Saturday 25 February 2012

Survival - Unplanned C Section and The Water Birth That Wasn't


@Nickie72 AKA "I am Typecast" has been hosting blog prompts for Clic Sargent.  And this is also being tweeted via #doSomethingYummy.
I am sad that I haven't taken part in every one of the 4 blog prompts but this is my second effort, with my 1st being about how lucky I feel to be a Mum.

The writing prompt for this week was "Personal post.  Tell us your story of survival.  What did you overcome?"

Well I think the perfect tale here is that of my c-section.  I did not survive an emergency as neither me nor the consultant let it get to that stage, but I did survive the failure to meet the expectations I had put on myself, and the operation itself.  Any invasive surgery comes with risks, so yes, we avoid the complications of a natural birth, but we run the risks associated with opening oneself up to the elements - literally!

Now back to those expectations I was talking about.

My whole adult life I have had Tokophobia which is what ensured that I never ever let myself get pregnant despite having been with my husband since 1988 (yes you read that right).

I qualified as a Kundalini Yoga Teacher and taught for 6 years until I was 37-38 weeks pregnant with Aaron (haven't done an asana since).  In 2009 I studied to be a Conscious Pregnancy Yoga Teacher.

Now a large element of Conscious Pregnancy is empowering women to trust in their inner strength to get through labour.  I got in touch with this inner strength and channeled it and the fear went.  In fact at the FIRST weekend worshop of the course I was 4 weeks pregnant so the synchronicity was unreal.

We did lots of academic and practical things to focus on pain relief, through doing really tough meditations, so that we'd have experience of going beyond the pain.  We learned how to teach other women to feel empowered about childbirth.  We had a "reading list" and I purchased Spiritual Midwifery as a result and read it back to back about 5 times - I carried it everywhere with me throughout my pregnancy.

I knew every trick in the book about how to get in the zone to encourage labour and naturally increase oxytocin... I had a very very uncomplicated pregnancy.  Only felt sick if hungry so I simply ate regularly.  Was very fit and able, so I did VERY long hours at work, and went up and down the stairs quicker than my colleagues - I was in good spirits, radiant and never moaned about the size, the weight or lack of sleep or anything.  Every midwife check saw me having zero complications, the only one being that I had to have the glucose tolerance injection.

Yet, the day I turned up at the birth centre for my water birth they did some basic checks and found me (1) only 2 cm dilated (2) glucose in my urine (3) swollen feet and ankles (4) odema on the very bottom of my bump (this lady explains it well).. oh and most importantly (5) high blood pressure.  Now Aaron was 8 days late, and I had never had ANY of these things in any of my previous check-ups.

They said I was a candidate for pre-eclampsia and as such I would have to go to the labour ward and my water birth would not be possible.  They'd always secretly wanted this as they were very concerned that I was "large for dates" (I have never written about that before either).

Went to the labour ward and had a very sympathetic midwife who was from Manchester - she knew I'd wanted to do everything naturally.  But, here I was now, away from the BEAUTIFUL birth centre, and now in the world of drips and epidurals (something I was very very against and reluctant to have)...  First thing I noticed was the massive fluorescent lights above my head and the fact that they wanted me to lie flat on my back - against everything I stood for and had trained for.  Despite Aaron being so large I could squat for England and was ready.

So what did she do, in an average NHS hospital? The little darling went and got free standing uplighters and turned the lights off. She got our CD player and put my favourite Kundalini CDs on.  She made sure that the machine that was going to be attached to my tummy was battery operated (instead of attaching me to a power chord) so that I could walk the room.

They did a blood test (but I am SCARED of needles) so as to find out if I really did have pre-eclampsia.

They said they would let me labour on for a while but it'd already been 24 hours since my waters had broken so they were feeling nervous to say the least. They then established it was only my hind waters that had broken, so decided to manually break the fore waters in the hope that it would bring on labour...

I can't remember what happened next but somehow at some point, the decision was taken to attach me to a drip to induce labour - if anyone has gone through this, you will know it increases the frequency of the contractions and REALLY increases the pain of them.

Now remember, I'd previously been walking the room, now I am flat on my back on a drip, and as I said, I was against epidurals so I was labouring through it all on mere gas and air.

My pain threshold is low, so this wasn't at all easy, but my principles stood me firm, as did my meditations.

The midwife went off duty after doing 8 to 8, and said that she would see me that night (Tuesday night) and I said "no way" I will have had him and gone home by then - she gave me a wry smile.

