HARRIET & OLIVE
11 years ago, our 1st baby Olive was born. I felt quite calm about giving birth I felt like I’d informed myself pretty well. I’d done the NCT, made a birth plan, felt quite strongly that I wanted a home birth and booked a doula, but as my waters broke on Sunday 22nd July I began to think this was going to be quite a different experience from the one I had prepared for.
I began contractions and pretty soon my partner and I were feeling alone and overwhelmed, the doula was a no show, she was with someone else in labour. The community midwives came round on Monday after many phone calls, and said I should go straight to hospital, so off we went in an ambulance to St Thomas’s where I kept on labouring without any real sign of an advancing baby.
Finally on Tuesday morning a consultant arrived said I needed to go to theatre. I wasn’t progressing. I was exhausted, scared and angry, this really hadn’t gone the way I wanted. As soon as I got into theatre I saw my name and Caesarean section written on the white board, my heart sank, I quickly asked the doctor if she would have a last ditch attempt to get the baby out without a c section. I was devastated at having a spinal block, pain relief wasn’t part of my plan but as soon as it took hold I was cracking what I thought were hilarious jokes with the medics, and a couple of minutes later little Olive was born with the aid of Keilland rotational forceps. Her head had turned and she was stuck sideways.
This funny little screwed up baby was a bit of magic at the end of a 36 hour gruelling marathon. I felt like my expectation of what birth was going to be like was completely different to what actually happened. It taught me that it’s really important to keep expectations flexible, I was way too fixed in my thinking. In a world where we control so much of what we do it is sometimes difficult to control how you give birth.
I definitely think some continuity of care would have helped me feel less scared and helpless and although I was euphoric that our baby had arrived, in time however, I also felt cheated out of the natural birth I wanted. That came 2nd time around, but that’s another story for another Tuesday.