My very long birth story. I just need to write it down.

(30 Posts)
Londonmrss Sun 28-Oct-12 20:20:38

Please do not read this if you are avoiding negative stories. The result is a healthy mummy and a healthy baby, so of course I cannot complain. The labour itself has left me feeling traumatised and I am trying to work through this. This is not representative of most births. I believe I may just have been unlucky.

Hi all,
My beautiful baby girl was born at 11.15pm on Friday 26th October, her due date and she weighs in at 8lb. Here is my birth story.
I had spent my pregnancy very much looking forward to the labour and birth. I very much believed in my body's abilities to birth my baby in exactly the way we evolved to do. I was obviously open-minded about intervention should it be medically necessary, but felt that it would not be and that I might give birth much like any woman thousands of years ago. I was also lucky in that I had a totally straight forward and trouble free pregnancy. Even during the last few weeks, I was able to swim regularly and was walking approximately 5 or 6 miles a day and feeling really well. I never once felt any braxton hicks and very little discomfort (other than the standard weeing-5-times-a-night and can't-turn-over-in-bed-without-getting-stuck-business. I planned to give birth in a wonderful midwife led birthing centre.
On Tuesday 23rd October, I had an active day and then lost my mucus plug (wasn't expecting it to be that huge!) at about 11pm. Having never felt any contractions or signs of labour until that moment, I felt happy and excited that things might be finally moving. I immediately began having periodic back ache which turned into very strong back pain regularly from 1am. I also had the shits something terrible all night. By 3am these very strong pains were coming every 5-6 minutes. I obviously didn't sleep and just did yoga and breathing exercises through the contractions. By 10am on Wednesday morning we called the birth centre to let them know that things had started but that we were happy to stay at home for now.
Disappointingly by lunchtime on Wednesday the contractions had slowed to every 15 minutes, but were still extremely painful. By 3pm they returned to 40-60 seconds every 5-6 minutes. Occasionally they were every 7 minutes, sometimes every 3 minutes. The pain was quite extreme and not relieved by anything. It was to regular and intense for me to sleep.
By 8am the next morning they had continued and were lasting 40-80 seconds every 3-6 minutes. I still felt every bit of pain in my back. Even now, I couldn't feel my tummy contracting, but felt like I was being stabbed in both sides of my lower back. I did not expect this kind of agony. We decided to go to the birth centre as I was now struggling to cope with the pain.
At this point I was told I was 2cm dilated and therefore not yet in labour. How can I possibly have been regularly contracting, in intense pain for 30 hours and it not actually get my body into labour? I became very very distressed at this point. We went home and spent all day Wednesday walking to try and get labour started- we must have done miles and miles. When I wasn't walking, I was bouncing on my birthing ball just trying to cope with the pain. For the majority of the day, the contractions remained at around 40-60 long and came every 3-7 minutes. They occasionally came at every 6-8 minutes, but were mostly more regular.
As I was finding the pain even more difficult and I still hadn't slept, we decided to skip the birth centre and go straight to the hospital at 10pm. All my thoughts of a natural birth had gone out of the window and I just wanted an epidural to allow me to get some sleep. I was roughly examined by a rather rude midwife. I was still 2cm.
At this point I had a panic attack- I've never had one before, but this task now seemed impossible. They said they could not give me any pain relief until I was 4cm. This seemed like it would never ever happen, but we went home and somehow continued for several more hours.
Suddenly at 1am (still hadn't slept at this point), the rate began to increase. The pain was unbearable (still all in my back and spreading down my legs) and coming every 2-3 minutes for 60-90 seconds. We went to the birth centre.
4cm! Finally this had officially started, but by now I was so tired I didn't know how I would cope. I got straight in the birthing pool which provided a tiny bit of relief. However the intensity of the pain made me start to vomit violently and I begged for an ambulance to take me to hospital. It was now around 8am on Friday morning.
We arrived at the busy East London hospital around 8.30am where I immediately began telling everyone I saw that they needed to make me pain free. The contractions were coming at the same rate and I cann't believe the pain I had in my back. Due to the lack of availability of an anesthetist, the epidural was administered at noon. I can remember very little of the 3 hours leading up to this, other than at one point believing that I was dying- not only that, but welcoming it. I told my husband that he would be brilliant without me and I said goodbye. He was absolutely amazing throughout the whole process but he obviously found this incredibly difficult and when we've spoken about it since, he just burst into tears.
From noon, I knew that each contraction I could feel would be my last as soon as the epidural began to kick in, however when they performed tests at 1pm, they realised the epidural had failed and I was only numb from the knees down. I can remember very little of this, but my husband took the decision to get them to do another one. I remember nothing other than wanting it all to stop and believing that I would die. I hallucinated several times and had a genuine out of body experience.
By 3pm the relief began and I gradually became more aware of my surroundings. I could still feel the contractions, still in my back- but they were uncomfortable rather than agonising and excruciating. I was examined again. Still 4cm.
At this point they felt they need to speed things up to they put me on an induction drip.
I haven't mentioned anything about the baby. She was totally oblivious all the way through. Her heart beat remained at a constant 140, the waters were clear when they artificially ruptured them at 4pm- she was just chilled out and fine. Fuck knows how!
The rest of the afternoon was ok. I could intensly feel the contractions despite the epidural and had to use gas and air to manage them (I bloody love gas and air) but it was manageable. Frankly being able to feel a contraction and feel like my body might finally be doing what it was supposed to was great. I still hadn't slept, but there was no chance. My poor husband was also exhausted and yet just stayed with me rubbing vaseline onto my lips, helping me move my legs when I felt I needed to and telling me he loved me and I'm amazing.
At 9pm I was examined. 10cm 10cm 10cm!
They said they would like to leave it for a couple of hours and once I felt the urge to push, we would go for it. I still felt the contractions, but definitely felt no urge to push. I got sick of waiting though, so started to push at 10.50pm.
Here's where it suddenly got good.
Like everyone else in the world I'm sure, the pushing felt like I was trying to shit a watermelon. It felt like I would never be able to do it and I just wanted someone to come in with the tools and drag her out of me. The midwives and my husband were shouting at me to push harder, but I was only dimly aware of this. Something primal took over. I forgot my name, I forgot where I was or what was going on but I just pushed as hard as I could.
Something finally worked. After only 25 minutes of pushing, she came out. I had no tears, needed no stitches and hardly bled at all. Her apgar scores were 9 then 10 then 10 and we both burst into tears when we heard her first cry.