When she came back on duty on Tuesday night she couldn't believe that I was on pethadine (an increase from the gas and air) and that I still hadn't asked begged for an epidural.  Even with 18 years experience she was in awe of that, and VERY surprised.  

Tips to pregnant ladies - if you bring bags of snacks, remember to eat them, or remember to remind your hubby to pass them to you.  We had fruit, nuts, snacks, the works and yet the only thing that passed my lips in 18 hours of active labour was tea and toast that a trainee midwife offered me..... During labour you must keep your strength and your reserves topped up.

Anyway, I am by this point way overdue the deadline for giving birth from waters breaking, and so the consultant said I must push for 45 minutes and that then he would come back.  At this point I was 9 cm dilated.

They ALL let me do it, so that I'd experience trying, yet they all admitted to be after that it was pointless - the circumference of Aaron's head was the biggest the midwife had seen in her 18 years career.  His head was not at all descending. Don't bother counting spines (or whatever they call it) he was not coming down at all.

Well there is a spiritual premise that a soul chooses the way they will be born.  Even though as Mums we think we are in the driving seat.  I'd had a spiritual healing the evening of the night that I went into hospital, and during the healing I went to sleep.  In that sleep I dreamed that Aaron would not come out and yet if I put my fingers on my tummy he's only a few centimetres away from my touch - I remember in the dream thinking "how will I never get to see you, when you are so close to touch" followed by "I could nearly reach in and get you".  That spiritual experience occurred to prepare my stubborn subconscious for the fact that there is/was another way.  It doesn't have to be about meeting the expectations of your beliefs or your training, or your values.  Sometimes it is about going with what nature intended even if there seems there is NOTHING natural about it.

Now, roll forward to the lady who is TERRIFIED of injections and here she is sitting in an operating theatre while an anesthetist prepares to give her a spinal block (bearing in mind she was dead set against epidurals - oh how ironic).  Well thanks to the fact that I'd been on the inducing drip and thanks to the fact that I was 9cm dilated, I was still having contractions and BOY were they close together.  EVERY time he told me to  relax and sit still I was wailing and heavy breathing with the power and the pain of a contraction - the fact that they were so frequent really annoyed him!  Then a blanket of I DO NOT KNOW WHAT overwhelmed me, and I went limp, and he did the injection with ease.  Now somebody reading this won't be spiritual and you will poo poo my experience but hear this - at the EXACT same time that happened 2 of my relatives in Ireland (my Mum and my aunt who'd done the Absent Healing), felt a wave of peace and love envelope them, and they did not know what it was about, until we caught up in the days after.

So injection done, he then sprayed water on me to ensure I could feel nothing from the bust down, and not long later Aaron was with us, with a comment from the consultant "this one is ready to go to school".  Aaron is half Nigerian and the Consultant was Nigerian.  It all felt right and as you can see from the radiance in this picture, because of the way it unfolded I had absolutely zero hangups about the fact that I had a c-section.

Because I was empowered to ask the consultant for one, when the 45 minutes of pushing got us all nowhere, and because they were respectful enough (on a NHS clock) to let me try and because they let me mention c-section before they forced it upon me, it was all a very positive experience.

The one bit that was ironic was I did at some point say, did those blood tests ever come back, only to be told that I did NOT have pre-eclampsia!

I would love to give times on all of the above but I did not write my birth story when it was fresh in my memory.  In fact Aaron is now 20 months and this is the 1st time I have written this - it's not in a diary anywhere. And there are only fleeting comments on Netmums.

Ladies if you are about to give birth, do write your birth story as soon as you can while it is fresh in your head.

It took from 21:05 to 21:13 for the injection to work and Aaron was with us by 21:24! THAT is how quick a c-section is.  But it is NOT for the feint hearted as the recovery time afterwards is quite long.  NO heavy lifting and a scar to worry about.  It also influences breast feeding which I have explained here.

I will leave you with this photo.

Liska xx


  1. Beautiful pictures, L - and a story that shows us that whatever you plan, and where you plan it for, doesn't always work out as intended. Thanks for sharing and thanks for joining in with the final week of the #dosomethingyummy prompts

    1. Only just saw this comment now - thanks for visiting, and hosting the prompts was a great idea and definitely brought Clic Sargent to the forefronts of our minds. People really stepped up I think, and opened up


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