Birthrites: Healing After Caesarean.

So Close, And Yet, So Far Away...

Tyson and Roxanne's Birth Story
It has been just over 1 month since my little boy was born via an emergency c-section. Things have been difficult for me but I have started taking anti-depressants about a week ago as I was starting to lose my mind.

I know that the emergency c-section wasn't my fault and it certainly wasn't my little boy's fault either. I blame my obstetrician. I honestly feel that if he hadn't of taken 45 minutes to arrive at the hospital when told that I was 9cm dilated, I am sure that my little boy wouldn't have thrown his head up and become a 'face presentation'.

Everything was going really well on the day of my little boy's birth. I had always envisioned labour to be hours and hours of horrific back pain and not being able to cope. I didn't experience any of that during my 17 hour labour, not until things went wrong anyway. For weeks before hand, I had been preparing my body for labour by doing light exercise and drinking heaps of raspberry leaf tea. Plus, after kicking around the idea at the beginning of the pregnancy about having a c-section, I had decided that I wanted a natural birth - no drugs, apart from gas - a c-section would only be performed if something went wrong. My contractions were mainly a tightening of my stomach - like Braxton Hicks but way stronger - and they ranged between 10 and 30 minutes apart.

In the late afternoon/early evening, I started to experience slight bleeding. My partner and I made our way into the hospital. We had been waiting for my waters to break as I was absolutely paranoid about them breaking in the car (we had just brought a new car). On the way to the hospital, I had 3 massive contractions that really made me wince. Once we arrived at the hospital, I was put onto a machine to measure the strength of the contractions and to monitor my little boy's heart beat. The midwife was amazed that I didn't want any drugs because my contractions were 2 to 5 minutes apart (but irregular) and very strong. Also, my little boy was kicking the hell out of me with every contraction. My obstetrician was called and told to expect a phone call sometime during the evening and that I was in the early stages of labour.

A couple of hours later, I had a shower to help with the pain I was experiencing across my stomach. That shower felt so good, I just didn't want to get out. However, after a while, something inside me urgently told me to get out. Just after I had got out of the shower and was being dried off by the midwife, my waters broke - sort of. It was just the trickle down my leg that only lasted a minute. The midwife decided then that she had better examine me to see what was going on. That was when she discovered that I was 9cm dilated and in the advance stages of labour.

My partner and I became quite excited as our little boy was finally making his way into the world and I was almost fully dilated. We figured that it wouldn't take all that long for him to arrive. The midwife called my obstetrician and informed him. I remember she called him a least 3 times. My partner later told me that it took my obstetrician 45 minutes to arrive. After the midwife had called him the first time, the pain I was experiencing was huge. With each contraction, I could feel my body wanting to push, and each contraction was coming one after the other and they were strong. At this stage I had been given the gas - my partner had hold the gas mask on my face for me as I couldn't ungrip my hands from the bed.

Finally, my obstetrician arrived. But before I was allowed to push, I had to have a drip in my arm because I needed to have antibiotics before my little boy could come into the world (something to do with Group B Strep (?)). Then it was discovered that my waters needed to be rebroken. My partner later told me that when they broke my waters, it was like someone had a hose as it gushed out all over the midwife. Then I was told I could push. I started to push and stopped. Something was wrong, very wrong. My mum had said that childbirth, to her, was like trying to do a great big poo - as you are pushing, you can feel the baby coming out (and I was a breech baby too). The only thing I felt was a blinding pain that went all the way through me. My little boy, who had been kicking me all the way through the labour, stopped kicking me. The midwife examined me as, in her opinion, my little boy's head should have been crowning. My heart sank when I heard her say that she felt a mouth and a nose. My obstetrician examined me to confirm. My partner had to clamp the gas mask onto my head with one hand behind my head. Whilst they were examining me, I couldn't stop screaming - it was a combination of pain and violation and realization that things just weren't going right and that I wasn't going to be able to have the natural birth that I had been hoping for.

I couldn't believe it when I heard the obstetrician call the surgeon and said that I had an 'undiagnosed breech'. I wanted to say something but couldn't because of the pain. All my body wanted to was push and that contractions were getting stronger with each one. I knew that I wasn't allowed to push, I didn't need a doctor to tell me that. It took all of my might and will power to control my body.

Whilst waiting for the surgeon to arrive and the theatre team to set up, my obstetrician used a Doppler to try and find my little boy's heart beat. By this stage an oxygen tube had been inserted down his throat and I had to suck on a oxygen mask as well as the gas mask. My obstetrician tried for 15 minutes to find the heart beat. I remember that during this time, I concentrated with all my might on my two lovely cats at home and how much I loved them - I couldn't/wouldn't think about the possibility of my little boy not making it. My partner held the gas mask on my face, stroked my head and talked to me gently. I knew that he was having a rough time because of the tears that I could hear in his voice (my partner is a very strong person, both physically and mentally). The midwife eventually took the Doppler from the obstetrician and put it on my belly. Finally, we heard a nice, strong heart beat. I just wanted to cry, I was so happy to hear him. I heard a big sigh of relief come from my partner.

