I lost half my bodies blood supply. My birth story by LW
In the past when we have asked people to send in their birth stories I had never really understood the magnitude that is takes for someone to share such an experience. How brave it was for them to come forward and open up about a very personal, very private event. The biggest event of their lives. To share these intimate moments I have come to realise is both very brave and very special.
A month on from giving birth to Ronnie and I am only just beginning to feel ready to relive the experience. Not just that, but to find the time to do so whilst getting better myself and figuring out a newborn. My biggest pull to share my story with you as soon as I could is that I genuinely believe that I would not have been so calm throughout my traumatic labour had I not read all of stories we had been sent before hand, preparing me for the variations of events ahead. Having read so many incredible real stories I could take snippets from each and relate to my labour throughout, knowing that other people had been through the same, although horrendous for them was comforting, empowering and gave me the strength when I needed it the most.
So here it is, broken down. I hope I don't put any of you off.
Whomever thought it was a good idea to give a women a due date needs a firm talking to and let's be honest is most probably a man. Statistics reveal that only 15% of women give birth on this date... so the other 85% don't, erm hello.. this would appear to be the majority. So as you can imagine 40 weeks came and went without so much of a sneeze. I'd built myself up to this magical 40 week date, when in actual fact the day was anything but extraordinary. I'd had a failed sweep at 39.5 days, the midwife couldn't reach my uterus as it was too posterior and she only had chubby short fingers so apparently I didn't feel dilated at all. The next 10 days to follow were pretty uneventful too just exceptionally pineapple and curry filled.
So I was booked in for an induction at 40 weeks plus 10 days, this was a bit earlier then I'd hoped but my husband was supposed to be away at the weekend and I really wanted him there at the birth. For those that aren't familiar with inductions they pop a pessary or gel into your vag which stimulate contractions in the hope that it will soften your cervix, break your waters and hey presto.. baby would be here. I was going to be an outpatient as my entire pregnancy had been low risk so they'd pop a pessary into me, and send me home and let the magic begin to happen there.
On arrival at the hospital they hooked me up to the heart rate and blood pressure monitors, both the babies heart rate and my blood pressure were unusually high. So they monitored me for an hour. What I've come to learn is that time in hospital language is dubious. If they say they'll monitor you for an hour, it means at least 2. If they say they'll get someone to see you straight away, it usually means in the hour or at some point that day. So we sat and waited. Ronnie's heart rate was all over the shop, and didn't settle so they decided to keep me in. I was now an inpatient.
They moved me up to the pre natal ward and at 8pm that night once everything was level they inserted a pessary, the first of my inductions. At 2am the next morning I started to contract. I had never had a contraction before and alone in the middle of the night on a hospital ward had not been where I'd thought i'd have my first. They came thick and fast. By 8am the next morning I'd had morphine the pain had reached an all time high. I thought this had to be it. This had to be labour, well it was..sort of.
My mum and Rob were by my side by 9am and an internal was taking place. Internal is effectively a sweep to see how dilated I was. Nill, nada, nothing. So I'd spent all night in agony only to find that nothing was happening. Little did I know this was only the start.
50 hours later, 3 inductions and more pain then I would wish on my worst enemy my body was shot and I was still not even beginning to dilate. All that pain for nothing. I'd had over 10 internal examinations, been fingered by everyone on the ward. Ronnie's head was so far down but my cervix so posterior this hurt more than hell and usually ended up with me screaming, in floods of tears begging them to stop.
It was at this stage that was offered two routes. The drip, much like an induction it brings on false labour but in a much more intense form, the idea is then the cervix softens, they break your waters with a rod..esh and then baby would come. However this did not guarantee my cervix opening so I could have gone down that route only to still be in the same situation 24 hours later totally 74 hours of labour to no avail. The other choice was a c section.
The C section
They booked me in the next morning, I was classed as an elective but a stage 4, which meant that I was a priority now. The morning came and I felt much more relaxed, i'd managed to have a nights sleep, although I had woken up in a pool of blood, it was due to all the internals i'd had but the babies heart rate was good as were all of my checks so my state of panic was soon rest assured. They took me downstairs to a side room with Rob dressed us both for surgery and we were told to wait.
3 hours later we were called through. We walked into a huge theatre, music (90's dance anthems) was playing everyone seemed very relaxed and were so friendly it did not feel like the beginning of major abdominal surgery. I felt very comfortable. The anaesthetist, the tallest man I have ever met and I've met some tall people was also the friendliest and he guided me through the spinal block which would see me go numb from the boobs down. Now if any of you have ever had a spinal block you'll have been told you that your pain and heat sensors run the same course, but your pressure points run on a different system. So they block the pain, test you can't feel anything by spraying freezing cold spray along your body, but once they are satisfied and begin the procedure you feel your body being tugged and pushed and pulled about. Your pressure senses are not blocked. One women described it like having the washing up done in your stomach. Its the weirdest of feelings.
About half an hour went by and eventually Ronnie was pulled from my tummy, Rob was instructed to go to the incubator to cut the remainder of her cord, to bring her over to me and to tell me if we were having a boy or a girl. Her bits had swollen up so much I thought it was a little pair of balls, but no we had ourselves a little girl. It was quite simply the best moment of my life albeit it about to get quite scary.
During the surgery my uterious decided not to retract apparently at all labours whether natural or c section your uterus is supposed to retract. Mine was exhausted from 50 hours of contractions and by the time they came to cut me open had decided to give up. Taking them much longer to massage it to stimulate it to then stitch me back up this was the start to my blood loss.
Once stitched I was taken through to the recovery room. It was here where I got to cuddle my baby for the first time. She latched onto my boob without a shaddow of doubt, and guzzled away. Although this was incredible it unfortunately bought on huge contractions in my uterous and caused my body to expel blood clots out of my vagina. The surgical team all rushed back in and scrapped me inside to get rid of the blood clots. They pulled them out of me. Rob standing at the foot of the bed holding Ronnie saw them doing this, started to go pale and was guided out of the room. He turned to me yesterday and said it was the most frightening thing he had ever seen. The surgical team pulled 2.5 Litres of blood from me in total I hermoraged half my bodies blood supply. After a scan to check nothing was happening inside I lay in a pool of blood I was immediately washed down by two nurses.
Critical care unit
I was then transferred to the critical care unit. Unable to move and wired up I needed to have one on one care from a midwife to look after both myself and Ronnie. I was given two litres blood transfusion, and was looked after in the most incredible way. There I had two midwives, one for the night shift and the other for the day, both ladies had a combination of 60 years experience as midwives and you could tell. They were your old school kind of midwife, caring, kind but firm and knew almost everything I asked them questions about. It was at that moment when my appreciation for the NHS was at its peak.
It still astounds me that after what I went through you are still sent home so quickly. I am even convinced that they make the general post natal ward a pretty unpleasant place to be so that you want to be sent home quicker. I am so lucky that my mum decided to move in with me for 6 weeks, 3 weeks pre birth and 3 weeks post. She, along with Rob looked after me completely. Cleaned our house, washed our clothes, made me food, scheduled my medicine, took Ronnie from me for an hour or two each morning and night so that I could sleep and heal, helped me shower and gave me the company I needed during the fragile baby blue days. There was no limit to their love and I will remember it forever as to how wonderful they were at this time in my life.
It's now 4 weeks on, I still have weeks to go until I am fully healed but I can now walk and try to leave the house at least once a day. Ronnie is a dream. They say you forget the labour pretty quickly after giving birth. I can honestly say I will never forget mine, but I would do it all again for her.