Mama S Says: “How lucky was I?! I honestly struggled with the idea of the c section before and didn’t think it was possible for me to have a positive experience out of a birth I did not want, but I was proven wrong! It absolutely can happen and did. Thank goodness for Hypnobirthing and thanks to Claire for all the support throughout my pregnancy and answering all my questions. All the prep I did from the course meant I had a far more positive experience than I could have hoped for! “
Here’s my birth story – more positive than I had imagined – it’s a long one sorry!
Back story – I have a bicornuate uterus, had a previous placental abruption resulting in emergency c section with my first baby and this baby was breech (bum down) so I was booked in for a scheduled c section on 9th Feb as labour was too risky in my case. I also have residual ptsd from my first daughter’s birth.
Last Friday (4th Feb) I had some pains in the right side of my abdomen so I went to the obstetrics assessment unit for monitoring. They diagnosed braxton hicks (i was having tightenings I hadn’t noticed) and kept me in overnight as they thought I could go into labour. I had a c section booked for Wednesday 9th already as baby was breech but if I went into labour I’d need an emergency c section.
Luckily by Saturday things had evened out, the tightenings were irregular and I was having hardly any pain so went home late afternoon. I continued having tightenings on Sunday at home but they weren’t regular or painful. One of my dogs sniffed my bump a lot on Sunday night and I mentioned to my husband that it was strange and maybe he knew something we didn’t!
In the early hours of Monday morning it became clear my dog did know something!
I woke up at 1.30am needing to pee and went back to bed but realised I was having cramps. By 2.30am I realised they were getting more regular and I was feeling tightenings too so started to time everything. I did my Hypnobirthing bubble visualisation with the Up Breathing again. This time round was different to the previous few days – I was getting cramps and tightenings together every single time and feeling it all across my lower abdomen like period pains. By 3.30am they had definitely become regular and were suddenly 3 mins apart lasting 50 seconds each. I woke my husband to warn him something was happening and rang the assessment unit who told me to make my way in as soon as I could. We gathered my bags and our toddler, rang my husband’s parents to meet us there to pick up our toddler and set off. At this point it was about 4am.
In the car, we kept the radio off and I concentrated on my daughter’s humming and little chats to herself (very cute) as well as the bubble Up Breathing and using an app to time the tightenings. I realised they were slowing down a little but lasting a bit longer – 4-5 mins apart lasting about 70 seconds each.
At the hospital I went in by myself (covid restrictions) pausing now and then to breathe through a tightening on the way. At the assessment unit they told me to head straight to delivery suite given the timings and that they were expecting me. In delivery suite I was shown to a room and it was amazing! They had fairy lights up and a fancy colour changing light in the corner, the room was very spacious and there were birthing balls in the bathroom. It was far grander than the clinical empty room I was expecting and I felt immediately at ease.
I was hooked up to the monitor and explained what I’d been experiencing. The midwives were really lovely and made a note of everything. They also explained my husband could come up at any time once my daughter had been collected. After a short while they could see the tightenings on the monitor although they weren’t very strong and asked if they could do a vaginal exam to see if they were causing dilation and to check if I was actually in labour. I consented with the proviso that I could have gas and air given the vaginal exam was a trigger point for my ptsd from my previous birth. Thank goodness I asked for gas and air – it took a while and I don’t think I’d have coped mentally without it! I was 1cm and showing no signs of effacement.
My husband arrived shortly after this and the doctor came in to give an explanation that he thought I wasn’t in labour yet but the signs were that I could be soon. He suggested further monitoring, blood tests in case I did need surgery and to have an open mind for either being sent home or needing an emergency c section. All in all it made sense and I was happy with the approach. I continued to breathe through the tightenings and had my blood taken. All the staff then left the room and I relaxed knowing my husband was there and they were all looking after me well. Literally within five minutes of everyone leaving the room the tightenings suddenly came on stronger and were now 2-3 minutes apart instead of 4-5 minutes when everyone was there! A few minutes later a doctor came in looking for my midwife and asked how I was feeling, checking if I was now feeling the tightenings more often and stronger than before. He went to find my midwife and they came back in together a few minutes later.
