Even as I'm writing this I'm not sure whether it's going to end up as a traumatic story or a beautiful story. For me at least, I know from the outside it was a nice straightforward birth.
Firstly let me say that I am a student midwife, which I did feel had an impact on the care I received - both for better and for worse. I feel I was given a lot more choice and had more power than others I have seen when it came to making decisions. But whether being treated as if I understood everything was always a good thing, I'm not sure.
I was 41+5 days pregnant and after two sweeps I was booked for induction. I was induced two hours after arriving on the ward, at midnight. After a bit of monitoring I was allowed to go home - massive tick! I didn't want to stay in the hospital as I was only too aware of how things go when you're not making progress as quickly as a doctor would like (sometimes, not always I know). By 2am I was having strong contractions and by 5 I couldn't stay in bed anymore. I began timing and waited at home for 3 hours.
At the hospital I was put back on the CTG and after another couple of hours of just leaning on my partner and turning up the TENS machine during contractions I was examined by a student midwife, but she needed her assessment to be checked (fully understand from the student perspective, from the labouring woman perspective I wasn't such a fan!). I was 4cm and could be transferred to the midwifery led unit. They left the CTG on. Because they were too busy to come and take it off it ran and ran and at some point my baby's heartbeat dipped too much for their liking (only once though) so I was sent to the consultant unit. Though I would have usually thought this was a red flag, actually they were still all for minimal interventions and although I had to stay on the monitor they gave me a wireless one which actually worked. And I also finally had the sweet relief of gas & air! I rested, I spoke, I smiled (my partner was very relieved!) and I ate.
But when I came to be examined 5 hours later I hasn't dilated anymore. So the next step was breaking my waters, which I consented to. The midwife did this and then something was going on which felt even more uncomfortable - she told me she was just doing a really good sweep. But she hasn't asked me! And I didn't want her to! She stopped when I shouted at her. I think that's one thing I don't like about the birth, that lack of control even though it was a small thing. Things moved very quickly from there - the contractions were much more painful and the gas & air had stopped working. Baby's heartbeat was too high and I needed fluids to calm it down. I wanted an epidural but couldn't have one until I'd had the cannula inserted and fluids pushed through to ensure her heartbeat stabilised. When that had happened, they talked me into another examination first (no mean feat!). I was now 8cm. They asked me what I would say to a woman who was 8cm who was asking for an epidural. "I'd say she was so close to having her baby so maybe she could get through it without" - in my least calm voice. I began involuntarily pushing. It was just me and my partner and I know he was scared when that started happening. I had my eyes closed, I could see the baby moving through the birth canal, weirdly. I shouted "there's a head". The midwife came running over and told me there wasn't yet, but maybe soon. With the next push she changed her mind and got ready to catch! I remember wanting to stop, to just suck the baby back up (I know I said that at some point), but I carried on pushing - standing up, hands on my husband's shoulders, and at 9PM a beautiful, wriggly, pink baby girl was handed to me. I'd been so worried that she wouldn't come out pink, that they would have to take her away, but there she was in my arms and I had done it all by myself.
Yet I still have flashbacks, I still shudder when I close my eyes and think back to the birth. Maybe it was because it happened so quickly in the end? Or it was the relief of thinking something was going to go wrong and it actually didn't? I don't know if or when this will pass but I know it will play on my mind if I am lucky enough to have another baby. I think my body scares me a bit now - it did this amazing thing, grew a whole person, and when it came to the birth my body took over, it was animalistic and the logical part of me wasn't needed. I am a bit of a control freak (I'm realising) and being out of control of my body was something so new to me and quite frightening.