The thought of talking about my birth, let alone writing about it, 2 years ago, would’ve certainly brought tears to my eyes and more than likely made my palms sweat with anxiety.
Fast forward a couple of years and I’m in a place where the traumatic birth I experienced doesn’t affect me emotionally or mentally hence me putting my finger to keyboard.
I found out I was pregnant on April 11th 2013, it was a real shock, despite me not taking any form of contraception, I was under the impression I may have to have intervention if I wanted to have children. In fact, the day month I received the positive result on the stick of fate, I was due to have some tests.
I always knew that when I had children I would have an added stress to proceedings, this is because I am a haemophilia carrier. Haemophilia is an inherited condition that in short, means your blood doesn’t clot correctly. My maternal Grandfather who was a sufferer had many blood transfusions throughout his life and even ‘died’ on the operating table once when the surgeons couldn’t stem the bleed.
I discovered I was a Haemophilia carrier aged 19, just like my Mother did years before, from that moment on I decided that if I was to ever have a child I would opt for a Caesarean section. The reason being, should there need to be instruments used in labour such as forceps or ventrose, this could cause injury to the baby if he were to suffer from haemophilia.
When I was around 6 months pregnant the date was set for my C-section, it was to take place on Monday 9th December, 5 days ahead of my due date.
I remember attending an antenatal class the month before I was due to have my operation, caesarean section was only briefly mentioned for 5 minutes of the 2 hour class and I recall; in my naivety, not really listening to the facts outlined about labour; the pain, stages of labour and the methods of pain relief on offer. I think my concentration flew out the window at that stage, as, let’s remember, I don’t need to know what contractions feel like and nor do I need to know about waters breaking etc.
At 38 weeks pregnant I remember feeling a little out of sorts, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but I just didn’t feel right. I had a bit of a ‘show’ and felt a bit emotional, certainly not like myself. I was experiencing light pain and called the midwife to explain how I felt. She was of the opinion I needed to call the hospital I was due to have the caesarean at (the following week) and explain to them how I was feeling.
The hospital were keen to take a look at me, just to be on the safe side. So off I went to hospital, fully anticipating to be home within a few hours. I actually left hospital almost 6 days later, with a new-born baby in tow!
When I was admitted to hospital, I was hooked up to a monitor and on the receiving end of a rather undignified and uncomfortable internal examination but at this stage there was no indication that my baby was about to make his entrance in to the big wide world. I was told the hospital would like me to stay overnight, just to keep an eye on me.
Around 8pm that day, just as my partner was about to leave the hospital for the evening, the ward midwife was doing her rounds and came to check on me. She completed a very painful external examination, which to this day I am convinced brought on labour.
I remember feeling very uncomfortable after this examination but wasn’t on the whole wasn’t too concerned.
The uncomfortable feeling progressed and I soon felt the need to go to the bathroom, once inside the toilet, I felt the most incredible surge of pain, it literally took my breath away. I could barely stand up. By this point my other half had long gone (home to have himself a rum can you believe), so I called him frantically, unsure of what I should do.
Talking was impossible, I couldn’t catch my breath, the pain was now reverberating throughout my body in waves. I hobbled out of the bathroom and into the arms of a member of hospital staff. She and another member of staff ushered me into a nearby room to check me over.
Upon inspection, they discovered I was in labour and already 3 cm dilated. It was time to take me down to theatre and prep me for surgery. This baby was coming now.
My partner was called and told to come back to hospital immediately. I would be on the operating table within the hour.
By now, the pain was so intense, I didn’t know what to do with myself, I was waiting to go into theatre as there was another patient undergoing a C-section.
I was desperate for the pain to go, however there was nothing I could do. I was so unprepared for this. I never for one second expected to know what contractions felt like. All I could do was breathe through them and hope I’ll get an element of respite soon.
Why didn’t I listen to what I was told in the antenatal class?
I was starting to get the feeling like I wanted to push. Upon further inspection I was now 10 cm dilated. Luckily I was able to now be taken to theatre.
I remember being sat on the bed awaiting my epidural and experiencing the most painful contraction so far, I was shaking with pain but knew I had to stay still while the needle was inserted into my spine. Without a shadow of a doubt, that moment was the most difficult moment of my life. How I stayed still, I’ll never know.
Just as I was led down onto the bed, I felt a huge gush. My waters had broken.
Theatre was a frightening place, I’d never seen an operating table before. The lights were bright, there was a crowd of people all introducing themselves to me, and everything felt a bit manic.
Finally someone pressed the button on the clock in the theatre, it was about 00:40, the middle of the night.
The surgeon explained that surgery was going to be slightly more complicated than a C-section would normally be. This was because the baby’s head was on its way out, she was going to have to push his head back up so she could perform the section.
I can’t recall feeling much at this stage. I was so full of anxiety and adrenaline.
Finally the surgeon could begin the operation and safely deliver my son. However, this wasn’t as easy as she’d hoped. He’d got stuck. At this point, my anxiety was off the scale, instead of feeling like ‘the washing was being done in my stomach’ I was being pulled up off the bed by the sheer force of the surgeon trying to deliver my son. One of the nurses gave me some gas and air, which, I have to say, was a moment of small pleasure in an otherwise incredibly stressful & painful situation.
Baby was not coming with ease, this was becoming a struggle and I was now in a huge amount of discomfort. My partner who was sat beside me looked like he’d come face to face with a ghost. The colour had drained from his face. I was by now shaking so hard, I was terrified I was going to fall off the bed. I discovered after surgery that this is quite common during a C section, because of the drugs.
Finally, at 1:27, around 45 minutes after the clock had started, my son was delivered, weighing 6lb 14 oz. He was placed in my arms. I was so terrified I was going to drop him because my body was shaking so much I had to ask someone to take him from me.
Unfortunately, because my son was trying to make his own delivery into the world, he’d caused an internal tear which needed to be tended to. The surgeon explained all this to me while she was doing her work. Me? I was just led there, shell shocked in a total daze at what had just happened over the last couple of hours.
Almost 2 hours later the clock was stopped, surgery completed and I was able to go into the recovery ward with my new born son.
I was informed I’d lost a lot of blood but otherwise I was OK. Well, physically I was OK but mentally I was in a heightened state of anxiety. Convinced I was going to die. In fact, I asked the registrar what time I was going to pass away.
It transpired I had caught an infection, this was because when my son was pushed back up inside me for the C-Section, and it caused an infection to flood my body as he was moved back up. This just added to my anxiety and I was now on edge, too frightened to move, petrified to fall asleep just in case I didn’t wake up.
In summary, it took my mind a long time to catch up with what had happened to my body. This caused me to suffer from severe anxiety which led to Post Natal Depression. An illness I wrote about a few months ago.
I’ve managed to put my experience to bed now, with intensive therapy and counselling, I’m now able to think back to my C-section and not feel like I might break down in tears. In fact, I even think I’d be able to go through the whole process again, perhaps not yet, but I’ve reasoned that what happened to me the first time was a one off, it would be very unlikely for that to happen again.
I’ve since found out that if I was to have another baby, then I would not be able to have a water birth or indeed a home birth, purely because of how quickly I was labouring last time. That’s absolutely fine by me!
For a long time after my C-Section, I couldn’t bear to watch any C-sections be performed on TV. One Born Every Minute would make my mouth dry and my palms sweat. It was all too close to home and brought back painful and traumatic memories.
Time is a healer and writing this out has been hugely cathartic. I am incredibly grateful to every single member of staff who treated me during my stay at hospital and every single member of the team who were in theatre.
They are all heroes in my eyes.