My precious Baby C is one today! In fact, exactly one year ago, almost to the minute, the Hubby and I were speeding towards the hospital, my waters having gone… Pop! Just like that… In the middle of the night, as I was settling down in bed for a good night’s rest, after checking out an update on my phone about what to expect in the 39th week of pregnancy.
‘You may go into labour at any time but it is unlikely that your waters will break suddenly. Real-life does not mirror the movies… If they do go in the run up to labour, it will be a slow trickle…’ the post stated. Or something to that effect, as I am paraphrasing from memory.
I had no sooner finished reading those words when exactly the opposite happened! I vaguely remember thinking; ‘This can’t be happening, this isn’t the movies… Am I dreaming?!’
But, no! It wasn’t a dream and my waters were going… not trickling… gushing… non stop!
The Hubby had to be woken from his slumber (not something that he is fond of as a general rule 😒), towels had to found, the hospital alerted…’Come in straight away, don’t delay!’ they said.
So hearts (mine… and the Hubby’s probably… he wasn’t saying much!) pounding, minds racing (every possible medical complication that I had read about was recalled, possible cord prolapse, a rapid delivery… in… the… car…there and then? Why wasn’t the baby moving??!).
Panic was rapidly washing over me! (I generally struggle to remain calm in situations over which I have little or no control. Admittedly, not the best response, am working on it! 😳)
We finally arrived at the hospital. A parking place was found, an abandoned wheelchair seized upon, waters were still gushing, Mostly Mum (and probably the Hubby, he wasn’t saying much!) still panicking.
Once within the sanctuary of the maternity unit, we were met by the (very calm?!) midwives who were working the night shift.
‘Why aren’t they rushing about?’ I remember thinking. ‘I could have the baby any minute… And they are calmly checking me in like we’ve just arrived at a hotel. This is so surreal, I have got to be dreaming!’
But, no! It was no dream. I was eventually hooked up to a fetal heart monitor, the baby was fine, not in distress, relief finally washed over me and my own heart rate began to normalize.
‘Now… you’re booked in for a C-section next week…’ remarked one of the midwives. ‘But we could do one in an hour or… you could still have a natural birth if you would prefer!’
‘No, thank you!’ I replied without any hint of hesitation. ‘A C-section in an hour would be great!’
You see, in the months and weeks up to those dramatic moments prior to Baby C’s rather sudden arrival, I had resolutely decided against having a natural birth.
No matter what, I was not going through that again, no way, not ever in a million years!
The thing is that I had been medically induced twice before in order to give birth to my beautiful daughters, and the intense, absolute overwhelming pain and trauma of both their entries into the world was permanently etched into my memory.
My eldest daughter needed a medical assisted delivery (ventouse) in the end as labour (despite the induction) just wasn’t progressing, while I hemorrhaged minutes after the induction had started with my second daughter.
I will never forget the panic of that moment (midwives were hitting the big red button and rushing in all directions at that point!). Thoughts of placental abruption (where the placenta breaks away from the uterus before the baby’s birth) filled me with horror… for many minutes… until an emergency scan revealed that all was well and that a natural birth could proceed.
But I didn’t want one by then, I just wanted my daughter out safe and well, as quickly as possible, and with as little pain as possible!
My oh-so-precious little one was finally delivered safely (which, in the grand scheme of things is the main thing) but her birth was neither quick nor painless and for quite a while afterwards I was traumatised by it.
I was also very upset that after my experience with my first daughter, I had tried to convince the consultants that an elective C-section would be best for me second time around.
But, somehow, they had succeeded in convincing me that a natural birth was the better option, for me and the baby. I had been made to feel like I was being melodramatic, entitled, demanding, spoiled, ‘too posh to push’ so… in the end I acquiesced and a child of mine was born naturally and traumatically. Again!
With Baby C, however, I was steadfast, no amount of cajoling by the medical professionals would convince me that a natural birth was the best way to proceed!
I was older, wiser and I knew exactly what my body was capable of… and that did not extend to a natural birth.
As far as I was concerned, the risks to me and especially to my precious, much wanted baby were too great, at my stage of life, to even attempt a natural birth.
There were many appointments with consultants where I was told that, in their opinion, I had no real medical grounds to proceed with an elective C-section.
To all intents and purposes, I had given birth twice before to healthy babies, I was well, the baby was measuring on the larger side but I had successfully birthed big babies before so a natural birth was highly recommended.
And should I not heed this advice, I was essentially responsible for the consequences of my actions. Heavy stuff!
Again, I was made to feel small, inconsequential, misinformed, entitled… but this time… I refused to be swayed. Baby C was born via C-section at 5am (approximately, my memory’s a little bit hazy at this point) on the 4th of May 2017. He was healthy, I was fine, all was well!
And then there were five!
However, just before we left the operating theatre with our precious, pink, new baby son, cosily and contentedly wrapped up in a blanket, the consultant remarked; ‘well done for insisting on that C-section, because there was a (previously missed) complication with the baby’s cord which would have made a natural birth extremely risky for him (velamentous cord insertion)!! It must have been your “mother’s instinct”!’
By that point, I was too drugged, too exhausted, too relieved, too full of love for my new precious bundle to properly absorb the full impact of his words.
However, a few months later, while still very much in my newborn baby bubble and watching an episode of One Born Every Minute – a reality show based around the real life birth experiences of mothers at Liverpool Women’s Hospital – I had a bit of an epiphany.
As many of you will know already, the bulk of the birth stories on One Born Every Minute are moving, but most are without any major complication. The women are often tired and emotional but, as a general rule, they progress through the various stages of labour without a level of pain that they absolutely cannot cope with. Most of the ladies are relatively calm throughout.
However, on this one occasion, the lady featured was not calm, she seemed to be in unbearable pain and almost hysterical. It was apparent that the midwife was less than sympathetic to her plight.
On the contrary, she seemed irritated that this woman’s ‘hysteria’ and ‘lack of cooperation’ were holding up the natural process… until finally it became obvious that the woman’s baby was seriously in distress and the big red panic button had to be pressed!
At that very moment, I had an almost out-of-body experience where I was back at the births of my first two children and could see everything from an outsider’s perspective.
The initial dismissal of the woman’s intense pain, the irritation at her level of ‘hysteria’, the eventual panicked, albeit safe, delivery of the child, the attempts to conceal how close a call it had been…
It was all there and it became crystal clear to me that not all women are physically capable of giving birth naturally, every time (since every pregnancy is different).
Much like intense period pain is not normal and often indicative of a more serious medical condition such as endometriosis, intense, off the scale, labour pain is not normal either and should never be dismissed as such.
Some women do seem to be particularly lucky and manage to give birth without event or unbearable pain time and time again.
However, at the other end of the spectrum are those women, like me, for whom the birthing process is more complicated. No one is to blame, that is just the way it is!
For us, medical interventions are literal life savers, and we should never, ever be made to feel lesser or guilty for having to go down that road.
I am eternally grateful to the medical professionals for safely delivering all three of my children!
But, and this is a very big ‘but’, I do think that the current push for ‘natural births’, almost at any cost, should be very seriously reconsidered by the medical world. Because there is nothing worse than that haunting thought of ‘what if…’ for both parents and medics alike!
My precious bundle today, big, bold and such a delight!
So, today, we will have a big celebration for Baby C’s first birthday because as my dear friend and Caleb’s godmother so succinctly put it… and tears are now spilling onto the keyboard as I type…
‘We have so much to be grateful for!’
Until next time…
💋 Mostly Mum