Sunday Story Time...
I recently started collecting birth stories so that I could share them on my blog with the goal of creating a safe space to share and a platform to read about the experiences of others, to remind you that you are not alone, ever..... To highlight that every single birth and the feelings that arise from it are always going to be wildly different. The stories will be from many different people, from all walks of life. Some stories will be a tough read. Others will make you giggle. Some will sound like your delivery. I will always check with every single person as to whether they wish their story to remain anonymous, but I am aware some people are happy to share openly too. The response to my request has been phenomenal and I am so grateful to have the chance to share your stories. You never know who you can help. Sharing this intimate part of your life is really a brave and therapeutic action. So thank you for trusting me with it.
So our very first story comes from a midwifery colleague from Manchester. I have so much respect for this woman. The way she uses her experience to care for and educate others is nothing short of amazing. It may be a challenging read for some (Disclaimer: you may need some tissues). But we should not be scared to talk about the difficult things. Those are the things that can cause us such pain if left undiscussed. And that's what Steph does in her story, she shares the difficult things so beautifully and it's a privilege to share her story on my blog.....
"I was brought it to be induced on the Wednesday, knowing that the process would take a while until labour would well and truly start. The whole process was explained from start to finish, all the available pain relief and if I wanted any, I only had to say.
The induction started with a tablet being put in vaginally (my cervix was high and far back so there was very little to report from here). Off I went to then wait a further 6 hours (should have been 4, but there was a slight miscommunication somewhere), we sat and waiting, watching films, chatting and occasionally the midwife would come in and compete my observations and see how I was doing and then leave again.
The same process happened two more times. The third time, the examination was so intense, I wanted to have a (cervical) sweep at the same time because I knew that this could help to move things along to some degree and I lay there with my whole body shaking because of the adrenaline going through my body, I started sobbing and yet still I knew this was normal and I had to face it. Writing this now still brings horrific images into my head of how traumatised I felt but there wasn’t a moment that the midwife caring for me wasn’t concerned, she repeatedly asked (and even did stop) but I told her to continue.
After this third tablet, I started with some pain but not enough to be regular contractions and I had some oral pain relief (paracetamol/ dihydrocodeine), I had a fourth tablet four hours later and my cervix was 2cm, I had more pain relief, by this point I really wanted to sleep and see if the pain would remain so I opted for diamorphine, as if this were labour the pain would continue regardless. Thankfully it gave me time to sleep and I need for a few hours.
Now I’d had the fourth tablet, it was now a waiting game to see what would happen. Would my body do this on its own, or would we start this whole process again in another 12 hours?
Throughout the early hours I because quite uncomfortable and unable to sleep but it was enough that I could watch a film with my partner. After a while, I lost all interest in focusing on a film and just walked round the room to encourage this pain to continue and sat down intermittently breathing with contractions. By this point the diamorphine had worn off entirely but I felt so in sync with my body, knowing when to breathe and relax and close my eyes. I really felt in control.
On and off, we managed to sleep and in the morning we decided to let our parents come in to see us as we knew the process would likely be much longer. My partners parents arrived, I was in my underwear (with a pad in place, just in case) and a vest top, bouncing away on the birthing ball because it just felt best and with each pain I bounced and breathed and then the second it was gone, I was completely back in the room. It felt wrong to not be mobile and move around. My mum had arrived but was in the car park and was about ten minutes away. In the middle of a contraction and bouncing, I stopped suddenly, stared at my partners mum and just said “ I think my waters have gone”. I asked my partner to get the midwife and did with what I can only describe as a ‘waddle’ to the toilet, where on removing my underwear the bedpan filled (to almost the top) with lovely green, warm water. It is the strangest sensation and exactly how I envisage it would feel like if you wet yourself.
My midwife arrived, inspected the waters, ran and got me a new pad to wear and could see how much more intense the contractions were now that my waters had broken. She decided now would be the time to move me to a labour room. Once we got in the labour room, my parter recommended a playlist we had playing, which we’d planned before coming to hospital of all the songs we love but find fairly calming too? Personal to us and brought a sense of home into the room. Once in the room I started using gas and air (entonox) with each contraction, I can’t say it necessarily helped much, especially after a few contractions with it but mostly it just provided a focus to keep breathing rather than wanting to hold your breath with the contraction.
All I can really recall from the labour was wanting to not be on the bed and wanting to be in water and have the pain eased in my back so I walked in and out of the shower and perched on the toilet seat in between. At this point, it had all gotten so intense that my midwife asked if I was sure I didn’t want further pain relief. I’d declined quite a few times but I eventually said yes and had 5mg diamorphine. My midwife went to take her lunch break and was replaced with another midwife - not that I was very aware of this as I sat on the toilet using the mouth piece for the gas and air, breathing in and out on it with each contraction and then feeling like I just fell asleep between them with my head dangling off my shoulders. Feeling like a fly on the wall at this point - I found this hilarious and would keep laughing at myself with my partner and midwife both laughing but having no idea why I was laughing.
I think I’d had a cycle of this being asleep/ desperately breathing through contractions for around half an hour then suddenly I stood up and said “she’s coming”. I could just feel that she was so low and when I walked, it felt like something was wedging my legs open so I waddled over to sit on the bed. My midwife pulled a call bell so the midwife I had before could be here. She arrived in time and I could feel my baby, I put my hand down and felt her bottom?! She was breech! It was incredible. I delivered her body, then after what felt like forever (maybe 30seconds to 1 minute) her head was born and she was placed straight onto my skin. Her cord was cut by my partner and then she was in skin to skin on my chest as we looked at every feature on her. I felt like everything I’d wanted from a delivery I had gotten and even the delivery of the placenta was easy and straight forward. I was checked and no tears so just took the time to look over our baby girl, Beatrice. Born on Thursday 1st November 2017 at 14:27.
We had the playlist still playing as she delivered so we now have a song she was born to and the song whilst in the skin to skin. This was all the more important because that room was completely silent and our baby didn’t cry and from the moment we started the induction we knew that she wouldn’t be born alive.
My delivery and labour experience was the best I could have had and this is thanks to the midwives around me who cared for me, helping to facilitate what I wanted and the choices made available to me. They listened to the things I did and didn’t want, they facilitated the things that may not be ‘usual practice’ and they always ensured I felt reassured."
I cannot say anything that can follow that story. Except thank you Steph. It takes strength to share any birth story, but more so the more difficult ones. Steph honours Bea's memory with her charity to raise awareness of baby loss and bereavement and educating health care professionals which can be found at https://www.beyondbea.co.uk or on Instagram @beyondbeacharity - Bea has a pretty awesome Mummy!
If anyone wishes to chat about anything you have read, or if you have a similar story and would like to share your story or just have someone to listen then @beyondbea or myself are always here for you.