I had quite a traumatic birth experience.
Bringing Tabitha into the world was the opposite of what I thought was going to happen.So I would like to share my story with all the mums who may have been through something like this before.
As soon my partner and I found out I was pregnant I was crazy researching everything I could find on a natural birth. Mostly checking out all the homebirths on YouTube. I also saw the one Ricky Lake was in – it was very helpful to me because one of the lines in it that really stuck out was ‘a baby born into the world without love, can’t understand or feel love’ or something like that.
Basically the point of the movie was pro-natural birth and it was portrayed as best for the bonding of you and your baby. That meant no drugs, no medical intervention etc. The worst case scenario for me was tearing during the pushing stage but little did I know that was the least of my problems. I also suffered from anxiety and depression during my pregnancy.
My pregnancy started off quite normally. The usual morning sickness and feeling extremely tired from a normal working day. I was so excited to show my bump once I had one. I am not a skinny girl I’m a size 14 with curves so when I finally started to “show” it felt great to have people not mistaking me for just getting fat! My partner and I were not coping with my mood swings and we were regularly arguing mostly over him not understanding what I was going through physically and mentally.
Once I past the half way mark and was still working things got harder and harder at work. I started getting palpitations and feeling really dizzy. I couldn’t leave as our financial situation wouldn’t let us. So I worked right up to 36 weeks and then finally started my maternity leave for 12 months. One day I remember feeling extremely hot and just overwhelmed with my job (retail manager) and being on my feet all day I had had enough. I called my doctor and told her I just felt like making the pain go away. My doctor sent me to hospital to get checked out as I had a bit of an episode and felt like harming myself at that moment. It subsided almost immediately but she still wanted me to go talk to the crisis team at the hospital and see if I could get some help for pre-natal depression.
It seemed to go away and I did just “deal” with it myself when I probably should have gotten the help I needed. Bub was still fine and growing as normal. They saw no need to have me induced as I wasn’t showing signs of pre-eclampsia except my blood pressure was a little high towards the end of the pregnancy.
I knew my labour was close when I had a week to go to my due date and I could not sleep a wink! I thought ‘oh God, I am so sick of feeling like a whale I want this baby girl to hurry up!’ I had suggestions from mums like try the raspberry leaf tea, have a hot curry etc. but I wanted to let it happen naturally. Then one night after no attempt to get to sleep, my back started killing me, then my front started killing me like little sharp bursts of pain similar to period pain but more painful. So after feeling a few of these pains and they came randomly about every 5-10 mins I thought ‘OK, I’d better call birth suite and ask if I am in labour’. They told me to just keep an eye on it and start timing my contractions. Before I knew it a couple of hours later they started to progress to more and seemed to be much more consistent. That is when we called our families and said I was definitely in labour. They had to travel three hours from the coast so we wanted to be sure.
We called the birth suite again and they said ‘yes, you are in labour so just try to make yourself as comfortable as possible and come into the hospital when it becomes too much or the contractions are 2-5 minutes apart’. After showering and getting comfortable with a million cushions all propped up on the couch my family arrived and I felt much better. My contractions even started to seem like they were going away. I wasn’t sure what that meant but I was glad not to be in pain.
Then about 4.30pm they came back with a vengeance! I couldn’t sit because it was too painful. All I could do was walk around the house like a cripple and crunch over the table and chairs when I got a bad one. They could last anywhere from 20-40 seconds and I also had double waves so just when you thought I was gone it came back 5 seconds later. My back never stopped hurting. I had a heat pack stuck to me and it was getting reheated even half hour.
My doctor ended up calling me and she suggested we go to hospital because of how close my contractions were. I was in established labour. I think we decided to go to the hospital at about 5pm as I was feeling it much more but could still walk. I wasn’t sure how worse it was going to get. We hoped in all the cars (three in total) we were like a little convoy! I made sure I had my birth plan and hospital bags ready to go. Once we got there I was assessed and they admitted me immediately. We talked about my plan to go natural and even try labouring in water. My partner stayed in the room with me and helped me change into my nighty and I sat on a birthing ball to bounce with my contractions. They were starting to get much worse since I left home.
