It's literally, two years and three days after my previous VBA2C x2 birth. The same birth I shouldn't have made it through because apparently, my uterus was going to rupture. I'm apparently overweight, and I'm ill-prepared to birth my baby vaginally. Not to mention I'm hyper-anxious (Something a midwife wrote in my notes).
This is the story of many women before me and a present story many women are still facing today.
I'm currently 5 1/2 months pregnant with my 5th baby, and although I believe companies are working hard to change how women experience birth by focusing on educating women on their rights and the process of birth, we're still not entirely their yet.
And we can see a shift in the birth scene globally.
A few organisations working hard to change the birth culture seen today, to encourage women to have better birth and postnatal experiences:
Naturelle VBAC, AMANIBirth.com VBAC.Com, Specialscars.org Spinningbabies.com by Gail Tully, Birthrights.org.uk MuslimchildbirthNetwork.org
And there are much more...
We get so worked up over what we want, that we fail to see in the UK, and many other countries internationally, women are being failed by their care providers. Our care providers, the professionals and organisation we should have absolute trust in are failing us by not supporting us or giving us the best care we truly need.
Many women who've had c-sections previously feel anxious, nervous, uncertain about their decisions, about where to birth, about the type of support they require and what to do to have a successful VBAC.
My words may come across weird, but according to the hospital and medical team I saw during my pregnancies, I'm writing to you as a dead woman who shouldn't be here, alive.
I'm looking at the eyes and body of my son that shouldn't be here either, causing absolute havoc in my living room as I'm writing this. But somehow, blinking somehow, we're here, and we didn't die, and I had my VBAC.
I was told everything you can imagine to sway me off of my path to have a vaginal birth after c-section
1. My baby did fit through my pelvis and out my vagina 2. My baby wasn't a large baby over 10lbs as predicted by my scan ( He was actually 6lbs 40z) 3. I didn't have a uterine rupture 4. I didn't have gestational diabetes even though my midwife told me I did and I'm over weight and that my blood pressure was high indicating I had gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia 5. I did have bright red blood during labour but it came out with my mucus plug, and I am fine now 6. I didn't have a repeat c-section either
IM ALIVE! Alive!
It's a blinking miracle. Actually, I don't believe in miracles. I believe everything has been written way before we came into existence. But that's another blog for another website.. lol The reason I'm starting this like this is because all we hear as VBAC mums is what other people think and not what the facts points out to us. Even evidence-based trials can be someone else's reality and not your own because everybody is unique and every uterus is different, and we cant judge everyone's situations based on 1-yardstick.
With that being said, women need to listen to advice, but after all, the decision lies down with those women. How they choose to give birth and who they choose to support them is up to them.
Birth professionals whether midwives, obstetricians or doulas like myself should listen and respect that. Although I've had 2x VBA2C, I don't stick to one narrative and conclude that one hat fits all, because it doesn't.
I like to listen to the mother's whole experience because somewhere in her story will reveal why she ended up with her c-sections and why she's going through this experience, why she has a particular emotion circulating her and most importantly what interventions will be best to get her to that place of healing.
Many women birth normally, but we've become a nation of interventions, and medical trials which in my opinion and based on a few guidelines can be incredibly destructive to a mothers birth experience and outcome.
When I think about my 2nd birth experience which was a c-section birth, I remember not being listened to by the care providers I was under. They wheeled me down to the operating room to undergo a c-section whilst I was screaming and shouting. I was forcefully put to sleep, my husband was sent out and everyone felt the pressure. For what?? I'm still trying to work out other than the fact that they cause the emergency for themselves.
1. Sweep at 35 Weeks
Giving me a sweep at 35 weeks gestation.
That led to my waters going and obviously we know that if your babies not ready to be born theres nothing you can do but start the heavy intervention process.
Not many women from my experience know much about their bodies and how they react to pregnancy the 2nd time around. So that was also partly my issue. I wasn't told to just wait for labour but prepare for it. I was left to go under the radar like I am once again.
