It’s 11.30am on Saturday morning. My husband has taken the children to the cinema for one of those bargain kids morning films. Right now, I am sitting in a cafe with a hot chocolate, a blueberry muffin and my laptop. I’m playing at being one of those people that I always stare longingly at whilst simultaneously wiping Sophie’s nose and telling George to eat his croissant rather than scatter it all over the floor. It’s bliss right now.
So, birth story number two. I was lucky again to have a pretty straight forward pregnancy. I might say that it was even more comfortable and manageable than the first, I think my body was just more prepared to be inhabited and stretched.
Sophie was due on 17th October and I really wasn’t surprised that this day came and went. I tried every old wives tale in the book but still found myself on a ward at 8am two weeks later being induced. I had heard so many horror stories about being induced and I was feeling pretty anxious about it. Friends had said that it makes your labour very quick and intense since they are giving you drugs to start your labour rather than your body doing it by itself. They gave me the drugs then told me to walk around for four hours and they’d check me again. I did start having contractions but I could tell it was still early days and this wasn’t going to be the quick and easy second labour I had been promised!
It got to 7pm and they said it was time for my husband to go home for the night. Um, excuse me? There was no way on earth I was letting him go and leave me there on my own. They said he could come back once I was in established labour as I would then be on the labour ward. It was news to me that I wasn’t in established labour but apparently I wasn’t. I needed to be at 3cm for them to send me to the labour ward and I wasn’t even there yet, sad times. I had this wonderful nurse examine me and she heard my heart felt petition and got me to 3cm, no more details required. I was so grateful and happy that David and I could both go up to the labour ward.
On my way up there I started to get a real panic feeling because it was the same place where I had given birth to George and had such a horrible time. Thankfully, we were in a different room and to be honest it felt like a totally different hospital so I was happy. I was greeted by my midwife who had just begun her 12 hour shift. Her name was Frederica and she was Italian. The labour ward was pretty much empty so she really was able to give me lots of time and attention which was incredible, so different to the first time. She ran me a bath and got the room all nice and cosy. Once I was out, she told me they were going to brake my waters quite soon. I was tired and still having contractions so she offered me gas and air which I jumped at. It was amazing! I used it while she broke my waters and I didn’t feel a thing, so good.
Once my waters had broken, things really intensified. My husband was just amazing. I really zoned out and had my eyes closed most of the time to try and manage the pain. He helped me through every single contraction by telling me when I was at the peak that the pain would soon go and I would get a little rest again. So simple but it absolutely kept me going and helped me get through the contractions. I think it’s so interesting that you have little gaps between contractions. You wouldn’t think a few minutes or seconds would make much difference but I don’t think any of us could manage it otherwise.
The hours went on and I was exhausted. They recommended that I have an epidural so I did. As time went by, I began to notice more and more people in the room, including doctors. They each wanted to examine me but I didn’t really know why. By this point, I had started vomiting so I had to stop taking the gas and air. The epidural had not been completely effective because they said the baby was in a strange position. It was time to push and I could feel pain but that was ok, I would have my baby in my arms soon. The pushing went on, and on, and on. No baby. I felt like the same nightmare was unravelling all over again.
We are just going to take you through to theatre just in case we need to use any interventions. Off we went and they gave me one last chance to push. I don’t think I’ve ever exerted so much effort in my whole life. But it was useless, that baby wasn’t coming out. They said that they would need to perform an emergency c-section. At that moment, I was surprised that I actually felt relieved. I felt relieved that someone else would be taking over and I could just stop and be still.
The next thing I knew, I had a baby on my chest. My beautiful, perfect baby girl. They had to take her from me quite quickly because I was in and out of consciousness. I felt this strange, blissful feeling of drifting in and out of the room while everyone else was so busy and alert.
I spent two days on the recovery ward and then another couple on the normal new mum ward. It was hard, really hard. Usually they leave the epidural in place for a while as a method of pain relief but since mine hadn’t been effective they just took it out. I have a morphine allergy so pain management was complex. They ended up giving me my own clicker thing to administer some kind of drug whenever I felt I needed it.
Recovery at home was slow but steady and I didn’t have any complications from my operation thankfully. I remember thinking I just couldn’t believe how much I use my stomach muscles. Literally, every time we move it comes from our core so it really was hard to move around and do anything. I did, however, really enjoy that fact that I could sit down without that agony that I’d had with a natural birth.
Both of my births were not straight forward, at all. The second experience was better mainly because of the midwife. I think that can make such a huge difference, I felt so looked after. Recovery from both kinds of birth are hard in different ways. It was very painful to sit down etc with a natural birth. It took a long, long time to heal and feel anything like normal. I could still pick things up though, and drive and do way more normal stuff than I could after my section.
With the section I felt more comfortable in the sense of being able to sit down but it was so much harder in a lot of ways. I could barely even sit up in bed. I couldn’t lift my baby out of her cot to feed her in the night, my husband had to pass her to me. I wasn’t able to drive for six weeks and even then I felt scared that if I put the brakes on, my stomach would split open. I now also have a scar which isn’t really what you plan for. It’s not big but it’s a constant reminder of what happened. I guess you can also say it’s a constant reminder of the birth of my daughter which is actually a wonderful thing!
If I was to have a third child then my husband is adamant that he wants me to have a planned c-section. As I have had one before, I can choose to have one again if I want one. I think it’s good that you get the choice. My husband is worried that my labour would go just the same way and I’d end up having a c-section anyway. I think is pretty likely as well but I guess it’s hard for me to admit as I still want to believe I could have a totally natural birth one day. My pelvis apparently doesn’t open wide enough for a baby so maybe I need to accept that my body just isn’t good at birthing children.
I am unsure what I would do. I kind of want to give it another go the natural way but I feel like I wouldn’t want another emergency section. If it was planned, I would imagine it would be a lot less intense and a lot more calm since we’d all know the plan.
Don’t rush into deciding to have a c-section, weigh it all up and think carefully about what works best for you and your family.
When you’re in the thick of all of the giving birth and recovery, life can be pretty bleak and impossible. Things do get better though, you will feel better. Your body is amazing and it will recover and let you do the things you want to do, and you have some little people to do it with you which makes all totally worth it.