So it’s been almost one month since I gave birth, and I’ve had A LOT of questions asking if I’m going to write this post since then. I always planned on it, but I ended up actually having a traumatic birth in many ways; and it’s left me a little traumatised if I’m honest. I haven’t wanted to talk about it, or even think about it; and I know I’ve blocked out some details. However I do think I’m at the point now where it may help me to talk about, and I really don’t want to block things forever, as I would be disappointed if I forgot my experience.
I should also note I’ve been offered a chance to talk through this experience with midwives, a great service offered by the NHS; but I can’t think of anything worse. I don’t want to see ANY medical professionals, I just want them to leave me alone to be honest. So instead, I’m going to talk it out here on my blog.
This is going to be brutally honest, detailed in some parts, and negative. But it’s also going to be powerful, positive AND wonderful too. It brought me my little boy, and there are good things to share too.
So settle in, and allow me to ramble.
Allow me to start by mentioning that the week before I gave birth, my bump seemed to get really low. I felt like I was carrying all the weight very low down, and my whole groin ached. So much so, that Gary and I both predicted baby would arrive early; even though we knew that was highly unlikely for a first time pregnancy. It turns out, we were right.
On Thursday 15th November, just before midnight, I woke up suddenly in bed. I decided to get up and go the loo half asleep (an hourly occurrence by this point in pregnancy). As I sat up though, I felt a long, wet trickle in my underwear. I immediately went and checked the pad I was wearing, and it was clear. I also still felt like I needed a wee. I remember standing in the bathroom wondering if I should wake Gary, as I weren’t sure if my waters had broke or not. It sounds silly if you haven’t experienced this, as TV and movies always show a woman’s waters breaking as a huge, sudden GUSH, with contractions following immediately after – so it must be obvious right? Wrong. While I’m sure some people do have that experience, mine couldn’t have been more different. I felt fine, nothing else was wrong, and it really was just a small trickle of water; so it was confusing to me. I woke Gary and told him, and we decided to pop to the hospital to get checked. We planned a home birth, but we would need to know if it was my waters breaking so we could make a note of the time (the more time between your waters breaking and labour actually starting, the higher chance of infection).
So off we went to the hospital, about 1am. I was still trickling on the way there, by the way. Within seconds of looking at the pad I was wearing; the nurse confirmed my waters had definitely broke, and I could go home now to rest up before my contractions started. I felt happy, excited, and positive. When we got home, I tried my best to sleep, but kept waking every now and again on high alert. By 8am Friday I was up, eating and drinking, bouncing on my ball, and watching movies to distract myself. I spent the day like this with Gary, trying my best to coax baby out. Unfortunately, no contractions came all day. By 10pm Friday night, we had to go back into hospital so they could check me and baby out, and make sure we were both okay still (we were fine!). However while there, the midwife started talking to me about being induced. She said they thoroughly recommend it at this point, to get things going. It’s at this point I cried, a lot. This was not what I wanted AT ALL. I hate hospitals, and wanted to try for my home birth plan still. After a big discussion, I decided to wait a little longer. I decided we would go back home until the next day, but if things still hadn’t started by Saturday midday; I’d give in and admit myself in to be induced.
It was almost as if baby got the memo, because upon leaving hospital my contractions started. They felt really tight, and sore, but nothing crazy. I was SO happy things seemed to have started though, and by 2am they were coming much stronger and regular. I spent about 3 or 4 hours having contractions every 5 minutes, and although painful; I found my hypnobirthing REALLY came in helpful here. I was using a TENS machine to try help with them too, but just using the breathing techniques I’d learned was most useful.
Sadly, by 6am things had stopped again. I slept again, hoping that by relaxing, my body would naturally give in and let things progress, but had no luck. I cried again and again at this point, it felt inevitable that I’d be in hospital for this birth. I always knew it was a possibility, but I also always knew I’d handle it badly. I can’t help it, I’m just so uncomfortable and scared in that environment. However after phoning my mum and crying it out, I tried to stay positive and remember that it would only be a short while, and baby would be here soon. So off we went with our bags packed, to give in and be induced.
