Emily is my second child; my son was born by emergency c-section, done in early labour for breech presentation. With Emily I planned a water HBAC (Home Birth After Caesarean) with NHS midwives. I am also chronically ill and disabled; I have had ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome since I was 15. Things didn't quite work out as we planned, and even though I ended up with another section it was still a positive experience, and we have the most beautiful baby girl.
On Saturday 21st August I was 1 week overdue (by hospital dates) and becoming rather anxious. I'd had a membrane sweep 2 days previous and had a slight show, but nothing else apart from the occasional mild contraction. A midwife came out to see me and did a second sweep. Things were looking good - I hadn't dilated any, but my cervix was only half a centimetre long so she said I was ready anytime.
Later that day I had more of a show and some slightly uncomfortable contractions about 8 - 10 minutes apart. We decided to send our son to stay with his Nana for the night, just in case anything happened, but the contractions slowed and faded to nothing. I was quite disappointed, but I decided to have a bath then go to bed and get some rest.
3.42 am and I was woken by a sharp pain and a damp feeling. I was having a contraction and my waters had broken. I woke my husband and said I thought things were starting to happen. I was right! The next contraction came 5 minutes later with another trickle of fluid. My husband got up and started to get things ready. I pottered around upstairs but the contractions were coming every 3-4 minutes so I decided to get downstairs while I still could. I'd been told to phone the midwives when my contractions were 5 minutes apart and lasting more than 30 seconds. By 4 am they were less than 4 minutes apart and getting rather painful so I asked my husband to call the labour ward. They asked to speak to me just as another contraction started but they must have heard me so they said they would send the on-call midwife right away.
By 5AM, midwife S arrived and examined me. I was 3-4 cm! I lost some blood after the examination, so they sent my husband upstairs for clean pants and a pad. My husband had inflated the birth pool but was having trouble filling it. The heating had gone off and he couldn't get it to come back on again, so we were running out of hot water for the pool. I was leaning on my exercise ball and rocking my hips during contractions. I couldn't bear to be on my side or my back so I stayed on my knees. The second midwife was called for. It was one I hadn't met before - I must admit I didn't like her very much. She kept calling me "luvvie" and kept touching me in the middle of contractions, which I found really irritating. I kept hitting her hand away as she touched my legs and my back, but she kept on doing it anyway.
The contractions were coming thick and fast, so S suggested I try the gas and air. I liked it! Once I had got the hang of it, it made the ever-intensifying pains bearable and I could keep calm and ride them out without too much effort. Throughout they tried to pick up the baby's heart with a sonicaid, but it was tricky with me on my hands and knees. S could manage it sometimes but the second midwife hadn't got a clue!
Thye examined me again at about 7am and found I was 6-7 cm. I was progressing very fast considering I hadn't laboured before, but I started losing more blood. There were clots on the mats on the floor and they were becoming concerned. S said "You're losing quite a lot of blood, we don't know where it's coming from, so I strongly suggest that you transfer to hospital." I quite surprised myself and said yes without a second thought. An ambulance was called and took me to the local hospital. I rode in the ambulance on the trolley on my hands and knees - much to the amusement of the driver, who had never seen a labouring woman in that position before. The midwife told him it was a homebirth position!
My husband followed the ambulance in our car and arrived at about the same time. I was wheeled straight into a delivery room and seen by the consultant. She wasn't happy about the bleeding, but said they would monitor me. I didn't want continuous monitoring and I asked if I could still move with the belts on. They said yes so I agreed, but with my kneeling on the bed they kept falling off, so they asked my permission to fit a scalp clip to monitor my baby. I agreed again - it meant they were happy with their monitoring and I could labour in the position I wanted. They said because I'd had a previous section they would want to put a drip in my hand. Again I wasn't keen but agreed. I wish I hadn't as, not long after, I knocked it out. My husband only noticed when I had covered the pillows, bed head, wall, floor and gas and air tube with blood! We later joked about it looking like a scene from a horror movie with all the blood everywhere!
