“I felt I had made all the decisions”

A positive caesarean story

I had set my heart on a VBAC after having had an emergency c-section at 42 +1 first time round. The birth was to be in hospital as, for many reasons it couldn’t be at home. 

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I had several sweeps after my due date, refused induction initially at 41 weeks +5 but relented to medical pressure and was induced at 42 weeks against by better judgment. After 24 hours of failing induction, dilation of only 2cm and posterior cervix, and increasing fetal distress I had an emergency c section, which didn’t go well. 

Just before the section I had been given an epidural in a last ditch effort to have a vaginal birth by numbing me and increasing the syntocinon drip beyond what I could stand on gas and air. The epidural drugs had not fully infused when the decision to operate was made, so my pain relief had to be estimated which was a scary prospect in itself. Then during the operation it began to wear off. I was given medication as soon as my daughter was born to numb me once again but this made me feel sick, caused a massive blood pressure drop and a temperature spike. I couldn’t focus on my baby and didn’t really see her. There was no way I could have skin to skin because I felt so hot so my husband cuddled her and calmed her as best he could. 

As the surgeon began to sew my uterus up the suture needle tip broke off somewhere inside me. A scary situation turned into a nightmare as more doctors flooded into the room. Over the next 40 mins my body was pulled about, parts lifted and replaced but the needle tip was never found. Needless to say it was a traumatic experience that I didn’t want to repeat. 

So with my second pregnancy, when I went overdue again I was not panicked, I had researched post dates and post term pregnancy and was happy. Also spoke to Milli of the Positive Birth Movement who was tremendously reassuring. I was going to have my vbac and it was going to be great.

I again refused induction at 41weeks +5 and started monitoring, then had a sweep at 42 weeks +1 which seemed to trigger early labour. I was SO excited, finally it was all happening. Contractions increased and I kept moving. I went into hospital but when I wasn’t moving around the contractions tailed off. After a very poorly worded conversation with a registrar who didn’t bother to read my birth plan or history it seemed, contractions stopped and my labour stalled. A more useful conversation with a senior consultant, gave us chance to take stock. We went home talked through what had happened with a close friend and went through our options. Elective c-section the next day, induction or wait and see. We decided to wait and see what happened as I couldn’t face induction followed by another emergency c-section , but as the 43 week mark was approaching we had major concerns. I was not happy to go beyond 43 weeks so decided if nothing happened by 42+5 then I would have the section but this time on my terms.

To my utter delight I lost my plug in the shower at around 11pm that night and 20 mins later my waters went. I was ecstatic!!! Called the hospital to tell them what had happened and we were not going in until the morning. Went to sleep excited and happy, and also wet and contracting again. At 4am woke up but didn’t feel any movements for nearly an hour so went into hospital was relieved to hear the baby’s heart beat, decided to stay and labour in hospital. Had a vaginal exam to see how far I was when I arrived but my birth plan stated no more unless I asked and they were respectful of my wishes and didn’t ask. I had asked repeatedly to be midwife led care and although I was in the consultant led birth pool room they left us alone, and lovely midwife looked after me. Contractions increased for several hours but then tailed off and stopped again. I couldn’t believe it, labour stalled again. I was examined by my midwife for a second time and was still 2cm posterior, long cervix….exactly how I was went I came into hospital and coincidently the same as I was after full induction procedures with my first. 

This is when we got stuck. My waters had gone and policy was to give antibiotics to prevent infection and wait for labour or induce but I still didn’t want induction after last time and I was also at higher risk of uterine rupture due to previous section so they didn’t want to induce either. The wait and see option was not comfortable to me as I was now 42+3 and the consultants were obviously not keen. My other choice was c section that night or in the morning after antibiotics. All the options seemed rubbish.

I turned again to The Positive Birth Movement to find out more about the antibiotics and my options. I didn’t want to have unnecessary antibiotics if I didn’t need to and wanted to know more about them. If I wasn’t going to labour properly and have a c section anyway didn’t want to adversely affect my little baby’s delicate gut if I didn’t have to. The PBM posted my question on facebook and I had a whole host of women offering advice and information as my story unfolded. 

We decided to wait overnight for section, hoped that labour would kick in in the meantime, and not to have antibiotics as I wasn’t being ve-ed repeatedly.

It broke my heart and was the scariest thing I have ever done, but after a night in hospital with very few contractions lying curled up with my husband we decided it was best for us to have a semi elective gentle section. 

Another section was the last thing I would have chosen at the beginning of my pregnancy, in fact, we were not going to have anymore children if that was our only option. We decided to play hypnotherapy birth music in the theatre, delay cord clamping for 2 mins, for the baby not to be cleaned, no immediate weighing or vit k injection until after the first feed and having my baby straight onto my chest. It made all the difference. 

I felt I had made the decisions during this birth as opposed to having them forced upon me, or seemingly completely removed like in my first birth. I walked into that operating theatre with tears in my eyes as I lost the birth I had dreamed of, but as a healthy, crying 10lb baby boy was put on my chest in theatre and was calmed by my heartbeat and gentle touch I felt empowered, and that I had done the best for my little man.

I am sure I would have eventually gone into labour but I am not sure about how healthy my little boy would have been at that point as the placenta showed significant signs of deterioration at his birth. If I had been told before I was pregnant I would have another c section, we wouldn’t have our beautiful little boy in our life and I would only have my negative recollections of my daughters birth. I hoped that my second birth would heal the emotional wounds of first by giving birth vaginally and “properly”, but as it turns out this birth is healing me in a way I could not have expected. I had the excitement of my waters breaking and joy they were clear not full of meconium. I came to terms with the c section before having it rather than struggling emotionally for months afterwards. And most importantly, when I look at my sleeping newborn I bubble over with love and gratitude he is here with me.