I had a great birthing plan. It was written up when I was 30 weeks pregnant, I made sure it covered all aspects of my birth from going into labour, arrival at the birthing centre, the different stages of birthing, and the after care. I printed multiple copies, my husband and I memorised the most important parts. And yet the whole thing ended up being useless.
I had really wanted a natural birth. I envisaged labour starting at home, plenty of massage and candles and then travelling to the birthing centre where my body’s natural impulses would take over and guide me through this most natural of human processes. I longed for that primal feeling, where the thousands of years of evolution would just fall away and the whole world would shrink to just me and my baby. In this day and age it’s a real rarity to be able to engage with a primal instinct, in my hectic life of London living and working too hard I was desperate to engage with this raw, natural, earth moving feeling and give my body up entirely to this moment.
But my 40 week check up came and went, I agreed to a sweep at 41 weeks to ‘get things moving’, but nothing happened. I contacted AIMS who were incredibly supportive and helped me through the anxiety of having stats of still birth rates thrust at me by the medical consultants at the hospital. I loved my baby to the bones already. I wanted her to arrive safely, but I’d done my research and knew there were risks with induction as well as with waiting. There was still plenty of movement each day so I knew she was healthy.
Time steadily moved on. 42 Weeks came and went. It was the weekend, I thought it best to wait until the Monday. We are privileged in the UK that the medical profession have a duty of care, this gives us more autonomy over our bodies and the decisions we make for our births – I don’t believe that in the US there are many midwives who will support pregnant women going beyond 42 weeks.
Anyhow, I no longer felt it safe to wait, so had an induction at 42 weeks and 3 days. Still nothing worked. The examinations were excruciating because my body simply wasn’t ready. After 36 hours of drugs to stimulate labour we were left with no other option but an emergency c-section. It was terrifying, and not an element of my birthing plan that we’d seriously considered ever having to be put into practise. It all happened so fast! Within 15 minutes my daughter was born, and she was perfect. The problem was that my body was so pumped with drugs that I suffered a PPT – post partum haemorrhage. Basically my uterus was so exhausted from being artificially stimulated by the drugs that it could no longer contract and close the blood vessels so I was bleeding out. The professionals were amazing though, they acted swiftly and stitched me back together.
The recovery process was really tough. The blood loss meant I was incredibly weak, the caesarean meant I was recovering from major surgery and it took me a month to be able to comfortably walk to the corner shop.
I’m coming to terms with my birthing story but it’s taken a long time. At the end of the day my daughter is safe and healthy and happy. And that is what matters.
Note – if you are a pregnant woman reading this please don’t panic. Every single woman is different and no birthing experience is the same. Just because I had these complications it doesn’t mean that if you go over your due dates you will. It might be that my dates were wrong, or my body simply takes longer to prepare for the birth. You’ll have your own birth story that you’ll grow to be proud of and look back on with wonder and amazement.