Changing expectations

I had a straightforward pregnancy with fantastic midwife care. I had a student midwife who checked in with me a lot. I did a long hypnobirthing course and NCT. The hypnobirthing course was great in many ways and relaxed me during pregnancy. It also set up expectations, though - we watched a video of an orgasmic birth etc and I felt like anything was possible. I remember (particularly because of the way things turned out for me) the trainer saying that the immediate first eye contact with your baby was crucial. I became determined (perhaps even a bit competitive, if I'm honest) about having the calmest, happiest birth and first meeting with my baby. 

Then my due date, then 15 long days in which I had to change my expectations. Seeing the consultant about induction, hearing the words poor outcome - I stopped caring about the birth and just wanted my baby safely delivered. I ended up going into natural labour on the day I was due to be induced. The baby's heartbeat was iffy from the start and the crash team came in twice. The care was good, they let me labour but were clear that it couldn't be a long labour (the heart beat was slowing a lot) I was likely to end up in theatre. I had epidural/syntocinon drip and put on a mix cd. It was quite jolly. Then crash team came in again and again, maybe six times until I heard the heart had stopped for a long time. Communication was clear and I had my trusted student midwife and one of my birth partners (a doctor friend) both say - go. It helped that it was so clear. I was happy to go into theatre for an EMCS. 

The birth was quick but I found it traumatic that I didn't see the baby for 20 minutes. I kept calling out and while they said he was fine I convinced myself they were lying. They put him next to my head after what felt like forever. I thought 'I don't know you. You're not what I expected'. Then I threw up.

The birth really was ok, as these things go, but that reaction felt so horribly far from what I 'should' have felt. That blissful first eye contact. I was sure I'd missed this essential chance to bond. The things I'd heard on the  hypnobirthing course haunted me in that first week. I felt ashamed I'd fallen so far short. I think it would have been so much easier if I'd never gone to the course, and instead spoken to women who'd had different kinds of births. 

The next day the consultant came around to check I understood why I'd had a c-section. I appreciated this and the continuity of care in general. She told me they'd looked at the cells (in the umbilical cord?) and that it was 'a matter of 15 minutes'. Those words also haunted me until I had a (brilliant) birth debrief before my second birth. My daughter was born by elective caesarean and they followed our birth plan - it was beautiful and I held her on my chest immediately. I knew the moment she was born that she was safe and for me that almost undid all the trauma of the first experience. 

© Make Birth Better CIC 2019

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