Melbourne Doula

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Sharon's VBAC - birth is just really tough sometimes.

I guess that this story isn't in context without firstly writing about my first birth experience. My daughter was born after a longish labour by c/section. I felt so incredibly sad after her birth. I was not supposed to have a c/section, I was fit, active, determined and it just wasn't supposed to happen to people like me... I was so depressed, and found it so hard to love my baby. It was hard to hear of others who were not fit, who didn't work hard, who didn't look after themselves then have easy births. It was hard to hear them say that they had hoped to have a c/sec...

Consequently I was pregnant again when my daughter was 1. I was determined to prove myself. I knew I could do it. That my c/section was due to the hospital putting me under pressure, that it wasn't necessary. It was something of a quest for me to prove to them all that it was THEIR fault.

We did things differently this time, we hired a doula – Julie, who talked to us about the option of homebirth. I didn't think that it was possible, we live in the country, no midwife would travel to us. But we found Andrea, and she was great. I felt like things were all going well, and surely this was a good sign about the birth of our second child.

I woke up at 3am on saturday morning, with contractions. They were much stronger than the early contractions of my first labour, and about 5-6mins apart. I was sure that this labour would progress quickly... hmm, how wrong I was. I waited till about 6am to tell my husband. In the morning we organised things, turned up the hot water service, he put the car seat in the car, and baked some scones. I rang Julie, Andrea and our back up midwife Alan during the day. I felt that things were going slow, so didn't ask any of them to come over yet. Julie decided to come in the afternoon, as she didn't want to be too far away if things picked up after dark.

Contractions stayed about 5mins apart for that day, but intesified, so I had to really focus to get through them. I was getting a bit concerned that the pace was still slow, that things should have progressed further. I guess I must have known that I wasn't dilating a quickly as perhaps I should be. Morning came, and things were pretty much the same. I broke down in tears, and felt that I wasn't able to cope anymore. I guess Julie felt that I was in transition, as she rang the midwives, and got the bath filled.

Sunday was basically the same, contractions were getting closer together, and stronger, but not as close together or as strong as I thought they ought to be. I kept moving about, although I wished that I could have just sat in the bath for a few hours and push a baby out, like the women on the DVDs I had watched. My 'team' kept getting me to get out of the bath, which I hated, as it was so nice and warm and soothing. My night time, I could hear people wispering – talking about me, I guess they were getting worried...

Then I felt things change, was it the 'urge to push' that I had read about. It must have been. I started to push, just gently at first as I wasn't sure but then it got more and more obvious to me. Finally! Andrea told me that I had to push really really hard, so I did. Was it meant to be so hard? I couldn't believe how hard I had to push, and felt nothing, apart from the feeling that my whole insides would be pushed out of me. I worked so hard. Maybe once or twice I felt something move... was it the baby moving down?

Then the water's broke. Oh, thank god I thought, someone said that things should start moving along more quickly now. But it was more of the same. I lost the ability to wee at some stage, and Andrea put in a catheter and decided to check the dilation too. I was fully dilated, thank goodness, but she couldn't tell how the baby's head was located. Probably not a good thing, but baby was doing ok, so it was back to the bath. I kept getting asked about my scar if it hurt. I had forgotten that this was a vbac, and there was some (small) risk of a uterine rupture....

I kept going, thinking that sooner or later things would happen. I put my fingers inside to feel the baby's head – I could feel it. I had gotten so far! Surely it wouldnt take much longer, how could it, the head was nearly out.... I could hear them conferring, I could almost hear them saying the words they were about to say to me. Everyone came in to the bathroom, and Andrea suggested that we head to the hospital soon. Brad pleaded for more time, that if I got up, tried harder, it would happen. He held me down, he was the only one who knew how much I hurt after my first birth, and he didn't want me to hurt again, but I was truly finished by this stage. I thought of all the women who have died this way, in such extreme pain, with no hope of it ending, and I thanked my lucky stars that I had access to a good hospital and a good doctor. We were in the car in a matter of minutes. It was 3am on monday – pretty much exactly 48 hours after the labour started... Mother's day had been and gone, I missed it, in a haze of pain and hopelessness. It was time for this baby to come out.

When we arrived at the hospital I couldn't believe how frustrated I felt. I was desperate for it all to end, and we had to go through paperwork, and monitoring etc. I think I was rude to the midwife, and demanded she call my doctor and not stuff around. He arrived, I don't know how long it took, but I was not really in my body anymore, I could see myself in the room...

He came, he checked the baby's head and position, and then he said the words that I had dreaded with every fibre of my body. Most likely I would need to have c/section as the baby's head was not well positioned. He would try for a forceps delivery, but he wasn't expecting it to work. I could see that he was almost sad to see me. He too knew how devastated I was about my previous birth, and he knew we had tried for a home birth.

From that point on it was just horrible. Every contraction pointless, yet it took so long before I was able to have a spinal injection and make it end. It was just the same as my first birth, being wheeled out on a stretcher... how ridiculous... why was this happening again? The spinal injection was just bliss, I never thought I would want it so bad, but I was truly at the end of what I could cope with by this stage. Then all I felt like doing was sleeping! They put my legs up in these funny stirrups, and fiddled and then Andrea said that the head was out!

My doctor then asked me to push really hard, and then they put this little limp baby onto me... He was so different to our daughter, he was so bruised and battered, his head so misshappen (he had his head on the side, so all my pushing was doing was deforming his head). He needed oxygen. But thank goodness he was ok. I had some bad tearing, right through to the anus, great... It was probably about 6am by the time I was able to rest in a room in the maternity ward. Julie stayed in town overnight and came to visit me at 9 the next morning. I left the hospital by 3pm – much to the shock of the staff, but one of the things I liked about having a homebirth was not being away from home, so they were not going to keep me in...

I am not sure how I feel overall about the birth now. I feel proud of myself, as although I haven't been able to give birth properly, I know that I have put in more effort than many women, and time wise between my 2 births I could probably have had half a dozen babies... I had a hard time and I didn't demand an epidural or anything, not till I knew it was all over anyway... But at the same time I feel ashamed. When I saw my baby in the state he was in, I couldn't help but think how alert and healthy my daughter was after the c/section. It was MY fault that he was in the state he was in. My stubborness to have a natural birth, meant that he actually suffered. I never thought about it from this perspective till later. But thankfully he is ok, in fact he is great, big and strong and very calm and happy.

I guess for all the comments I have had about having child-bearing hips, I'm not built for it. Not everyone is, and I guess I'm just one of them, and have to accept it. But I'm ready to move on, I don't feel I need to prove anything any more. I still get a bit down when I hear of other births, and how easy some have it, but life is not fair sometimes, and we have to be prepared for that. I am a lot more positive about this experience because I got to make all the decisions, no one made me do anything, I chose to go to the hospital, I left when I wanted etc, and that made such a big difference for me.

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