The last post I began to write on this blog was a 37 week pregnancy and VBAC update. The next day, George was born.
He is now 3 weeks old and I have only just come to terms with the birth that I was nowhere near prepared for.
I had a vision of how I wanted it to be, and the opposite happened. It wasn’t natural, it wasn’t positive and it wasn’t what I wanted at all. If you are looking for positive birth stories, please don’t read this. If you do read it anyway and you’re about to give birth, remember everyone is different and no two stories regarding birth are the same. Oh, and I apologise for the length. There’s no way to tell a birth story quickly.
Enough disclaimers, get on with it woman.
The week leading up to George’s birth, I had noticed a dramatic change in his movements. One day he would be kicking like crazy, the next it would be radio silence. I had been so used to steady kicks from 16 weeks, and it had been the same every day until this moment. Of course, knowing what can happen, I phoned the hospital and went in to check what was going on. He was fine, his heart rate was fine and all was well, so off I went. A few days later, the same happened again, so this time they decided to book me in for a scan. Again, I went to that and his heart rate was fine, which is all they were really concerned about.
A few days later the same happened, yet again, and I was really starting to get frustrated with the hospital.
It said everywhere I looked that I should be reporting changes in movement, and every time I did they’d hook me up to a CTG machine for 20 minutes and tell me everything was fine. I knew it was fine because I could feel him move but it didn’t explain the massive change in his behaviour. Twenty minutes on a CTG wasn’t an accurate representation of a full day, so because it was the fourth instance they sent me for yet another scan, the day before George was born.
During this scan, she advised me that the blood flow to my placenta wasn’t as it should be and that I had a decision to make and I had three options. I either carried on the extra few weeks in hope that my placenta would carry on as normal and keep my baby safe, I could book a caesarean for the next day, or I could be induced that evening.
I was only 37 weeks and absolutely terrified.
I’d had my heart set on a VBAC, but my biggest concern was that George wouldn’t be okay. I couldn’t have just carried on as I never would have forgiven myself if something happened, so I decided to opt for an induction and to give a VBAC one last try. I did know from Oscar’s birth what that meant, and that I would probably end up with another caesarean, but I wasn’t willing to give up without a fight.
Anthony dropped me off at hospital at 6pm and kissed me goodbye. I was so upset to be there on my own, but without childcare for Oscar I didn’t have much choice. I sat on a ward on my own for hours until a lovely midwife and consultant came along and asked me what my decision was. I asked if an induction meant I could still be up on my feet and she assured me I could be, so at that point I knew I had made the right decision and opted for that. I was moved to the labour ward and the pessary was inserted at midnight.
I’d already started to dislike the midwife I was assigned as she immediately advised that my cervix wasn’t favourable after the pessary was inserted. She said she had doubts the pessary would work on its own and then started asking my thoughts on another section (because I had a previous caesaraean, they’re reluctant to insert more than one pessary incase your uterus starts to over contract).
I told her that I was just willing to see what would happen and basically to stop being so bloody negative, and asked when I could start moving around. At this point it had been two hours and I was starting to have contractions, I needed a wee and was already done with being strapped to the bed. She told me that I could not move around and would have to lay down due to me being a VBAC birth. I almost smacked her one to be honest. I was gobsmacked. I just remember saying “Well can I please speak to a consultant then as that isn’t what I was told a few hours ago when I signed up to this?” and she mumbled something and walked off. When she came back, she brought an exercise ball and told me I could now move about if I wished. She didn’t return the whole night. Hmm.
The staff handover came around and I received a new midwife who was amazing and I was so grateful if I am honest. She advised that my waters would be broken shortly to encourage the pessary to work, and that I would be given the chance to labour for as long as I could throughout the day before they would check again. Anthony also arrived at this point which filled me with relief. Then, in walked this doctor/consultant who was about 7 foot tall and the absolute double of Stephen Merchant ready to break them. He told me it would be painful, but if I knew how painful he meant I never would have gone through with it, ever. I will never forget that pain. I just remember screaming in agony and trying my hardest to get away from it. As soon as my waters burst it was a relief, but already I was feeling so down about the whole experience. It was so invasive and upsetting and it makes me feel sick thinking back to that moment.
The consultant advised that I was 1cm dilated and he recommended I go on the hormone drip in order to speed up my labour. The hormone drip was what I ended up on with Oscar and I really didn’t want that, but I knew the pessary wasn’t working at this point and if I wanted a VBAC I basically had to bite the bullet and just do it.
As soon as I was placed on the hormone drip, the contractions came flooding in. I forgot how horrendous labour was, and regardless of the way it had already gone so far, I was still trying all of the hypnobirthing methods to get through the pain. In my mind I kept telling myself that I would have the baby naturally, and that the pains were there for a reason. I was listening to my body and moving around as much as I could (although the CTG kept dropping so it was difficult but I managed). I was having 4 contractions every ten minutes, and other than paracetamol the only pain relief I was willing to accept was gas and air, but I was trying my hardest not to even use that. I only had 6 hours to labour before I would have been examined again, and they wanted to see a fair bit of progress in that time.
Anthony was also absolutely amazing at this point. He was holding my hand and getting me through every single contraction as best as he could and I was so grateful for everything he said and did. I couldn’t have wished for a better birthing partner.
I breathed through each pain and when they were off the chart at 5pm I still carried on for the last hour refusing to use the gas and air because I wanted it for pushing. I could feel loads of pressure down below, and every time I got a contraction I seemed to be losing more water, which the midwife said was a brilliant sign because it meant baby was moving down. I was so tired at this point and looking forward to the examination for a bit of motivation. We were all talking about how far on I may be, and I thought I would at least be 4cm. I felt like I was doing amazingly well and I was so proud of myself.
6pm came around and in came Stephen Merchant again with his 7 foot long arms. I knew straight away by the look on his face that something wasn’t right, and of course, after the examination he advised that I was still 1cm.
I went through 6 hours of excruciating pain with no pain relief and nothing had happened at all. At that point I just burst into tears and honestly, I have no words to describe how heart breaking it was. They asked me if I wanted to carry on or whether I would rather go for another caesarean at that point, so I opted for the repeat section. I didn’t want to, but the exact same thing had happened during Oscars birth and I just wasn’t willing to put myself through it again. I just remember wanting to scream and shout at everyone because I was so angry at myself for failing, yet again. I had well and truly given up and admitted defeat.
I was taken to theatre, still having contractions and still sobbing my heart out. I had people left right and centre telling me that I had tried my absolute hardest and that there was nothing wrong with that and to not be so upset, but I just couldn’t help it. I wanted the pains to go away as I knew at that point that they weren’t doing anything and I was, yet again, terrified for surgery. I signed the consent forms and laid there being prepped. I was alone, shaking, freezing cold and heartbroken. Thankfully, everything went well during the surgery and George was born just after 7pm weighing 6lbs 6oz.
It has taken three weeks for me to come to terms with him not only being 3 weeks early, but for me to accept what happened really. I was in hospital for 3 days because he ended up jaundice and the whole time I just felt like it was my fault for choosing to have him early instead of just carrying on. It’s easy for me to say that though, now that I know he’s okay. I don’t really know anyone who would carry on and put their baby at risk if they were given the same decision to be honest. Mum guilt, though, it follows you everywhere.
I will probably talk about this more in future but for now that is all I really can bring myself to say about this whole thing. Although I am disappointed, I am so bloody grateful that he is okay and that I can have the pleasure of saying that.
I may not have got my VBAC but I did get another beautiful child, and that is all that really matters.
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