Birthrites: Healing After Caesarean.

Paula's Birthstory

Scott is 5 weeks old today! I haven't quite gotten around to writing his birth story yet (I am hoping I will get the time to before I forget everything!) but heres a basic outline anyway.

He was born at the local woman's hospital here as we had planned. We don't have any independent midwives here at all and I couldn't get one to travel and attend us. So after alot of soul searching I decided on the hospital and then which one (major difficult decision). I spent heaps of time finding out everything I could about the hospital and writing a detailed birth plan. My support people were my husband Mark and my friend Karen ( who has attended a couple of births and had two home births herself).

Most of my pregnancy was spent reading, reading, reading, I felt I had to get through alot of 'stuff' before I went into this birth.

Well my pregnancy went well up until my check up at 40 weeks, where after lots of test and panic it was discovered that I had pre-eclampsia and was admitted straight to hospital. Something I had never even imaged planning for! I was pretty distressed at the time and really worried about intervention but the staff were lovely at the hospital and respected my feelings and requests.

Well it was decided that I should be induced (argh!! more panic for me, I have read the statistics on induction and VBAC) and had always gone into labour before my due date before so I had never imagined I would have to be induced. I spent a quite night in hospital trying to quietly talk the baby into coming on its own, but I guess he was just really happy in there because he never came!

Well my husband and Karen turned up early the next morning and we were all ready to go. I was feeling much better by now and ready to get things going. All the midwives and nurses were lovely and everyone was very fascinated with my birth plan, apparently well-informed women are pretty rare over here. But they all thought what we wanted was great and supported and encouraged us heaps.

We had to have a major meeting with the doctors before things could go ahead though because they were feeling pretty worried about my birth plan. We all sat around in the birth suite, Mark and I, Karen, two doctors, a midwife and a student midwife. We discussed the aspects that bothered them, I explained my reasons for wanting (or not wanting) this or that and we all agreed that unless the was a medical emergency they would respect my wishes.

I was really happy with the way things went and we were the talk of the hospital for the day after standing up to the doctors. I had midwives come to visit me just to encourage us and say good on you. It was really great. Well with negotiations out of the way we got on with the business of having a baby.

A gel was applied to my cervix, and we were told this was the most gently and natural way to induce labour. I wouldn't agree to let them break my waters to speed things up though. I was about 2 cm dilated when this was done about 10am.

We waited........about two I started getting some pains, I didn't really know what to expect having never been induced before. We were due back at birth suite at 4pm for the second application of gel and upon arrival all my pains stopped. I figure know (as I had spent about an hour on the loo) that they were just pre-labour 'cleaning out' niggles. Oh well.

Second application went well. Karen had gone home for some rest and I was getting slight niggles in my back (but I had been getting these on and off for weeks) Mark and I walked the halls for awhile trying to get things going, but we were both getting tired and a bit crabby by now (7.30pm) and as home was 30 minutes each way we had to decide whether it was ok for Mark to go home and eat and rest. Well I finally got fed up and was sure nothing was going to happen and sent him home.

Feeling tired and fed up from the long day and laying there listening to everyone's babies crying I got a sleeping pill from the nurse and zonked out (something I wouldn't usually do, but I decided I really needed a good nights sleep before I faced the doctors in the morning). I fell into a heavy sleep quickly, and had two hours of blissful rest. I awoke at 10 pm mid contraction and felt a little pop and leak and I knew straight away that this was it.

The next contraction came a couple of minutes later and they were pretty intense, as I stood up after that one my waters broke with a gush. It was lovely, I was so relieved things were finally happening. I jumped straight into the shower (no baths at this hospital unfortunately) and held the handheld showerhead on my belly. I had a feeling things were moving pretty quickly so I got the nurse to call Mark and get him there.

Mark arrived sometime later, I had lost track of time by now. As soon as I managed to drag myself out of the shower we headed to birth suite. Once there I jumped straight back in the shower sitting on a birthing ball and holding the showerhead on my belly again, which was lovely, (those birthing balls are great things!) While the midwife took a minute to read my birth plan.

I had requested in my birth plan that we only wanted our birth attended my a midwife and if a doctor was necessary at any time I would prefer a female one. This worked out wonderfully and being the middle of the night the hospital was lovely and quiet and peaceful. Karen arrived at some stage, I had really gone into myself and was just enjoying the contractions, going over all my affirmations, it was just the most amazing and wonderful thing to experience. I knew things were happening just as they should.

I laboured like this for a while I guess, I had no sense of time. There were only a couple of contractions that I lost focus on and were actually painful. Mark and Karen were great and as I started getting pain in my lower back as the baby moved they used pressure and hot nappies on my lower back, which helped so much. I start getting some little pushing urges and just went with it. The midwife pretty much stayed out of the way, just checking the baby's heartbeat with a doppler every now and then, I had no internals as requested. I had my eyes closed most of the time, but at one stage when I opened them I seen the little nest they had set up on mattresses on the floor in the room and with a weird burst of energy I jumped up, turned the shower off and settled myself there. I knew the baby wasn't far away now.

