‘Sometimes the best moments in life are the ones you didn’t plan at all’
No truer word has been spoken and this goes for child-birth as well.
When I was pregnant with my daughter; I religiously practised yoga, meditation and anything else I could think of to ensure I had a ‘perfect labour’. I’m not entirely sure the ‘perfect ‘labour’ actually exists, but this goes some way to highlight my naivety at childbirth at this stage in my life.
My birthing plan was pretty much to Om that baby out while listening to soothing whale music and spending the best part of my labour in a birthing pool; whilst my husband looked on admiringly at the miracle of birth. Pah!
Ironically my ideology of what labour would be like totally went out the window when at 34 weeks pregnant my waters broke in the early hours of the morning. Ladies; if you ever want to see a man jump out of bed quickly; tell him you think you’ve either wet the bed or your waters have just broken. I did both.
In my confusion the two thoughts that went through my head were, bloody hell I’m glad I washed and straightened my hair the night before and total mortification at not being as bikini ready as I would have ordinarily liked to have been.
Tut Tut; don’t judge me ladies; to state the bloody obvious; I was delusional, in denial and totally naive having previously never given birth.
For any woman that has given birth will tell you; that is the last thing on your mind while you’re birthing a very small person out of your body.
We arrived at the hospital at 5:30.am where I was immediately scanned and told our baby girl was breech and that I would need have a cesarean birth. I was monitored continuously and my contractions strengthened and naturally I was delighted when the midwives introduced me to the joy that is gas and air which, according to my husband – I took to a little too well and from that point on the entire experience passed me by in a nitrous oxide induced stupor.
By 9:00.am I was contracting every few minutes and our little girl was getting distressed so, they began prepping me for surgery.
I’m not sure even at this stage whether the seriousness of the events had really sunk in. My husband certainly wasn’t looking on admiringly and despite his total horror at what was happening, his focus was to keep me calm at all times and he hid his panic well.
The risk factors were discussed and we were told exactly what would be happening once we arrived in theatre. Up until this point I had never had stitches, broken a bone or spent any length of time in a hospital.
Apparently I signed some disclosure paperwork, or so my husband tells me and we were told exactly what would happen in theatre, at which point I nodded assuring the doctors I had understood everything that was said to me ( I didn’t ) and then I was rushed straight in. The one hazy image that sticks in my mind all these years later is the ceiling lights in the corridor as I was wheeled down the hall.
I was given an epidural in my spine, managing to get a little meditation in while they inserted the needle. My husband entered next, dressed in his finest scrubs. Being a massive Greys Anatomy fan; Dr Derek Shepherd (may he rest in peace) had some serious competition and all I needed was Dr Mark Sloan to enter and we would have had ourselves a serious party.
The gas and air had obviously kicked in at this point
I am vaguely aware of a lot of faces staring down at me and rushing around. There was no whale music, no birthing pool and no deep breathing.
Our daughter was born at 12.22.pm and as they held her tiny body over me, I managed a brief glimpse and touched her beautiful face before she was whisked away in an incubator to the NICU ward where she remained for the next 19 days.
Second time around my birthing plan was:
A) Get baby out as safely as possible
B) See point A above
Our son was born at 35 weeks via cesarean birth because, he too was breech and because of further complications I was put under general anaesthetic and missed his birth entirely.
I speak with many women about their birthing experience; us women love to talk about the day our children entered the world and I never tire of talking about it myself. Time goes by so quickly and I think its therapeutic to talk over our experiences.
Whilst many women are happy with their birthing experience; there are many that feel disappointed angry and sadly guilty that their experience did not go entirely to plan.
It’s completely normal and understandable to have these feelings, however, below are some steps you may take to help you come to terms with your birthing experience when it doesn’t go to plan.
Firstly a Birth Plan is a document that you’ll discuss with your midwife or doctor which lets you go through your preferences for your birth and how to manage your labour pain. However its important to remember that you cannot control every aspect of labour and delivery. The best thing to do is keep an open mind and remain flexible should your medical team need to move away from your original plan.
There are some amazing support groups out there and the one site that really stands out is the Seleni Institute
I have added a link above to their site for any ladies who are struggling to come to terms with their birthing experience.
The Seleni Institute is a nonprofit organisation that was founded by Nitzia and George Logothetis in 2011 to de-stigmatise and transform mental health and wellness. They do this by addressing real-life issues that challenge the emotional health of women, men, and their families, including: pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, infertility/third-party reproduction, miscarriage, stillbirth, menopause, parenting, and child loss.
- It sounds so obvious but please don’t hide your feelings. Its important to be honest with your self and to share your thoughts and feelings with your family and surround support system. Your family/ friends/ partner are going to be there to ensure you come to terms with the situation.
- Talk, talk and talk some more. By processing the experience it can help you to reduce any guilt or anger you may be experiencing.
- The most crucial advice; please do not blame yourself. I still find it shocking the unbelievably ignorant and judgemental comments I see and hear, especially on social media. How easy it is for women to pass judgement when they’re sat hiding behind a computer screen. I’ve never quite worked that one out. The pressures we put upon ourselves to have a ‘good birthing experience’ is not realistic and for anyone that strives for control this can cause many issues to arise.
- People in your life may have differing views; filter out the negative comments and focus your attention on yourself and your own health and well-being.
- Focus on the positives; your beautiful baby and draw from your strengths. The strength it sometimes takes to let go of that ideology you have about a vaginal birth is what will get you through. Coming to terms with the realisation that a cesarean birth was in fact the best option for both you and your baby takes a huge amount of strength.
Did you struggle with unplanned intervention and how did you overcome this? Share your experiences with us; I’d love to hear from you.
Have a fabulous weekend ladies and wishing you all a happy, healthy and harmonious pregnancy.