Birthrites: Healing After Caesarean.

Cameron John's Caesarean Birth Story

This web site was referred to me by one of our local midwives, who has also had 2 caesareans, as a way to help me overcome my grief at what I see as having been forced into a caesarean, that was not absolutely essential.

I realise this is a very long story. I'd like to think that someone else won't have to go through as much grief as I did, if they know they're not the only one going through it. I find it quite sad that society demands people keep their problems to themselves. Everyone only seems to talk of all the good and joyful things about having a baby. If more people I know had spoken about their feelings and experiences after their caesareans, I'm sure I'd have been more prepared beforehand and would have coped so much better afterwards.

As I'd left having children until I was thirty, I was very surprised to find I glided through pregnancy without one problem, not even morning sickness. I'd jokingly said all the way through, that I'd had the perfect pregnancy, I bet I have a terrible labour.

Being a very organised person, I thought I was as prepared as I could possibly be for the birth of my baby. How very naïve of me.

As my husband drives trucks and is away every second night, I'd organised to ring my mother when labour started. This is when I should have realised nothing was going to go right.

My waters broke at 5:00am Wednesday morning. I rang mum, the phone had been knocked off the hook. I panicked, then thought I'd ring her next-door neighbours, they had message bank. So I rang one of her friends who lived a few streets away to go and get her out of bed, forgetting to tell them that I was still at home and everything had only just started happening.

I then rang the hospital, they told me to come in as soon as I could. I asked if I should use the emergency maternity entrance or the front entrance, and was told the front one, they'd be waiting for the buzzer.

I finished packing my bag and waited for mum, who turned up not long after in a huge panic, with my stepfather (to be my birthing partner) and little sister, wondering if I'd still be at home or at the hospital. They went back home to collect a few things while mum stayed with me, then we went to the hospital.

The front doors at the hospital were open, so we didn't have to ring a buzzer. When we arrived at the maternity nurse's station, the midwife who'd answered the phone asked why we'd used the front entrance, which was the length of the hospital away from the delivery suites.

We were shown into one of the labour suites and I was examined and the monitor put on the baby. After half an hour of this we were told to go for a walk and the baby would be monitored every half hour.

My husband arrived at this stage, he'd had two hours sleep since the morning before.

After walking and resting all morning, the contractions were 3 to 4 minutes apart and only getting to the stage where I couldn't talk through them by about 3:00pm, the midwife decided to put in a drip to help bring the labour along, my veins kept moving and she ended up jamming the needle into my wrist bone before finally getting it right. By 4:00pm they'd turned the drip up so far that my contractions were one on top of the other, and hardly easing at all. The pain was immense, so I agreed to use the gas (which was the only drug I wanted to use). At first it was a mix of 50%oxygen/50%nitrousoxide and only helped a little.

I then went into the shower, using the mobile gas unit, turning it up to 40%oxygen/60%nitrus oxide. Then I totally lost the plot and started pushing. The midwife examined me, I was only 3cm dilated. She put me back on the bed to examine me again, finding that the baby was posterior, with his head flexed (tilted back), that's why I was in so much pain and wanted to push. I was asked if I wanted pethidine, I declined, I thought I could cope with just the gas. I tried kneeling over a beanbag on the bed, it didn't help either, but I stayed there for a couple of hours.

I don't remember what time, quite late in the piece I think, but eventually I agreed to pethidine. It was harder to cope with the gas than without.

I was examined again at about 10:00pm and was 5 cm &endash; 6cm. This is when I agreed to have an epidural. It didn't work!!!!! I'm not sure what the odds are, but it is extremely rare. The tube they insert into your spine was kinked, the anaesthetist said it should take about 20 minutes to work and kept pumping the liquid into the tube. Meanwhile I was having to deal with the psychological problem of thinking the pain would stop and it didn't. This is when I started screaming, I couldn't take any more and did the worst thing you could possibly do to your mother, I asked her to please stop the pain. Of course she couldn't. She was so upset.

The midwives then changed shifts. The new one examined me again, but couldn't decide how far dilated I was, so went to get the doctor on shift. She then examined me with and without a contraction and said I'd gone backwards and was only 4cm, and that I'd most likely have to have a caesarean.

I was still in immense pain, the epidural hadn't worked, I have a phobia of knives and needles - but had suffered through all the needles so far. I was terrified. My family was distraught because they were tired and couldn't do anything to help me.

It was about 11:00pm.

The senior anaesthetist came in and pulled the failed epidural out and inserted a new one, but before it had time to work the doctor came back and said she'd spoken to the registrar, who agreed that I should have a caesarean.

This is what made that day so horribly distressing. The doctor then told us that I should decide now to have a caesarean as the theatre staff had just gone home, and if they were called out in two hours time they were likely to make mistakes and that the baby was posterior and I wasn't advancing fast enough.