I am proud of the way my body handled the pushing stage.

But I feel really traumatised by the early and active stage though. After all that pain, I still didn't dilate. Why was all my pain in my back?
Ultimately I feel like my body failed me. It didn't do what it was supposed to do and I don't know why. I am a fit and healthy 27 year old. I know the most important thing is a healthy baby at the end of it, but at the moment I'm still having some unpleasant flashbacks and I somehow need to deal with the difficulty of the labour. Did I have a particularly bad one? Do other people handle the pain that I couldn't or was I unlucky? Why did that epidural fail?

At the moment we are fine and I am in love with her. She is so beautiful. We are struggling with feeding as she just shows no interest in my nipples and hasn't even attempted to latch once from the start. I am expressing colostrum manually and giving her that until we can see some breastfeeding help tomorrow. So I may also have to accept at some point that breastfeeding is not for us and formula feeding will not make me a failure but, well... we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

I wish I had handled it better, and I wish I had been able to give birth in the wonderful birth centre in a natural way. I still believe that birthing should be a natural process, not a medical one but for whatever reason, mine had to be medical.

I'm sorry to anyone who has read all this! I just needed to write it down.

mandasand Sun 28-Oct-12 20:28:33

Crikey! I'm not sure I would have handled all this even half as well as you did. Congratulations on your beautiful baby. I'm expecting DCs 1 and 2 so have no experience at all to offer, but just to say that you did everything within your power and it sounds to me as if you did a marvellous job. I have no answers but hopefully someone can help you work through the difficult parts of your story. Well done is really all I have to say! thanks

Welovecouscous Sun 28-Oct-12 20:32:45

London first of all a huge congratulations on your dd and a massive well done to you for coming through such a long labour and augmentation and then getting her out on your own with no tearing thanks

I had a very long latent stage lasting several days which I really wasn't prepared for. I also didn't progress - got to 10 cm but then had to have the drip. I can understand the feeling of your body having let you down - it took me a long time to process that all my fitness, birth prep, yoga and healthy eating had not helped my body to give birth normally. I think the human body just doesn't always work the way it is meant to and I have since been told latent stages lasting a few days are not that uncommon in first births. Wish someone had told me before I gave birth!

GreatGardenstuff Sun 28-Oct-12 20:35:30

Congratulations!
There's no doubt that birthing can be a hard and unpredictable business, which we can only do our best to get through. You sound like you did a bloody good job in tough circumstances. I hope you come to terms with your birth experience and that it doesn't come in the way of enjoying your first days with your DD.

Welovecouscous Sun 28-Oct-12 20:36:25

About the pain, my bf and I compared metaphorical birth notes. My baby was massive, hers average size. Both went to nct classes.

