When expecting my first baby, Lucas, I hoped for a smooth, relaxing hypno-birth. I read the books, downloaded whale music and preached to anyone who listened that labour should not hurt and that ‘pain is just in the mind’ (they nodded along/wanted to punch me) I believed my birth was going to go swimmingly.
For some women, hypno-birthing works brilliantly and I know of a few who have genuinely enjoyed their labours and sailed through it. Let’s just say mine DEFINITELY didn’t go the way I thought.
I was in slow, early labour for two days and by the time I went into hospital, I was pretty exhausted. I did NOT cope very well and the idea of a pain free, enjoyable birth went straight out the window! I was given gas and air as well as pethedine (which I was what I imagine heroin feels like, FYI). As my waters broke, the midwives informed me it contained ‘meconium’, this is when baby poo’s inside of the womb (yuck, I know) which can be very dangerous to your baby and a sign of distress. I was closely monitored and a clip was placed on baby’s head, which meant laying down and trying to remain as still as possible. My contractions became inconsistent so I was hooked up to a pitocin IV (this speeds up contractions – it was intense and very painful!) After twelve long, horrible hours in hospital, I only reached 4.5cm dilated and was told I needed an emergency C-section.
It was the scariest moment of my life. I had never prepared myself for not giving birth naturally and although happy my baby boy had arrived safely, I felt absolutely gutted.
Getting over a caeserean was HARD. I was in agony, very weak as I also lost quite a bit of blood and my scar became infected (really not ideal when looking after a newborn..) My scar still hurt up to when Lucas was a year old. It makes me sad to say it, but I felt a failure from my birth experience and it really affected me. So three years later, when expecting my second bubba I was determined to try a VBAC – ‘vaginal birth after caeseran’ (you may have been wondering what the hell that was). I was aware there may be risks and complications but decided to go ahead.
As I came up to my last few weeks of pregnancy, I heavily researched everything I could do to improve my chances of a successful VBAC. I took raspberry leaf capsules daily, constantly bounced on my birthing ball, inserted evening primrose oil (I’m sorry, I’m a weirdo), stayed active and walked miles. You name it – I did it!
Three days before my due date, I went into labour. I headed to the maternity ward at 11pm and was told I was 5cm dilated (yay!), my contractions were strong but I was ‘in the zone’ and coping well. I stayed on my feet, pacing around as I didn’t want to stuck laying on a bed like last time without gravity doing its job. Within a few hours and some gas and air I was at 8cm, I remember the pure excitement when the midwife told me baby would be arriving VERY soon.
The midwives broke my waters, I specifically remember the ‘pop’ sound and gush as they flooded the bed. Then I saw the worried look on their faces. Meconium in my waters… again (cheers kids, both of you SHAT in me!!) I was quickly wired up to the monitors and was forced to lay on the bed. I admit, this is when I lost control. I was scared and begged for more pain relief but they refused as I was too far along and they were struggling to find the baby’s heartbeat. I remember crying and shouting “I can feel her moving, she’s ok, I want to push please just let me get on with it!” It felt like hours of hell, but probably only a few minutes as the doctor and midwives fiddled around with the monitors and had hushed conversations. After tearfully signing a consent form I was rushed to theatres to have another emergency c-section. I was obviously disappointed asI got so close but knew my baby’s safety came first and to be honest I couldn’t wait for it all to end.
Ava was born at 5am, the operation went really well and the Doctor cut away a lot of scar tissue (she told me this may have something to do with how badly I healed last time). When I heard my baby’s soft little cry, nothing took away the happiness of that precious moment.
Over the next few weeks, I was on cloud nine. I was blissfully content and felt so lucky to have two perfect, healthy children. I also wasn’t in half the amount of pain as last time and recovered quickly. I’m not totally sure why it was so different.. Maybe because of the removed scar tissue, a better surgeon or the fact I was up and about more this time round (you don’t get a choice when you’ve got two little ones to look after.)
The moral of my little story is that it doesn’t matter how your baby is born, as long as they are brought into this world safely. I do not feel one ounce of a failure now and am so proud of myself. I still think labour is fascinating and I feel absolute admiration for my friends and family who have since given birth naturally. For anybody reading this considering a VBAC, please do not let my story put you off. I am so glad that I tried and a high percentage of VBAC’s are successful.
Who knows, maybe I’ll give it another go when I have baby number three… (Don’t panic Mum, – not for a long while yet!)
Til next time,