By Rebecca Patel @one_strong_mutha
Most women go through pregnancy planning their dream or ideal birth, I was no different; I initially wanted a water birth with low lighting, soft music and no pain relief. After all I had dealt with enough pain in my life and knew my body well enough for it to guide me through contraction or surge by surge. What I got was the absolute polar opposite to my dream.
My pregnancy was pretty eventful, after a successful round of IVF we miscarried my son’s twin very early on but remained overjoyed and grateful that our “poor quality embryo” had made it this far even if it meant sticking two progesterone suppositories where the sun doesn’t shine twice a day; but then it all started to take a turn and I was diagnosed with 3 blood clots in my right lung at just 8 weeks pregnant. I think it’s fair to say the first trimester wasn’t exactly what I had planned or even considered and at times I struggled to hold on to hope, booking private scan after private scan and meditating as many times a day as I could without falling asleep. I enjoyed the sickness though, genuinely. To me the constant nausea meant that my little one was ok, for me that was the sign I needed that kept me going even when they told me that I would need to be induced at 38 weeks. I did also know at this point that if I were to need a c section then if I had delivered a dose of anticoagulants within 24 hours, that the c section would be under a general anaesthetic. But that wasn’t going to happen to me...never!
My pregnancy was extremely painful to the point I didn’t work the majority of it, the doctors and midwives told me a combination of a growing baby, endometriosis and a totally obliterated pelvis of scar tissue would do that, so I carried on taking morphine throughout and not questioning what the doctors were telling me, because that’s what we do right? Accept what we are told and that’s my first mistake.
At 37 weeks and 3 days I woke up with a tearing pain inside, it was short, sharp and quite literally took my breath away. I already knew I was 1-2cm dilated and just assumed it was due to the scar tissue and baby moving, so I chugged a little more morphine and went back to sleep. At 7am I woke up in excruciating pain, pain I couldn’t have ever imagined. I knew in my heart this wasn’t labour but when I stood up my waters broke immediately. The pain was constant and it continued, there weren’t any surges or contractions as we learnt about in antenatal classes, something was horribly wrong. I couldn’t sit, stand, sway or bounce my way through this. So I called the delivery suite who took me in at 8:20am. I couldn’t bear examinations or touching, I couldn’t even pee. They took away the gas and air and told me I was dramatic and only 1-2cm dilated. The midwives told me I should have pethadine and wait. I didn’t want pethadine, I didn’t want any medication but I trusted them, the midwives and doctors. I trusted their experiences to guide me, a first time mum through labour and delivery. The next thing I know I am being woken at 11:30am and told my baby and I are at serious risk due to a suspected placental abruption and we need to prep for theatre now. Of course that meant a general anaesthetic and no way my husband could come with us. The last thing I remember after being stripped naked and my hair scrunched back by a midwife called Kate, was the anaesthetist pushing down on my throat and a bright light in my face as I shouted “I am falling, I am falling off the table” over and over again and someone shouting back “you will not fall”.
My son was born at 12:07pm on December 15th at 6lb 9oz. He was perfectly healthy. I on the other hand arrested on the table, lost 4 litres of blood and fought for my life. All the meanwhile my husband being none the wiser.
It all happened because a cyst from IVF that wasn’t drained correctly had been filling with blood because of the blood thinning injections for 29 weeks and had reached a whopping 8cm in size. The cyst had subsequently stuck to my bowel and uterus and the ripping pain I felt the night before was the cyst twisting and bursting. Causing 2 litres of blood swirling around my abdomen (before they had even begun the c section), sending my body into panic mode, bursting my waters in nature’s attempt to just get my son out. I thank my body for those signs. I thank it every day for the signs it gave me and everyone else that something was wrong, I am not thankful that no one listened to me as I sobbed uncontrollably that something was wrong. The cyst was picked up during several scans and then suddenly they stopped tracking it. There was no apology, no reason why they stopped tracking the cyst. I was told it was all down to endometriosis which until I received my histology report about 9 months ago, I believed. I blamed endometriosis so hard and hated it so much I chose to have a total hysterectomy just over a year ago, leaving me absolutely no chance of anymore children. I am coming to terms with the situation of being rendered totally infertile due to an ill informed decision, as opposed to infertile with the chance of IVF one day, but it’s hard, I am angry and one day I will find a therapist who understands and can help me through it.
What would have made the birth better? If I would have felt heard and listened to by the team caring for me. I think a counselling service post birth would have been helpful and also a work through with a midwife in a more friendly environment, as opposed to the quick debrief I received 3 months later from a cold and clinical surgeon.