In my case, expectations and the actual birth fell far away from each other. I wanted and had prepared for a gentle and all natural labour and birth, which I expected to be very tough but doable.
But I had to be induced and ended up with an epidural, which led to an assisted birth and an episiotomy.
The only thing that matters in the end, is having your baby! But is this really true?
Don’t get me wrong, in the end, I had my healthy baby. I will be forever grateful and happy about this. God forbid there are far worse cases, like ending up with an emergency c-section or losing your baby.
But, the point is, that I had planned it differently. And even 17 months later, I still blame myself for the fact that I didn’t have the birth I wanted for me and my baby. That I was just not capable or strong enough at that time. I was scared and lost all confidence in my strengths and my body.
Like many other mums, I suffered in silence and did not talk about my thoughts and feelings, because I didn’t want to whine about how tough birth was for me. It took me a while to open up and realise that in sharing the beautiful but also the ugly side of our births, we can support each other.
Because it matters how we feel about birth.
If you are a soon-to-be mum reading this, I don’t want to scare you. Every and each birth is different. Some are more, some are less tough. Even if you went through the exact same scenario of my labour and birth, you may have felt very different about this afterwards.
LUCA’S BIRTH STORY – WHAT REALLY HAPPENED
My son Luca was born on 25 June 2017, a Sunday morning in Melbourne, Australia.
The moment he was born, he screamed out of his tiny lungs as loud as I had never heard a baby cry before. The sound of my baby was ear piercing but also gave me that extra rush of happiness which I desperately needed after this 20-hour-marathon called labour and birth.
It all started very slow though. Three days before, on Thursday afternoon I squatted over the bathtub because I gave a bath to my dog. All of a sudden, I felt like I peed my pants, just a bit. I had waited for a sign of labour to start as it was only 10 days before the due date but this was a rather confusing moment. Was this just an accident, or was this my waters breaking? I had expected more of a dramatic “Flush” like in the movies, especially because my OB told me that I had lots of amnionic fluid.
At night I started to have soft cramps and then I knew: I would meet my baby very soon.
My hypnobirthing tracks made me relax and I actually fell asleep that night.
The contractions had stopped overnight – 12 hours after waters released
The following morning surprisingly, there were no more cramps. Worried and confused, we went to the hospital. It turned out that my water had released at the top, which explains why only small amounts of water were released and my cramps the night before were most likely contractions. But with more than 12 hours passed and no further contractions, I knew I had to be induced if no further contractions happened in the next 12 hours, due to the risk of infection.
Luckily, I was allowed to go home again and try to get contractions starting naturally, which was so important for me. I wanted to avoid getting induced with all my heart because I knew this would just make it harder.
Back home I tried it all but no spicy food, walking up and down the stairs or meditation helped.
Still, no contractions – 24 hours after waters released
The following morning we were back in the hospital and I was disappointed in my failed attempts for contractions to start. This was not how I imagined this journey. All I wanted was having the first part of labour at home in my familiar environment, but we had to go back to the hospital for the induction, it was over 24 hours since my waters released.
Induction – here we go
Firstly, my doctor released my waters completely. Just to give labour a jump start. S***, I didn’t expect this to feel the way it did. That was an unpleasant surprise. If you had your waters released by your OB, you know exactly what I mean. Otherwise, do not let me get further into detail.
Secondly, I was put onto the syntocinon drip, a synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin which causes contractions. And just 30 mins later, the contractions started.
This is where the action started. But I was back on track and felt in control. Going through each contraction, feeling them getting stronger and stronger.
Induction made my contractions too strong to handle
Some hours in, losing track of time, I was in a trance as each contraction got stronger and stronger. And at some point there was no break in between, it was one after another after another.
The nurse did reduce the amount of my drip but this did not help anymore. I was in. Full stop.
And the worst part, I couldn’t keep up. I lost it. Everything I prepared for and all I had learnt before was no more relevant. I couldn’t listen to my body any longer. I couldn’t stay calm or go with each contraction as they came. All I thought about was that I was scared of the next one to come and I just wanted this to end right now.
For pain relief, I already gave the gas a shot and I was hanging on it as if my life depended on it. I was like a drug addict and felt that I could not breathe without it when a contraction hit me, because it helped a lot.
But after a while the gas wasn’t sufficient any more, I felt like my body was obsessed and I lost complete control over my body
Another check and I was convinced that this must have been almost over, that it was ready to push but then shocking news:
I was only 5 cms dilated….
Out of the window were my earlier plan to avoid an epidural with all means. This was my only hope for a break and I took it.
Thanks, Epidural for your existence. My body relaxed, but I my mind switched on again and I started to worry
All the time this birth took worried me. I realised that now I can no longer be active and support my baby with going into the right positions for my baby to reach the exit but only lay in bed with limited movements. I felt useless and was sad.
It was already dark outside and I was hungry and all I did was watching the monitor which showed me that there were indeed still contractions and my poor baby still had to work hard.
After 18 hours of exhaustion, I was finally at the 10 cms dilation.
But I struggled with pushing. I mentally just didn’t want to go on anymore and I was physically exhausted. Now I was also vomiting in between, which made this all feel worse.
Even with all the help of the nurse and my OB, my baby was still far from the exit. I gave up. Again. So I gave in to the suggestion of some assistance.
First, there were two failed vacuum suction attempts. I had a brief look at my OB and thought I saw a nervous look. But it was me who was nervous and I freaked out “Was something not right with my baby”?
I had no more self-confidence left. It felt like my babies and my life was completely dependent on my surrounding. My doctor, the nurse, even my husband. This exhaustion was too overwhelming
So after that, I agreed to forceps and after two pushes my baby was finally born. The aftermath with stitching me up did completely bypass me and I finally felt the massive relieve that this was over and I finally had my baby in my arms. All was good at that very moment.
After Birth, it hit me, the guilt, the feeling of failure.
It is said you will forget about the pain as soon as you hold your baby in your arms.
And partly, this is true. The physical pain of the contractions and the exhaustion are relatively easy to forget because you hold your baby as the price. The emotional pain did not leave though:
- Feeling overwhelmed and lost during birth
- Not being in control of what happens next
- Agreed to an epidural
- Failed to push my baby out on my own
What are the results of me not getting over the birth?
It was such a dramatic birth experience that I am still affected by it.
There is the fact that I am literally scared to get pregnant again. Going through labour and birth again scares the hell out of me. It may be different the second time around and it may be easier. But what if it will end up being the same or worse?
I had postnatal depressions and believe one part is because of my self-blame over the birth.
And you may have guessed this, it also affects my sexual relationship with my husband. This is not the only reason but definitely plays a big part in it.
Read also: 1 Year Post Baby and Still no Sexdrive
I talked about this a lot with my mummy friends and doctors and the irony is, it helped to hear that some had worse stories than me. Is this terrible of me?!
So much from me. I hope my story gives you some sort of emotional support. You are not alone.