Giving birth is one of the most special and life affirming moments of any woman's life. Bringing forth into the world that screaming little bundle of joy after carrying them with love for nine months is truly a landmark and transforms us all from independent women into mothers. What nature intended us for. For many women just the opportunity to be pregnant is a dream held so dearly that it can cause so much angst and pain as well as the happiness and bliss that others take for granted. My journey into motherhood started in September last year, I fell pregnant and my husband and I were overjoyed.
We counted ourselves so lucky, we progressed with scans at 12 weeks, 20 weeks and finally a 3D scan at 26 weeks. All in all my pregnancy progressed smoothly, albeit with the usual first time parent jitters that we suffered along the route. Moments of worry and overwhelming emotion, it wasn't easy although immensely exciting. All through my pregnancy everything was straight forward and I was classed as low risk, this meant I was able to have my dream birth plan of a water birth on the Midwife led unit at my local hospital............
Child birth has always been a precarious state, many women and children over the centuries could testament to how tenuous the control of life and death can be. Even in today's world of medical marvel things still can and do go wrong. I wasn't sure whether I actually wanted to blog about my labour at first but I have thought long and hard about it and have made the decision that it is what I want to do and hopefully I will find it quite cathartic and some of you may find things that strike a chord. I apologise that some of my memories are hazey, much of my story is pieced together from long discussions and soul searching into the early hours with my husband, my mother and counsellors, now you will find out why.....
It was the 20th of May and a normal Monday morning, my hubby had gone off to work in London when I had a ' show' , feeling the adrenaline pumping and the impulse to immediately speak to Mark I got on the phone and explained what had happened. It was early days so we agreed he shouldn't come home just yet, not until I had phoned the hospital and spoken to my Mum. After phoning both my Mum and hospital my Mum decided to come over to my house to pick me up.
By this time my pains were getting progressively worse so we decided to drive straight to the hospital. Upon arrival I was taken to a lovely room on the Midwife Led Unit. I had decided to have a water birth and got my bikini on ready with my large over sized black nightie over the top. The room was large with a lovely pool at the back of the room that resembled something from a luxurious hotel, there were low lights a comfy bed and a sofa, heart FM on the radio and an en suite bathroom. On appearances I really couldn't have asked for more. At this stage the pain was mild to moderate at this stage but manageable. My husband soon arrived after high tailing it back from London and within seconds my waters broke. The timing was magical. This is perfect I thought, just how I wanted it to be, in the Midwife Led Unit with my husband and my Mum.
Things were progressing as normal and I had managed to get to around 5cm dilated with breathing control alone. It was at this stage I decided to go into the birthing pool to help manage the pain,with soothing warm water I instantly felt the contractions being eased. It was always my plan to use gas and air if I needed it, there was no way I was going to be a martyr to pain. As any woman that's been through child birth will tell you, it hurts. A lot. The pressure squeezing your entire body in ever increasing increments makes you feel like your whole body will collapse in on your self, it seems never ending, it's exhausting. Any man that believes that childbirth is overrated only has to sit next to the woman they love and care for more than anything else and see her battle through the biggest challenge of her life. I was very lucky, both my mother and husband were tremendous supports to me in my labour. And in the end I thank God that they were there.
I did not shout or scream once. I had resigned myself that I would focus, be strong and use every ounce of will in me to see my baby into the world as safely as I was able. Whether that meant pethidine, gas and air or epidural I was open to it if I needed it. From the sounds from the other rooms on the unit I think I must have had a much better time of it than some of those poor ladies, the screams and moans were like something from London Dungeons. We all cringed as the girl in the next room screamed and swore at her mother as her little baby made his birth push, the piercing sounds of women screaming in agony will stay with me forever.
My labour continued through the night and this is where my memories become very sketchy, details are like blurry faces swimming in murky water washing forth before disappearing into the ether. I can remember spending time in the toilet splashing my face, I can remember drinking sips of water, I can even remember having some snacks. My final memory is vomiting all over the floor......next BLANK.
I rejoin the story again on Wednesday morning although I can say honestly that I rejoined it with any sort of coherence or real memory Thursday afternoon. My first image is my father standing over me telling me that I'd had my beautiful baby boy and that he was doing well. Completely disorientated and confused what he was saying didn't make sense, I tried to move in my bed to check my tummy but immediately realised I was unable to move. My throat was excruciatingly sore as was my nose. My hands and arms were pierced with tubes and cables, I had a ventilator in my nose, catheter in my bladder, a weird blood filled drain tubing out of my abdomen. I panicked. I had NO idea where I was, all I knew was that I had to deliver my baby.
It was then, through bleary morphine cursed eyes that I saw a little photo taped to the side of my bed, there was a little angel laying in a Special Care cot, a little message written on the back :
Thank you for helping me arrive all safe and sound, I know you are sleeping for a little while right now but I am waiting for you when you wake up.
