Emily’s pregnancy and birth were not easy for me and quite traumatic, and we know now, that the chain of events triggered the onset of PPD and PPA which I battled with until she was nearly 2. I love her with all my heart, but her birth was difficult for me, both emotionally and physically, and whilst it wasnt as “bad” as some birth stories I’ve heard, it is our birth story, and it affected me deeply. I hadn’t really believed before I had my own babies how much birth could affect someone and that the act of bringing a life into the world, could be so emotionally challenging. I often read other women’s birth stories and thought “that won’t be me”, I won’t care what happens as long as I have a healthy baby. Little did I know that the most amazing day of my life, would also be the most difficult, and would open up old wounds, and bring new ones that would take time to heal properly.
We struggled to conceive Emily. I had a miscarriage, from an unplanned pregnancy, whilst I was still at nursing college, in 2002 and we had only been married for a year. When we actually began to think about trying to get pregnant, in 2004, we realised my body wasnt going to co-operate. I eventually saw a private Doctor, rather than relying on our NHS system, and received a relatively simple diagnosis that was easy to “treat”. I had one more miscarriage in March of 2006, then we conceived Emily. I took a special hormone supplement for the first 13 weeks of pregnancy (progesterone) and then we breathed a sigh of relief, at the 13 week scan, when all looked well.
Unfortunately, pregnancy doesn’t agree with me. I had fairly severe and very unpleasant and debilitating Hyperemesis Gravidarum for the first 28 weeks of pregnancy. I had to take days off work, had two trips to the Maternity unit for observation and IV fluids for de-hydration, and spent a lot of time feeling very unwell.
Things calmed down at little at 28 weeks, the nausea eased and we actually flew to Poland, for a long weekend to visit friends in Krakow. After the flight, I felt a bit light-headed, and my feet and ankles were horribly swollen, but we put it down to flying, and had a wonderful time. When I came home, after a few days, I was still swollen, and at a regular ante natal appointment, my blood pressure was slightly elevated. I was sent home, told to rest for a few days and keep an eye on the swelling. At 32 weeks, it was clear that I was struggling with blood pressure issues. I stopped work, and was put on semi bed rest, to try to keep things at bay. At this point I was also suffering from Synthesis Pubis Dysfunction, so was in a fair amount of pain, and was counting the weeks until Emily arrived. (We’d had our second scan at 20 weeks, we’d found out she was a healthy little girl) at 36 weeks, I was referred to the senior obstetrician at my ante natal clinic, who told me that I would probably need to be induced if my blood pressure rose any further. I had traces of protein in my urine, and was very swollen. I was again put on home bed rest, with regular visits to the clinic for bp reading’s and for them to monitor Emily.
At 38 weeks, I was told to plan for induction at 39 weeks. At this point, I was so sore, tired and swollen, I was relieved. My blood pressure wasn’t “critical” but they were concerned it would reach that point. I tried all the “natural” and alternative methods to bring it down, Brewers diet, etc, nothing really worked. My doctors told me that true Pre-Eclampsia is not “curable” other than to deliver the baby, and I’m a bit skeptical still when I’m told you can cure it with alternative methods.
The day after my appointment, a Friday, I began to feel what felt like back ache/cramps, coming and going. Little did I know I was in very early labour, but I had a sudden burning desire to walk about, and I walked 2 miles, to Richmond and back, I just needed to walk. I came home, and spent a restless night, not sleeping, cursing my “sore” back. I got up, on the Saturday morning, and again, felt weird cramps. I ate breakfast, stood up from the table, and felt a huge gush of water. I thought “great, now I’ve wet myself”, and started to laugh, but Charles gently pointed out that actually, he thought my waters had broken. Mild panic ensued. We rang the hospital, my midwife told me to come in, to be checked and they’d see where we went from there.
