In honor of Cesarean Awareness Month I thought I’d share Emma’s birth story. If you’ve read my blog about my English vs American birth experience, you’ll know that all three of my girls have been born via C-section. There have been times that I’ve felt disappointed about not having the “perfect” birth, and sad about not experiencing natural childbirth/ not delivering my babies “the proper way”. But ultimately I’m proud that I’ve delivered three beautiful girls, and I did it in the safest way for them, and that’s what’s important.
As I’m writing this I’m curled up on the sofa rocking my third daughter to sleep, in total disbelief that my eldest has recently turned eight. So much of the day she was born, and the weeks that followed, seem like they were just yesterday, and yet here we are so many years later. Having said that, please forgive me if some of the finer details are lacking, it was eight years ago, and my brain has suffered severe sleep deprivation in that time, haha.
Some of you will know that I had Emma when I was very young (that’s a story I’ll go into more another time) but I was completing my GCSE’S at the time. I was no longer attending school, other than for exams, but I was rigorously studying from home to allow myself a bit of a breather just after Emma was born.
I woke up on 23rd of February 2012, 40+1 weeks pregnant, and more than ready to have my baby. I had woken with no appetite, which I recall finding a little odd as my pregnancy had made me all kinds of hungry, but in my lack of experience I had no idea this meant labour could be near. My mum made me a salad in the afternoon as she wanted me to eat something (she would regret that later) and I spent the day trying to relax and study. Come evening, I was uncomfortable; my stomach was hurting, and my back was aching. Assuming this was the norm for me now after a day of waddling around, I went to take a bath to ease the pain. Still blissfully unaware of what was to come.
As I sat relaxing, and enjoying the pain relief the bath offered, my waters broke, which to this day is probably one of the strangest feelings I’ve experienced! In a slight panic I got out of the bath, shouted down to my mum to let her know, and called my midwife.
I was planning to have a home birth, as at the time we lived in the Cornish countryside, and an hour away from a hospital. The midwife assured me I likely had a long wait ahead of me yet, and so we began leisurely getting everything ready. She said to call if anything changed, and/or when my contractions were regular. And if nothing had happened in 24 hours then we’d discuss a plan of action, because of the risk of infection from my waters breaking.
As I was pacing around the house, breathing through contractions, I noticed some meconium in my waters that were still slowly leaking. I rang my midwife to let her know, whilst dialing her my mum prepared me for the possibility of having to go to hospital. And sure enough that’s what the midwife advised, due to the risks of the baby inhaling any meconium.
In a mad dash we gathered everything we needed, and got into the car. By this time I was in a reasonable amount of pain, and having contractions quite regularly. The hour car journey was horrendous; trying to get into a comfortable position during a contraction, whilst staying safe and buckled into a car isn’t easy! It was at this time my mum would regret making me eat a salad earlier in the day, as it was now all over her car floor (sorry Mum!). In a rush to try and get to the hospital, we took a wrong turn, and the journey took even longer than expected. Thankfully though, traffic was light due to the time of day, so the rest of the drive was smooth.
I remember waddling through the hospital doors, towel between my legs, and approaching the front desk, to be greeted with “how can I help”. Baffled that it wasn’t immediately obvious what was going on I explained, and was taken quite promptly to the labour ward. It wasn’t long before I was put into a room for examination and offered gas and air for some pain relief. Unfortunately for me it didn’t help at all, and I found myself being sick again – yup childbirth is glamorous!
After my stomach had settled, I was given an examination. It was determined rather quickly that Emma was in fact breech, and that I was almost fully dilated. Before I knew it I was signing waivers and being wheeled to theatre for a C-section. Everything happened so quickly that I didn’t really have time to process it properly, thankfully it meant I didn’t have time to worry either.
Most of the preparation before the surgery is a blur. I remember being hunched over a pillow waiting for my epidural, and feeling the urge to push with each contraction, a very weird sensation that confirmed everyone telling me that I’d know when to push! Sadly though, it wasn’t helpful in my case. But before long the pain, and need to push, were gone. I was lying down staring at the fluorescent lights, the team of medical staff that had been buzzing around were now still, and the screen was pulled up.
The surgeon and crew spared me of the commentary, but after some pushing and tugging, I was holding my precious little girl in my arms. Emma was born at 3:57am on February the 24th. With all the drama of driving to hospital and the rush once we’d arrived, I hadn’t even noticed midnight had come and gone.
Not long after I’d gotten out of recovery, and been put into my own room, my dad came to visit. I had to stay in hospital for a few days, so my mum visited daily, and helped me with changing, getting out of bed, and anything else she could (I’m so thankful for her!).
Emma took wonderfully to breastfeeding, she was doing well, and had passed all of her newborn checks. After lots of waiting to get all of the required paperwork completed, we were finally able to go home.
It was a chilly February morning, and the sun was shining. I remember sitting in the back of the car next to Emma, watching her chest rise and fall, and holding my hand up to keep the sunlight from her eyes. I recall everything feeling surreal, it was hard to believe that I was now a mum, and responsible for this perfect little human.
The circumstances in which I became a parent may not have been ideal, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Nor would I change the way in which Emma was delivered. Childbirth is a rough ride, and regardless of how it goes, every woman should feel incredibly proud of what their body has achieved. I know I am, even if it has taken a while to get to this point.
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