I was lucky enough to enjoy a fairly easy pregnancy and I planned to have a natural and unassisted birth. In the weeks leading up to my due date I researched hypno birthing techniques and attended a few mindful meditation classes. I wanted to arm myself with as many tools I possibly could to achieve the birth plan I'd set out.
- Dim lighting
- A calm, quiet room with as little staff changeover as possible
- Encouragement to use water, heat packs, yoga balls, breathing and movement as pain relief tools
- Immediate skin to skin
- Delayed cord clamping
This was the basis of my plan and I felt that I was really prepared to take it on.
My family live about 8 hours away and being that I was due so close to Christmas we decided that everyone could come to us. My Mum arrived on the Saturday and I spent the afternoon bouncing and rolling on my fit ball whilst we caught up. Every now and then I would have a contraction. They weren't anything too full on but they definitely felt different to the Braxton Hicks I'd been copping from around the 20 week mark. I woke up at 2AM on Sunday to a much stronger contraction. On my way to the bathroom Mum appear fully clothed from her room and spritely as hell and said "is it time?!". She actually went to bed in her clothes because she was sure that was the night.
But it wasn't. My contractions, whilst painful, were bearable and irregular. They'd go from 10 minutes apart to 30 minutes apart and back down to 5 minutes apart. I couldn't really get long enough of a break between to nap so I spent hours in the bath, refilling it once the water went cold. Mum would massage my feet over and over again, bringing me water and trying to make sure I'd snack on something every now and again. The day fucking dragged on forever. I'd called the hospital to let them know that things were in motion but the contractions still weren't regular enough to warrant leaving my comfort zone just yet.
By 8AM Monday morning my contractions were finally coming in every 3-4 minutes so we drove the 40 minutes to the big hospital where I copped enough internal examinations to last a lifetime. When I arrived they called me 3CM dilated so that meant I could stay. I settled into my little room. Well, more specifically, I settled into the shower because that steaming hot water drilling onto my belly was the best thing for the pain. I can't remember what time it was when they decided to pop my waters. Now THAT is a fucking weird feeling.
My contractions were getting closer together and far more painful and I breathed and swayed through those bad bitches as much as I possibly could. My partner actually told me I was the nicest I've ever been to him whilst I was in labour. I must be a HUGE bitch the rest of the time.
I think it was around 4PM when I finally asked for an epidural. I was absolutely exhausted. I'd battled contractions without a wink of sleep for 38 hours. I was broken and I just so desperately wanted a break. I cried a little because there was the first part of my plan out the window. But I was so thankful to finally get a break and be able to relax a little. I wasn't in agonising pain any more but I still strongly felt every uncomfortable contraction where every muscle in my whole body felt tense.
Another 5 hours passed and couple of different midwives and doctors came, poked, prodded and went. On my final internal the doctor said the I was actually only 7cm dilated, not the 9cm that the nurse suggested in the internal a couple of hours earlier. The bub had been constantly monitored from when I had the epidural. Her heart rate was dropping with every contraction and whilst I'm sure she would have been fine, a combination of utter exhaustion and pressure from the doctor made me agree to an emergency Cesarean.
Once that process began it all happened so quickly. Everything was prepped and I was taken to theatre and all of a sudden there was a baby. At 10PM on the dot on her due date, December 21st 2015. They showed her to us and we cried the happiest tears. But after all that work, after all those months of baby baking, hours of exhausting contractions, they just held this baby next to my head. I wasn't allowed to lift my arms to hold her. I wasn't given the immediate skin to skin I'd asked for. Or the delayed cord clamping. I was sewn up and everyone left the room and they took my baby with them. 40 minutes went by before I was finally take up to room and literally rammed through the doorway and then I got to hold my baby for the first time, after several nurses, my partner and my Mum.
I didn't get a single thing I asked for on my birth plan and nearly 2 years on it makes me tear up thinking about it. I'm fortunate that my babe was as healthy as could be but if I do have another babe I'm definitely planning for a VBAC or at the very least I want that immediate skin to skin I missed out on the first time.