have never gone on their own before so I don’t know” and she said “oh are you the previous CS lady?” So much for being treated same as everyone else!
They said I had to go in as meconium in waters isn’t a good thing-even though I wasn’t sure my waters had even gone and I wondered if it was more of a show, hence the colour, apparently the test strip kit isn’t something a CMW carries in her bag. I got upset and said I can’t get into you until at least 6pm as hubby is picking up children and my childcare can’t get here until then (Friday afternoon traffic). After stressing out for 15mins I get a call back saying they WILL support me and are sending out a MW and they said they would support my Homebirth and apologised for the worry. CMW Helen arrived at 3.30pm approx, examined me and felt happy it wasn’t waters could feel a bulge but cervix was long and barely open. I wasn’t effaced or dilating and left after about 3hours saying she didn’t think I’d be much longer and see how we go.
Plodded along very slowly today, went to supermarket thought my waters really had gone as I felt a pop and a gush into my pad and I dived to the loo. I didn’t want to ring the unit yet, I couldn’t bear another false alarm and the tightenings were not much stronger. After yesterday I wanted to be sure so I decided to wait but text my doula so she was aware. Trying to remain positive but kept over thinking everything.
Really felt uncomfy and strange and wanted to rest so asked my parents to come over just in case and to help us with the boys should I have to go in. In back of my mind I was thinking if the unit say I have to go in for monitoring (as once waters go your on the clock), I need to be sure they are ready. All day I was a stress-head, so I asked the doula to visit. She was amazing, got my head back on track and advised me to eat then we would ring the unit again, if it helped to find out for sure maybe I could go to them and say I’m not staying but I need to know as Loz needs to go to work but I feel like things are hotting up. Thankfully the MW (Helen again) came out to me. This was a massive relief as the idea of going into MLU was a concern. Sarah said my waters may have gone but glossed over the time and I was by now getting stronger contractions but I refused to time them.
Helen arrived, examined me again, said if waters had gone it wasn’t enough to worry about-just a trickle as she could feel the big bulge of waters still there from the other day. She stayed with me for ages, monitoring me then suggested I went to bed and she would come back at 930am unless I rang her earlier. She felt it was the latent stage and sleep would be good. I cranked up the tens but struggled to sleep through each contraction.
Woke up after restless sleep and felt really upset, things seemed to have eased. I gave James a booby feed before preschool and things seemed to pick up again. Mum and Dad came back as planned for the school run, and the MW and Doula came back too. I was examined again and told to go for a walk. Sarah and I mooched around the cul de sac and I waited for things to get going again, dreading in case things stopped. I needn’t have worried. A new MW came out, Kerry (later was joined by Kirsty) as it was the end of Helen’s shift. I waited, daren’t hoping. James came back from preschool, and had another feed. These feeds really helped things get going. By 3.30pm I was in the pool. I’d been slowly dilating and nature took its course in its own time. I was so glad to be in established labour at last. My labour progressed in its own time. I managed on the TENS until I got in the pool but once in the pool I needed the Entinox. I had said I didn’t want to get in until I’d reached 7cms but I was in before then. I only left the pool for a VE and to go to the loo but I wasn’t yet at 7cms but each contraction was opening the cervix just enough. Getting out that pool was so hard. CMW was worried as I’d not progressed as per the line they were using as a guide and Kerry thought her boss would want my waters breaking but her concern with that was cord prolapse. She was also happy things WERE progressing, the bag of waters was doing what it was meant to and didn’t want to rush things so was fighting my corner for no interventions. Back in the pool I went after what felt like a lifetime. And in the pool I stayed, labouring became more intense as the contractions got closer together and I really had to focus through them. I was impressed at the positions I was able to get into even with SPD but the water really helped, I was surprised how much it did help. Poor Loz had to find lots of strength to support me in the water AND run to keep topping it up. He was a star!