I couldn't understand it, he was still in my tummy, I could feel my bump. Nothing seemed right. It was like somebody had taken away all of the last few days. My husband hadn't left my side and I have flash backs now of him being there but again I was so confused. My puzzle had to be filled in. This is not what should of happened, so what went wrong? What had happened in the gaps that I still now can't comprehend? My husband and Mum started to fill me in. From the early hours of Tuesday morning I can only recite here what my mother and husband experienced.
They both were at my side every second of my labour the whole night. They experienced every twinge, every pain and every moment I did. Looking back in hindsight both my birthing partners had become aware that I wasn't quite myself from the early hours of the morning, the midwife checked intermittently and reassured them that my behaviour was normal. I was becoming increasingly vague, less responsive and gradually receding inside myself. It was put down to tiredness and focus. In retrospect I think the midwife got it wrong, very wrong.
Please excuse the openness here but there isn't really any other way to describe the visceral nature of childbirth...I hadn't been to the toilet to pass urine all night, I had had rapid bowel movements and vomited profusely at about 6am. My grip on reality had become very tenuous, I was desperate to call out to the people closest to me, the fog in my head too great, too thick. Inside I was screaming but my exterior was placid, calm, in control. My legs and hands had tripled in size, the skin heavily mottled. Now you could put these symptoms down to normal pregnancy but all in succession they indicate somehting a little more sinsiter. I had been in labour all night, reached 9 1/2 cm and I cannot remember a thing. By this stage the staff hand over had been done. A new midwife came in and realised something wasn't right.
She noted my overly swollen bladder that had missed all night immediately despite palpations. She was concerned that I couldn't finish the dilation on the Midwife Unit and arranged for me to be transferred to the Labour Ward to see if they could push the last part through. Just prior to this stage my husband noticed that I had begun to act very strangely, I had developed a startled flinching reaction to nothing in particular. It was very odd repetitive twitch. He told the midwives although they seemed unconcerned. They asked me to push to see if this would spur on the last part of my labour, baby's head was very low already, at first I didn't respond. When Mark coached me I don't think I either fully understood or was too tired and let out a pathetic puff from my lips. Mark coached me again with the same result, very worrying.
After us talking this through, and talking and talking and talking I know Mark finds it very hard to come to terms with this. I was catheterized and they moved me to the Labour Ward to push on my dilation to the full 10 cms to deliver my little darling. Too little too late by then... I was wheeled down the corridor to the Labour Ward and was taken into a side room. My bed was parked next to the one I was to be transferred to and Mark moved around to help the midwives move me across to the new bed. My flinching had become more pronounced and I was completely out of it. My mother (a retired and experienced nurse) immediately saw what was going to happen,
"She's going to fit, look at her she's going to have a fit!"
My mother was immediately and rudely moved out of the room as it was deemed she was causing unnecessary panic. Moments later, in my husband's arms...and this blows my mind..I had a huge fit. I convulsed violently in my husband's arms. My eyes rolled into my head, my veins and muscles crunched, I spasmed and foamed. The crash team rushed in and Mark was prised away in tears and panic.
The next 30 minutes were the worst of my husband and parent's life. Eventually the amazing Consultant Ross came out of theatre with my beautiful little boy. There is not enough that can be said for the professionalism, skill and heart of men like him and the young Obstetrician Rachael that saved my life.
I was kept in an induced coma for the next 24 hours, the doctors and experts wanted to give me a full brain scan to see what caused the seizure. Lots of issues had to be investigated, serious issues. One thing they were certain of was that the fit was not due to Pre-eclampsia although they treated me as such when the seizure occurred. They administered a brain sedative before they rushed me to theatre for the emergency caesarian section. As at that stage they couldn't rule out a bleed on the brain or anything just as sinister so I had to be given a general anaesthetic instead of anything spinal due to serious medical risks. Again the next couple of hours were all about awaiting the tests results, so bitter sweet as my baby was on the Special Care Baby Unit and Mummy was unconscious. It was just a case of waiting.
Luckily, everything was normal apart from my low sodium levels.
Waking up in ITU is still a dream, I can remember just lying there, feeling my stomach, wondering where my baby was. Once I had woken my husband was allowed to bring Hugo up to ITU to see me. My perfect baby, all I wanted was a cuddle but to be honest I can't really remember this but the photographs jog my memory. I was in a complete state, I was still catheterized, I had cuts around my mouth and nostrils where I had tried to pull the tubes out, bruising around my eyes where I had fitted and a c section scar that was very badly bruised so I was in a pretty bad way.
After 9 days in hospital I was finally allowed home, I am managing very well at home and still get very bad headaches but that is expected. I have to go back to see the Consultants very soon and they have asked my permission to write an article on my case as it is very rare. Me and Hugo are lucky to be here and I am going to enjoy every minute of him.
It has been a tumultuous time for us all, emotions are raw and I'm not afraid to admit it has been very, very difficult. To try and come to terms with the fact that I will never remember giving birth to my firstborn breaks my heart although I know that I am lucky. he is here, we are on the mend and loved by our precious family. ......oh and if you wanted to see him, a picture of Mum with baby and a shot of Dad below too :)
Love to all,
Charlotte. x x x