This is a story I've deliberately avoided telling. For a few reasons, the first being it is quite traumatic for me to recall. The second being, I would hate to scare any impressionable expecting mums. I don't want my story to scare women. Birth doesn't have to be traumatic, and with the right care, it shouldn't be traumatic.
There are alot of triggers in this story, it may bring up memories of your own birth trauma, so proceed with caution.
In hindsight, it wasn't the physical "complications" that were traumatic, rather it was the way I was treated during labour. The lack of care I received, the complete disregard for my privacy and lack of respect.
So I will jump right into it.
My first birth, was amazing. I gave birth in a birth centre, with a midwife I had known the entire pregnancy. I had a drug-free, intervention free birth. It was life changing.
I went into my second birth feeling excited to give birth again, remembering how empowering and amazing my first labour was. However, my second pregnancy was challenging, especially after my gestational diabetes diagnosis.(You can read about that here). Because of hospital policy categorising Gestation Diabetes as "High Risk" I was no longer allowed to be on the MGP program, which meant my dream of a water birth with the same midwife that had delivered my first was crushed.
After this huge blow (trust me, I cried for days), I explored other avenues, such as hiring a private midwife, however my husband decided it was really out of our budget and "surely the public hospital care wouldn't be so bad?".
I even had an offer to have a doula be present, but for god knows what stupid reason I decided not to (absolutely regretting that decision now).
Fast forward, my due date came and went. I was getting anxious as I was told bub had broad shoulders from my 32 week scan.
40 +1 I was offered a stretch and sweep (a doctor stretches the cervix and sweeps the membranes away from the cervix). I thought why the hell not.
After my appointment, I tried everything to give labour the best shot at starting. Curb walking, bouncing on the birth ball, nipple stimulation, hot food, you name it. Went to bed that night, and woke up an hour later to "POP" and gush, my waters had broken in bed. I was so excited, I thought this was it!
I messaged my student midwife straight away at 11pm, and because contractions hadn't started I decided to try to go back to sleep.
That didn't last long, 10 minutes later contractions started and quickly intensified.
I went to toilet and was alarmed, my waters had turned green. I knew exactly what that meant. I told my student midwife and we made the decision to head up to the hospital.
I laboured at home whilst waiting for my mother-in-law to come to the house to watch my son overnight.
My contractions were coming hard and fast, and once again it was all in my back.
When my mother-in-law arrived it was approximately 12:30 am, we got in the car and drove to the hospital (a whole 2 minutes from my house).
We met my student midwife and headed up to the birth suites. Because labour had taken me by surprise, I hadn't called the hospital. I figured it wouldn't be too much of an issue. I was wrong. They were extremely p*ssed off that I hadn't rung ahead. I immediately felt unwelcome and felt like a burden.
I was taken to the birth room and explained the situation with meconium stained liquor. I agree to the initial 20 minute trace on CTG but then requested intermittent monitoring so I could be free to mobilise.
My request was met with hostility! I was told it "wouldn't pick up any heart rate abnormalities".
I was then told I needed to be checked first, I begrudgingly obliged. I was only 4 cm, and not technically in active labour. Although disappointed, I was relieved this meant I could hop in the shower until I was in established labour.
I spend probably 30 minutes in the shower, alone, in the dark. It was the nicest part of the whole experience.
I came out of the shower, my legs were like jelly from the constant, intense, back to back contractions. I so desperately wanted to sit or be supported but didn't know how.
The midwife watched on, being extremely critical of my student midwife. My husband stood back against the wall, too scared to do anything.
The door was wide open, I was in my birthday suit, and people were just looking in. I felt like an attraction at a circus.
I so desperately needed a reassuring face, encouragement and someone to squeeze my hips, but I couldn't verbalise that. I also needed someone to empower me to ask for a new midwife.
I didn't trust the midwife at all, I felt she had an agenda, and I especially felt the hostility towards my student midwife. I was feeling pressured to consent to foetal scalp electrode during contractions, even though my baby was showing no signs of distress. The issue being the wireless monitor wasn't working properly and losing contact. I eventually caved in.
The midwife and student had issues screwing the electrode in, all the while I was labouring on my back. I was in so much pain. To the point I screamed "just stop, leave me alone". The electrode didn't even function properly after all that stress and messing around.
Soon, I needed to push. So I did... and I did... and I did. An hour later, still no baby.
I was on the bed changing position from upright to on my back. I did not want to be on my back. I even requested to use the birth stool as I had had previous success using that in my first birth. I was told "no". (I could literally see the birth stool).
Eventually, I ended up being coached to push, whilst on the bed with my feet on each midwife. The position felt so wrong, so uncomfortable and so ineffective. I was starting to panic, I was scared the midwife would mention forceps or a C-section. So I did as I was told.
Finally, after 90 minutes of pushing his head was out. Then pushing some more, I felt this intense pain, like my hips were going to split. His shoulders were tight, so I was laid flat on my back while the midwife pulled his body down and out. OMG the pain. I screamed. But he was out. The time was 4:24 am. They placed him onto my stomach. His poor little face was so blue and his body was so white.
A voice from within the room asked "is he breathing" (it might have even been me asking) and suddenly his cord was cut and he was whisked away. I remember a sense of panic. I looked over to see Doctors and nurses rubbing him over, suctioning his mouth and applying oxygen. I still had not heard so much as a cry.
Finally, after the longest minute he cried. I was so relieved.
Although, it wasn't over. My placenta came out immediately but the blood loss continued. It kept coming and coming. A sense of urgency came about. Suddenly I had a midwife massaging my abdomen, another midwife inserting a cannula, and a Doctor between my legs giving me suppositories. Then the Doctor informed me she needed to go internally to check for blood clots. That's the last thing you want to hear after pushing a 9 pound 8 baby out.
The pain was immense, so I asked for pain relief. They handed me the gas and I was off this planet. I suddenly broke down crying, and I remember saying "why did everything go wrong, why couldn't this birth have been like my first".
I looked at my husband, and he was terrified. As was I.
Finally, blood loss was under control. I was ok, my baby, Corbin, was ok.
But I was left with trauma. Trauma may seem like a big word for a birth that possibly "wasn't that bad" to a lot of people, but in my experience, Corbin's birth left me feeling inadequate, disempowered and traumatized.
Although, I am grateful. I am grateful for my student midwife. I am grateful my son is healthy. I am grateful I am alive. And, I am grateful for this birth experience, because this experience gave me the drive and passion to become a doula. If I could help one woman to have a birth where she felt safe, nurtured and empowered, then it is all worth it.
Thanks for making it to the end, such a long winded story.
Love and light,