She left us to discuss it for a few minutes. I started crying hysterically. It is impossible to describe everything that I was feeling at that time, all I can say is that I was exhausted, in immense pain, still out of it on drugs and terrified of being sliced open. My family weren't much help, they were just as tired and distressed. I kept thinking, I've got no choice. The doctor brought in the consent form for me to sign. While I was signing it I was thinking: I don't want to have this done. Do I really have to do this now, can't we leave it for a bit longer, to give the epidural time to work?

They gave a shot of pethidine to settle me down and told me to go to sleep for half an hour. I started becoming hysterical again, once I woke up, and they started wheeling me up to theatre.

When we got up to theatre, the first anaesthetist, who'd stuffed up the epidural, stood over me and told me he'd be in theatre with me. Needless to say I totally lost it, thinking: Oh my god if he stuffs this up I'll feel them cutting me open. Then they wheeled me in and put me onto the operating table and put all the blood pressure things on me, while they waited for my husband to put on the theatre clothes.

Then they started prodding me, asking if I could feel it. No I couldn't, just the pressure. At which time they did the cut, bringing my son into the world, at 1:17am on Thursday morning.

I remember hearing him cry, then someone held him up over the curtain for me to look at; he dripped on me. I said to my husband: Oh my god, there was a baby in there, now what do I do with it?

They took him away then to clean him up and do their tests. The next thing I heard was someone saying, "Did anyone take notice of the time?" They didn't even get that right. My husband was asked if he wanted to cut the cord. I was still crying and shaking, he didn't want to leave me, I told him to go. For me the worst was over, they'd done the one thing I didn't want them to do; cut me open.

One of the nurses had our camera and was happily snapping photos, they brought Cameron over to me to touch and have photos taken, then we went out into recovery where I fed him. He had such a strong suck and good attachment. Then off we went back to the ward, where they gave me a shot of pethidine in the leg and some other drugs. By this stage, after all the stress of the past 4 hours, all I wanted was a cigarette, but I couldn't get out of bed.

Mum and my stepfather met us at the ward, had a hold of Cameron, congratulated me, then went home taking my husband with them.

I awoke at 7:00am, to the voice of our only male midwife. He's a wonderful man and is perfect for the job. He was saying, "You've done it the wrong way round you silly duffer, your waters aren't supposed to break first." He helped me up and into the shower. By the time I came back out my husband was there and so was breakfast. Cameron still hadn't woken up, so we went for a very, very slow walk out to the back verandah to have that cigarette I'd wanted 5 hours before.

Then I started thinking about everything that had gone wrong. By day two, my nipples were as sore as my caeser wound, I was extremely upset and something had to give, so the breastfeeding went by the wayside. Cameron at least got the colostrum and a full 4 days worth of feeding, then I put him on the bottle, totally against everything I believe in, I just couldn't cope with all the pressures put together. I continued to express 5 times a day up until he was 2 weeks old, but stopped that and tried breastfeeding him again with a nipple shield, topping him up with formula. I came out in a huge stress rash up my neck, which I haven't had for years. So had to decide once and for all to put him on the bottle altogether.

So in summary everything that could go wrong did go wrong. My waters broke first, Mum's phone was off the hook, the drip needle wouldn't go in and got jammed into my wrist bone, I had full back pain, the baby was posterior, the baby's head was flexed, the gas sent me to fairy land, the first epidural didn't work, the doctor told me they might make mistakes, I had a caeser, I couldn't breastfeed because of the physical and mental pain, I can't do my housework, I can't walk my dog, I can't get back into shape yet, I can't drive, I've lost my independence (even if only for a short while), I can't go back to work when I want or need to and I'm scared to have a another baby. I wonder if the doctors realise what effect their decisions have on their patients. It seems to me, that these days, it's just more convenient to do caesareans than to waste the time waiting for a woman to do it naturally. Technology is a wonderful thing, but when it starts taking one's rights away, is it truly that wonderful??????

So now after 3 weeks, and speaking to as many people as possible who've had caesareans, quite a few who have had VBAC's, I am slowly coming to terms with what happened and am starting to focus on Cameron, not myself. I now know that there is a high chance that I'll be able to have my next baby naturally. What a relief. I know I'll probably never fully come to terms with this, but I know I can't go back and change what happened, but I can be fully prepared for next time.

I am writing to the Director of Medical Services at the hospital to let him know of the unethical way the Doctor approached my situation. Yes, there may have been problems if they'd let my labour continue, but I'd at least like to have had a chance to do it on my own before they opted to do a caeser. The problem was; the midwife was not very experienced, the doctor is still in training and no one will ever admit to any error on their part. I'm having my six-week check up at the hospital, so I can look at my chart. The only way I'll ever know what really happened, and was said, is to talk to my family and see what they remember. It's just a shame the doctor had to practice on me.

Written by Kellie Bryan.