Womens stories 3

Dani’s story


Rewind 5 years.....my first successful pregnancy. All was perfectly fine, I was excited, and was totally enjoying bonding with my wriggling baby. It wasn't until about week 25, I think, that my blood pressure was high and I got put on medication to help keep it under control. As the weeks progressed, my body started ballooning out into some form of the Michelin man, and later, protein was detected in my urine, and that word "pre-eclampsia" got slung my way. But, it was ok, they would keep checking me and baby regularly and all would be well. I was in for day care practically every other day which was actually lovely being able to hear baby's heart beat so often! It wasn't until week 30 that I started to feel really unwell. I was so tired my body literally wouldn't let me move. I felt so low and emotional. My speech became affected and slurred.

By week 35 I'd been admitted into hospital. My protein levels were rising, my blood pressure wasn't good, and they could see I was blowing up like a balloon. That first night, I told them something didn't feel right, so on the monitor went and I had to collect all my urine (any woman will tell you all your dignity goes out the window when you're pregnant!)

At about midnight I called my husband and asked him to come up to the hospital and park up outside just in case. I knew i didn't feel right, and bless him, he did. He drove around the car park for all of 15mins before he got a call saying I was having an eclamptic seizure and was being rushed in for an emergency c- section.
The rest of it is a bit of a blur. I remember my husband having to hold my shaking body tight so they could get the epidural in safely. I remember lots of cannulas and people around me everywhere, and a burning sensation taking over every part of my body.....

Anyway, I'm not wanting to scare you, and I know many women out there that have their own birth trauma stories, but this really did affect me (still to this day it makes me cry). I gave birth that night to a gorgeous scrawny little 4lb 7oz girl that was quickly whisked away from me. I still think the trauma affected me and my bond with my little girl. I ended up with PTSD, I was very unwell. I hated everyone, and not a bone in my body could bring myself to bond with this new little being. I remember a time when she was about 6 months old, when I suddenly felt a rush of love overtake me as I cuddled her to sleep, and thought, this is it!! I DO love her! (Please, if you don't feel an instant bond, know that you're totally not alone! It's totally normal to experience a complete wave of emotions. Your body has been through something massive, and your mind and hormones don't just forget overnight. Be honest with your midwife, family.... talk about it.)

Moving on to 4 years ago....yes just a year after my little girl! (glutton for punishment!)....I gave birth to identical twin boys. This pregnancy took its complete toll on my body physically. Anyone whose carried multiples will tell you that you end up feeling like you need scaffolding support for your bump just to move in the end! Anyway, the boys were well and healthy, but once again pre-eclampsia symptoms set in. It was too risky to let me go full term, and so at 34 weeks (on Halloween) my little 5lb 12oz and 5lb 13oz boys were introduced into the world by another emergency c section. Although it was an emergency though, the whole experience was so much more controlled, calm, and everyone introduced themselves in the operating theatre. It wasn't what I'd planned, but overall it was a breeze compared to my previous birth.

I still suffered from depression following this birth, but I think that was mainly down to having to cope with 2 new-borns in special care baby unit and a 14 month old at home. Now that was hard work!!! Splitting yourself up between children that all need you at the same time is draining without having to recover from being sliced open!

Onto my 4th and final child (yes, this WILL be my last, honest!). I made a reluctant pact with my consultant (the consultant being the reluctant one), to leave me until my due date if everything went well in the pregnancy. Understandably, they wanted me to have a c section at 37 weeks because of my previous complications at birth. I said if me and baby were well this time that I'd like to try and have a natural delivery. Well, as you can imagine, this didn't go down well with any of the consultants I came into contact with during my pregnancy. After all, a natural birth following 2 c sections is nearly unheard of; never mind my previous complications being thrown into the mix!
After a lot of reading up about vaginal birth after a caesarean section and speaking to the midwives about it, I always had the knowledge and answers I needed to back up my birth plan. So when they finally agreed for me to go full term I was ecstatic! The agreement being, that they would book a c section in for my due date. If I didn't go into natural labour by then, I agreed I would follow their recommendation. After my mother and sisters going into labour 1-2 weeks early each time I thought this was a small price to pay....I mean, surely I'd follow suit right??!

Four days before my due date I started to panic. My window to have a natural birth was slowly closing in on me. My blood pressure had been a bit iffy at different appointments (I still think this was mainly because I was stressing about the up and coming cesarean that was booked). I really wish that pressure hadn't been put on me!
Anyway, a lovely midwife at the hospital said to me, why don’t you have a stretch and sweep to help things along. This had never been offered to me, and I was so grateful for her suggestion and willingness to help me. Honestly, if it weren't for the midwives encouraging me to follow my birth wishes throughout, I think I would have given up the battle at the first few hurdles!
After a lot of toing and froing with the consultants, my lovely local midwife was allowed to give me a stretch and sweep, and finally and I had hope again!
It got to the afternoon the day before the big due day! I was so upset nothing had happened. I picked my eldest child up from school and once the kids were all eating dinner I sloped off upstairs for a secret cry. I don't think I'd sobbed so hard in a long time. Every emotion I'd held in throughout the whole pregnancy came out, and it came out so hard it had given me a stomach ache! No sooner had I got back downstairs and my waters started leaking. I initially thought I'd wet myself. After all, everyone had told me I'd know when my waters broke, it's a massive gush! Let me tell you, that's not always the case. Mine continually leaked like this right into the evening, and I rang the labour ward and was soon in the hospital having my first contractions. I felt the biggest sense of relief! Not because c sections are awful in any way, but just simply because I wanted to experience a natural birth, because this was the birth I'd been planning since 6 years ago!

I was advised against pain relief due to my previous c sections. They needed me to be completely coherent during labour so I could feel any possible uterine rupture. So with the little help of gas and air, I was left to let my body do its thing over night, and it was amazing!!!! Everything i hoped it would be! Painful, yes, oh the pain!!...... but it was just what I wanted. I was in complete awe of my own body! The midwives let us take photos of the whole experience. They were so encouraging, and my little 6lb 7oz girl was born 3 minutes before my c section was booked that morning! I was in a complete bubble of love and the bond between us was out of this world! The midwives left us all together in the dim lit room and I'll never forget the peace I felt in that moment.

I owe the KGH Midwifery team a humongous THANK YOU for all of their support throughout all of my pregnancies/ births (some of which I wouldn't still be here if it hadn't been for them!) THANK YOU xxx

Womens stories 3