I had been at the hospital for a couple of hours when they wanted to check to see how dilated I was since I was starting to feel some lower pain in my cervix. I assumed my body was trying to push already. They didn’t think it was going to be a quick labour as it was my first and they never go quickly. So I hopped up on the bed and lied on my back which was horrible during a contraction. Mind you I never once screamed out in pain. I just breathed through them which seemed to keep me calm. My lovely midwife while checking my dilation accidentally broke my waters! ‘Whoosh’ came the fluid like a gush of warm water out of me! ‘Oops!’ she said! That was funny I actually laughed my head off and so did my partner.
Turns out I was only about 4cm dilated! I thought ‘oh my god this is going to take forever!’
Then after my waters had broke all that kept coming out was more and more fluid. I must have went through a million of those hospital pads and the ones you put under you on the bed got put under the ball to soak up anything that leaked out I may as well have hopped in to shower but I felt like I couldn’t move off the ball when it was gushing out of me with every contraction and the pain was getting quite intense now as I had nothing floating around the baby.
That’s when I felt like I really needed to push! My body felt weird and I got this intense pressure to push again! The midwife told me not to go with it as I wasn’t ready to start pushing for ages! I was trying to tell her that my body had a mind of its own and wouldn’t let me not push and shake with each contraction! The pain went from about a 6 to an 8 and I started to wonder if I could do this according to my plan. I remember everyone telling me not to be so closed minded with my birth plan as I needed to be ‘open to anything’. How right they were. All my partner could do was give back rubs and encouragement. He also was running back and fourth to reheat my hot pack for my back.
When they decided to check to see how dilated I was – about two hours later – I was sure I was ready to push my baby out very soon. But I had only progressed to 5cm. I was like what the? This is so strange, it felt like my body was working against me. I thought this was going to be smooth and easy and fast but I was so wrong. The time came where I didn’t want to move or do anything to try to help I ended up refusing the bath as I thought it wouldn’t work and it didn’t even interest me at that time but it was strange since that’s what I originally wanted. Women change their mind a lot when in labour! I just wanted to stay put but then I got over the gym ball and wanted to sit up on the bed. They thought about giving me the drug to induce me but just wanted to see how I went before that happened.
My pain went from 8-10 and I ended up caving! I asked for pain relief! Something I didn’t want either but now I wasn’t thinking about any of that I just wanted something to take the edge off. I was offered gas to help with the pain of contractions and it made me vomit. I was offered morphine, which also made me vomit.
I had become dehydrated so they had to hook me up to a drip to get me rehydrated. I asked if they had anything else that could work for me as nothing seemed to help with the pain as I was writhing back and forth with the pain sitting on the bed trying to lie down in between each contraction which was not a lot of time to rest.
The midwife said ‘well, that would be the epidural’. I asked how mobile I could be and what were the risks involved as my partner and I discussed it he asked me if I was sure because I told him no matter what don’t let me ask for the epidural! I originally said no to it but when I was still no closer to pushing I got so fed up with the pain that survival mode kicked in.
‘Give it to me please!. It feels like I am dying’ I remember saying!
Oh god how pathetic I was. I couldn’t even handle being in established labour for 7 hours. I needed it bad. I was even starting to make noises and little cries. I was so strong but I eventually broke. So the anaesthetist on duty was backed up in emergency and the called in one for me. He arrived in the next hour and I didn’t have it put in until about 1.30 am. He was very calm but I was really nervous as I was told to keep completely still. I was sitting on the side of the bed getting very painful contractions every 1-3 minutes hugging the crap out of my partner just wishing it was in and done with so it would just start working. I actually got a contraction as he was putting it in that was the worst pain ever! Not being able to move in such pain but knowing if I did it could mean much worse for my spine!
I had it all hooked up to me and they gave me the button to push as soon as I needed more. Once it started to work I started to relax more and more and my body would just shake through each contraction. I still felt like I had to push. Eventually I couldn’t feel anything happening down there. They had a machine telling them when I was having one. They would say “Oh you’re having a another contraction” and I would say” Really? I can’t feel a thing!” Amazing drug you would think? Then my labour slowed to the point were they were still deciding if they were going to induce me but my doctor still wanted to wait. Come about 3am my labour had slowed a lot. I was only getting a few contractions every now and then. I was even able to sleep a little apart from the observations they were doing every half hour.