He explained he’d seen the sudden difference in tightenings on their monitor outside and it now looked like I was actually going into labour. He suggested I have a c section sooner rather than later as if things progressed it would be a more rushed situation and might not be as calm as I wanted given what happened with my first birth. I said ok and asked when the c section would be and he said he suggested we go ahead right now! This shocked me quite a bit – I wasn’t expecting it at all! I thought he’d maybe suggest in an hour or two! But I managed to find myself calmly saying ok and looked over at my husband and said can we have a chat? The doctor and midwives left us to it and I burst into tears. I wasn’t expecting to need to make a decision like this so soon! I’d not long since come round to the reality that I was having to have a c section again in a few days, never mind having to decide right now whether to have one there and then! After some consoling and a quick chat about how it was safest for me and baby rather than wait longer and potentially hit a few obstacles I agreed with my husband that it was time to meet our baby! After that everything seemed to happen quite quickly. I had another cervical exam to make sure I hadn’t progressed a lot – I was now 1.5cm and showing some thinning of the cervix so those ramped up tightenings had started to do something and I was in the early stages of labour. We’d definitely made the right choice to have the c section immediately. It was quite daunting yet exciting at the same time.
We walked into the operating theatre and they began prepping me and put the spinal block in after I’d just had another tightening. They hooked up the monitor and all the other machines and set up my husband at my head end. We made sure I had my music ready by my head on one phone and the other phone ready for taking photos. We warned everyone that my husband didn’t deal with bloody situations very well and he might faint so made sure someone was able to take photos if he wasn’t capable. I was concerned at this point that I could feel things happening and the anaesthetist moved the screen to one side and asked if i could feel ‘this’ – I said sort of and he said I am actually pinching you really really hard, here you try. Once I’d tried I realised I couldn’t feel anything at all and it was all in my mind! The staff all did introductions and the anaesthetist went through all my birth preferences including that I wanted either my husband to tell me the gender or to see for myself so no one said anything by accident. Everything was ready! I felt myself getting emotional and took some big breaths as they asked if I was ready to begin. I closed my eyes, imagined the bubbles and said yes. It all began!
The anaesthetist told me what was happening at each step, the cleaning, the scalpel going in, how many layers were left, what I might be feeling, the sound of suction as they broke then cleaned up my waters, that I was being moved about as they were getting hold of baby and when I would feel pressure. It was at the suction stage my husband suddenly announced he was fainting! Haha, I couldn’t help but giggle as one of the staff held onto him to make sure he didn’t fall off the chair. The description of the operation had been too much for him!
I felt a large amount of pressure where baby had their head up in my ribs and then all of a sudden it lifted. It was like a popping feeling of something being removed and I suddenly realised my baby was out! I had a big shocked look on my face that my husband completely missed and then I turned my head to wait to see baby being brought round the side. I heard some crying and tears filled my eyes. Our baby was here and breathing! They took the baby over to the monitoring station to check her over and I could see – oh my gosh so small! They did the APGAR checks and brought baby over as my husband was coming round – we both looked at the same time and I said out loud it’s a girl!!! We have a baby girl!! Wow the emotion. They asked if my husband was up for trimming the cord (they’d cut the cord already to allow separate removal of the placenta whilst checks were carried out). Clearly he wasn’t capable in that moment so I shouted up no he isn’t but I’d like to! So they brought her over to me and I got to trim the cord. Something I didn’t think I’d get to do. It was so bonding and beautiful to have that privilege. As soon as that was done they placed her onto my chest for skin to skin. Nothing else mattered in that moment. I had my spa music by my ears, my baby looking at me and my husband looking at us in awe with his extremely pale face and red eyes. Our daughter was born at 7.57am and weighed 6lb 12.5oz.
The staff worked quickly after that but it also felt like time had stopped and I cherished every moment. Our baby was here safe and sound, I had faced my fear of another c section and both me and my husband were awake and present for the birth! Even better, I’d also got to experience early labour, something I didn’t think would happen. How lucky was I?! I honestly struggled with the idea of the c section before and didn’t think it was possible for me to have a positive experience out of a birth I did not want but I was proven wrong! It absolutely can happen and did.
All of the staff were amazing and as I was classed as an emergency c section (and was the first section of the day in fact) they still needed to arrange a bed for me. This meant my husband got to stay with us in the recovery area until late afternoon when a bed was sorted – we were so lucky to have had that extra time together before I was transferred to the ward.
We came home the next day and I have been enjoying cuddles with our daughter ever since. Thank goodness for Hypnobirthing and thanks to Claire for all the support throughout my pregnancy and answering all my questions. All the prep I did from the course meant I had a far more positive experience than I could have hoped for!