Iv’e recently got back into watching ‘One Born Every Minute’ (and more recently 5 star babies at the Portland Hospital, which is so good). For a while I was wondering if it was the best choice? Whilst I LOVE reality TV and shows like these, I have avoided a once loved programme and anything relating to birth for about 2 years now since my 3rd pregnancy and birth experience suddenly became a truly sad affair. For that period of time, I couldn’t watch the joy of others bringing life into the world or to see anything relating to babies and birth…it was just too upsetting and reminded me of all that I had lost and how very different a stillbirth is to a regular delivery.
Whilst I do still feel somewhat uncomfortable with the jolliness of it all at times and often find myself thinking of what could go wrong, the very fact I am enjoying these type of programmes again shows how far I have come on my journey and speaks volumes on my ever increasing comfort around baby things and birth.
I think what I find most fascinating about them now at this stage, is how vastly different people are in labour and how relationships are in that situation. I enjoy the arrivals and reactions yes, and also the banter and just seeing how it pans out for people, but I think I am most interested in their birth options, reactions and reasons, and whether or not it does go to plan, because rarely have my birth plans gone how I would hope.
These things were again on my mind as I watched it last week, and I came to the realisation there are so many birth options and that for the 1st time ever I do not know which is the best path to take and best thing to do under the circumstances. I actually do not know or have any idea really as to what my plan should be. I find that on some days I feel certain I want a home birth and to be far away from a hospital and any reminders of our loss and Poppy’s delivery, and then on others it just makes a whole lot of sense to have a planned section a little before my due date so that I don’t have to deal with the emotions leading up to the time frame of when we found out she has passed away, and therefore feel like this one can be out quickly and safely. Both are extremely different and then there is everything in between, so perhaps with this post we are headed to it being me dumping my thoughts on each option and seeing if it that gives any direction as to what is best.
Elective Section – Ethan was born by emergency c-section in 2010, and up until that point in my life it had to be the most traumatic thing to have gone through. I honestly would never thought I would find myself considering it again as a mode of delivery for future pregnancies….The rushing, the exhaustion and pain of recovery from major surgery and the confusion of it all that left me emotional and resentful for months afterwards. But I have come to recognise that that was hugely down to the fact that it was a race against time to save him and that the actual delivery and experience of theatre was both peaceful and lovely and to see him so quickly was amazing. I found it hard when people asked how he was born.. the phrase “normally or section” often grated on me and made me feel abnormal for not being able to bring him into the world “naturally”, but as I look back, safely is the best option and how that was ensured is irrelevant now.
The idea of a safe arrival following a still birth is music to my ears, and a section pretty much guarantees such an outcome. The fact I have had a previous section does make me able to have another, however the choice of major abdominal surgery again cannot be taken lightly and the thought of the recovery time of several weeks definitely puts me off (though women who have had planned sections do assure me it was way better and feels less exhausting?). Whilst I would have to still be in hospital, a place that holds those reminders, I would miss out the delivery suite and also would feel more controlled in it all. I just really like the idea of knowing she will be hear quickly and safely with out hours of labour and worries of heart rate changes, infections, interventions and who knows what else.
Hospital (Natural) – Megan was a Vbac in 2012 which I am really proud of. I spent a lot of time leading up to it and also whilst in labour, worrying that my scar might rupture and we would have an emergency on our hands again. I think that was fuelled mostly by the fear Drs put into me at each appointment with the risks of VBAC, But alas I took my chances and delivered her naturally with only some gas and air (though I asked for more). The whole experience was pretty mad and I did loose it on several occasions, screaming and moaning and according to Mr Smith “a possessed woman”. I laugh at myself when I think of it now, but the reality was that it was pretty mental and awfully painful, like nothing I was ever prepared for. What added to the craziness was that then her heart rate dropped requiring a ventouse delivery requiring an episiotomy and leaving me with a 3rd degree tear. It has since crossed my mind if I do struggle to birth naturally or what I am doing seriously wrong to need 2 consecutive interventions?
