I don’t know about you but I love a good birth story! I find them very empowering but if that’s not your thing I’d maybe skip this post!
My pregnancy was text book. No issues whatsoever. I was overweight so I had a gestational diabetes test but that was as exotic as it got. When I got to 34 weeks I was told the head had started to engage all was progressing perfectly.
At 37 weeks I saw a student midwife and she suspected my baby was breech, the proper midwife double checked said she was wrong. When I got home I remember sitting feeling the bump kick and I too thought he was breech.
At my 38, 39 and 40 week check I still thought he was breech, it felt like I could feel him stomping. I mentioned it to the midwife and each time she abruptly gave me a quick groping and told me “nope head down”. This was my first baby so I trusted them completely.
10 days overdue, there was a heatwave and I was well and truly fed up! I had my final midwife check up, and they booked me in for a sweep the next day. A midwife came to my house and as I lay on the bed with her hand pretty much inside me it was clear he wasn’t head down and I knew my plans of a water birth were gone.
The sweep midwife was very apologetic and reassuring. This meant a caesarean. End of discussion. I was nearly 2 weeks overdue. I was given some brief info and booked in for a scan and a chat to confirm a plan of action the next day.
Along we went, excited to see our bump one final time. The scan started off like my previous two; heart beat check, a snoop on the screen then patience while they took measurements.
Then all of a sudden the screen was tilted away, lots of clicking and screen grabs printed. The lady didn’t speak for what felt like hours, Mark squeezed my hand and I held my breath because I knew something was wrong.
The screen finally got turned back and we could clearly see two legs where a head should be. There was no denying he was breech but that wasn’t the only problem. The lady changed the settings and we saw the umbilical cord, a bright red spiral pulsing on the monitor. It was entwined round both the legs. She put her hand on my knee and said very clearly “Everything is going to be ok, but you’re going to go straight up to the theatre and you’ll be having this baby within the hour“.
Things were not ok.
It turned out that not only was Edward upside down (or standing up stomping on my cervix as I’d suspected for weeks) he was also all caught up in the umbilical cord to the point it was so tightly coiled if we were to go into spontaneous labour the first thing that would happen would be that his feet would drop and he’d rip the placenta off the wall and we’d both be dead in minutes. It was very serious and it was very evident from all involved with us from that point on that this was not a good situation to be in.
So much happened in the next 40 minutes, Mark frantically made a couple of phone calls while I got stripped, swabbed, weighed and shaved then got sent to the recovery room where we’d be staying for a few hours after the section. A consultant came in and we filled in all the consent forms and were handed about 15 leaflets. I never had chance to read a single one before we were wheeled into the theatre.
It was terrifying and exciting all at the same time. The radio was playing and there were 9 different people introducing themselves, all explaining their own roles to play in the delivery. It was mostly a blur to be honest! They brought in the tray to give me the local anaesthetic ahead of the spinal block and all of sudden a man in a suit ran in and told everyone to stop.
10 minutes later another official bloke in a suit appeared, apologised profusely and explained there was a pregnant lady carrying twins on the way in via an ambulance who had had a suspected heart attack and they needed to clear the theatre. We were wheeled out back to the wee recovery room and waited.
We lived a few minutes from the maternity hospital so instead of admitting me overnight it was agreed I’d go home and come back in and be the first booked section the next day. It was made abundantly clear that if I experienced so much as a twinge I was to come straight back in.
We went home; had dinner, read all the leaflets, cried a little as this wasn’t what we’d planned and repacked our bags for a longer stay. The next morning we left the house at 6:30am and off we went to have a baby. It was very surreal, there was no panic or fearing the unknown about going into labour anymore.
Our second visit to the theatre was less scary than the first. After a typical 4 hour waiting room delay I had the local anaesthetic and then straight after that the spinal injection, both in my back. I only managed to get one leg on the bed before I lost all feeling and the midwife caught my other leg as it fell back to the floor!
They sprayed me to check I was numb and fixed a screen up. It happened so fast and I was totally unaware they’d started the actual surgery! Within 5 minutes we heard the surgeon say “there’s the cord” and within 6 minutes “it’s out“.
There was a whole new person in the room.
The silence that followed the surgeon’s words felt like an eternity but eventually a very confused and very loud cry erupted from a very long scrawny baby. I saw a flash of skin before he was whisked away with the midwife.
I cried until I saw him again all bundled up in white hospital blankets. I wish I could have seen those first moments of life. The midwife placed him on Mark’s lap mere inches from my face. I remember looking at him in total wonder, I didn’t know what to say, I couldn’t find any words and we both just stared at him.
10 minutes or so passed and the midwife took Edward off Mark and sent him back to recovery. I was all finished and stitched back up and moved onto a hospital bed. They sat me up and I could finally see Edward again. They had weighed him, dressed him and bundled him back in blankets.
When the midwife read out his weight at 10lb 9ozs the room was filled with gasps and everyone went for a nosey as he wasn’t a big baby he was just really long. He filled the entire cot due to the fact he was all stretched out. Most newborns stay curled up in the foetal position, but not Edward!
As we got ready to leave the theatre the midwife lifted him and asked if I wanted to hold him. She didn’t wait for my reply and placed him in my outstretched arms and I got my first cuddle.
Every cell in my body reacted to him, it was so overwhelming. His tiny hand grabbed my finger and I thought my heart was going to burst. I never imagined it would be like that. The bond that formed in that instant was primal. Edward was part of me and he was mine. In that one cuddle my entire life changed forever.
Edward’s birth may not have been what I planned or what I wanted and it’s easy for me to sit here 8 years on and say none of it really matters just because I got a healthy baby at the end of it. It does matter and it’s hard to accept it sometimes especially with the stigma attached to c-sections. I still wonder what if I’d spoke up sooner and fought for a second opinion would things be different? Unfortunately I can’t change any of it so I’ve embraced it.
So many people remind me Edward wasn’t born or he wasn’t born properly. It wasn’t normal or I had section because I was too posh to push or because I was afraid.
None of these are true.
A caesarean is a birth. They’re very common and it’s perfectly normal and there shouldn’t be a stigma surrounding them. The NHS would have much preferred I had a natural delivery too but they acted in our best interests. Edward and I would have both died if we’d gone into labour. An overdue breech natural delivery was not an option for us. That 25 minute surgery changes absolutely nothing.
Edward is 8 years old today. He is strong and healthy and doesn’t care he was dragged out via the sunroof and frankly nor do I. Edward made me a Mummy and I will be forever thankful for that and thankful to all the NHS doctors and midwives that helped drag him safely into the world.
Happy birthday Eddie, my not so little King xx
*I’ll do a separate post on Caesareans and recovery later on as that’s a whole different story!