7 years on, its still hard

I’ve written before about what a traumatic birth my eldests sons was. An unexpected emergency C-section which had serious complications. One blogger thats always inspired me in terms of dealing with and accepting my own birth trauma is Ghostwritermummy. Today she wrote a post about how that experience doesn’t just affect that one day. And it is SO true.

Yesterday was my eldests birthday. He was 7. Its 7 years since a day where things couldn’t have got much worse for me aside from me losing my life. It wasn’t good. It took me a long time to get over what happened. I remember the initial period where I was really clueless. I didn’t understand why the people around me were so affected by what had happened. I couldn’t remember much. And then the flashbacks started. Little snippets of moments that happened. Sound snippets too. My own screams and not from labour. And then it really hits you. When you realise that wow that was a pretty serious situation. Over time you are learning to live with it. But I never really dealt with it.

Then I fell pregnant with no2 and at my first midwives appointment we discussed the last birth. I got a bit tearful. She suggested I go and see the birth reflections midwife, she said that although it was 4 years ago they would still see me. So I did. And finally I gained a proper insight into what happened. It did really help. It was like having a huge puzzle with dozens of gaps and she was able to fill them. She was able to make sense of it all for me and give me that clarification that I needed. What she couldn’t give me though was relief of the guilt I feel for not having my dream water birth. Thats something I don’t know that I will ever come to terms with.

Its funny because when people ask what the biggest challenge is that I’ve overcome I often say childbirth. It is afterall a challenge for many women. But for me the overall outcome of that first birth was both emotional and physical damage. The physical damage healed after 4 months or so when I was no longer in any pain from being totally butchered and my bladder had healed up nicely. The emotional damage is long lasting though.

I don’t remember that moment when my son was born.

I don’t remember him being weighed or anything. I was drifting in and out of consciousness.

I don’t remember him first being fed, again I was unconscious. My mum respected that I wanted to breastfeed and they cup fed him instead.

What I do remember is a doctor shaking me awake to tell me I’d feel like an elephant was sitting on my chest because of the drugs they were giving me for my heart.

I do remember shaking violently as I felt so cold, I now know my body was in severe shock.

I do remember screaming whilst on the HDU ward, I now know that was the doctor removing clots.

I do remember waking up in the middle of the night and trying to make sense of the fact there was a baby lying next to me and he must be mine.

They say things get easier with time. I’m not convinced they do. I guess you just get used to it? All I know is that one day does still have an impact on me as a person. And thats something I can’t change.

C-Sections. Not the negative they are portrayed!

This morning I saw this image on the BabyCalm Facebook Page with a comment that felt incredibly negative.

602041_565915256774428_1697564184_nIts no secret to regular readers that I’m a c-section Mum … twice over! One was an emergency, my dream natural birth out the window in place of a sun-roof with complications arrival! The second was a planned, to avoid a further EMCS as I have two uterus’ and although I could have attempted to deliver naturally I’d have been putting mine and my babies life in too much danger and when you already have one son I wasn’t prepared to run the risk of him losing me!

C-sections are made out by so many to be a negative in general. To be a failure on the mothers part. But surely if medical science has provided us with a way to deliver a baby safely in terms of the mother and the baby being safe and well then it should be deemed a positive should it not? Maybe it isn’t the all natural/hypnobirthing/no-pain relief birth that many c-section mums originally planned to have but that doesnt mean its a bad thing! There is still a positive outcome in the end … a beautiful HEALTHY baby!

It took me 4 years to come to terms with the fact I hadn’t failed and to accept that my EMCS needed to happen. It was only when I spent time with my birth reflections midwife going through all my notes and seeing that there was no other way things could have gone and discussing how we could make DS2′s c-section better that I begun to accept that actually there was no other way around it. My second section was a dream and I wouldn’t fault it for a second. It went smoothly, I had my amazing consultant deliver my son and fix up my dodgy uterus’ a bit while he was in there, I was able to hold my baby whilst I was still in theatre and then breastfed as soon as we got to recovery. It wasn’t a negative experience and I wasn’t a failure. I birthed my son in a safe and healthy way. It may not have been natural but we both survived to tell the tale and I’m still here for my oldest son.

I dreamt … and still do dream … of that natural water birth, with no pain relief, using hypnobirthing techniques and delivering my baby naturally but for me that dream is unrealistic. Its just not going to happen unless I want to put my life at risk. Which I dont.

