40 hour labour

Kathryn shares the birth story of her daughter ____________________________

Hi, I’m Kathryn, I’m 23, and live in New Zealand.  When I had my baby, at the time I was just relieved that she was OK, but even by the time I was out of hospital I was starting to get upset and distressed over what had happened. (be warned this is pretty long, but I feel I need to get it out…. ) I was 37 weeks pregnant and had planned on a homebirth, my midwife was happy that everything was going OK for that (as they will only ‘allow’ homebirths after you hit 37 weeks in case baby needs specialist care) – and then my waters broke. It was 2pm then…. my midwife popped round and checked me out that evening, I was told baby was well engaged (she’d been in different positions throughout the pregnancy – she was a very active little one!) and that with any luck contractions would have at least started by the next morning, if they hadn’t she would come back and check me out before her morning appointments, if they’d started I was to cope as long as I could and she’d come either when I felt I needed her or when her appointments were done – just after mid-day. As it was the contractions came on overnight (I was able to get some sleep, my dh wasn’t, I think he expected the baby to arrive while I was sleeping!) and spent most of the morning about 10 minutes apart, lasting a minute or so (and were at the point where I had to stop what I was doing when they came, but I was coping OK). Midwife came by at about 1pm, and immediately on feeling me said baby was no longer engaged, and that she wanted to do an internal examination. That suggested to her that my dd had turned to breech, and gone really high, and that things weren’t progressing very fast – on checking the heartbeat was fine, but midwife said that she would be a lot happier with a trip to the hospital to check on the positioning – and that it being 24 hours after my waters broke I would at least be able to get an antibiotic shot to prevent infection setting in. She told me at that point that if it was breech she would probably be recommending a c/s but that it would always be my choice. DH packed a bag up (I’d actually been planning to pack a bag in case of hospital transfer at some point that week….) and my midwife left so she could get a room sorted for me. We arrived about half an hour later (we live about 15 minutes from the hospital if roads are clear). An ultrasound was done, and confirmed that baby was in breech position. My midwife was pretty good in leaving the final choice to me – she told me that where a mother had already delievered a baby vaginally she would be more than happy to deliver a breech baby, though would recommend staying in hospital, but as I hadn’t she was more reluctant to, as there was more risk to the baby. She told me as I’d gone into labour naturally and had at least started to dilate that if I did have a c/s now that ‘next time’ I would be a good candidate for vbac. I agreed to it – I think what helped push me to agreeing so quickly was that from when I got to hospital I seemed to have lost control over the contractions, they weren’t any worse, but I tend to go into panic overmode when I go anywhere near a hospital (normal bp during pregnancy was generally between 90/50 and 100/60 – I had one check-up at the hospital and it went up to 140/100) and I wasn’t coping so well anymore. Once they’d got the anesthetic form signed then I felt like I had no control, being told what to do, and everyone being busy around me, I felt lost. Dh was pretty supportive, telling me it was all OK, and that dd was just taking after me, being so awkward like that! In the OR dh stayed by me while they were getting baby out, I was absolutely terrified at that point, I could feel what was going on, and it hurt the first time they started (they stopped and waited for a few minutes as they didn’t want to put me under general anesthetic). The hospital midwife was pretty good, telling me when baby was coming out (my midwife wasn’t allowed in the OR) and things like the fact that baby was kicking her legs the moment they were out, before the rest of her was, and then baby was held up over the screen as soon as she was out so we did get to see her. The midwife then took her and dh went over to check baby out, ‘re-cut’ the cord and all…. Once it was ensured that baby was OK she was wrapped in a blanket, placed in dh’s arms, and he was told to go hold her where I’d be able to see. I want to be able to remember that, I know she was held next to me for about half an hour while I was sewn back up, but all I can think of is how where they’d strapped my hand down and it was against my leg, it felt like it was against a lump of dead meat. Once I was into recovery they gave gave me skin-to-skin with baby pretty much straight away, and they tried to get her breastfeeding, but she wasn’t interested, so they expressed a little from me and got her to drink that (it wasn’t until this point that I actually confirmed we had the girl we were expecting). She was put back in her ‘cot’ while we were taken to a ward and then she was whisked off to have all her measurements taken. When she was brought back I was told she was cold, and that I could either have her skin-to-skin again till she warmed up, or they could take her and put her in a heated bed. I chose skin to skin, and she ended up sleeping on me for the rest of the day. After this point the midwives were all pretty good, helping me with feeding issues (dd did NOT want to latch on… once on she’d suck well and not want off, but getting her on was a nightmare…. after my milk came in she just couldn’t get on at all until someone suggested a nipple shield – we’ve just got the hang of doing it without the shield now, 7 weeks later!). Dd had a touch of jaundice, but as the levels were slowly falling we were allowed out after 5 days. I think the biggest problem I’m having coming to terms with what happened at the moment is that I just can’t reconcile my dd with the baby who was in my tummy – I didn’t give birth, therefore I must still be pregnant… I’ve got this lovely little girl to look after, but what about *my baby*? And I can’t get beyond the feeling even if she is mine then she was ripped out of me… not born. I don’t feel comfortable with what was done – whether it was unnecessary, somewhat necessary or totally necessary, that doesn’t matter. I want to give dd a little brother or sister – and I don’t want a huge gap…. but at the moment I’m terrified that if I get pregnant again it would end up in another c/s however much support I have for a vbac. I’ve spoken with my midwife and she is totally for a vbac should I want one (though she also said if I wanted an elective repeat c/s she would understand), though admits hospital will probably want it closely monitored, she would do a hbac, but dh is not keen on that idea. He was totally for the homebirth originally, but the idea of there being even a remote risk more is too much for him as we’re more than a couple of minutes from the hospital. I know my story is nothing compared to some other’s experiences – but from reading the list for a few days I know that it won’t matter, you’ll get it, you’ll know why I needed to write all that and understand it all, like no-one I know would. Thank-you to everyone who actually read any of that! Kat.

Read the follow up story because with Kat’s second baby she had a successful vaginal birth after c-section (VBAC)  here