Next thing the worst happens.
My blood pressure was still high and I had about ten different machine hooked up to me. I had the drip in my arm, the epidural in my back, the baby monitor band around my tummy, this internal monitor which actually attached to my baby’s head, inside me and to top it all off a cannula so I could pee! I saw them looking at the monitor and the midwife said to the other midwife my baby’s heart rate was dropping when I was lying on my left side. I asked what’s happening and they said just lie on my right side for now. Before I know it the wanted to do yet another test! This time they wanted to prick my babies head for bit of blood to analyse if she was in distress.
As they did that test the midwife informed me that my babies hair was dark. Weird how they could see that and I wasn’t very much dilated. I got to 7cm by then. I was just about to have a bite of some toast when the doctor came back with the results of the blood test. “Don’t eat that!” she said and then informed me that my baby was definitely in distress and I needed to have (drumroll) an emergency caesarean!
I was absolutely shattered. My baby did not come naturally so I needed to be brave a just go with what was happening. Mind you my partner had to get woken up to that news as he fell asleep because he was exhausted. I had my mother-in-law and my nan with me the whole time but only my partner was allowed into the operating room with me. They gave me a talk about what would happen. I had to sign a form and was told the worst-case scenario would be having a hysterectomy! No panic!
They topped me up with more epidural to the point where I couldn’t feel my boobs. I was awake for the whole thing and just had a blue canvas blocking the lower half of me. They said it wouldn’t hurt but I would feel slight pressure and compared it to rummaging around in a handbag. That’s sort of how it did feel at one point. I remember saying ‘what can you see?’ to my partner and just as he looked he saw her being take out of me. That felt very odd. Definitely a lot of pressure there! Then they showed me her very quickly just over the screen but I didn’t hear her crying. I kept asking why is she not crying? My partner and I were about to start crying when they said they were fixing her airways. She was born at 6am.
Then we heard it, the most beautiful little cry you have ever heard. It wasn’t at all like the typical baby newborn scream. It was gentle and quite and beautiful and then she was shown to us properly and we just melted and cried with tears of joy. She was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my entire life! My partner and I were so amazed with her and how alert and calm she was just looking at us with her big blue eyes. Like she knew who we were already.
She had to be taken to the neonatal unit for observation as she had the cord double wrapped around her neck. Then I felt very sleepy and my chest felt very heavy like someone was standing on it. My heart rate also sped up. I was freaking out as they were stitching me up my partner was removed from the room and the anaesthetist was telling me to stay awake and talk to him. I think I was borderline blacking out but I snapped out of it.
I was out of surgery and felt invincible (the drugs were still to wear off) and all I wanted to do was go see my little girl but I couldn’t because I had to stay in recovery for two hours! They wouldn’t even let my partner back in to see me and I was in a lot of pain when the epidural wore off and the other stuff they gave me did not seem to be working for me. I was so emotional and just wanted to hold my baby girl and bond with her for the first feed. As soon as I saw her again I was so happy but so exhausted from my big ordeal an still really overwhelmed as I didn’t have much time for it all to sink in.
Having been at both ends of the scale with my labour and birth I just want to say Yes! please listen to people when they say be open to everything because you never know what is going to happen.
I would do it all over again to make sure my little girl got out safely but I really had no clue that I would be having a birth like that. I have been to hell and back and recovery has been very long and hard. I felt so useless because I couldn’t even lift my baby for a few days – I could barely move. Also they didn’t shave me as I had stubble growing back but that was enough to hurt like crazy while trying to remove the sticky bandage a few days later!
Now, I have my beautiful daughter and my partner and I think she is truly amazing. I seem to be struggling with my anxiety and depression and hope to improve with time in my counselling sessions.
Good luck to all the mums out there with PND xoxox
Image credit: ryanking999/123RF Stock Photo
Thanks to Tabitha’s mum for sharing her experience with us.
Find out how you can submit your birth story!