In the light of Maternal Mental Health Week I thought I’d write about the one thing I still struggle with mentally since I became a mum. This is a tough one for me… it might not seem as bad as some have it but please remember that pregnancy and birth are very individual and personal experiences.
I had a birth plan. I knew it was more of a moving target… but it was a plan nonetheless. I wanted a water birth in the midwife led unit, Derek to cut the cord and tell me what we had. Oh and my mum as second birthing partner. That was it.
Firstly, there was only one birthing pool available so knew that might be a dream, as it seemed everybody was due in July. Still fingers crossed.
Then Isaac decided that he was too comfy. Failed sweeps and my due date well past I was booked in for induction at 40+12. Bye bye MLU and pool.
It was Tuesday… I had to phone the ward before 9:30 for a time to come in. Derek had started his paternity leave to come with me. My mum was just waiting for the call to drive up (she planned to wait til I was in established labour). I got a time 10:30.
We got to the ward bang on time. Checked in and taken to a bed. It was in the corner so only had one person on the other side. Got monitor strapped on, an examination and then 24hr pessary… I was gutted that by this stage my cervix wasn’t playing ball at all and would be looking at a long wait. We walked round the hospital grounds again and again. I was getting cramps but nothing regular. I bounced on a ball. More walking. I was exhausted. I had to get strapped up to monitor again. I was in a lot of pain at this point. I requested some paracetamol. I had to ask several more times before I got some. Some more walking before we got to the time Derek had to leave. I was going to be alone for the night as partners weren’t allowed on the ward. Midwife insisted if I was moved t o labour suite he’d be the first to know but that meant I was terrified he wouldn’t get back on time. He hated leaving me. I was in pain. I then got dizzy, I was too warm… looked like I needed some antibiotics. They got me a fan and then I was strapped to monitor and stuck on bed for an eternity (3hrs) because Isaac wasn’t staying put long enough. I was having contractions but I couldn’t feel them as my back was just aching (and being confined to my back on the bed wasn’t helping). At 3am I demanded something to help me sleep… I was in agony so needed something to take the edge off. Before they gave me anything they did examination… I was 3cm. The girl in the bed next to me had been screaming her head off and was promised she would go through next but I’d be next but probably not til morning as the labour ward was full. I messaged Derek (they still wouldn’t let me get him back) and drifted in and out of a painful sleep.
Morning came, I was still flitting in and out of sleep and couldn’t move for the pain in my back. They wanted to put monitor on me but I didn’t want to move from the position I was in. I begged them to leave me a bit longer. Drifting in and out of sleep next thing was Derek appearing… I got a fright… he got a fright. Was so glad to be together again. He informed me my mum was on the way. The midwife came back and got me hooked up to the monitor again… she checked the graph and wasn’t happy… baby’s heartrate was all over the place so we were going to get shifted round to labour suite asap.
They asked if I could walk… not a chance. They turned up with a wheel chair and off we went with Derek trotting behind like a pack mule with all the bags.
Got to my room. Met a new midwife and a student. They were lovely. Asked me to stand up so I could get on the bed…. my waters broke. Another examination showed I was 10cm. I could now feel contractions more and I had the blessed gas and air. that stuff is amazing. We chatted about my birth plan and updated it a little. Derek was still to cut cord and tell me what we had.
Further monitoring, being stuck, and baby’s heart rate not being great and my contractions not speeding up enough the decision was that I needed to go on the hormone drip. F**king hell that speeds things up. After about an hour or so on that (times are not clear in my head) it was time to push. My mum arrived at this point. I was exhausted but glad she was here to keep Derek and the team right (she had been a midwife for 20odd years). I now had a time limit of an hour to get him out.
I pushed, I switched positions but the hour passed and no baby (although he was close). The doctor was still concerned about heart rate so the question came ‘we can give you another half an hour or we can help…’ This was the last thing I’d wanted but I was so tired I couldn’t go on myself anymore. A few more attempts while they set up the forceps (the wee ones thankfully) and then we were a go. A big push and a lift from them and his head was out. My body took over though and wanted to push the rest of him out while the doctor was going ‘No wait don’t push!!’ He was out. Doctor cut the cord and handed him over… All while Derek was waiting to do his bit. I was gutted he never got the chance. Then someone said ‘what did you have?’ Doctor just about said when my mum went ‘DEREK WILL TELL US’. I’m so thankful he got that honour at least.
In the end, I was tired, needing stitches but had my beautiful boy. It was as far from my birth plan as it could’ve been. Its been a struggle that it was so far… I had prepared to deviate from it as needed but felt like I’d lost all control and then my body couldn’t do the last bit either. Derek and my mum both reassured me there was no guilt to be had but when it goes awry its very hard not to blame yourself. I’ve never shared my birth story before because of this. Its not the happy memory I’d have liked. Quite the contrary actually…. it makes me fearful for next time (if there is a next time). I became a mother tired, exhausted and overwhelmed because it all felt out of control. It took me a while to write this… nearly 2years. Now its done a weight is lifted.