Although my VBAC did lead to me needing stitches, I did like how well I felt afterwards. Yes the tear caused me to be in pain for a week or so, but I admit that I felt fresher and more in control following it than I did with my section. I do believe that bonding was easier too.
I think what puts me off delivering again in hospital naturally is the lack of control I felt, the lack of contact from midwives until the end, the fact the Drs come in as I am “a previous section”, and the possibility of intervention leading to increased worry and panic and with all of that, just not being able to relax in that environment. Nathan has suggested a water birth, but again as that is not always guaranteed, I cannot decide if its worth the risk to go to hospital in a vulnerable state and then find out I can’t have it and have to endure labour with little relief whilst feeling anxious in that hospital setting. It would be a let down to have to deal with.
Hospital (Epidural) – This was Poppy’s birth experience in 2014. Whilst I had another vaginal delivery which was pretty straight forward (given that she was so small) it was very different to Megsies on so many levels, circumstances aside and talking purely physical, I found the epidural was heavenly. I liked being able to relax despite being emotionally troubled and I liked that once it was removed I felt fab physically. I had no tears, no grazes or anything and so was left in a great state, able to shower, walk and get on with what I needed to. I left the hospital the same day and I can certainly see why women pay for it, push for it and take it ASAP… the relief is wonderful.
What appeals to me about this option is not just that it takes away all of the nasty pains, but that it helped me to not rush pushing and therefore avoid tearing, it helped me have one less thing to be stressed and consumed by (physical pain) and whilst it holds risks, once removed it feels good and recovery is straight forward.
When I think of delivering this baby, I worry that when I am in labour I will relive the emotions and anxieties of stillbirth and panic a bit. I really do not want this to affect my delivery, make me tense and therefore out of control again. I don’t want to emotionally and physically loose it, and the epidural certainly helps to gain physical control thus leaving me able to deal with the emotions that i’m sure are bound to erupt. I just always feel a bit of a lightweight when I ask for it and what it would mean is that I am on delivery suite basically having the same birth experience as my last…
Home Birth – This option appeals to me a lot this time round and I think it is because home is a safe place and it loses the association of hospital, stillbirth trauma and all the emotions related to them. It takes me away from an environment I have lost trust in and into a setting where I can relax. My friends and family members rate them highly and had very positive experiences at home, so when I think of a home birth, I cant help thinking it would be lovely; far more relaxed generally and therefore a faster 1st stage and hopefully a great experience to have this baby in our home, get into my own bed, have my own things around me and not be exposed to Drs or hospital things that remind me of what we had to go through before. It seems a fresh experience and choice.
The downsides I worry about though are if something went wrong or it turned into an emergency situation would I ever be able to forgive myself for risking that. Not to mention that being aware that I do go nuts in labour is also a worry that I will lose control and it just be a mad situation!! I then also worry if I did, would the baby be safe or panicked? Of course the Gas and air is available and so very much appealing, but I just don’t know if its a good idea.
Birth Centre – To be honest I do not know where our nearest one is and it is something I would have to do more research on. My sister in law mentioned it a few weeks ago and said it might make a nice in between option to have midwife led care in a fairly relaxed setting, with the assurance of hospital support close should it be needed. I don’t particularly have an opinion on it as I haven’t looked into it enough or spoken to people who have had this as their plan. I guess it would be similar worries to a natural delivery only without the hospital associations.
I think on these things, feel this baby move and wriggle and whilst so grateful for that and my oh so many options, I am at a stage where I just wonder how an earth we choose the right thing for her and that is all a little overwhelming.
Here I am on the fence and never felt so grateful for the NHS and resources at our fingertips to have babies, but I know now that I am scared of the hospitals too because of the lack of support with Poppy and then the memories of having a stillbirth in their delivery suite. On the other hand I just desperately want this baby out safe and well without too much trauma for me either and know they have the power to that too! I really wish I knew what was best for us all, what would be a positive experience and what would help me to look forward to welcoming her into this world.
Next week I see my midwife for my 28 week check, and I am certain the discussion of birth options will play a huge part! Watch this space… for now though I would love to hear of your birth experiences and choices and the whys?!