So… I realised this week that despite asking the mums in our Monday feature to tell us all about their birth stories. .. I seem to have conveniently skirted around mine.
I’ve done so for good reason. .. mostly because thinking about it is a bit owchy… but who needs therapy when I’ve got you guys eh?!!
I’m a firm believer in talking about painful stuff to make it feel better… but I also think that there comes a point when you have to stop. Like a scab… if you keep scratting at it before it’s healed properly… it might never heal and just keep on bleeding.
That’s how talking about my little man’s birth makes/made me feel. In the early days I talked over and over about various details… almost in an attempt to convince myself that it had actually happened… but as time wore on I realised that I had to learn to let it go.
Now I can talk about it and it’s tender… but there are not many tears. Having a beautiful 2 year old boy to show for your emotional pain kind of makes it worthwhile… and… may I just add… as a side note… he spent his first day out of nappies today and didn’t have a single accident…. *air fist pump!!!*
Stand by for too much information…
Both my incredible babies were born by caesarean section; Little Man via emergency section under general anaesthetic and Princess Peach via ‘elective’ section with a spinal. (Hate the term ‘elective’ as that makes it sound like I asked for a c- section… when actually I wasn’t given a choice!)
I have what was once thought to be a bicornuate uterus… where your womb is basically in two halves… divided by a ‘septum’…each with a functioning ovary attached… technically you can fall pregnant in either ‘side’… but some women can struggle to conceive, deliver early or struggle to deliver naturally. (May I also add…that some don’t. .. and some women don’t even know they have it!)
Whilst delivering the boy it was discovered that actually- I have a slightly smaller uterus with a kind of tiny mutant sealed uterus attached to it… because of this and the premature boy (who was in a breech-transverse position) they decided to make a ‘classical’ incision inside… meaning an up-and-down cut rather than a horizontal one. As a result of this…I was told I would not be able to have a natural birth in the future as there is a greater risk of the uterus rupturing during contractions… nice eh?! Hope you’re not eating…
Everything was going swimmingly in my first pregnancy with my miracle boy up until around 26 weeks. I started to feel quite sicky and weak which I just assumed was caused by… ‘being pregnant’ but after a few days I began experiencing what I now know to be contractions. .. but being a first time mum I wasn’t sure… so headed to the hospital.
The pains were irregular and mainly in my lower back with an accompanying pressure in my ‘bits’…again… hope you’ve finished your sarnie.
The hospital hooked me up to the monitor and the trace revealed nothing significant. My temperature was high and my heart rate elevated (surprisingly!) so I was admitted with query ‘tightenings’ and spent a few days in hospital before being discharged. Lying in bed all day seemed to have eased the pains… so I went home feeling like a wimp.
The day after I went home was a Saturday. We went to a village Afternoon Tea on The Green Daaaaahling… ’cause that’s how we roll. I’d barely tucked into my first scone and was greedily eye-ing up a monumental strawberry cupcake when the pains returned with a vengeance. I struggled to a seat and forced down the scone pretending everything was fine… because I desperately wanted it to be.
I didn’t have a strawberry cupcake- I went home and spent my afternoon in the bath.
The next few days are a haze. I went to the doctors on the Monday morning and was re-admitted to hospital in the afternoon. The pains were getting worse… the hospital team decided that because the pain was more in my back it couldn’t be contractions… it was most likely a kidney stone… wait for it.. in the side of my body where I don’t have a kidney?!! (Yep- you read right… 1 kidney and a mutant womb… be thankful you can’t see my face!)
Long story short- on the morning the doctors decided I should be discharged… I struggled from my bed- in floods of tears and excruciating pain to press the ‘help’ button. At the very moment I pressed that little red button- my waters broke.
I suddenly realised my room was carpeted… I despaired at the unhygienic-ness of it all, and for the briefest of moments pitied the poor soul who would have the job of cleaning this mess up.
It was 11.23am…I was 28 weeks and 5 days pregnant… I was beyond terrified…
The face of the midwife that arrived first will probably be permanently etched on my mind forever…a mixture of fear and pity was spread across her face as she struggled to get me back onto the bed.
Being forced to lie on my back was beyond agony.
In seconds my room was full of midwives and the consultant who had diagnosed my kidney stone.