I was examined again by the hospital midwife and was found to be fully dilated with an anterior lip. It was getting hard not to push, but I knew it wouldn't help things if I pushed too early. I was examined again, this time by the registrar who happily told me I was 10 cm and could start pushing. At some point my contractions slowed and faded to nothing. This lasted about 45 minutes and the registrar was called in again. I was put on my back, which was very painful, and told to push on his fingers as he examined me. He was happy I could push and he emptied my bladder with a catheter to help things along. It did, and the contractions started again with a vengance! I couldn't turn back over onto my knees, so I stayed on my back pushing holding on to the bed. I was pushing for over an hour but another examination showed the baby was not descending. After talking with the consultant the registrar asked my permission to attempt a ventouse delivery, and if not a c-section would be necessary. I was absolutely exhausted and all my efforts were making no difference so I agreed.
I was taken to theatre for an epidural. I'm afraid I lost my composure at this point. My lovely gas and air was taken away, I was laid on my back - the most painful position for me and I was facing major surgery again. I was very vocal and wasn't coping with the contractions at all. Luckily they managed to get the epidural in first time (it took 6 attempts last time!) and it worked very well - too well, in fact. They raised my legs and tried the ventouse but when they said 'push' I could feel absolutely nothing from the chest down. Push? How? I can't feel anything! "Just imagine you are pushing" they said. I tried, but I couldn't, so I was prepped for the section. I remember saying no and starting to cry, but I knew I had to do it to have my baby safely.
I had the same side effects to the epidural as my last one. My hands were shaking violently and I felt very, very sick. I was given 3 doses of something to help with the nausea, which took a little while to work. The drapes went up and lots of people were buzzing around. After a short while I heard gurgling, and then a cry. My baby had been delivered. Someone said congratulations, then after a minute or two someone else remembered to tell me that I had a daughter. I asked if she was alright but I could hear her cries. I asked to see her but they said she was being checked over first. I asked again and they said that my husband was holding her. Then the midwife realised that I hadn't seen her yet and she went and got her back. She was beautiful, all covered in thick white waxy stuff, screaming at the top of her lungs and looking around with the biggest pair of blue eyes. I started to feel sick again and she was taken away and given back to my husband.
Our daughter Emily Jasmine was born at 2.14pm Sunday 22nd August 2004 weighing 8 lbs 2 oz. It wasn't the birth experience we had planned or hoped for, but the complications were unavoidable and we are very happy with the end result - a healthy baby girl! The hospital did their best to accommodate us. They let my husband stay with me in a side room for my 3-day stay. The registrar visited me the next day to discuss what happened and why. On my notes it says I had a c-section due to delayed second stage, but my baby had been ROA for the last few weeks of pregnancy and from the angle of the ventouse bruise on my baby's head I don't think there was any easy way for her to be delivered vaginally. The staff were on the whole very supportive. The registrar did tell me that my next pregnancy would mean having another section, which I know isn't strictly true, and one of the midwives told me I shouldn't have been having a homebirth after a previous section, but my husband set her straight on that one!
The midwife who was with me during my hospital labour came to see me in recovery and said she hoped I wasn't too disappointed with how things turned out. I told her, how could I be disappointed when I have such a wonderful healthy baby girl!
I'm glad I planned a homebirth and I guess I am a little disappointed that things didn't turn out as we planned, but I think the fact that I was a homebirther who transferred made a difference to the way the hospital staff treated me. They asked my consent for every intervention and explained everything thoroughly. I feel I was lucky to have such a good hospital midwife who was very much on my side and against unecessary interventions. When I was admitted, the consultant considered giving me a section straight away, but the midwife fully supported me in attempting a vaginal delivery. It did end up being a cascade of intervention, but it was my choice to go along with things and I felt much more in control than when my son was born. It really wasn't as bad as it sounds. I got to experience labour and I came very close to delivering my daughter myself, but in the end it just wasn't meant to be.
I keep having moments of doubt wondering if I could have done things differently, but it would have been silly of me not to transfer with the amount of blood I lost, and by the time I agreed to the ventouse and c-section I was completely exhausted. I was pushing for a long time, but Emily was stuck so I guess there was nothing else anyone could have done.
Flowerpot Tots - clever cloth nappy products for growing babies
Clair had her third baby, Samuel, on 31 January 2006 - a home waterbirth, at last!
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