2. 24hrs to get things rocking!
I was given 24hrs to get labour started. No one told me what to do or how to do it. They sent me home and said the times starts now.. Of course me and google became the best of friends and I religiously spent 24hrs doing a massive exercise circuit to get things started. Things like intercourse are out of the question because the risk of infection being introduced once your waters have gone is a NO, NO!
3. Inductions / Interventions
I was given an induction of labour. I had everything you can possibly think of. Pessaries lodged in my vagina, drips, you name it, I had it. And with all of that stuff comes pain relief. It started out as gas and air and we went on to epidurals which I had control of via a handheld monitor.
No one told me the epidural will reduce my movement and stop me from pushing my baby out. It felt like a setup but as I said earlier my lack of understanding meant I was not well informed to make the right choices about the type of labour best for me.
4. Strapped to the bed like I was in prison or so it seemed.
I felt hopeless. My legs in stirrups. I felt like I was in the fetal position. Struggling to breath, struggling to get my baby out. I felt as though I failed my labour and birth. I failed my body and my baby. I was a failure...
5. My vagina was the exhibition for student male and female midwives
As my birth started to go pair shape. I just remember about 6 people, student midwives, obstetricians walk in. My vagina was on display and I felt so uncomfortable. Before I could speak the male obstetricians hands were embedded inside me. I felt very violated. I felt robbed of my privacy, birth experience and my woman and human rights in Childbirth.
6. Loss of blood & No blood transplant
After the c-section I was in and out of sleep. I was handed this baby and struggled to connect with him. I knew I had a baby but because I didn't see my baby being delivered, I couldn't believe he was my baby.
I was in and out of sleep because I lost so much blood 700ml to be exact and I couldn't stay awake. Nonetheless, no one came round to check on me. I was just left to suffer on my own. I could barely stay awake even after hours of being in this partly unconscious state. Somehow I still managed to breastfeed my son successfully but it took a lot out of me.
7. Hot, Swollen and cant breathe
If what I've explained before isn't a lot to deal with, my stomach was hot, HUGE and I was showing signs of infection. A few days after the operation, I went back to the hospital because I didn't feel right. I felt so ill but the surgeons wouldn't see me to double check my abdomen was ok. I wasn't ok. The c-section wire the surgeons used to close the wound, was so tight, my skin grew over the beads they used to fasten the wire. I had to have my c-section scar slightly cut on each side after my c-section. It was soooo painful.
The midwife who came to see my at my house postnatally, was concerned about me. She sent me back to the hospital but they refused to see me. They put me on antibiotics and some of the symptoms went away. I was finally told I had blood and fluid in my abdomen but I was given nothing to make it better. Years later after waiting to be seen by a stomach specialist told me my c-section scar wasn't closed properly leaving blood and fluid in my abdomen and I now have an incisional Hernia. Where the muscle pushes out through the opening the surgeons didn't close..
8. Postnatal Depression
As much as I loved my children, I found it hard to understand what i'd just been through. I guess you could say everything from the experience of the birth, the words the midwives were saying to me, everything made me feel horrible about myself, my birth and my life. My marriage nearly broke down. I became very anxious, tearful and although I didn't have feelings of hurting myself or my baby, (Which can be the extreme symptoms of postnatal depression). I had feelings of I need to protect my baby. Things like i hope he doesn't fall out the car seat or what if he fell out the cot or choked on breast milk.
This c-section experience nearly killed me as a woman and as a mother.
Somehow I managed to regain myself after finding out for the 3rd time I was in fact pregnant. This time I done the research, found the evidence and I started an organisation to empower women to have VBAC births.
PART 2 COMING NEXT MONTH
Please share this blog with other woman who've experienced my experience or to women who are planning a VBAC, so they don't make the mistakes I did...
What experiences have you been through??
Share your experiences below