Off we go, to the hospital. I was having mild contractions, not painful, but I could feel them. We arrived, were checked in, the midwife confirmed that my waters had indeed broken, but because my blood pressure was a concern, they admitted me and assigned me a student midwife, to monitor me, help me walk about, if I needed. Charles was sent home, and told, “it’s going to be a long time” (I was put in a special ward for monitoring, he wasn’t allowed to stay, I regret this, and should have kicked up more fuss, it added to my stress levels) after 6 hours, my contractions were becoming painful, and more regular, and my midwife was surprised, and told me that it probably wouldn’t be as long as they’d thought, originally. My father and brother came up to visit at this point, and my brother sneaked me in a can of cola (I wasn’t allowed anything but water, another thing I found stressful, and illogical) and held my hand and kept saying “it must be really sore?”. I had a birthing ball, and used that to get comfortable. I had called Charles, who had gone home to do some last-minute baby preparations and grocery shopping, and he came back to be with me. The unit was very busy, and I was becoming frustrated, because I wanted to be able to labour in private, not surrounded by other pregnant women, and I was tired and wanted to shower. They kept telling me my room would be ready “soon”. Eventually they came and transferred me across to the delivery area. At this point I was having very painful, hard contractions, and my blood pressure was rising slowly. I was tired, anxious, in pain, and after seeing the midwife and OB, we decided I would have an epidural. I had been given two doses of IV Magnesium Sulphate for my blood pressure, but it had made me feel so nauseous, I refused a 3rd dose and opted for the epidural, which they hoped would bring my BP down. The anaesthetist had been called to an emergency c-section, so he took a while to come, but eventually he arrived. I can say that trying to lie still, in a curved over position, whilst hugely pregnant, having painful, hard contractions so a needle can be inserted into your spine, is not something I want to experience again. The epidural kicked in, and I was able to relax, I slept for an hour or so, and Charles went to get some food. My blood pressure was still high, and the OB came in and had me sign forms to consent for a caesarean section, because they felt that I may need one, if they couldn’t bring my BP down, and Emily didn’t make progress and arrive. I was examined at about 10pm, (my waters broke at 830am that morning) and my midwife announced that she thought I’d be pushing soon. I could feel nothing, I only knew I was having a contraction by watching the monitor I was attached to, and also see Emily’s heart beat change as a contraction hit. At about 11pm, I started to feel very restless, even more anxious, and dizzy. I was numb from waist to feet, but felt like I wanted to “push”, so everyone got ready, and the fun began. Pushing whilst numb, with no sensation is almost impossible, but somehow, my body knew what to do. I began to push. After about ten minutes, panic seemed to ensue. My blood pressure rose very fast, and the midwife and OB were telling me not to push. They were concerned about Emily’s position. Unfortunately, I couldn’t help myself, and I pushed, and she literally shot out, into my midwives hands. I think I may have passed out, briefly, but I do remember her being handed to me. I was crying, Charles was crying, we were relieved she had arrived. I tried to breastfeed her, and whilst I attempted to latch her, she stopped breathing and went pale blue in colour and floppy. The midwives whisked her away, and rubbed her, gave her some Oxygen, and she started breathing and screaming. She’d had some mucous in her airway, which hadn’t cleared, so they suctioned her airway, and she seemed to be ok and started to breathe again. I don’t think I’ve ever felt such a moment of agony, waiting to hear her cry, to know she was alright after our ordeal. In the meantime, I was cause for concern. I was bleeding, very heavily, because Emily, had been face up, with her hand up, and had come out too fast, she had torn me. I had a 3-4th degree tear, and serious internal damage. The decision was made to send me straight into surgery, and I was wheeled away, leaving my new baby with her anxious Daddy. All I can remember of the surgery is apologising for being a nuisance, and the anaesthetist giving me morphine, and topping up my epidural and playing Queen and George Michael music for me, while I was repaired, and they got the bleeding under control. I was given a blood transfusion, and after 2.5 hours, they were happy everything was under control and my surgery was complete. I was wheeled into a recovery room, to be re-united with a very relieved Charles and my baby. They settled me, after I breastfed her, then Charles went home, at about 3am. I was kept in hospital for 3 days, to monitor me, and make sure my blood pressure came down (which it did, within 24 hours, it had gone from 190/95 – the peak it hit to 120/60 – normal) when I got home, I weighed myself. I lost 28lb in 4 days, all the fluid and swelling had gone, I could see my feet, wear normal shoes, and walk normally. Unfortunately, I was already beginning to struggle with anxiety, I couldn’t get the idea of Emily stopping breathing and going blue and floppy out of my head, and I was in considerable pain from the delivery and surgery.
But, we had a healthy, beautiful baby girl. 7lb 3oz, born at 11:32pm, after a long and difficult journey. I can’t believe she’s almost 6, nor can I imagine life without her.
Emily’s birth was traumatic, and we made decisions after her birth about how we would do things, when and if we had another baby. I don’t blame anyone, the maternity unit was incredibly busy that day/night, and whilst there are some things I don’t agree with (not allowing me to eat, sending Charles away) and that I wouldn’t do again (I chose not to have an epidural with Matthew, I believe it rendered me “unfeeling” so I couldn’t control and help myself during Em’s fast delivery) and at one point I considered an elective cesarean section for Matthew’s birth, because I was scared of what might happen again. I had issues for nearly months after birth, pain, discomfort, healing problems, due to the damage and surgery, and was terrified it would happen again or be made worse. The medical staff were kind and efficient, and when it came to the emergency part of my delivery and my care afterwards, I couldn’t have been in safer hands, so it balanced itself out. As I recovered and healed from the PPD and PPA I was able to come to peace about what happened and forgive myself and others, which was important. I’m not sure we could have had more children if I hadn’t.
Emily Louise 30/12/2006 11:32pm 7lb30z