Just after that, I was taken down to theatre. I thought that all the trauma would end, but it didn't. The bed that I was on was lower than the one that they were using to operate on me. Instead of just adjusting the bed to the correct height, they wanted me to 'shuffle across' onto the operating table. The nurse, who was young, seemed quite amazed that I couldn't do it - until I uttered "******* contractions. I just want it to end". My contractions were constant, there was no break in between for me to even slightly relax. That was when they decided that they had better adjust the bed and help me across to the operating table. When they were putting me onto the operating table, no one told me that it was so narrow. I panicked because I thought I was going to fall off, which only added to my anxiety and pain.

The anesthetist made a comment about my drip and that it might have to be re-done. The look I gave him was pure death. He just wrapped lots of hospital tape around it to secure it a bit better. I remember someone mentioned epidural. This time I managed to talk - "No! I wanted a general! I just want this to end and I want him out of me - NOW!!" and I kept on saying/muttering "This is not my fault". Whilst they organized the general, I looked over at my obstetrician. He looked absolutely lost, like he had no idea why this had happened - he just stood there, he didn't come over to me to reassure me or anything. I had to look away from him because I was just so disgusted with the way things had gone. I was so relieved when a gas mask was put on my face and I was told to take a great big breath. The pain was finally over - my little boy was finally going to arrive in the world.

The first thing I saw when I woke up was my partner holding our beautiful little boy. I started to cry because I was just so happy that he was alive. I told myself that the bruising on his face will go away with time.

I stayed in hospital for 5 days. All of the midwife's were amazed at how quickly I was recovering. I stayed in bed for one day, only because I had to. The pain killer that they had given me was Pethidene and I was allergic to it. They kept me on it for 36 hours. During this time, I hallucinated something shocking. All around my room there were policemen (who I have had a slight phobia about since I was a little girl) running in and out of the room, and every time I looked out the window it was as if there was a huge crowd of people in the car park just jumping around (I don't like big crowds of people either). I knew it was just my head playing tricks on me.

When the dressing was removed I was horrified with what I saw. I had this great big suture line that went from one hip to the other with this great big lump above it on the left hand side. What shocked me the most was the colour of me. Above my suture line, it was all red and yellow, especially where the lump was. Below my suture line, I was black and ruby red; there was no skin colour at all.

On my fourth day in hospital, the surgeon who performed my c-section stopped by to check on me. My partner and I asked him about when my obstetrician called and said I was an undiagnosed breach and if this made anything more complicated. Even though he said that it didn't, we could tell by the look on his face that it had. After chatting with one of the midwife's later on, I found out what the complication was. The surgeon had made the incision for a breach, reached in expecting to find my little boy's bum but instead found that he was in the right position. My obstetrician then informed him that my little boy was actually a face presentation, and so, with his hand still inside me, he made the incision bigger (which is why my suture line is more to the left).

Coming home from hospital was very weird. Everything in our house looked so dirty and my cats - my god, they looked so BIG compared to my little boy. I started to feel very strange about everything. Later that day, my partner found me in our bedroom crying my eyes out. I just couldn't stop. I knew that something had changed inside me but, at the time, I couldn't figure out what.

Ten days after being at home, the Child Health Care Nurse came around to check on my little boy's progress. The day before, I had started weeping from my suture line in one spot. The day that the nurse came around, I was weeping from three. It wasn't blood but it was clear fluid either. After the nurse telling me that it was one of the worst suture lines that she has ever seen and that it looked very disgusting, I decided to go and see my GP. My GP, who is a lovely person, was shocked when she saw my suture line and how it was. She prescribed me some antibiotics and took a swab. Up until then, I had had no feeling at all in that area, but once that swab was taken, I finally felt something. My GP advised me to put betadine on it and a gauze pad. Within 36 hours it had rescabbed and stopped leaking. After 48 hours the antibiotics must have kicked in because my suture line started to heal again and the swelling started to subside.

Up until my suture line started weeping, I was actually all for having more children as no-one had said that I couldn't/wouldn't be able to give birth naturally. But once it started weeping, I started to do my head in. I started to tell myself that I wouldn't be able to have a child naturally again because my uterus could rupture, or the next birth will have complications. The worst thing though was that I had started to tell myself that my suture line made me ugly and that my partner didn't want me anymore because of it. I was disgusted with my body. No matter how much my partner would tell me otherwise, I was convinced that he didn't love me anymore. I became very moody and I was crying most of the time.

Having dealt firsthand with depression/anxiety before, I knew that I wasn't right. Whilst I was pregnant, I had been diagnosed with ante-natal depression and my obstetrician had prescribed me some anti-depressants. Even though they are safe to take whilst pregnant, I didn't use them (I wasn't comfortable with taking a/d's whilst pregnant). I decided that I had better start taking them as I was losing the plot all the time and felt that I wasn't being as good a mum as what I should be. The change was amazing. It felt as if someone had lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. I was finally able to put things into perspective and concentrate on being a mum to my little boy rather than constantly think about the trauma that I experienced whilst giving birth to him.

Only now have I been able to start looking back at the birth of my little boy and think about the good things that happened. I am very proud of myself and my body for handling the labour as well as I did. Even though I say now that I am put off my the idea of having more children, I know that one day I will want to experience the feelings that I had before everything went wrong. I shall also want to fulfill the emptiness that I have from going through my labour, being fully dilated and not being able to give birth naturally. My partner, on the other hand, has been so badly traumatized by the emergency c-section that he doesn't want to have any more children. He says that he doesn't want to see me go through all that pain again. My partner still blames himself for what happened even though I keep on telling him that it wasn't our fault. The experience has changed him as well.

Thank you for reading :-)
Roxanne