After a good rummage around in my nether regions sporting what appeared to be a miner’s head lamp…the consultant- in a soft voice-gently told me my waters ‘might’ have broken and I should ‘perhaps’call my husband.
I gently responded through tears and gritted teeth…
“Perhaps it might be better if you could call my husband. .. I worry I might struggle at this present time!”
…being careful to ensure very clear annunciation of the ‘perhaps’ and both ‘mights’… always time for a spot o’sarcasm- even in an emergency!
I was given 1 steroid injection to try and mature my little prince’s lungs (with the intention of receiving more if there was time) and wheeled round to delivery. I was hooked up to a drip administering magnesium sulphate… designed to stop what they now decided had in fact been contractions.
I felt faint as it kicked in.
I rolled away from the consultant- the person I should have been able to trust in all of this and closed my eyes. I squeezed the hand of the student midwife who had stayed on past the end of her shift to be with me.
I prayed my husband was there.
I prayed my labour would stop.
I prayed the midwife on the phone would find a hospital I could go to that could take care of my premature baby…
I prayed he wasn’t going to die…
I prayed the student midwife would remember this moment for always and make sure she always listened to the mums she looked after …even if they weren’t presenting in a text book manner. (A quick glimpse at her face through a wincey eye told me my last prayer was likely to already have been answered.)
My husband arrived.
I was put in to the back of an ambulance and driven to The Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital in Grimsby… strapped to a stretcher… on my back… amidst a plethora of whimsical jokes about going to the seaside for fish and chips…. No-one’s laughing John the Driver… even after the 5th time…
When I arrived at the hospital… I was met by an angel… she spoke calmly and positively of how some women’s labours stop and even when their waters have broken they can then go on to term.
I felt safe… a few hours passed.
My contractions were slowing.
I was feeling hopeful.
The angel midwife took a blood sample.
An hour or so later a consultant came to see me. The midwives later told me they called him ‘Gorgeous George’… you can guess why. It was most unfortunate that our first meeting had to be so undignified… but hey ho.
Gorgeous George told me my blood results were back and not good. The CRP levels- a marker used to identify inflammation and infection were high… normally they are below 10… mine were 155. Because my waters had broken it was dangerous for the baby… there were no guarantees that once the magnesium drip had finished that my labour wouldn’t re-establish and the boy was breech-transverse so pushing him out naturally may cause him too much trauma.
He told me they wanted to do a c-section… and they wanted to do it soon. Because of the infection they couldn’t risk a spinal injection. .. so it would have to be a general anaesthetic.
I’d like to remember how I felt at this moment… honestly… but all I remember is numbness… surely this wasn’t actually happening?!
The next 15 mins were a blur of consent forms, theatre preps and a brief meeting with the baby doctors who explained ‘what to expect’… though they needn’t have bothered as they couldn’t possibly have prepared us- however carefully they chose their words.
My husband wasn’t allowed to come with me to theatre. He was shivering because of the fan I’d insisted on having on full blast and close to tears. He kissed me and told me he loved me.
I cried… but a real achey cry…you know-stuck in your throat and chest like a big bubble of sadness that you can’t quite get out? I was so overwhelmed.
I was wheeled into theatre… cold, bright lights… lots of people. A team for me… a team for my tiny baby. (A group of people I will never get to sincerely thank but to whom I am eternally and massively grateful!)
Because of the anaesthetic they told me that they would need to prepare everything bar doing the actual incision before putting me under- so that as little anaesthetic as possible would go into my baby.
I fought tears and felt like I was struggling for breath but in spite of all of this… at 1.28am my eyes closed.
At 1.32am… my boy was ‘born.’
My first pregnancy ended at 28 weeks.
I don’t consider myself to have had a ‘birth experience.’ I was wheeled into an operating theatre and put to sleep. A baby was removed and I woke up a few hours later… empty…
I’d apparently had a baby boy who weighed 3lb 4oz, cried at birth and was doing well for now. I wasn’t allowed to see him yet but I was given a photograph of my tiny prince. My most prized possession. .. I held it to my skin and desperately waited for the metaphorical penny to drop and for my mind to realise I was a mother…
There was no skin to skin, there was no first breastfeed, there was no sigh of relief or tired euphoria that it was all over.
There was no kidney stone…
There was a photograph…
There was numbness…
There were the sounds of newborn babies taking their first breaths all around me… but not mine.
An empty, plastic cot… and a photograph…