People who judge c-section mums need to take into account the fact that often the mothers didn’t CHOOSE to have that section and are more often that not heartbroken that they didn’t get to deliver naturally and are beating themselves up over it anyway, so don’t go adding to that guilt they already feel. And mothers that did choose to had their reasons which are just as valid. If only there could be a little more respect and less negativity towards c-sections … then I’d be happy!

Should you share birth photos?

Today I saw someone tweet a comment that someone on their Facebook had posted their c-section birth photos, the tone wasn’t hugely positive and so I enquired why she felt this was unnecessary and if she was against both c-section photos and natural or just c-section.

The discussion got me thinking. I’m well aware its not to everyones tastes to see birth photos. Mum looking rough. Baby often still covered in all the blood etc. They aren’t pretty like those posed ones you might do when the baby is a few days old. But they are real. They represent those first minutes of your babies life. With my eldest son I don’t have any from in theatre. It was an emergency section that didn’t exactly go to plan and photos were not top of my mums list and I totally understand that!

But with youngest it was a planned c-section. I’d spoken to my midwife to ask if cameras were allowed and she said yes so my mum was under strict instructions that I wanted LOTS of photos. She managed to capture a photo of eldest as he was lifted from my tummy and in the hands of my awesome consultant. I have photos of our first cuddles as I’m still lying on the operating table and hes on my chest. I have photos of him being weighed. Cutting the cord. Everything I missed out on with eldest.

And why shouldn’t I share them? They are my proudest moments and its natural to want to shout about it is it not? I have to admit I struggle to understand the ‘its personal’ side of things, if your going to be posting a birth announcement and life with your baby on your Facebook and twitter anyway, why not share that part of your life too? Its no different to the mums who allow their births to be filmed and shown on national TV surely, in a sense anyway. Then theres the argument of, but I don’t look good in the photos. Of course you don’t! No-one expects you to! You just had a baby for gods sake! The photos of me post eldest I look terrible in. I’d just almost died, had received a 6 pint blood transfusion and was swollen from all the fluids I’d been pumped with! Having a baby isn’t glamourous. But its real. Its amazing. It should be appreciated, celebrated and documented.

Personally for me when I was 16 and pregnant and using the internet as a way of learning everything I needed to learn about childbirth birth photos gave me a good idea of what to expect. I’m a visual person. Reading it is one thing but seeing it is another.

So im interested to know. Do you have photos from your children’s births? Did you share them with friends and family? 

2006: 16 Years old. The bottom right is my first photographed cuddle with my boy when I was eventually concious enough to appreciate a photo about 16 hours old.

2006: 16 Years old. The bottom right is my first photographed cuddle with my boy when I was eventually concious enough to appreciate a photo about 16 hours old.

2011: 21 : Bottom right is his first few seconds in the world. Big photo is my first cuddle with him.

2011: 21 : Bottom right is his first few seconds in the world. Big photo is my first cuddle with him.

One Born Every Minute : A painful reminder…

Last night as I’m sure many people know, One Born Every Minute begun its new series. Twitter went crazy for it. Even my facebook stream went crazy for it. But I switched off. I turned off social media for that hour and didn’t have my telly set to channel 4. Why? Because OBEM is a painful reminder of the birth I will never have. Yes they feature their fair share of planned and emergency c-sections but they also show a heck of alot of natural births. Births where the baby gets lifted to mums chest straight away. Where she has pushed her baby out with or without pain relief. Something I will never be able to do.

Pregnant with DS2

Pregnant with DS2

Although I had birth reflections counselling during my second pregnancy and I came to terms and accepted my situation and that for my health a c-section really is the only option thanks to my two uterus’ and weird anatomy but it doesn’t mean I don’t still crave that natural birth. Afterall the reason it took me so long to get over my first birth was because I had dreamed  of the perfect natural birth. Yes I was 16 but I didn’t want any pain relief, I was petrified of epidurals, had read all the side effects, wanted to be mobile and upright to help gravity do its job. The reality was the total opposite. I was strapped to the bed on a monitor with back to back labour and laboured on the bed the whole way through until the urge to came to push… and then the contractions stopped … and then there was a mad dash to theatre … and an attempt to deliver with ventouse following an epidural … and then finally the emergency c-section. Oh except it wasn’t finally because then in recovery I had serious complications that left me clinging onto life by my finger tips.