This is the thing I regret more than ANYTHING.
It ended up being the worst decision I could possibly make, and I’m actually FUMING that the doctors kept pressuring me and making me feel that I had to be induced. I’ve since spoken to midwives, and other women who have had long labours; and they have been perfectly fine waiting longer for contractions to start. I only wish I had.
So around 11am Saturday 17th November; we were admitted into the hospital and put on the labour ward. This meant being in a room with 5 other women, all in the same sort of situation, waiting to be induced for whatever reason. I started having contractions again, but they were very irregular.
It’s at this point I have to say I love and appreciate the NHS, and I know we are incredibly lucky to have such a service. I also understand the horrendous problems hospitals face with cutbacks, and how this can affect staffing. I need to tell you guys this, because I want you to know I KNOW THIS, before I start ranting. Because despite all that, the care I got was still absolutely abysmal, and there were so many ways my experience could have been made better.
We waited SEVEN HOURS before I was induced. Bare in mind they kept telling me to come into hospital IMMEDIATELY, acting as if induction was imperative and dangerous if I didn’t. I had admitted myself because they had scared me so much, and it turns out I could have spent all day at home feeling much more positive, relaxed, and maybe even bringing on active labour due to being in a better place.
During these seven hours I spent waiting, nobody came and checked on me, nobody ever examined me to check if my contractions had gotten things started at all, and nobody even checked to see how I was feeling. I seriously spoke to NOBODY once I was plonked in a bed. In fact, the first time someone spoke to me was when one midwife came into the room and spoke to all the women in there at once, as a group. She went over the induction process for us, far too quickly, and too rushed for me to take anything in. She then walked away before I could ask any questions. She did mention how our waters would be broken for us though. So obviously she didn’t even know mine had already broken. It seems nobody knew. BRILLIANT. So I really had been put in a bed and left all day, with nobody even looking at my chart or assessing my situation. We were treated like cattle, all shoved in a room waiting, lined up. And things were only going to get worse.
Around 6pm Saturday, this same widwife came back to induce us all, one by one.
This is the part I keep blocking out. This is the part hardest to talk about.
I’ve never experienced something so brutal, so painful, so intrusive and so uncaring all in one go. I felt like I had been abused, by a medical professional no less. There was no gentle care, no warning, no consideration for me. She shoved her whole hand up inside me and pushed and prodded around, putting in the thing that would bring on labour for me (the name escapes me, sorry). And she did all this while acting as if she was simply doing something really boring, mundane, and beneath her. I was shouting out in pain, and crying. Once she was done, she walked away and left me to it. I was lying on the bed curled up, shaking, sobbing, and unable to talk to Gary. I couldn’t even get any words out when he was trying to ask if I was okay.
I’m so sorry if this scares anyone who will be induced, that is not my intention. I only wish I’d known I didn’t HAVE TO have this, and I hope nobody else’s experience is this bad (I know you can have the hormone drip instead, and if I’m honest I’d recommend asking for this instead if you can! I didn’t know this was an option, sadly).
Once I’d been induced, things went from 0 to 10 VERY quickly for me. I spent the next few hours having the strongest contractions ever, ramping up to every few minutes. Unfortunately, my baby was back to back – meaning on top of normal contractions I had the most immense, excruciating, burning pain at the base of my spine. This was so bad that I was screaming out in pain – still in a room with 5 other women, just left to it – and begging for help. Literally begging. I was screaming HELP so, so loud at one point that a passing nurse came and found me and started rubbing my back, hoping to help with my pain for a few moments. This pain in my back was like nothing I’d ever felt before, and I remember wishing I would black out from agony. Gary was amazing, rubbing my back constantly for hours, trying to keep me strong, and being there for anything I needed. but if I’m honest I was in so much pain I wasn’t even aware of my surroundings at this point. My whole body was shaking in pain, and I felt like I was dying. I also threw up everywhere from the pain, and there was blood all over the bed as my ‘bloody show’ had turned up apparently – but it was like a bloodbath.
