Actually Mummy has asked people to share their birth stories. Having said a while back on Mammasaurus' blog that I thought it was good for women to share their experiences so that new mothers are better prepared for the reality of birth, this was the kick up the backside I needed to actually share mine. Check out all the other linked up stories on her blog here.
So here it goes...
Following a relatively stressful pregnancy - not due to my actual pregnancy but due to the breakdown of my relationship with Kit's Dad - I was in the situation that a week before my due date, having decided late in the game to try to give it another go, I moved into a flat with Kit's Dad, it was Monday or Tuesday. (This move included me single-handedly putting up a bed, because I really wanted somewhere to sleep - my parents had moved my stuff in the day before but the bed belonged to Kit's Dad, who'd decided to only use me to help him move). On the Thursday evening I text my old housemate and said that I either had really bad wind or I thought I might be going into labour. Gradually the pain got worse and it became apparent that it was labour. Kit's Dad came home from the pub to me in slight agony. I spent the rest of the night wandering around the kitchen squatting on a chair as I couldn't get back to sleep. I was booked to have Kit at a birth centre in East London (which was where I had been living through the whole of my pregnancy). I called them early in the morning and they suggested that I came in because I was having hardly any break between contractions. We got in a taxi and headed up, only to get stuck in traffic for over an hour!
On arriving at the birth centre I was checked out and wasn't very far dialated, the midwife said we could stay rather than go and come back, but that I should go for a walk to try to move things along. We walked to Canary Wharf shopping centre and got some lunch (all whilst I was trying not to look to the casual passer-by as though I was in fact having contractions every 4-5mins!). Walking back I really thought I might actually not make it back to the birth centre! I was checked again when we returned and although I had progressed I was still a long way off. As the birth centre was equipt for water births the midwife part filled the pool to try to ease my contractions a bit and left us to it. Being the hottest day ever recorded on Earth (that's a lie but it felt like it) I sat in a warm bath and after a while I felt a bit drowsy, fell slightly asleep - so we very nearly didn't make it to the birth - thankfully I woke up before I slipped under the water!
In a huge panic I got out of the birthing pool (never to risk returning again) and just sat gently sobbing through the pain instead. My contractions had massively slowed down from the bath and so when the midwife came in to check she was trying to get me to do things to get them going again, but I was already exhausted by this point having not managed to sleep at all. We were left again to keep trying by myself and that was the last I saw of that midwife. Noone came in for ages after that. Kit's Dad went out to supply me with ice-pops because I didn't feel like eating but it was baking and I really needed some energy. When a new midwife came in it must have been Friday evening. She found me lying on the bed having completely given up the idea that I might actually ever give birth, and unable to get up from the pain. She checked me over, and for the first time I was offered gas and air - I never realised how lovely gas could be!
My waters hadn't broken and I still wasn't progressing so the midwife took the decision to break my waters. On doing so (apart from noting that I had a massive amount of waters - it completely soaked me, the bed, the floor) she realised that I had meconium stained liquor (Kit had poo'ed in me). The birth centre wasn't equipt to deal with any complications in birth so they had to call me an ambulance. I was still gushing water and all of a sudden everything had become a lot worse, plus I was being told my baby may be in distress - in my head I had the perfect birth centre birth planned I hadn't even contemplated the possibility of ending up in hospital. The ambulance arrived and I was wheeled on, but as soon as I was on I felt like I needed to push so I travelled sirens blazing through East London to the Royal London Hospital in Mile End.
On arrival at the hospital noone checked me over, but it seemed the midwifes had decided that I needed an epidural and I was in such a state I didn't feel like I could refuse (I had really wanted a drug-free birth, just gas and air). I still wish I'd had a drug-free birth as things went even further downhill from there. You see, it turns out my spine is slightly squewiff - great thing to find out as someone is trying to inject you at the base of it - it took them over an hour and several failed attempts (I have the scars to prove it) to get an epidural in, so I had to sit deadly still for over an hour and I wee'd myself! Once they had the epidural in they checked me and realised I was fully dialated - great!
So now I was in a situation where I couldn't feel my contractions but I needed to push with them. The Dr was urging me to watch the monitor and try to push, but after a short time the midwife told me not to bother and to get some rest. I then got scolded by the Dr when he came back in and he stayed and tried to get me to push Kit out. Kit wasn't going anywhere. I felt like the Dr didn't feel like I was trying and I couldn't feel a thing to tell if I was really pushing anyway. After trying and trying and trying the Dr decided that he would have to try a ventouse. We were briefed that I might be headed for theatre if this didn't work, I was devastated. Anyway, with a tug and an episiotomy Kit popped out - only he had the cord around his neck. They detangled him (so to speak) and thankfully he was good.
I couldn't have him straight away as they had to check him over due to his inappropriate pooing! After he had been checked he was passed to me and I tried to feed him. From this point I just remember shear love and panic. I was overwhelmed with love for him, but I had no idea what to do with him, and I can genuinely say noone in the hospital was on hand to help me figure that out. I constantly felt like I was doing everything wrong when I was there, which wasn't helped when I had a shower and a blood clot the size of a small plate fell out, and when I called the midwife she seemed extremely put out that I had dared to make a mess of the shower!
Once out Kit became jaundice and we ended up in A&E and I felt like the worst mother ever. By the time we were transferred to the HV a few days later I'd figured out feeding and Kit was ok, and the HV had nothing but praise. I honestly believe that if I'd had a different HV (including some of those I've encountered since!) it could have been a much worse downward spiral and I'm not sure I'd have coped. Just having someone who was supportive and congratulatory towards me really changed my outlook.
So that's it. And yes I would do it all over again - but there are a few things that I could have changed and would have done differently if I could have had this hindsight. Mainly I wish I hadn't planned the perfect birth. I wish I'd planned the worse case scenario and then whatever actually happened would have felt so much better. That, and I wish I'd read more about what to do after the birth rather than just focusing on that event!
If you haven't shared your story yet, join in!