Tuesday, 16 March 2010

The day my body let me down.

[Edited to add: Having just read Sally's post here, I just wanted to clarify, this post is NOT about me feeling like a failure.  Hell no.  I actually think I'm doing okay - The Little Dude is nearly one, has had no brushes with death, and is generally a cheerful, contented little man. All good, right? The post is in a relation to a prompt about one's body letting one down, which mine did, but only at the last minute - and to be fair, it had just done nine month's hard labour making a baby. So no hard feelings body. And I promise, I'll sort out that post-baby-muffin top any day now.  Really.
Anyway, as I was saying...]

This week at Josie's Writing Workshop, prompt 4 is: Tell me about a time your body let you down.
As The Little Dude is one next month (gulp), I've been doing a lot of looking back, and have been pondering the idea of facing my fear and writing about 'the birth' - which I've pretty much skimmed over before now as the memories aren't exactly happy. I'm hoping it might help to work through those memories I've done so well to squash in a corner at the back of my mind and ignore. Let's see.

April 20th 2009 - The day my body let me down.

Sunday, April 19th - I was 10 days overdue.
I felt like a hippo.
I was tired, achey, and liable to punch the next person who said 'still no baby then?' or offered another stupid old wives tale about how to kick-start labour.

At about noon, I felt a twinge.  Nothing major, but definitely different.
The Mr was at work till 3, so I decided against ringing him, didn't want to get his hopes up.
By the time he got back, the twinges were leaning towards uncomfortable, and more frequent.
'Shall we go to hospital?!' mr asked - desperate to meet his little boy.
'No' I said, 'It'll be ages yet, they'll only send us home. Just keep me distracted.'

So he did.
He was amazing actually. made me dinner, ran me a bath, put on my favourite dvds, made me lots of hot drinks, noted down the times of each contraction, checked the time about 12 times an hour, made sure his phone, my phone, and the camera were all charged. Repeatedly!

By 4am, the contractions were every 10 minutes, and officially hurt. A lot.
Time to go to hospital.

I remember being strangely (foolishly?) calm.
I wasn't scared. I wasn't panicky. I just wanted to get on with it & take my baby home.

We checked in, The Mr got me unpacked, a midwife came in to examine me, I was 5cm dilated.
I felt quite chuffed with myself for lasting so long at home.

I mooched around the room, trying to stay mobile, keep moving.  Still pretty calm.

The next few contractions kicked things up a notch.
I screamed. I swore. I may have almost broken The Mr's hand. (Sorry honey.)
The midwife said the birthing pool was free if I was interested.
What the hell, I thought, worth a try.

Four hours of bobbing about in agony later, my contractions were 5 minutes apart, and unbearable.  I felt like I was barely catching my breath after one before the next one started. I was exhausted.
'Jump out & we'll see how you're doing' chirped the midwife. God I wanted to slap her for being so cheerful.

Still 5cm dilated.
She had to be joking.
She wasn't. I cried.
I was exhausted.
I felt like I couldn't take another ten minutes, and they were telling me it would probably be hours.
My body was giving up.  I had nothing left.
I agreed, reluctantly to an epidural, thinking at least then when it was finally time to push, I might have replenished some energy.
A very tall, very German man came to stick a needle in my back.
'Keep very still' he kept saying. My body had other ideas. The contractions were getting more and more frequent, and the gas & air was doing nothing.
Finally, it was done.
'Your legs should feel numb and pain should stop in around 10 minutes' he said, and left.
Twenty minutes later, the contractions were still coming thick & fast.  And I could definitely still feel them.

Turns out, my body didn't fancy an epidural.  It had failed.

The midwife examined me again. By that point, I was hooked up to a big bleepy machine to monitor mine & the baby's heart rate.
She looked at it, wrote something down, and said she was just going to get a doctor.


I grabbed The Mr's hand - what was going on?
Seconds later, there was a doctor, 2 midwives & a nurse around me, muttering about contractions, and failed epidurals, and tests, and positions.
I squeezed The Mr's hand tighter, holding my breath, waiting for what felt like an eternity for them to say... something?

'Your baby has changed position and his heart rate is spiking everytime you contract. We need to get him out, quickly. We need you to sign this form so we can do an emergency caesarean.'
I looked at The Mr with eyes full of tears and panic, pleading, begging him to make it better.
My body had tried so hard to get my baby into the world, but it was so tired, it couldn't finish the job.

From there, it's all a bit hazy.
I remember The Mr telling me it was all going to be fine, he'd be there the whole time.
But he wouldn't.
He was pushed out the door 'just while we prep you for the operation' someone said. I screamed that I didn't want to be on my own. Nobody listened.

Next thing I knew, I was wheeled into a stupidly bright room. There were about 8 people buzzing around above my head, none of whom were my baby's daddy.
I was crying uncontrollably.
A tiny Asian woman with a shrill voice asked if I could feel pain.
A tall man with kind eyes tried to calm me down.
I sobbed and told him I wanted my boyfriend.
He said they'd let him in in a minute. He lied.
I heard the shrill Asian woman say I was 'too unsettled'.
That's the last thing I remember.

I woke up at 10.30am. With a mouth like sandpaper and a banging head.
For a second I wondered if it had all been a dream and I was actually waking up to the world's worst hangover.

