It's been a week since I gave birth to DD2 and my head is still spinning! Quick background: I had DD1 5yrs ago by em/cs after 19hrs established labour. Cause was failure to progress (she was oblique transverse and didn't budge). I was never sure whether the em/cs was due to the baby's position, the fact that I have a bicornuate uterus, or the cascade of intervention that began with pethidine and ended with syntocinon drip and foetal distress. I decided to give VBAC a try and see what happened this time if I tried to keep intervention to a minimum.
Last Monday I was 39+6 and had gone to bed in the afternoon to listen to my Natal Hypnobirthing CD, when at about 3pm my waters went and I immediately started experiencing strong, regular contractions between 2-4mins apart. I had been keen to try to stay at home as long as possible before going into hospital, but I had the feeling that things were progressing pretty quickly so I called my PILs to ask them to come and look after DD while DH and I go into hospital. Anyway, about 20mins later we called them again to ask them to get straight to the hospital instead, as this baby was clearly not going to wait very long!
So DH, DD and I got into the car and drove to hospital 10 miles away, and all the while my contractions were coming thick and fast. Sitting upright in the front seat was agony! Poor DD was a bit concerned and I was trying to reassure her that the noises I was making was 'all part of the fun'. I really hadn't wanted her to be there to witness any of it. By the time we got to the hospital my ILs were already there so we sent DD off with them to the hospital cafe while all I could do was crawl onto a wheelchair in a kneeling position and wail while 2 hospital porters wheeled me to the labour ward.
I got to the labour ward at 4.15pm, just over an hour since my waters burst, and I was found to be 7cm already. I was bellowing for an epidural at this point. The whole thing had happened so fast that I didn't have any mental space to assimilate what was happening and get on top of it. The hypnobirthing, I am sad to say, was completely useless to me! It felt quite frightening to be in so much pain so quickly. My birth plan flew out of the window and all I wanted was an epidural - but by the time the anaesthetist had got there and explained the risks of epidural to me, I was already 9cm dilated and it was too late to do anything except pull on the G&A.
Looking back, I would say they felt more like convulsions than contractions to me - I was shaking and sweating uncontrollably throughout and I really felt as though the pains were taking me over. The worst bit was definitely that time between 9cm and 10cm dilation. I just felt completely lost and scared and I didn't trust my body to do what it was meant to - after all it hadn't the first time, and also having a bicornuate uterus meant that I might not be able to push as effectively.
The midwife was pretty firm with me from the outset. She insisted on CFM and insisted that I had to be on my back for it. I really didn't want to be in that position, my plan was to stay upright as much as possible, and I really just wanted to kneel and bury my head in the pillow, but was firmly told that there was no choice, that they had to do CFM for the safety of my baby and to monitor for scar rupture. I didn't have the strength to argue so I went with what she wanted, but I couldn't help writhing and moving about to cope with the pain which I think made CFM pretty impossible all in all! I think at one point a trainee midwife was physically holding the monitor to my belly.
At the end of each contraction I started to feel this pushing sensation, which was completely alien to me as I had never had it with DD1 at all. It was a totally involuntary action, I don't think I could have stopped it if I had tried, and it got stronger with each contraction. I can understand now what women mean when they say that the pushing stage isn't as hard as transition, it gives you something to do with the contractions and it is so much better than just lying there with the pain washing over you. So I started pushing - and pushing - and pushing - and then the consultant appeared. It was the same consultant who had frightened the life out of me 5 years ago by shouting at me because I hadn't wanted an episiotomy! I had been really worried about the possibility of seeing her again, and here she was. And she was telling me that the baby was going to be big and - guess what - I would need an episiotomy.
I tried to protest but there were loads of people there all round me, all saying the same thing, that I was going to tear really badly unless they performed an episiotomy. They also said the baby was getting tired and my contractions were slowing down, and they needed to get this baby out. DH was telling me he thought I should listen to the experts. So despite my lifelong horror of episiotomy I found myself consenting.
Anyway, as it happened, the pain of the cut was a lot milder than I had thought. In fact i hardly noticed it above everything else that was going on. I managed to push her out at 6.45pm, no ventouse, no forceps, just me and my imperfect uterus! DD2 arrived less than 4 hours from the first contraction, 7lb 12oz with dark brown eyes. She wasn't quite as big as they had suggested she would be, but she did have a big head (runs in my family!). She was fabulous from the word go, with Apgar scores of 9, 10 and 10.
Sadly we weren't quite out of the woods though, as the midwife had some trouble getting the placenta out and then I suddenly started to feel very unwell. It turned out that the episiotomy had resulted in 2 blood vessels being severed, and I lost quite a bit of blood. The next 2 hours were a bit of a blur so sadly I didn't get my skin to skin until later that night. Over the next few days I needed 3 units of blood until my blood pressure started to rise again and I started to feel more normal.
One week on and I am completely anaemic and my episiotomy is still killing me, it was quite a big one apparently and I can't help but wonder if it really would have been a worse outcome if we had allowed a natural tear instead. However I feel that I can't complain much because my daughter is beautiful, and is lying asleep on my lap right now with a big drip of bm trickling from her lips!
Having read Ina May Gaskin during pregnancy, I was quite persuaded by the arguments in favour of natural childbirth - that peace and calm was necessary, as well as a trust of your care-givers, and the ability to adopt active positions in order to ensure that labour progresses swiftly and without complication. What my VBAC taught me is that sometimes the body will just take over, and that even if you are scared out of your mind and feel completely out of control, sometimes your body will just do what it's meant to do and deliver your baby for you.
I also think that if I have any more babies, I will have them at home or somewhere very close to home!
Congratulations. So glad it was all over quickly for you & you can now get on with enjoying your new dd.
I think the episiotomy business borders on negligence, however - no way it should have resulted in blood vessels being severed, & once you've recovered, i would seriously consider lodging a complaint. In fact, go to your GP & get the wound looked at as it is now, so at it will be recorded in your medical records.