She said 'you know when the pain was so bad you wanted to die and it was agony". I had to tell her that my pain just wasn't that bad - I was very lucky. We came to the conclusion that every birth is so different - you can do all the exercise and breathing prep but if your baby is not perfectly positioned it can be very painful. But someone else (like me) can have intense pain but at a manageable level because of good positioning maybe.

Welovecouscous Sun 28-Oct-12 20:38:59

It is quite common for epidurals not to work sadly iirc in our antenatal classes they said over 10% don't work sad i think they should be up front about this do it isn't a shock in labour.

Welovecouscous Sun 28-Oct-12 20:43:58

Sorry to do so many posts - just that your post is quite long so I have to keep going back and rereading to answer all your questions.

In answer to whether your birth was particularly bad I know from my own experience that it is very very hard to have such a long latent stage because by the time you get into active labour you have has no sleep for several nights - I think that is very tough. It sounds as though you then had very intense pain to a degree that was very bad and then the challenge of not progressing which can be really demoralising and makes for an even longer labour. Having the drip is also more painful than standard labour.

Given all that I think you had a very demanding labour.

I think you did wonderfully to get your dd out without assistance or a c section.

charitygirl Sun 28-Oct-12 20:46:29

Bloody well done for writing it down - an invaluable part of 'getting over it' I think. And even more bloody well done for getting through it.

A long slow 'false' labour like that sounds HORRENDOUS - I hope as you get further away from it you can tell it (not to pregnant women!) as your incredible battle story.

JollyJackOLantern Sun 28-Oct-12 20:48:52

London the early stages of your labour sound exactly the same as mine - down to going to the birthing centre to be told I wasn't dilated at all.

18months on I still wonder why I couldn't cope with the pain while everyone else can, especially in the early part of labour. I still feel like I didn't do as well as I should have. And I feel like I was failed - nobody told me I could be in loads of pain for two days with no results.

I demanded a consultant appointment to debrief afterwards (the long, slow start wasn't the only thing that went wrong) and I felt a bit better having talked it over.

Congratulations on the birth of your baby. Hard as it seems, you'll stop dwelling on the birth soon as your wee one will be so interesting and time consuming you'll find it difficult to think about anything else!

peachypips Sun 28-Oct-12 20:49:37

I think that although you found this tough sadly it was fairly normal from stories I have heard for a first baby. My labour with my first was exactly as you described except I finished with a section as he got stuck at the pushing stage.
Don't feel a failure- this experience is very common for a first baby. I'd say half of my friends had a long, hard first stage, no urge to push etc, and many had a section. For me, things were totally different with no 2 and I had an hour long labour and five mins of pushing!
Btw, it sounds like a back-to-back labour- baby's back on ur back which results in a back pain labour...

Wewillsee Sun 28-Oct-12 20:58:26

I could be totally wrong here but has anyone mentioned the position of your baby? It sounds like your baby was 'back to back', so they were facing the 'wrong' way round. Baby then needs to turn so they can be born IIRC. This causes intense back pain and can lead to a very long latent stage. I am no expert, I just know people who have experienced this type of labour and it sounds very similar. Well done you though, sounds like you handled it brilliantly. Keep talking about it, writing about it, thinking about it. You need to process what sounds like a very traumatic experience. And congratulations on your lovely daughter smile

Wewillsee Sun 28-Oct-12 20:59:19

Cross posted with Peachy!

squidkid Sun 28-Oct-12 20:59:34

Hey Londonmrss. I feel I know you from our endless due in october threads and just feel like giving you a huge huge hug. This account has vividly brought back memories of my labour a month ago. Though it was not as difficult a time as you had, I had a 30 hour labour which the midwives wrote down as 11 hours and I was also so exhausted by the pushing stage I left my body for a time. And as we've both discussed before, I was expecting things to be, not easy, but manageable, and I felt I was well prepared and fit and things had been trouble free, and so I felt really extremely traumatised that I had experienced such intense and lengthy pain, had howled so hopelessly (I begged for an epidural and a section, but I was at home and I managed to get through. I don't know what would have happened in hospital. I think they might have sped me up)... but that most of I had such a lengthy, speed-up-slow-down, stop-starty labour and I felt (still sometimes do feel) that my body had "failed me" and when I read or hear about people with swift labours I feel like they were fitter, healthier, better than me.

The worst moment of my labour was when everyone including the midwives thought I was fully dilated and they examined me and I was 8cm. It was then 2.5 hours of unbelievable contractions before I was 10cm. That doesn't compare to what you went through, but was a similar feeling I suspect.

