A tale of two births

After I had Alexandra, there was obviously a very extended recovery time from all of the physical things that had happened to me relating to CAPS. That meant that the recovery from the actual birth (physical and emotional) was somewhat pushed aside and I’ve never really thought about my ‘birth experience’ that much – that was until after I’d had Max and I had something to compare it to.

On paper, while the postpartum experience with Alexandra was about as horrendous as it gets, the birth itself wasn’t totally awful. Around 27 hours from start of induction to birth, her heart rate slowed down, gas and air plus pethidine for pain relief, episiotomy and ventouse delivery. Not totally without its hitches but a lot better than some of the stories I’ve heard.

Compare that however to Max’s birth which was like a dream – okay the induction itself took a lot longer and even the time between my waters being broken and baby’s arrival was longer, but I got to actually push this baby out myself!

I felt totally in control, once I started listening to my body I pushed when I wanted to, I felt like I gave birth. With Alexandra’s birth I felt like the doctors had done it and I was almost a bystander. The gas and air didn’t do much for me – whereas with Max because I felt much more in control I was able to take in the proper amount of gas and really feel the effects of it. Yes I would have liked an epidural but in hindsight I’m pleased they didn’t get to me in time!

I felt a real sense of achievement after having Max and it was made even better by the fact I was able to get up and walk around very quickly after. Obviously it’s really helpful when you’re birthing a 4lb 13 long skinny thing who ‘slips out like an eel’ in the midwife’s words, but I still feel quite empowered by the whole experience.

Does that sound cheesy?
I guess I felt like my body let me down a bit last time, firstly by needing that assistance to get my baby here and secondly because I didn’t really know what I was doing and didn’t cope as well as I wanted to during labour. And then there was the whole organ failure thing afterwards.

So this time I was shit scared of giving birth. I felt like I was going to crumble completely and spend hours saying ‘I can’t do this’ like last time (and I mean not just during the transition phase like you’re meant to but through the whole thing practically). I just did not want to go through labour.

Now I am so so glad we didn’t end up with a c-section which was being talked about at one point (not that there’s anything wrong with a section, needs must!) but for me I almost needed that little ‘yes I did it’ moment after!

Having children and not dropping or breaking them (and hopefully not screwing them up too bad) is one of the biggest achievements any of us can list, but I’m actually really proud of giving birth to Max and it’s not often you catch me praising myself quite so liberally!

Crazy how you can have two births only 18 months apart and feel so differently about both.

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Having A Baby! My Birth Story

I can only describe my look here as 'relief'!

I can only describe my look here as ‘relief’!

My last post announced the arrival of my baby daughter Alexandra but I wanted to go into more detail for those who want to know what happened during the birth and afterwards. Warning: I will be fairly graphic about it all so maybe don’t read during dinner or if you don’t like (a small amount of) gore.

So I made it to 37+3 and other than the headaches I’d been experiencing for weeks, everything seemed to be running fairly smoothly. I went for a routine appointment with my midwife who said my blood pressure had gone up (it had been low throughout my pregnant) and there was some protein in my wee. The blood tests I’d had done at the hospital a couple of weeks previously had shown that my platelets were slightly lower than they’d like so she made the decision to do another blood test and see what was going on.

The following morning I had a call from her saying my platelets had dropped even further and I needed to go in to see the consultant at the hospital as I was showing a lot of the signs of preeclampsia. That afternoon I had my appointment where it was confirmed that’s what I had and decided I’d go in every other day for monitoring. If my blood pressure went up any further he said they’d induce me but they wanted to try and get me to 38 weeks if possible (this was the Thursday and I’d be 38 weeks on the Sunday).

The following day I didn’t feel very well at all so I went into the day assessment unit with my mom and as soon as they hooked me up to the blood pressure monitor I knew I wasn’t coming out of there without a baby – it had gone up even further and the consultant on that day said actually he was more concerned about my platelets so let’s induce!

I was transferred up to the antenatal ward where I was checked (cervix was soft at this point) and given the first lot of gel. They said it might take two or three to get me going but within an hour I was having regular tightenings and wondering how the hell I was going to get through labour if this first bit was so bad.

Dylan managed to finish up everything he had to do at work and home and then come down for what was a long night! I had a little walk around and a bath but neither of us got much sleep as he was sat in a chair for the night – although we managed to fit in the bed together for an hour’s nap near morning. Fast forward to 2pm and we’d sent him home to sleep and my mom had come back in, I was examined again and it was decided I was 1.5cm and my cervix was ready enough that my waters could be broken.

I was taken upstairs to the labour ward and my waters broken and put on a drip to get things going a bit more. Immediately I felt very out of control – like the midwives were controlling my labour not me (not because of what they were doing, they were great, I’d just got into a weird mindset about it all) and felt quite distressed. Dyl came back and my mom left for a while although she was back for the pushing bit (we hadn’t intended to have her there but things just worked out that way as we both wanted the extra support).

I went on the birth ball and Dylan encouraged me to keep mobile and do all the things we’d learned at our antenatal classes – although apparently I was moving round on the ball so violently I was in danger of knocking everything over. I was using solely gas and air at this point for pain relief and I didn’t feel like it was working but the midwife said I’d tell the difference if I didn’t use it for a contraction. We had a slightly comedy moment when the mouthpiece of the gas and air came off and we both completely panicked but luckily I got it back on again really quickly and could carry on using it through the contraction I was having.

I wasn’t meant to be examined for four hours but I begged them to do it an hour early at 5pm which I’m glad I did as it turned out I was 5cm dilated and could have some pain relief, although my options were limited cause of the platelets and blood pressure, so I had pethadine. I then can’t really remember anything until what must have been about twenty to seven.

In the meantime baby’s heart rate had started dropping and the midwife had pressed the buzzer prompting more medical staff to come in. I had my legs up in stirrups and could hear the doctor talked about EP which I knew meant episiotomy and it turned out they were going to use the ventouse to get her out. I really wasn’t very good at pushing at first but thankfully got myself a bit together in the end – although we had a slight mishap when the ventouse slipped off her head. Thankfully second time round it worked and less than a couple of minutes later our baby daughter was born!

She was put on my stomach for a while – the first thing I asked was whether she was really a girl! They got me to check and yes she was!’ – but then she needed a little bit of oxygen to get going, they said because of the shock of being born so quickly. I’d gone from 5cm to fully dilated (10cm) in an hour and a half and she was born half an hour later, so my recorded established labour is actually just under two hours.

I can’t remember where she went then but I think she was either with me or Dylan during the time I was getting stitched up – I asked how many stitches I was having and the doctor said ’20 but it’s only really one’ as it’s all in a row. I’m claiming 20 though! That was slightly painful and felt like he was stitching up my leg! So I had some gas and air during that which helped a little. After that (the placenta delivery I hadn’t even noticed!) the whole ‘birth’ business was done and it was time to start being a family and recovering from the labour.

Now there is a whole lot of drama to come but I’m going to have to split up the posts otherwise it’ll be the longest read ever! So I’ll grab some time soon to write up the first part of the post-birth story.

Harriet and Alexandra x