It’s at this point the midwife from hell turned up. I’ve never met someone so uncaring and unhelpful in all my life. She kept telling me ‘my screams were unjustified’ and that I ‘have no reason to lose control like this, and need to get myself together’. She also told me I wouldn’t be far along enough to be in that much pain, so there was no reason for me to go down to the delivery suite yet (where I could have real pain relief, because surprise surprise, her suggestion of paracetamol had done nothing for me!). This I find absolutely disgusting, because 1 – how DARE anyone tell me what level of pain I’m experiencing?! And 2 – NOBODY HAD EXAMINED ME, STILL. I had been there all day and still nobody had even checked how dilated I was.
We went through a good few hours of me screaming, asking for pain relief, and being told there was nothing she could do yet. FINALLY, around midnight Saturday/Sunday she gave in and agreed to examine me, when I’d been saying my body feels like it needs to push. I dreaded someone hurting me again, but I was in such pain I just wanted things to be over.
Just before she examined me, she actually said ‘Okay Jemma I’ll examine you, but I increase your chance of infection when I do, and you wont be far along enough to go to the delivery ward yet, so you definitely dont want to be pushing.‘
Oh really? Within moments, she had confirmed I was 9 or 10cm dilated. I had gone through all of my labour being left lying on a bed, without anyone checking on me or examining me, without any help, with only paracetamol, shaking, crying, and uncared for (apart from Gary who was honestly the greatest he could be).
When she realised, she must have known the huge mistake she had made, because she suddenly went frantic. She shouted at Gary to grab all the bags, while she quickly helped me into a wheelchair, and started wheeling me away, heading for the delivery ward. I was still screaming and panting away as we were on our way, and I can remember as soon as we got to our private delivery room, two midwives helped me onto a bed and immediately asked if I needed pain relief. The bitch (sorry, but fuck it at this point) who had treated me so badly on the labour ward was now gone (thank god), and I was surrounded by midwives who I can honestly say were ANGELS. They immediately listened to me about the type of pain I was in, where it was, what I was feeling and what I needed. They even made sure the room was cosy with the lights dimmed, and music on. They got the gas and air ready straight away, and I sucked on that thing like my life depended on it. I had the most amazing midwife called Sarah, who held my hand and told me how well I’d done.
I cannot even put into words how much of a difference it made just being listened to, finally. I could cry thinking about how much better it was when I was actually being looked after.
Within a short while of being there, they called a Doctor in to check on me; because my contractions were too close together. I know on TV and movies it looks non stop (and it was for me too), but they explained that you’re still supposed to get a little break between contractions, to help the baby cope with them, even if its just a moment. However mine really were non stop, and I was in agony. The baby’s heart rate was dipping too, he wasn’t at the perfect angle to come out, and I was losing a lot of blood. So they explained to me that they wanted to do an episiotomy, and use forceps to get him out. I was so grateful they took the time to explain everything, amidst my screams of agony; and I told them they could basically do whatever they wanted as long as they got him out.
Gary held my hand, cheered me on, and told me how well I was doing. He told me when he could see the baby’s head, and he kept me motivated through that last hour of pain to keep going, keep pushing, and to not give up. It’s amazing to me now that I know I have the ability to be in that much pain, and still keep pushing. To tear your body apart, knowing its all for good reason – it actually fascinates me. I don’t logically know how I could deal with it – but I remember thinking ‘I can do this, I can do this’.
Finally, at 1:11am Sunday 18th November, I pushed as hard as I could, and felt his head finally come out.
They didn’t have to tell me, I could feel that the biggest part had come out, and I knew just one more push and he would be here. I squeezed Gary’s hand and gave it my all, and finally River Arthur Vincent Mead was born.