For about a week I had several flashbacks to labour, and some nightmares. When I breastfed I had afterpains that felt a bit like the beginning of a contraction and each time it made me very panicky and tearful.

I just want to say that after a month I feel quite differently about it. Still a bit traumatised, but I keep thinking that I did have a "normal" labour, if a long one - like you I had no tears, little bleeding, my body has taken no serious damage. My recovery has been quick. I am considering getting back into proper exercise next week. I am swimming and doing workouts. It has been only 4 weeks. I only bled properly for a week. I was out walking within a day. Obviously I can't say this will be the case for you, but this is the thing with "normal" labour (how can anything that painful be normal!) - when it's over, it's over.

Not only this, but despite the length, because you had an essentially normal uncomplicated labour you will be viewed extremely favourably in subsequent pregnancies and they are very likely to go well. (For a few days, all I could think was NEVER EVER AGAIN! and you probably feel the same right now! but that feeling faded quickly for me) Your pushing stage as you say was swift efficient and uncomplicated. After days of labour, that is INCREDIBLE! You should be very very proud of yourself.

Maybe none of this is helpful right now.

I hope you will feel better in time - I do - me and my boyfriend have spoken about it a lot and both written about it and that has helped. My baby being so lovely and healthy has helped ( though I really don't subscribe to the line that as long as mum and baby haven't died you should shut up and be grateful, at all).

ps. I know your primary concern right now must be the feeding, and i hope you utilise all the help you can get. But I just wanted to write this to you.
I'm sure you have/will, but try calling your midwife / asking for a breastfeeding support worker or lactation consultant / breastfeeding helplines. I was given the national breastfeeding helpline 03001000212. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Mumsnet may help as well, sorry I am an amateur!

pps. this might cheer you up a little, it did me.
http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/childbirth/1578900-Labour-the-second-time-round-is-it-really-half-the-time

Sorry, this has been endless! Please take care of yourself. For what it's worth, I think you did amazingly.

Welovecouscous Sun 28-Oct-12 21:05:46

Please call your local la leche league leader about the feeding.

If you are anywhere near stoke Newington there is an LLL group there if you google.

NorthernNumpty Sun 28-Oct-12 21:11:53

I had a very long and very painful latent stage, I never dilated more than 3cm and then ended up with emcs because DS's heart rate became non existent.
I was really traumatised by his birth for several weeks, it really helped to talk to the midwives who came to visit.
It may help to ask for a 'debrief' with your notes with a senior midwife. I had this with the consultant who delivered DS and it helped me to understand and come to terms with what had happened although I will probably never know why.
Good luck with the breastfeeding and access as much support as you can from breastfeeding groups and la leche, take anything your midwife tells you with a pinch of salt and seek specialist advice.

Finally congratulations! grin

kefybaby Sun 28-Oct-12 21:15:38

I agree with Wewillsee. It sounds like baby was back to back. A couple of friends had a similar experience. You did really well to have a vb (and without assistance - my friends had forceps deliveries). Congratulations on the birth of your baby!

Sariska Sun 28-Oct-12 22:15:39

Congratulations on your new DD.

Your story brought back some memories for me. 4 1/2 years' ago, a similar long and painful latent stage (why oh why is this not something that is mentioned in ante natal classes?) after a trouble-free first pregnancy resulted in the "failure" to give birth at what I think was the same birthing centre you went to and a transfer at almost full dilation to the linked hospital for the whole epidural, drip, episiotomy shebang. It knocked me for six, it really did.

But, now, I can honestly say I know I did the best I could. As, I am sure, did you. Childbirth is perilous - humans are not well-designed for it - and always has been. It is sobering when you are one of the women who feel brought up short by your experience of it but you are not alone. Not at all.

If it is the same birth centre (the B one), I am sure someone there will be only too happy to talk through your experience with you, should you feel the need. Also the m/ws at the hospital.

Ad, FWIW, if you go on to have a second you may well find it's very very different. Yes, I still had a long latent stage but it was almost painfree and the actual labour was very quick. It laid to rest some ghosts for me but, even if it hadn't, by that stage I had come to accept that sometimes some things are outside our control.

Good luck. Enjoy your lovely baby and try not to let the process of her arrival colour things too much. And definitely speak to LLL re the Bfeeding.

hufflepuffle Mon 29-Oct-12 04:54:56

Well done Londonmrss, I am sure getting it all out can only help. I'm still not able to. 12 days on and still a bit shell shocked. But we did it and it is over. You hav had a super hard time and yes, we all talked about the joys of natural normal deliveries before we got there!!! Ah well, we cannot change it!! Well done for sharing, well done for getting this far and hang in on there with BF. hopefully you get pointed in right direction today.

