My poor midwife has been (nicely) pestering me to write my birth story for ages. To be honest the fact it is now five months since I delivered my gorgeous baby girl reflects how difficult it has been for me to write about my pregnancy and birth.
After I had my first baby, my son, I basked in the afterglow of labour. I was that woman all women hate.
The one who smugly has the perfect first labour, short, no intervention, no tears or stitches and all in the comfort of my own home. Two hour later I was having a cup of tea, eating a blueberry muffin and telling my husband that I’d do it all again.
I couldn’t wait to tell my story but this time it’s been different. For starters between our two children we had 2 miscarriages. You hear about how miscarriage is so common but part of you never thinks it will really happen to you until it does. We were totally unprepared for the loss we felt and still are not sure how to communicate that loss for our child that never was. I felt almost a fraud being heartbroken over the children I never had when I was lucky enough to have one child already. I had been led to believe that miscarriage was just one of those things that happens but it’s not, so please, if it has affected you, please talk about it. It’s okay to grieve that loss and mourn that child that never was.
This time round pregnancy was so much more difficult. Add in working full time, a very boisterous three-year-old boy and persistent vomiting then it was a recipe for disaster. Thankfully I had a very understanding boss and took some time off from work and also discovered acupuncture. Having previously regarded acupuncture as something ineffectual I was ready to renounce myself as it was amazing. I had acupuncture from 12 weeks until 35 weeks and it kept the vomiting (mainly) at bay and reduced the nausea. The other saving grace was pregnancy yoga. Again, against everything I usually go for, yoga was one of those activities I reserved for hippy dippy earth mothers, I did not see myself embracing the moon and the mantras. However, I went as my back was bad and I had pelvic girdle pain in my first pregnancy so was keen to learn some strengthening techniques and relaxation breathing for labour. Hands down pregnancy yoga was a life saver during labour. It taught good labour positions, great breathing techniques and super pelvic floor development. It is essential for post-delivery if you’d like to stand up and walk without wetting yourself. I highly recommend it to every pregnant woman I see.
By the time I got to 39 weeks I was thoroughly fed up and my poor midwife did a sweep for me at 40 weeks to get things going. Labour this time round was completely different. Firstly, my waters broke and I lost a lot of blood. My One to One midwife and the on-call midwife came out, along with a newly qualified midwife who was observing. Gas and air was no help at all and I settled for the breathing exercises my yoga had instilled in me. Labour was shorter this time, three hours from start to finish and I had another home birth, on the bathroom floor. Planned home birth this time I hasten to add. It was a bit hairy at times with more blood loss and the ambulance had just been called and was enroute when baby decided to arrive.
The midwives were brilliant and again my One to One midwife was completely calm all the way through despite the ambulance being phoned which meant I was calm. I trusted her judgement implicitly and I knew if she said I needed to go into hospital then that’s what needed to happen. However, baby arriving quickly stopped all that. I think what happened next is probably the most important part of this story. Physically I coped a million times better with number two baby. I was lucky again with no tears, no stitches and no swelling. Yoga had sorted my pelvic floor and there were no unsightly incidences of urinary incontinence.
My son was a little dream and was in love with his baby sister and hubby had taken the obligatory two weeks of paternity leave. Despite how fortunate I was, mentally I was struggling. Outside I was all smiles and calm but really, I was having an internal panic which forced its way out day 3 and I sunk into a low. My baby girl was breastfeeding, much better than my son ever did, however that was all she wanted constantly. It was relentless and exhausting. She didn’t sleep apart from when she was on me which meant I didn’t sleep and she cried all the time. My son was never a crier and was a perfect baby, sleeping and feeding. If one more person told me girls are more difficult than boys I was ready to throw something at them. That was not constructive advice. I felt I was failing, not coping and had made a dreadful mistake having another baby. I hated her and then felt so guilty as it was such a selfish thing to feel when others are desperate for a child. Some days I couldn’t hold her apart from feeding her. I sat with tears running down my face every day, staring blankly at the TV. My husband didn’t know what to do with me. My best friend came to help and looked after baby while I got some sleep and finally hubby called my One to One midwife, Kim. She was amazing and was straight round to see me. She gave constructive advice, support and encouragement. She texted me daily and saw me every 2-3 days until I was coping better. She kept a close eye on all of us. My son called her Aunty Kim, my husband still thinks she is one of the greatest women he knows and I think she saved me from collapsing with it all.
So, five months on, as I sit breast feeding my beautiful baby girl, at one in the morning, I have finally finished my story. My very last story I assure you. It’s more an opportunity to thank my midwife, Kim. I have the honour to call her a friend, she has been a strength throughout my pregnancy, labour and post delivery period. I was blessed to have her deliver my son and my daughter and will always consider her a most important piece of our family. So Kim Sefia, I’ve finally finished my story and this one’s for you.