When I was 18 I fell pregnant with my first daughter. I’m 4ft 10 and then I was a size 6 so a very very small build (my now husband is 6ft4 need I say more lol).
They discovered she was breech at 35 weeks with a following scan at 36 to double check. The awkward little bugger was in such a rare position they were a bit confused by it- she had her bum and one leg/foot slightly engaged and her head and other foot completely jammed under my ribs. As a follow up we had a consultant meeting where they pretty much told us there wasn’t a chance in hell they could turn her because of her position and my size. They offered a turning procedure but he kept saying how it probably wouldn’t work and it would just cause me pain and our daughter distress, because of this I opted not to have one and go ahead with a planned section.
I had no knowledge of any other information at that point in time and was very young and naive, I believed they must be right because they were medical professionals. It’s only now I look back and realise how little information they gave me and how much they swayed any decisions I had. I also made the decision on a young and naive perspective of “yay, I’ll get to see her sooner”, and supposedly it was the easy way out as the media portrayed. How foolish I was. I had no one to talk to about sections, and nowhere for information, I literally was walking in blind.
At 38 weeks, with still no planned c-section booked, my waters broke naturally at home. I panicked, I hadn’t been told what to do if this happened, we rang the hospital and they got us straight up there. I had a check two hours after my waters broke and was 5cm. After an hour of monitoring I couldn’t feel any contractions at all, I hadn’t had any medication, but the midwives insisted that they were coming thick and fast. I became somewhat of a talking point. I insisted an hour later that they needed to check again – I felt like they were just standing around chin-wagging while I was in full panic mode. I didn’t know what was going to happen or why I couldn’t feel the contractions, I thought it was my fault, that I must have done something wrong. They checked again and after just an hour I was now 8cm.
They all flustered, I had people coming in and injecting me, people taking my BP etc. People fussed around me; I don’t even know what they were doing, and all this time no one explained anything to me. It was so busy – the women with the section form was standing at the back in the corner literally shouting across what it said. I don’t even remember signing it and could not tell you what it said to this day with everything going on around me.
They ordered a wheelchair to take me to the theatre but I refused, I wanted to walk. I remember the women looking at me like I was crazy, and treating me like a china doll that would break any minute the whole way down. I remember wanting the control, I didn’t know what was going on, I was scared and nervous and the choice to walk I still had control over. That was my decision, it was my way of putting my stamp on things. I could walk in my own time (much to the women’s dismay) and take it all in. It gave me that precious few moments to breathe before they all nagged and tugged and pulled at me again.
I got to theatre, sat up on the bed and had the spinal. I laid down. I was terrified. Never In my life had I been somewhere like that, and they wanted to operates on me?! I remember thinking “but only pooly people get operated on and I’m not poorly. I just want to have my baby” but that was shut away pretty quickly as I was struggling to breathe.
They had not taken into account my height or small frame and had given me too much in the spinal. It had begun to paralyse the use of my lungs. Again they all flustered and shouted clinical things I didn’t understand at each other. I remember one women with an ice cube on my chest, she kept rubbing it over and over asking if I could still feel it. I remember looking at her like “duh, yeah, I did just say that…”, she was annoying me and scaring me. She kept fiddling with things and pushing and prodding me (I realise now she was probably making sure the spinal didn’t reach my heart or anything vital). Whilst all this was going on my daughter was born.
The surgeon proudly pronounced that it was the fastest section he had ever done, six minutes flat. I personally felt this was rude and uncalled for, I was not a timed peice of meat. I was scared and no one was telling me anything. The section itself as any other cesarean women will tell you is such a surreal feeling, you can feel the hands of someone else internally, inside you, moving around and you have no control over it. Then wooosh, baby just plops out, that little thing that has taken residence the last 9 months just woosh, taken straight out. It doesn’t descend slowly or bubble out with love, just woosh and out. Nothing more and nothing less in my experience.
They told me she was ok and took her to the table to be weighed, suddenly nothing else in that room mattered, just her and her wonderful little screaming lungs. I strained to see her, people kept touching her. I wanted to hold her. They brought her over and told us her weight and allowed my partner to hold her. I got to see an eye and a nose from my angle, I just wanted to squeeze her with love but I couldn’t.
My partner and my daughter left and I was stitched up. I went on to see her and cuddle her in the after care waiting place. Later I got frustrated because I couldn’t get her myself on the ward, I couldn’t do things a mum should be doing because of my section and I started to resent it. I did not in a million years expect the pain or burning that accompanied the section. It was NOT the easy way out! I refused to stay in hospital, I wanted my partner and I wanted to be at home in my own bed.
I astounded staff my checking all their needed check points in record time. Even with my increased spinal, just 8 hours after having her I got out of bed and attempted to walk. They insisted I couldn’t but I proved them wrong and insisted I was ok, an hour later taking first shower alone and unassisted. It was hard. Really really hard – words fail me. I didn’t want to tell them. I stayed in there well over an hour not because I wanted to but because I was stuck and refused to tell them different. I wanted to go home. I left the shower room and proudly strode (as well as I could) back to my bed with my head held high. I made sure the nurses seen it.
Naively I didn’t know you bled after a section I thought they sucked it out for you in the procedure. That was a shock going to the toilet! But I gave the nurses a sample (I over heard another women in the day and assumed I was meant to with my first wee luckily), and just over 24 hours after the procedure I was home, safe, in the arms of my partner with our new baby girl and happy.
Looking back I wish I had a page like Birth Without Fear. I wish I had of known where to get information and not been so naive about it. I wish there was more awareness as they just expect you to know. And most of all I wish more than anything someone had of told me how having a section can change everything in subsequent pregnancies, like the birth of my little boy 14 months later – a failed VBAC story but that’s for another day! I wish I’d have had the knowledge about breech babies and Spinning Babies so that I could have made my own informed decision. Both my births might have been entirely different, but I wouldn’t be the strong minded person I am today without them.
I am strong because after all the trauma in both my births and suffering from PND after having my second child I can look back and be thankful for it all. It has made me the person I am today. Strong and empowered. It’s not often enough I get to talk about my first birth experience.