Karen had set up the room so nicely. All the lights were dimmed and the little lamp we bought with us was on and the room had a lovely feel to it. We positioned ourselves so Mark was sitting on a low step with a beanbag between his legs and me kneeling on the beanbag hanging onto him. I was full on pushing now and could feel the baby moving down with each push, which was amazing. I could feel its little feet kicking in the top of my belly and I knew he was working with me to be born. I focused on relaxing and opening up with each contraction.

I needed some reassurance from my support people a couple of times at this stage that everything was going well. The contractions while pushing didn't feel as 'painful' as before but were a lot more intense and really hard work. I felt him crowning, but it wasn't the burning feeling I expected. Just a really tight feeling, I could feel the tissues all slowly stretching and out came his head. I don't think I can ever find the words to express what an amazing out of this world feeling that is. I reached down a felt his soft wet little head. I just couldn't believe he was finally here and I will never forget how it felt.

Things got a bit scary after this, a couple of contractions later and he hadn't moved, then the midwife realised one of his shoulders were stuck behind my pubic bone. His head had rotated well which had put her off at first because apparently usually it doesn't with shoulder dystocia. Anyway the midwife had to put her fingers in and unhook his shoulder, I was torn at this stage (after avoiding it with all that careful pushing with his head!) and then out he slid, what a wonderful feeling and a relief.

Unfortunately he didn't start breathing and they had to cut his cord and rush him out for oxygen. Which was really sad and scary. He was back about two minutes later and in my arms finally.

So to cut a long story short *smile* even with all the unexpected complications, the labour and birth were still a wonderful experience. I was really happy with everything, although of course I wish things had of been perfect and uncomplicated, but I understand nature is not always that kind to us but I felt the staff really did do everything they could to help us to have the experience we wanted.

I would have ten kids, if all my births had been like this one (minus the pre-eclampsia, shoulder dystocia) but I am not sure, after all our scares with this one, whether I would be brave enough to have another one. But the feeling of having achieved my goals, of having a natural birth is just amazing. I have felt like I could climb a mountain ever since Scott was born. Oh yes and he was born at 1:42 am after 3 hrs and 40 mins labour and was 9 pound, 10 ounces and 54 cm long.

A perfect little blue eyed boy. And he's breastfeeding like a champ and doing great, even sleeping at night *grin*! Well there's the short version *laugh* I can definitely say VBAC is wonderful, I hope it becomes more common and accepted. I didn't think of my scar once at any time. And I think with the pre-eclampsia sneaking up on us the doctors actually forgot about it too *laugh*

Warm thoughts to everyone,

*Paula submitted the following to go on the "Healing Page" on the Birthrites' Website. It seems so relevant to her Birthstory.

Our baby son Scott was born, following a wonderful natural labour, but a somewhat complicated birth. His head was born smoothly, but after a short time when the rest of him didn't keep coming the midwife realised his shoulders where stuck. Our midwife was able to free his stuck shoulder and the rest of his little body slid out. *whew* I was leaning on my husband on my knees so I really didn't see or realise what was happening at the time. But apparently he wasn't doing well and was raced out of the room for oxygen with the midwife calling for the paediatrician.

This was not only scary, but I think for a mother it is one of the hardest things to go through watching your newborn disappear from the room and wondering if they are OK. I had fantasised about the birth for so long and one of the moments I so looked forward to was picking up and holding my wet wiggly little newborn as he came into the world, of being the first person to hold him, see him, to look upon his face. So obviously this was very saddening for me to miss out of this. One clear moment for me is watching him racing out the room in the midwives arms and then looking down and seeing the cut cord laying between my legs where a baby should have been.

At the time I was just relieved he was ok and I was soon holding him again. But a few days after his birth I started to feel the sadness of this loss. Everything else about my experience was very happy but I felt I needed to heal this somehow.

I was home two days later, my mother was staying with us to help with the girls, so I didn't think about things much until she went home when Scott was 6 days old. But I knew what I needed to feel.

As soon as we were alone and the kids were busy I ran a lovely deep warm bath and sank into it, then my husband bought our naked little newborn in and placed him in the bath with me. It was wonderful and amazing. I had missed out on holding him, with us both naked and wet at the birth. I needed to do that, to feel his skin against mine and just look at him as he was born. We lay in the water together, I touched him and he had a feed. I thought about his birth and all the happy moments and just let all my feeling come and go as they needed to.

It was as such a healing experience for me, I got just what I had dreamed about only a few days late and I have been able to let go of some of my sadness from losing this at his birth.

Now we have lots of baths and showers together and we both really love those times

Warm regards, Paula Bredden ©.
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