But there at the end of the bed, was The Mr, holding the most beautiful little baby I'd ever seen.

He explained that after they'd wheeled me off, they'd given him scrubs to change into while they 'prepped' me.
But instead, because of the state I was in (ie. crying uncontrollably due to being terrified and on my own) they'd made the decision to 'put me under', so he wasn't allowed back in. He'd had to sit, on his own, and wait. They'd brought the Little Dude through to him at 10am. He was born at 9.55am.

I still have a lot of unresolved anger and resent about the way things panned out.

I didn't agree to the GA. I wasn't even consulted. The decision was taken out of my hands.
I wanted to be conscious for my son's arrval, and that was taken away from me.
My man wanted to be there when his son was born, and that was taken away from him.
I still get angry and upset thinking about it, because I can't help wondering, if they'd just given me 5 minutes alone with my man, he could have calmed me down, 'settled' me, and made for a very different experience.

At the time though, looking at our gorgeous son, it was hard to feel anything but delirious happiness.
And even now, I can look at it all as a 'means to an end' - It wasn't pretty, but despite my body failing me, I got a beautiful baby boy in the end. 

I am lucky, and grateful, and blessed.

Reminding myself of that doesn't make the other stuff go away, but it does make it easier to deal with.


  1. Great post, I know how you feel about being angry over the birth. I had a c-section, though wasn't under GA I hated the way the birth turned out but love the end product x

  2. Having had a similar experience I can completely relate to your anger, luckily my Mum who was at the hospital was my voice of reason saying that had they waited both mine and my lil ones life could have been lost, it helped soothe my anger somewhat but I still get annoyed now at how it turned out and the effect that had on my bonding with me son.

    Glad you are both fit and well now!

  3. Get yee over to Sally's Blog whos the mummy a nd see that you are not a failure

  4. Thank you all :)

    To clarify though, I don't feel like a failure!!
    Not one bit!
    Actually, I'm quite proud of myself for the last year!

    Have added a little edit to the top of the post to that effect! :D xx

  5. Thanks for sharing your birth story, that can't have been easy. I still haven't written mine and Presley is 2.5! Luckily Cash's birth was a hilarious walk in the park by comparison (just in case you were thinking of having another)! x

  6. Thanks for sharing this story. I can understand why you would feel upset by what happened, though you clearly have the perspective on it as a whole and yes, you do deserve a "WooHoo" for a great first year. Well done you.

    MD xx

  7. How lovely to look back and see that it's the year in between that matters, and the birth is just a small (if pretty significant!) part of that. Congratulations on a fab first year.

  8. Thank you!
    Sandy, it wasn't easy - but I do feel better for it - and as for No2, we're still undecided :P

    And thank you MD & angelsandurchins - you're both right, it's all about the perspective - and what happens after the baby gets out (by whatever means!), is way more important anyway!

  9. Well it sounds to me like you're justified for feeling angry about the way it was done, but looking at it as 'a means to an end' seems the perfect thing to do. Great post. x

  10. I know the feeling. I too had to have an emergency c-section and was dissapointed and angry afterwards about the way it had been handled. But I too, like you, love the end product.
    Don't really feel like my body let me down, more like my doctor did. But I guess they have to do what they think is best for all their patients too.

  11. Doesn't sound like your body let you down rather your hospital did. Just because you had to have a c-section doesn't mean it should be so traumatic. No wonder woman struggle to come to terms with them if the experience is made worse. Awful. Hope returning to it allows you to feel better about it.

  12. I absolutely agree with what mummy limited wrote above.

    It must have taken a lot of courage to write this out. I've still not managed to write about the scary bit with my labour. I can write up until Kai came out but then I haemorrhaged very badly and I still have trouble thinking about it.

    Thank you for sharing this with us. And it is good to hear you say that you are proud of your body - you should be, it did an amazing thing!


  13. I may or may not have just shed a tear reading that. (I blame the pregnancy hormones). What a horrid experience for you both, but I am so glad you can see that it was a means to an end.

  14. A great, and brave, post. What a thing to happen. I can't yet write about the birth of my little boy; it was a long, messy induction that had a scary last few minutes but was all fine in the end. It is so traumatic when it doesn't go according to plan, and yours sounds like a horrific experience, but totally out of your hands. Thank you for sharing it.

  15. Great post. Thanks for sharing.....
    Looking forward to the next installment....

    Have a look at this post

    Big baby mag looking for mums to comment on their birth experiences - you would be fab.

  16. I promise you time will heal this.

    My emergency C came as a huge shock in contrast to the birth I had planned. After I went through a dark period of anger and sadness that I had no memory of the first six hours of my sons life.

    Now 11 years later it is something that never crosses my mind (until i read your post lol)
    It surfaced a little when I had to plan my second childs birth but this time I knew I could not give birth naturally and made a different birth plan that this time left me feeling in control.

    My second little darling threw those plans out the window when he came two weeks early but at least I was awake with this one (even if a hiccup with the epidural meant I spent the next week flat on my back!)

    Neither birth was the one I expected and planned for, but in the end we all came out of it alive, something that wouldn't have happened 100 years ago.

    "The other stuff" will go away, replaced by the new beautiful memories you create with your partner and child