They immediately brought him to my chest, and for a few moments we just stared at each other. It was crazy, finally meeting this little boy who had been inside me for so long.
Then they took him away to clean him up, and they let Gary cut his cord. I heard River cry from across the room and I remember doing a huge audible sigh, realising I’d been waiting to hear it. They checked him over, wrapped him up, then offered him back to me. We got a quick photo, but then I asked Gary to take the baby as I was suddenly feeling really weak.
During these few moments, the midwife and doctor had been looking after me still, and once I passed the placenta, they worked on sewing me up and putting me on a drip to get some fluids back in me. I realised I felt so, so dehydrated and weak. As well as drinking water, I kept asking for juice as I felt like I needed sugar. Sure enough I gulped way too much down, and threw up everywhere. I was dizzy, and felt so, so weak – but I was just so relieved it was all over.
It turns out I’d lost over a litre in blood, and this went on to make me temporarily anaemic.
Because of the complications I had during birth; we had to stay in hospital for 24 hours to replenish my fluids, keep an eye on my iron levels, have what felt like a million injections (I can’t even remember what half of them were for), and basically make sure I didn’t collapse. Thankfully Gary got to stay with me the whole time, because I sobbed when I thought he would have to leave me on the Sunday night; and they realised how bad I was about hospitals. Also I literally couldn’t sit up in bed without help, let alone look after the baby or even go for a wee without help – so I think they realised it would be easier to just let Gary stay.
This whole 24 hours is a bit of a blur to me. I was on a high from finally having my baby boy, and labour finally being over; but I was in agony still, and exhausted from only having about 4 hours sleep in 3 and half days.
We were soon able to go home, because River was doing wonderfully. In fact, he never had one issue from the moment he was born. He fed really well, and was thriving. It was me who was a mess, and who they were hesitant to let go. However I assured them I’d be on bed rest, Gary would give me my injections, and I’d take any meds they wanted. I was just SO, so ready to go home. I think I’d have discharged myself anyway if they hadn’t agreed.
It’s been a whirlwind month, and I have a blog post coming up talking about how things have been since that moment we came home and what it’s like to be a new mum. However it’s taken me a really long time to write this post, because I didn’t want to talk in depth about it for so long. The lack of care I got while in labour and the induction process, both really traumatised me. So much so, that I haven’t wanted to see another medical professional since. I went to the bare minimum midwife checks afterwards, even then only to be sure River was doing well. I was supposed to go to a perineum clinic afterwards, and have a doctors appointment to see if I was still anaemic after my injections stopped – but I did neither. It was just too hard. When I spoke to one midwife at a checkup around 10 days after the birth, I cried talking about the memory. She was so lovely, and even examined my stitches to check if I had an infection, because I’d mentioned how I was still in extreme pain. It turns out my stitches has torn, and thats why I was still in pain. Lucky me! She put me on antibiotics to be sure I didn’t get an infection, and everything seemed to heal up well after that
I feel almost back to normal now, four weeks later. It’s still a little tender downstairs, especially after walking a while – but nothing crazy bad.
If anything, I’ve been more affected and more traumatised mentally by everything that happened. So much so, that we have our first health visitor check next week (yep, we haven’t seen anyone yet as they kept not showing up!) – and I’ve already told them they have to arrange it for a day Gary is home too, because I don’t want to see them alone. I know that sounds extreme, but honestly I just feel so, so let down now because of the lack of care I had. That’s not to downplay the people who HAVE been amazing, and have looked after me. Especially the midwives and Doctor who actually delivered my baby. They were AMAZING. So caring, wonderful, lovely. I can’t sing their praises enough. I hope to concentrate on them, rather than the one or two people who made my experience a bad one.
So this is the end of my ramble, I’m grateful to anyone who has got this far!
We’re both doing well, and you should watch my Instagram stories to keep up with day to day life if you like.
We may not have had the birth we wanted, but we got here; and we’re so, so happy!
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