I’ve written in brief about my birth story and often use my story to raise awareness of how important it is to birth in a hospital environment if you have had a previous c-section. I figured it was about time I wrote it down before it dissipates into the ether of my mummy brain.
When I found out I was pregnant I looked into all of my options for the birth. DS1 had been an emergency section and ideally I wanted a natural birth. Don’t get me wrong I didn’t feel ‘birth raped’ but I got so close to delivering it would have been nice to have finished it.
I knew I wanted to avoid another caesarean if at all possible so started looking into VBAC.
Because of my previous sections and the fact I had a loop excision on my cervix just a few months before conceiving I was placed under consultant care from day 1. My consultant was amazing. She was very supportive of my choice to VBAC from the start and actively encouraged it. At my first appointment I was given a factsheet which detailed the pros and cons of VBAC versus RCS. It highlighted the risk of rupture at 0.5%. I discussed this with my OB and I was confident that if I did rupture I would be in good hands. My OB said I had a great chance at VBAC and because I had fully dilated in my previous labour my success rate stood at around 90%.
I didn’t make a birth plan, my hospital practices DCC on all babies anyway and I didn’t want to set myself up for a fall. My birth plan with my first was very specific and nothing went as I had planned, so this time around I was just going to play it by ear.
My pregnancy went very smoothly, no issues, no complications, a few extra stretch marks but that was all. I was having an ultrasound every month and everything was just as it should be!
By 38 weeks I was HUGE! I looked and felt like a baby elephant 🙂 Baby was doing well and was measuring in at an estimated 8lbs.
By 40 weeks I was soooooo ready to meet my little boy. My midwife examined me and gave me a stretch and sweep. She said my cervix wasn’t favourable yet and to see how it went.
At 40 + 2 I was getting pain and a green watery discharge. I immediately called the maternity ward and was told to go in for an examination. The midwife who saw me examined me and my cervix was still unfavourable, she monitored baby for 20 minutes to make sure he was ok and took a swab. She thought I had a bad thrush infection and I was sent home with a pessary. Two days later my GP called to say the swab had come back as GBS positive. I was prescribed a high dose oral antibiotic and told I would also need an IV antibiotic during labour to protect my baby from contracting GBS.
At 40 + 3 I visited my midwife again, she examined me and I was 1cm dilated. I was so excited to see some progress. She gave me another Stretch and sweep (ouch) and I was sent on my way.
With a stretch and sweep if it’s going to work it will normally do so within 48 hours, so I kept everything crossed that things would start soon. Unfortunately they didn’t and I was back in with my OB at 41 weeks. I had an RCS booked for 42 weeks. My OB didn’t want me to go past 42 weeks as the placenta can start to fail after this point, in addition the risk of baby being born still starts to go up dramatically after this point, and with baby measuring large there were also additional risks in going over. These were risks I didn’t want to take, despite wanting a VBAC I was comfortable with an RCS at 42 weeks if things were not moving by then. My hospital don’t practice induction in VBACs due to the increased rupture risk (up to 1 in 50) so I was reliant on my body going into labour spontaneously if I wanted my VBAC. My OB examined me (still 1cm, but cervix ripening) and did a brutal stretch and sweep to try and get me started. (If you think having a midwife do it is uncomfortable try a Consultant OB… they take no prisoners)
After what seemed like an eternity at 41 + 2 my contractions started. I think I had forgotten how much they hurt! I remember calling my mum to let her know things were finally moving and being barely able to talk, we had a giggle at how much labour hurt and how they don’t call it labour for nothing!
My water hadn’t broken, I think I had expected it to break straight away, with my first son they were the first things to go. But the contractions were thick and fast so we called DHs mum to come over and look after our eldest so we could head over to the hospital.
We arrived at the hospital a little after 11pm and went through to triage where I was examined. It was the same triage midwife I had seen previously, she examined me and I was just 2cm dilated, I was so disappointed, however because of my previous section and the intensity of the contractions they kept me in to monitor me and by 4am I was 4cm dilated and moved to the delivery suite.
I felt like I had reached a huge milestone and that everything was going to work out as planned, I was very positive about achieving a natural birth. I felt much more comfortable in the delivery room. I was assigned a midwife who would be with me all the way through. We get one on one midwife care and my midwife was absolutely lovely. Once I was settled in they got my IV in place and started the antibiotics. I did also choose to have an epidural. I’m a great believer that if there is something to assist with the pain then why suffer (and labour is very painful)
The anaesthetist arrived at around 5am, and by 6am I had my epidural in place and fully topped up (It took longer than expected as my body was fighting the tube going in). I was told to keep self administering every ten minutes to ensure that it was topped up to the maximum (my intention was to use and abuse it for the worst of the pain and then slow down once I got to 7-8cm so that I could let it ease off and feel when to push with the contractions)
I was examined again by my midwife at around ten past 6, my waters had still not broken and I was sat at 5cm dilated, I was so dissapointed, with my first labour I had dilated fully in a matter of hours, part of me at the time wondered if this was to do with the loop, but in hindsight if it was then I wouldn’t have dilated at all. At around 7.30am the midwife broke my waters to help speed things up a little. Once my waters had broken the contractions were back thick and fast (but pain free) and again I felt positive that all would be ok and that I could do this. I was examined again at around 8am but still no progression with dilation.
My contractions were starting to get a little more painful so I was topping up my epidural every ten minutes to try and counteract them. Then at around 8.30ish I was hit with the most excruciating pain I have ever felt (and never wish to feel again) It was like one long contraction that never ended, combined with someone tearing my insides apart with red hot knives. The midwife immediately pressed the emergency button and examined me.
I looked down and had never seen so much blood in my life, I started to panic, all I cared about was my son being born alive. The consultant was in the room in less than 30 seconds and immediately catheterised me, before I could say anything I was being whisked into theatre. I was screaming at them to save my son, I didn’t care what happened to me, I just wanted him safe. I can honestly say I’ve never seen a team work so fast, I was being knocked out on the trolley. I even recall them tubating me as I was being knocked out.
I had suffered a complete rupture and placental abruption.
My son was born at 8.34am with an Apgar of 9, which is incredible considering the circumstances he was born in, and testimony to the speed and efficiency of the doctors. I didn’t get to meet him until several hours later as they had to spend almost three hours patching up my insides.
I can’t have anymore children. I’ve been told if I attempt another pregnancy my uterus will rupture during the pregnancy, I won’t carry to a long enough term for a live baby.
But as I sit here, typing this with one hand and holding my baby in my other arm, watching my eldest build lego rockets I realise just how lucky we are.
Life is so precious and sometimes we don’t realise just how precious it is. If this had happened at home, or even 50 years ago, I wouldn’t be sat here with my boys, and neither of them would be here either. It’s made me realise just how important it is to VBAC in a hospital. 1 in 200 isn’t rare. I should know I’m that one 🙂