Hugs xx

Fairylea Mon 29-Oct-12 05:44:17

Your labour was identical to mine. I was in labour 67 hours and it ended up ventouse with an episiotomy. My epidural didn't work either.

I suspect your baby, like mine, was back to back and this can be extremely painful.

I also think you are being very unkind to yourself.... labour can be very traumatic and painful and difficult for many women.I think all this stuff about wanting a natural birth and your body doing "what it's supposed to do" is adding to your depression and anxiety about it all. You shouldn't let it... no one knows how their birth experience will go or how they will deal with pain until it happens. Your body didn't fail you - it just needed a bit more help!

I suffered severe pnd and anxiety attacks after my experience and it was 9 years before I even considered having another baby and I only did then because I booked in for an elective section. I'm not saying this is for everyone but part of my trauma was feeling out of control and worrying my epidural wouldn't work and I knew with a section I would be pain free during the op. It was a much better experience for me.

I hope you enjoy your new baby and you find that time is a great healer.

WinkyWinkola Mon 29-Oct-12 06:24:08

Londonmrs, wow. I think you did an amazing job.

All that pain for so long. I cried as I read your story. It must have been so very hard and scary.

But you did it. Your dd is here, safe and well. You must congratulate yourself on that.

I really think you need to tell your midwife/health visitor how you are feeling. Talk and talk and talk about it. The experience stays with you but hopefully will not affect you so deeply for a long time.

Again, please remember you did everything right. You did superbly well.

Congratulations on your DD thanks. You did so well to get through that pain.

It helps to write it all down, doesn't it?

Dylanlovesbaez Mon 29-Oct-12 06:57:33

I had a very similar experience 6 months ago which I'm struggling with. I feel that writing it down will help but I'm not ready yet. I had a 4 day labour, it took me 3 days to get to 7cm and I had an 8 hour second stage due to me being determined not to have intervention but I ended up with it anyway. I'm so glad you got to push your gorgeous baby out, you must feel incredible and so proud of yourself. I have days when I feel so proud for doing my very best but others where I feel 'cheated' for not having the dream birth. Silly I know, I have a beautiful, healthy daughter and that's what matters. We put so much pressure on ourselves don't we?!
Congratulations on achieving something so amazing, you grew a human bean! You handled it amazingly by the way, please don't feel you didn't. Do you have birth stories in your area? You can call and go over your birth and raise any questions and then you are booked on one to one session to chat with a midwife. Pm me if you want to chat anymore xxx

Jcee Mon 29-Oct-12 07:10:51

Congratulations! Well done...labour is bloody hard and knackering isn't it? But you did a great job and you should be proud of yourself to get through it and delivering your DD safe and well.

Reading your story brought back so many memories for DD's birth almost 3 years ago - I was scuttling back and forth to the hospital in early labour for 3 days as I couldn't believe I was in such pain, so tired and only a couple of cms dilated but they woudnt let me stay.

In the end they only admitted me because the weather was so bad - it was snowing and the roads were bad and i <shakes head at memory> actually begged them not to send me back out in it. I never dilated further than 3cms and after loads of invasive tests to look at what was happening ended up with an emcs as DD was distressed.

Both DP and I were traumatised and couldnt talk about the birth without getting emotional for ages afterwards. It takes a long time to recover and you are only at the start of that journey - I hope writing it all down helped. The experience will stay with you but will become less overwhelming in time - Keep talking, be kind to yourself and, most of all, enjoy your daughter.

neontetra Mon 29-Oct-12 07:20:02

Very long, shockingly painful latent stage here too - I thought I was just feeble and pathetic till I spoke to loads of other women who had the same - unfortunately it seems quite common. What I will say, although it is quite trite and annoying, is that (probably) you will forget. I seem to have spent the entire first week after the birth telling anyone I could make listen how awful it was. Six months on I never think of it, except the pushing bit which I now believe I enjoyed. Anyway, congrats, and good luck with bf!

crazypaving Mon 29-Oct-12 08:46:25

well done londonmrs. God that sounds like hell, you made me tear up a bit. poor you and poor DP too, I'm so sorry it was so traumatic. Is there anyone in rl you can talk to about it? Do your midwives offer a sort of debriefing chat?

fwiw it sounds like you coped incredibly well and you should be very proud of yourself. Imagine a friend had written that - imagine how you'd feel for her - and be kind to yourself.

Huge hugs.

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