Having had four children I have had my fair share of labours and luckily none of them too traumatic. I wanted to share my most recent labour experience. This one is obviously the most recent in my memory.
As I have had no complications in my first three labours (although they were all large babies over 8lb 8oz, my recent pregnancy was set to be as uneventful.
** I wish to add at this point that I am needle phobic - not just scared but petrified and have had hypnotherapy to try and deal with my fears and my husband is petrified of anything medical especially hospitals. You can get the picture of what we were like as a pregnant couple!! **
I knew Little Man would be a big baby and from my size and shape so did every one else! All was fine til week 35 apart from a minor and thankfully incorrect DVT scare that required 2 days of hospitalisation and a scan on my calf muscle. The movements felt from the baby suddenly changed as I reached 35 weeks and I no longer was feeling the kicks in the same way or place. I went to a routine Midwife appointment and was sent to the hospital for a scan. My Husband was popping 'Calms' the entire journey and we sat in the waiting room like a pair of caged tigers.
The scan showed that Little Man had moved into a breach position (hence the change in movements) and they were concerned as time was running out with a due date the next month. We were told to come back the next week for another scan and handed information leaflets on Caesarian births - we were petrified, not just because of the severity of the information we held in our hands but also the fact that I cannot be given any needles, the lack of mobility after the operation and the obvious factor it would involve a hospital and my Husband greatest fear.
On returning the next week the baby had still not changed position and we were told as he was such a large baby there was almost certainly no alternative but they would allow us to try ECV to try and turn the baby manually into the correct heads down position. At this stage we both went into panic as after searching the internet it appeared to be a 50/50 procedure in regards to success. I was also told it could be painful. My husband by this stage could have kept Calms herbal stress relief tablets in business. He refused to let me go alone even though he would have to face another hospital visit.
We returned at week 38 (the last possible time I was given to have an ECV) and the waiting room had 4 others in front of us. We watched as they came out trying to judge from their faces if their procedures had been a success and working out our odds on a 50/50 success rate. Selfishly we hoped we would be lucky. My Husband gripped my hand so tightly as we held back tears as we heard our names and I was on edge how he would react to seeing me in pain in the process.
The Doctor went through the pros and cons and assured me the scan done before had showed enough fluid surrounding the baby to attempt the ECV and confirmed through an examination of my tummy that he was a 'good size' which could be a good thing in that if he turned he may not have enough room to turn back but his size may stop him turning in the first place - not the thing you really want to hear at that point.
After 15 or so minutes and my hand red raw from my Husband grip as he fought fear and concern we were told he had turned and we could proceed as planned with a birth at a low intervention Midwife Led Unit (MLU) which was a blessing as I don't think either myself or my Husband could have coped with a Maternity Unit or a Caesarian. We were 'off the hook' as far as our worst fears went.
My due date came and went (September 22nd 2010) and I was told I was to be induced at the main Maternity Unit if I did not go into labour the next day at 7 days overdue due to the size of the baby. Once again we were right back to our worst fears - a busy hospital and intervention involving needles. We didn't need to say the words to each other as we both knew we would face needles and hospitals if induction was given.
We went to our induction appointment scared beyond belief but wanting only the best outcome for our unborn baby. It was like walking your last steps to the electric chair which for those of you without such phobias may be seen as pathetic. The Midwife on duty said we didn't look very happy for a couple having a baby that day and we told her why. She read my maternity notes plastered with warning of our phobias and then the unheard of happened (well so we were told by the other Midwives on duty) she told us to go home, eat curry, have sex, jump up and down and try ANYTHING to get labour to start on its own and booked us for the following Tuesday to come back if it all failed. We both shed tears at the 4 day reprieve as we left the unit baby less. The roller coaster was still in full velocity speed.
3 days later at 8PM I had a bath and had a show. I called my Husband to come and check I was right and he agreed... we just had to keep things moving as one more day and our hope of a MLU birth were over. I went to bed and prayed for something to happen, my Husband did the same. At 5AM I was in early stage labour but me being me I wanted to be sure and also drop the children off to school on the way so I didn't have to let down my school lift share!!! On arriving at hospital in our MLU we were hopeful we would get the birth we wanted.
On examination I was told the baby was to far up and I wasn't in labour. My words were something like it can't hurt more than THIS - are you sure! An internal examination confirmed I was actually 7 CM dilated and was whisked in the labour room - we were go.....
The traumatic ups and downs of first a Breach baby, the once a week scans that my poor hospital phobic Husband endured whilst all the while telling me not to worry when his eyes told me he would rather commit Hara Kiri than be in a hospital. Following that the ECV intervention, the stress of having to go to be induced quickly followed by the reprieve and then the elation at actually arriving at our place of preferred birth and that was all before the actual labour and birth.
3 hours and 45 minutes later, after a gas and air only birth (surprise surprise no needles) we welcomed our 10lb 13oz Son into the world - 12 days late and totally gorgeous. I thank everything we were able to experience the birth we so longed for and that we did it all with the support of each other. Birth is not just experienced by the Mother and Dads also find a lot of the whole thing traumatic even if it is for different reasons.