Clutching Henry my whole body starts to tremble from my lower back to my chest. My breathing starts to quicken and my heart feels like it’s going to explode from my chest. I try and scream out to the other Mums for help, but my breath catches in my throat and panic takes over. Tears stream down my face and an overwhelming feeling of sadness fills my heart. I’m experiencing my first ever panic attack and I fear that I’m going to drop my son.
3 weeks after giving birth I’ve experienced around a dozen such panic attacks, the first of which was 1 day after giving birth to Little Monkey.
I’ve yet to fully understand what brings on these attacks of anxiety, but thanks to the midwife support I’ve received post baby, we know it’s linked to my birth experience. Looking back now over my birth plan, I can’t believe how naive I was. Words such as water birth, relaxation massages and chill out music now mock me from the page. In a nutshell I wasn’t prepared for real life birth.
So here it is…my birth story…
10 days overdue my husband and I attended the Liverpool Womens Hospital for our 10+ assessment. Babies heart rate was perfect, however the midwife was concerned at the levels of my amniotic fluid. She was also concerned at the level of pain I was in from my SPD. So she booked us in for an induction the following morning.
During our NCT classes the word Induction was rather Taboo. Similarly friends who had gone down this route also shared their views, which was “don’t get an induction”. I think the common theme was that we should wait for baby to naturally arrive and Inductions could be extremely painful. However somewhat impatient and rather fed up with my pelvic pain, I welcomed the intervention.
Now I actually diarised the first day of the induction and reading back now I remember how excited and giddy we both were.
6am wide awake with that holiday feeling. First time in months I only woke up once to pee. Morning cuddles with DH, excitement tangible between us both.
8am washed, shaved, dressed and fed. Bags all packed and ready to go. I’m feeling strangely calm, whilst DH drops the toilet roll down the loo. I’ve already received an abundance of texts from well wishes and 50 missed calls from my Mum, who believes in giving birth to the baby Jesus.
9.30am arrived at the Liverpool women’s with our mountain of bags. We get booked in and monitored up to check little monkeys heartbeat. Also given the rundown on the induction process. Yikes.
11.30am our lovely midwife Lynn is happy with baby and I, therefore gives me an internal check. Im still only 1cm following my week 40 check and my cervix is still high. Therefore she goes ahead with the induction gel, ouch.
2.30pm lunch, check, Grazia & Look Magazine read, check, bounced on birthing ball, check, snooze with DH, check, contractions….nothing…the story continues…
4.00pm ouch. Period pan like cramps have started. But nothing I can call labour. 1hr 1/2 until I’m examined. Come on cervix, you can do it.
5.00pm so there were not cramps, they were early contractions. Woohoo (in a no pain, no gain kind of way. Bit like a Brazilian wax). So I’ve been examined and I’m now 2cm and my cervix had dropped and softened. But due to the contractions, I can’t have another gel as it will over stimulate. So waiting until 7.30 for another examination. Come on cervix, bugger off
From now I lose track of time…
I finally got to 4cm dilated and was transferred to the labour suite and placed on to a drip. We were lucky to receive a recently renovated room that was both large with a new ensuite shower room. Sitting proudly in the centre was a birth pool, however I needed to be constantly monitored, therefore making the bath redundant and saying goodbye to my hopes of a water birth. Being confined to a bed was my worst fear, I knew it would hinder Little Monkeys welcome in to the world.
At this point i’m having strong painful contractions and equally my SPD is causing me excruciating pain. It didn’t matter what position I got into, lying on my back was the only way I could cope with my pelvic problems.
It all becomes blurry around now. I know I’ve received a 2nd pessary gel and put on to the induction drip. My waters had also been broken, revealing a green murky fluid. Little monkey had at some point gone the toilet. Thankfully his heartbeat revealed he wasn’t distressed.
Gas & air became my first relief, I honestly believe it did nothing. Next up was Diamorphine, the one drug I was dead set against. I didn’t want any medication that could effect our baby. In the end I had 3 injections of the drug over the 24 hours. Anything to avoid an epidural.
Night became day and day rolled into night.
I slept through contractions, every 3 minutes, vomited through my diamorphine and cried during toilet breaks. My SPD never let up.
My husband becomes a blur, as do the midwives. I remember them being there, but time escapes me.
At some point I’m informed I’m 10cm dilated and I begin to push. Despite the pain I remember being so proud I got to this point and was going to give birth to our baby.
It’s now 30+ hours since arriving at the hospital and 2 hours into pushing. Little Monkey has turned and won’t be coming out naturally.
2 doctors examine me and its determined they are to try forceps and failing that a C Section. We are informed of the risks that a cesarean can bring and I watch as my husband turns white and sinks into his chair. I cry out for help before he spasms into a full blown panic attack and sinks to the floor. My own fears leave me as I call out for him to come back to us. He faints and is out for what seems like an eternity.
I helplessly watch as the attention of the room shifts to my husband. Between gas & air I request my Mum be brought in to help take over the situation. My Mum had been waiting patiently in the hospital reception for baby news as we wanted to keep the birth private amongst my husband and I.
Thankfully my husband comes around and looking into his eyes, I see the stress of the last 36 hours painfully in his eyes. It’s agreed he won’t come into theatre and my mum receives an upgrade.
The next part, which I guess in telling a birth story, is the most important aspect of my experience. However I can’t tell it. The fear of another panic attack is too raw, therefore making this a 2 part edition.
I can however share the most precious moment of when my son was passed to me and I cuddled him in my arms. The overwhelming feel of love for this little man was electric and I couldn’t stop kissing his little head.
Thankful for the amazing surgical team at the Liverpool Women’s, they allowed my husband to come in and cut the cord and cuddle his family. Unheard of as I already had my Mum in the theatre. I will never forget the kindness the team showed us and I will be forever thankful for the man who took a billion photographs for me on my phone.
My C section went as regular as any other. There is no near death experience or medical negligence, it was all by the book. The reasons I become paralysed with anxiety is purely due to me being unprepared for such a big surgery. Or more specifically my lack of control of the situation.
Following the birth I have received the most incredible professional care from midwives, health advisors, doctors and recently from an organisation called LivPip. They are all working with me to help work through my anxiety. But most importantly to ensure I don’t miss out on vital bonding time with my son.
Next up I will be having a one to one with a consultant at the Liverpool Women’s Hospital to review my hospital notes. They will take me through the sequence of events in the hope of putting to peace my experience. And maybe one day share Part 2 of my delivery experience.
Back to the present I’m currently snuggling my gorgeous baby to sleep after his feed. Looking down at his innocent little face I couldn’t imagine a world without him. It’s taken me 3 weeks to write this post and I’ve written most of it with my son in my arms. The best therapy of all…x
Special thanks to…
Liverpool Women’s Hospital and the incredible staff
My community Midwife Jenny Long
LivPIP Liverpool Parent Infant Partnership
My Husband, Family & Friends x
Read Part Two Here x