Birth story - Jess and baby Tala
First birth recap…
I ended up going 12 days over and being induced and then had an unplanned Caesarean 17 hours later. I know that “negative” birth stories are vetoed on here but even though my first birth seems negative and wasn’t at all how I would have wished the experience to be, I think the problem wasn’t so much bad luck as a lack of knowledge. I never knew about induction (I’m ashamed to say I never really even knew what it was), I didn’t know about sweeps or the positive impact of an active labour. I basically just went along with what I was told and had no clue about my options.
This time around…
I had my heart set on a VBAC, not only that but a home birth. I downloaded the digital pack well into the third trimester but I got myself to work, listening to the tracks every evening, watching all of the videos and ordering the little pack of positivity and the room spray. Despite a lot of resistance from my consultant about my plans for a home birth I remained positive and calm.
The night after my due date (22nd May) my waters went spectacularly with a gush all over the sofa and the floor and I squealed in excitement (I never went into labour spontaneously last time or felt my waters go), an hour later contractions began when I was taking a candlelit shower. I had the pack of positivity dotted around my home and from the shower I could see one propped up in my bathroom: ‘my surges cannot be more powerful than me because they are me.’ My husband arrived home from football practice and began timing the contractions. I rang the on call number to tell them my waters had gone and they asked me to come into hospital to see them. They told me I just needed to be checked but to bring an overnight bag “in case”. I used my BRAIN, asked questions and decided to decline going in and they offered me a midwife check at home in the morning which I accepted.
We had the most amazing evening - lit loads of candles, Jake coached me through up breathing, listened to the affirmations and he massaged me as I bounced on my birthing ball, I can honestly say it was enjoyable. The following morning the midwife came and she palpated and said all was good and the head was down and engaged (had been for weeks at my checks) so she said the reason it was taking so long to ramp up (I was experiencing surges every 15 to 20 minutes and had been throughout the night) was because baby was waiting for head to be in the optimum position and then would happen quickly. We had everything prepared - the pool was inflated and we were ready to go. My husband took me to the beach and we sat looking at the sea whilst he massaged me and then we had tea and pastries, this was my favourite moment of the entire labour, I felt so full of love and I know this helped my oxytocin.
Surges continued strong. I had a wobble when my midwife told me that because my waters had gone I was at risk of infection and they would want me in for caesarean that night! I burst into tears and suddenly felt afraid and like my vbac was being taken away from me. I managed to negotiate a c section on Friday morning at 9am (this was Wednesday morning at 11am so I felt confident I would have a good chance of labour before then) on the proviso that I took my temperature every four hours and if it went up or we spotted meconium we were to head to hospital. I agreed to this.
6pm that evening eating dinner and still having both strong surges and gushes of water continuously leaking, I went to the toilet for the fiftieth time to find murky greeny brown stains on my sanitary pad and in the toilet a massive moss green blob of jelly. Gross I know but my husband fished it out of the toilet and I photographed it and sent it to a midwife friend of mine who called me and said it’s meconium and that she had never seen that much. We knew we had to go to hospital.
I realised that I wasn’t as prepared as I thought... in our perfect home birth plan we hadn’t packed a bag for hospital! I rushed around packing one and rang my mum to come and take care of my daughter. We went to hospital as the surges got stronger and more intense. As we were driving I said to my husband “why are we so unlucky?” And he looked at me and said “maybe we aren’t, maybe we are lucky to be catching this now” When I arrived the midwife looked at the meconium (I took it with me!) and said she had never seen meconium like that from a baby that wasn’t breech. She felt my stomach and said she wanted to scan me and sure enough, we discovered our baby was footling breech! Feet down the bottom - no head engaged at all! She had been that way for a while and our midwife had been wrong!
Jake was right, we were lucky. If we had been in a home birth scenario right now I would either be trying to give birth to a breech baby or be transferred which wouldn’t have felt as calm as our experience ended up being. The doctor came in and advised us to go for unplanned Caesarian and after using our BRAIN we agreed as it felt like the safest option all round.
The birth was everything I didn’t want - another Caesarian. I really beat myself up about the first one and became fixated on the idea of a “natural birth” and yet our birth experience was incredible. I felt in control and empowered at all times, I was relaxed (and I say this as someone terrified by hospitals and surgery) and I felt like I was making informed decisions and was listened to and respected.
The operation was peaceful and unrushed. I felt happy and when my beautiful daughter came out it was really relaxed and not as it had felt the first time (when I didn’t know what was happening or why). Beyoncé was even on the radio when she came out which I think is an omen of how fierce she is going to be!
If someone had told me nine months ago (when I was panicking and terrified of ending up with another c section) that I would have a calm empowered experience in hospital I wouldn’t have believed them. But the positive affirmations, the relaxation, the videos, positive birth stories all helped me to realise that it’s not about having a perfect water birth as I had wanted. It’s about embracing the unpredictability of birth and knowing that although we can’t change circumstance, we can change mindset. My birth might not have been dramatically different but thanks to The Positive Birth Company and Siobhan, my mindset was.
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