I still feel a bit emotional about my birth so feel it's probably time to share the story and get it off my chest.
I had a very normal, healthy pregnancy with things looking great at every stage. The only complication was that my baby was posterior in the weeks leading up to her birth. I saw my Dr the day before she was born and he told me she was now in an anterior position and everything looked great.
The following day I was lying in bed in the morning when I realised I was contracting away fairly regularly. As I'd had no pre-labour type signs of anything before this, I didn't get too excited and expected them to peter off.
But they continued on and eventually my DH decided to call the in-laws as they had a 2 hour drive to come and mind our kids. Some stress was caused by this as they were a bit on the slow side in arriving, but they made it at last. We headed for the hospital much earlier than I would have liked mainly because I didn't really want to labour in front of my in-laws who would have found this quite stressful!!
At this stage I was feeling strong and positive about it all. I was using visualisations to help me through the pain and was amazed how much it helped. Sometimes I even felt I could almost will the pain away altogether.
Things did start moving along quite quickly once I reached hospital and I hopped into the shower where I ended up staying for a long time! I felt my contractions mainly in my back and had the suspicion that my bub had turned posterior again, so I let the water run on my back and tried to stay focussed on my visualisations to cope with the pain. I still felt in control and proud of the way I was coping and that I was on my feet doing things my way instead of flat on my back hooked up to monitors as I had been with my DS.
I was in active labour for about 3 hours and starting to feel a bit desperate for the end to come but kept imagining the pain as a gold light cushioning my baby and helping her move down gently, coming to meet me. Finally my waters broke with a huge crash on the shower floor and with help I moved to a birth stool with my DH supporting me from behind.
After a few big pushes my midwife started to swear. She was saying 's***, s***, s***!!' and yelling for someone to call the doctor. My baby's head was starting to emerge but that's all I knew. I was in extreme pain and now felt sickening panic that something was very wrong. It was clear the midwife was panicking herself and didn't know what to do. She was telling me to take little breaths and try not to push which was almost impossible at this point. The pain was so bad I heard myself screaming even though I was trying so hard to keep some control over things. So much was running through my mind. Was the cord around my baby's neck, was my baby alive? What was going to happen here? I knew that there was no doctor on site at the time and noone would be coming in the next few minutes.
This all happened in a very short space of time, but was extremely frightening. Just being in that unbearable pain and fearing for my baby's life without knowing anything about what was wrong.
In a matter of 5 minutes or so, I was told my baby's head was out and I reached down to touch her. A few more painful pushes and she was on my chest and I was holding her and DH and I were crying and trying to look to see she was alright. She was purple with dark bruises on her face and angry red marks under her eyes. Her lips were so swollen that I thought she had some malformation.
It was only after this that the midwife told us that Eve had been born with her face first and that the first thing she had seen was her chin and lips. She made very light of it though and DH and I were so emotional we weren't in a state to ask her more questions.
The doctor arrived at some point and also made some lighthearted comments like 'how exciting, a face presentation'.
My little girl is absolutely perfect and now at 2 weeks has recovered from her bruises but still has a bloodshot eye where she burst a blood vessel. Her first few days were very unsettled and she seemed uncomfortable and in some pain.
Even though I know everything turned out well in the end, I feel upset and a bit angry about the way things were handled by our midwife and about how little information we were given even after the birth. I have ended up doing my own research into face presentation births as I just didn't understand what had happened or why or what it meant for my baby. I'm upset that if I had been more informed I would have been able to understand better what had happened and what discomfort my little girl had been in in her first days.
My story has had a happy ending. I am blissfully baby gazing at my perfect little Eve, but wish my experience hadn't been so tainted. I feel especially disappointed that I was so positive about my labour and managing it so well until the delivery. I feel like the control was taken away from me at that most important point.
My DH has also felt quite traumatised by the experience and told me he thought our baby was dead when the midwife reacted the way she did.
I hope this story hasn't been too awful for those of you awaiting your labours. Thank you for reading it. I wish you much more positive stories of your own.