Failed expectations


I was 31 and am quite short with a petite frame. Pretty uneventful pregnancy apart from having SPD. A note of it was made on my record and I was told it would be taken into account during labour. No-one seemed very bothered by it. They said it just meant I would probably have to be on all 4's.

I had planned to give birth in a midwife led birthing centre. I had the same midwife throughout my pregnancy and was told again and again that I wouldn't need pain medication. I could do it on my own and all I would need is the birthing pool and ball and a birth stool. I had a hypno birth CD which I listened to daily and towards the end drank a lot of raspberry leaf tea as I was told it would bring on labour.

During pregnancy I was told more than once how long first labours took. To bring lots of things to keep me busy to the hospital. That I could be sent home more than once if I was not dilated enough. I was told to make a birth plan. Now with hindsight I think new mums are told to do this to keep their minds busy. Because looking back its almost laughable how completely pointless it was.

During parent classes we were shown forceps etc and told the various methods of pain relief. Although again the need for it all seemed played down. "You won't need it if you breathe right like you've been shown". No talk of any emotions we may go through except maybe tiredness. A little on PND. But that's it.

My waters broke in the night while I was asleep. It felt like a big kick and was actually a little painful. That was the first surprise as I wasn't expecting it to hurt. My waters were green with bits in so I called the birth centre and they told me to go into the labour ward to be checked but that they would most likely send me home. I called my partner and told him to meet me there and take his time (I was at my parents' house). When the first contraction came it literally floored me. I had to cling to the bed until it finished. The pain was nothing like I had expected the first ones to be. The 2nd was only 5 mins behind and just as strong.

We got to the hospital and I was taken to a room. I told them my contractions were 5ish mins apart and that I was struggling with the pain. So she called an anesthesiologist to get me an epidural. The contractions were so strong so quickly that my memory is a little hazy when it comes to details. But I do remember not being able to speak. My brain just seemed to completely shut down and I had no way of communicating to anyone. It was horrible and still haunts me to this day. I was completely trapped inside myself.

I was given a partial epidural and it helped. Not long after this they lost the baby's heart beat and the panic button was hit. The room filled with people and a midwife was telling me in my ear when to push and when to stop. I remember being able to feel the size of him inside me and wanting to tell them that he was too big to come out. But I couldn't. So I pushed. In #the panic no-one read my notes and even though I had told the first midwife I'd seen that I had SPD it seemed to have been forgotten. I was on my back in stirrups which is what you're told never to do.

My son was born via vontuse not breathing. The cord around his neck. They had to work on him for a few minutes before he came around and they placed him on me. I remember the midwife laughing at me saying "oh look she's afraid" when she was trying to get him to latch on and I was trying not to be rough with him. I remember feeling completely in shock. But no-one around me asking how I was doing or if I was ok. They stitched me up and took me to our room. My whole labour from start to finish was 3.5 hours. I had 2nd degree tears and an episiotomy. My partner heard some staff being told I shouldn't have had the epidural as my labour had progressed so quickly it was too late and that was why my sons heart had stopped... we never got confirmation of that though.

I had no idea that a quick labour was possible. I had no real warning of the pain. Or the feelings of panic, of horror, of helplessness. The only stories I was told were of mums who had easy natural labours with no pain relief. Like these mums were heroes and something to aspire to. That if you had anything less you must have done something wrong or somehow be less. My original midwife finally arrived completely shocked that she'd missed it. She speculated that I had possibly been in early labour for a while and mistaken it for braxten hicks as I have very painful, heavy periods so my pain threshold with contractions might be high. I don't know. I was also told by someone else that raspberry leaf tea doesn't actually bring in labour but infact somehow strengthens your uterine muscles to quicken labour. Don't know if that's true either.

But I couldn't walk for weeks after. 18 months later after countless GP visits, physio and specialists I was sent for an MRI which showed that I'd actually had a fractured pelvis. It's never recovered fully and still clicks and cracks and I can't walk too far or do high impact activities or anything involving my legs being far apart. I know their priority was the baby but they did have a duty of care to me too. And they seemed to overlook that.

I was asked once if I was depressed during a home visit. In a room full of my in-laws. I said no. She ticked a box on her form and moved onto something else.

It turned out that I had no let down and my son was rushed to hospital at 3 days old and nearly died (another story for different research) we spent a week there and when we got home I had to lie to the health visitors that I was still breast feeding because they wouldn't let it go. My stitches also got infected twice while I was in hospital. Excruciating.

Basically what I had been told motherhood was like was actually completely opposite to what actually happened. I wasn't ready for any of it. I spent my whole pregnancy reading books on babies and birth and none of it helped.

I never went to the Dr about it. My son is 5 now and I have a 2 year old daughter (elective c section). The first few years of their life was quite turbulent emotionally. Now that the dust has settled I'm starting to think I may have had or still have PND or PTSD. As I sometimes feel a disconnect with my kids even though I love them with every part of me. Something is in the way and I think my birth experience has a lot to do with it. When I think about it or talk about it I get very tense and emotional. I weirdly get flashes of scenes from a horror film that I watched while I was pregnant that scared the shit out of me. Somehow the trauma of the 2 have meshed together.

I don't want to scare new mums. But I don't think hiding the truth of what to expect helps them. No-one could have predicted my birth. But they could've explained how likely assistance will be. How pain relief is perfectly acceptable because almost every woman tears even with an episiotomy. That it probably won't be the romantic peaceful scenes you see on TV. That you may be scared, feel out if control and lost within yourself.

© Make Birth Better CIC 2019

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