And then we got to the good bit and OH WOW did it hurt. In transition I said I couldn’t do it, it was too painful and I admit to being a bit scared by this point. Loz and Sarah kept me grounded, all the team did. Loz said “you wanted this, we want this, you’ve got to do it now so come on give it some welly!” And I did! Somewhere deep within myself I pulled myself together and dug deep and I could feel my baby pushing down and popping back up. Just when I thought to myself what if baby gets stuck as I’ve got no equipment here to help with this part and there is no way I could get out of here to transfer, I got a leg cramp behind my right knee, my leg shot out to one side in a way I didn’t think my hips could allow anymore and in that split moment where my attention was transferred to the leg cramp, out flew my baby in 1 push! WOW oh WOW! The MW had said nobody would touch baby, only me but when the time came we couldn’t find him. I had torn so there was blood and as I leapt up with cramp baby shot out behind me. Eventually we found baby and was it passed back to me and nobody could see what we had so I felt down between baby’s legs and found we had a BOY! Amazing! I wasn’t shown, or told, I found out for myself. I was on such a high (aside from the leg cramp that was being massaged at the same time by Loz and Kerry. And there in the water we stayed but the MWs did need me to get out due to the blood loss. Cord was very short, still pulsating so we waited and in that time the leg cramp eased so I was able to return it into the water. Loz cut the cord-not on a resusitaire across the room from me but while our baby was still very much attached to me. Amazing! Then we got out the pool and lay on the sofa (all nicely covered and protected). I was kept nice and warm and held baby for as long as I wanted. The MW checked my tear and left us alone as a family. She came back in and waited for the placenta to come. It basically had totally come away by itself as nature intended but the position I was laid in wasn’t ideal for it to leave my body but a gentle wiggle and tug and out it popped. Barely any effort on either part needed. Later she stitched up my 2nd degree tear while Daddy had cuddles and the baby was checked over. He was perfect. He had his first breastfeed and I was just on such a high the rest is a bit of a blur, like when you’ve had a bit too much to drink on a night out and details are hazy. That’s the effect of the Entinox I guess. I had a wobbly shower and returned to hug my baby and sat on our sofa smiling constantly.
During the course of the day I had Take That music on, not to everyone’s taste and I’m sorry my team had to suffer it all day. I’d asked for Rule the World to be played as baby was born but when the time came I was happy to have peace and quiet, as little noise as possible. What I later told my doula was that was also to have been my funeral song, in case I didn’t make it through.
I was too buzzing to sleep so I sat there cuddling our baby while my Dad and Loz set about clearing up the pool and I ate chocolate, had toast and jam and a cup of tea. It was so amazing, there really are no words.
A few days later…..
We named the baby Jonah, middle name to be decided. 2 reasons, one-as he was born in water and the other as it means peace. I am now at peace. I knew I COULD DO IT! Jonah and I did it together with the support a fabulous Midwifery team and my Facebook support group that Cass set up for me. Despite the tear and the discomfort of that I’d do it again. I’d NEVER opt for a CS unless there was a medical need. The birth was everything it should be calm, peaceful, minimal intervention and just as nature planned. No denying it hurts but it is a pain you forget and each pain is 1 step closer to meeting baby.
The emotional journey, self doubt, not daring to imagine the ending would be as id hoped is hard to put into words. Birth trauma is such a personal thing; no 2 people find the experiences around birth the same. For me it was about knowing I COULD trust my body to be pregnant and birth in its own way. No doubting my first CS was life saving for both my son and I but the 2nd was down to hospital policy and was when I first realised i had birth trauma issues. Still I swept it under the carpet, got on with life as mummy of 2 small boys, and a husband in the army who was frequently away, as well as my own physical health issues (gall bladder). I had different demons to fight, one being to get breastfeeding properly established without the drama and hassle of before with pumping, sterilising, topping up with prescription formula etc. My 3rd CS may well have been essential due to the cord being around him 3 times but how we got there could have been far better with less stress and pressure and fear. I can see now the support wasn’t in place from the medics, they clearly doubted it was something I should be contemplating and I felt punished for ‘daring’ to go against the system. This time we made the decision to leave the Drs out of things unless there was a medical issue. And it was the right one. We had an amazing team of Midwifes, I felt respected and listened to, and I respected their opinions as they deliver babies day in day out and there is only so much research you can do. I felt we had a trust and mutual respect for one another.
Birth without fear was point 1 on my birth ‘plan’ and that’s exactly what I got. I believe it’s every woman’s right to be able to make informed choices about what is best for HER and her baby/family. What was best for me may not be for another but she deserves to be respected and not bullied.
1 week ago today I was classed as in the early stages of labour!!!
Still on a high, not as sore today, CMW checked my stitches yesterday as part of the visit do the heel prick test and said I’m healing nicely; the discomfort I’m feeling is pulling as we wait for the stitches to dissolve. One thing is kind of niggling at me, I guess its part of the PTSD but i do feel a bit ‘guilty’ that I was so elated at Jonahs birth and I was so desperately anxious or sad or angry for the other 3. Does Jonahs arrival and the immense bond we have diminish what I had with the other 3. I certainly had bonding issues with James that I can never get back, for 6 weeks I went through the motions, feeding was agony and I dreaded each feed, everything he did irritated me and it wasn’t until he got ill and admitted to Addenbrookes at almost 6wks old that I turned a corner and realised what I’d been bottling up. Later on when we the boys are older will they feel hurt that I wasn’t as happy or overjoyed, they know what journey we have been on with Drs etc, they are very shrewd, last time Jacob wanted to go tell a Dr off for giving Mummy the operation she didn’t want-he was 4yrs old then. So is it wrong to feel so joyous and positive about the homebirth experience when I adore all my boys and feel so blessed to have them all. How do I find the same peace about their arrivals into the world?