My second birth was the total opposite and as wonderful as a c-section is ever going to be. But it wasn’t natural. It wasn’t drug free. And I didn’t get to ‘birth’ my baby.

I don’t know that I am ever going to get over that feeling of being cheated out of natural birth. Its all I ever dreamed of in terms of being a mother and both of my births have been the total opposite of it. I can’t ever try a natural birth without putting myself at serious risk (so please don’t suggest that because it just isn’t going to happen). I could try it but I’d be risking my boys losing their mother and I would never take that risk.

Maybe in a few years time it won’t be so painful. But for now shows like OBEM I give a wide berth!

6 years ago…

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… I was in agony. Every breath I took hurt. If I moved an inch my stomach felt like it had been butchered. It had… Giving birth to my eldest son was by far the hardest thing I have ever gone through in my 22 years. I ended up fighting for my life. Mostly unaware myself of the predicament I was in. Although I could see the fear on my mothers face. The look on my partners face when he first saw me when I came back from theatre and the eyes of the consultant who was desperately trying to get me to open my eyes and look at her. Even she looked pretty bloody serious. I knew things werent that great. But at the time my only focus was on how exhausted I felt. I just wanted to be left alone to sleep. The doctors however werent going to allow that and pumped me full of drugs which eventually brought my heartrate back to normal and away from the fearful ‘shes about to crash’ level that it sat at for over 2 hours.

I only now know all this after spending a number of sessions with a birth reflections midwife when I was pregnant with number two last year. She went through all the notes with me and filled in the gaps, of which there were alot. My own memories are scarce and what I know is like reading a book and remembering the storyline.

The weeks after were harrowing and difficult. I remember the night my mum wheeled me up to NICU to see my son. Literally every bump in the corridors sent pain shooting through my body and holding my son against me on a pillow feeding him exhausted me so bad.

But I recovered. It took weeks but I did it. And then I fought PND and my memories and flashbacks of such a horrific birth. But 6 years on we are both stronger for it and he is my little fighter. He is my star who shines daily and never fails to make me smile. Watching him go through his own operation this year terrified me and  as a parent I’ve never been so scared in my life than handing him over to the doctors to do their thing. How I made it through that hour I do not know.

Nothing compares to the fight I had on my hands that night. The memories sent me into a self destructive spiral that I’ve finally managed to pull myself out of but that was hard too. Either we way won. We made it. And we are all happy and thats all that matters. Yesterday we had dinner with most of our important people, minus some of our closest friends who are off travelling in various exotic places.

Where did 6 years go? I feel like it was yesterday. It almost feels like I blinked and missed it. But I know I didn’t because I look at all our pictures filled with happy memories and know that motherhood at 16 has given me the best 6 years of my life and continues to!

Its the Baby Shows 10th Birthday!

When I read the press release that told me the baby show is celebrating its 10th birthday it made me realise I’ve been visiting the baby show for 6 years this year. Thats pretty terrifying! The Baby Show Earls Court is the flagship event in The Baby Show calendar and the one I’ve visited the most!

The Baby Show features many fantastic services such as free changing facilities, a free Fisher-Price crèche (bookable in advance), Vtech Smart Play Zone packed with innovative toys to help development through play, a shopping drop off and collect by car service, so that you don’t have to lug your shopping around with you and for the first time you can take the stress out of shopping completely by booking a personal shopping experience with Baby Concierge!

They also have over 300 brands showcasing their products, many of whom run competitions as well as the Face of the Baby Show competition. Britax, Fisher Price, Mamas & Papas, Mothercare, M&S, Stokke, Superdrug, The Gro Company & Trunki are all in attendance this year, The Baby Show really is a one stop shop for all of your parenting needs.

For me personally I’m excited to visit Cot2Tot who are fantastic for babywearing products as well as BoobieMilk. I will also be looking out for christmas gifts for my youngest son and plan to get most of my christmas shopping done there for him and his baby buddies!

The Baby Show, Earls Court 26th – 28th October 2012. Advance tickets cost £13.50 each (Friday) and £14.50 each (Saturday & Sunday) or £20 on the door. http://www.thebabyshow.co.uk/earlscourt