April is C-Section awareness month. It’s also my eldest daughter’s birthday today. What makes this a perfect match is that Becky, who turns 13 today, is the only one of my children who was a caesarean section. Becky, my 2nd born child, was an emergency section at 41 weeks gestation and Ruby, Rhian and Reese were all classed as a VBAC (Virginal Birth After Caesarean).
With April being Becky’s birth and C-Section Awareness Month, it makes it a perfect time to share my birth story of when Becky was born!
For some reason, people don’t seem to realise that a caesarean section is major abdominal surgery. It takes several weeks to recover and I cannot see how someone would voluntarily choose to go through one unless there was a medical reason. I’m aware that some people do have planned or elective sections, but this is usually discussed and planned with your obstetrician and they are not taken lightly and for no reason. Yet the media still talks about women being “Too posh to push” and how women would rather have their stomach cut open than push a baby out of their vee-jay. Which frankly is a load of rubbish!
There are also some who believe that having a section, somehow makes you less of a mother. How I don’t know! It doesn’t matter whether you give birth naturally, whether you have pain relief, whether you use forceps or suction or whether you have a section. What matters is having a healthy baby which you have carried for 9 months!
My scars are a testament to what I went through to give my daughter life and I am proud of them. I am her mother, just like I am the mother of her siblings!
Becky was conceived 2 weeks after I suffered a miscarriage. The miscarriage was very serious and not only did it cost me my baby’s life, it almost cost me my own and ended up with me being airlifted to hospital after I made the mistake of visiting a Petting Farm whilst pregnant and coming into contact with lambs.
Because of my previous miscarriage, I was given an early scan to put my mind at ease and thankfully this showed a baby with a beating heart. After my initial fears had subsided, I had an easy pregnancy even whilst running around after a toddler. I didn’t suffer any morning sickness (I’m one of those lucky and annoying people who never suffers from morning sickness) I even married their daddy when I was 4 months pregnant.
My due came and went and my stubborn little madam showed no sign of wanting to leave. By now I was ready to pull her out by her feet, especially as I hit 41 weeks and realised that I had now been pregnant for 55 weeks! I had suffered a miscarriage at 13 weeks and then conceived Becky two weeks later, which meant, excluding the two-week gap, I had been pregnant for over a year! ONE WHOLE YEAR PREGNANT!!! No wonder I was ready to pull her out myself!
I went to see the obstetrician consultant when I was 6 days late. I tried to explain to the consultant and my midwife that I was concerned about the size of the baby as I felt that she was going to be large and that she seemed to have engaged her head quite early. I was told not to worry as they were confident that the baby would be around the same size as her older brother who had been 8lb 13oz at birth two years previously. The consultant was happy to leave me another week before inducing me, despite the fact that they had induced me a few days after my son’s due date as they were worried about his size, but he did give me a membrane sweep in hopes that it would get things moving.
The sweep worked and the following day I went into labour!
Labour progressed quite slowly, although still quicker than my son’s 17-hour labour, and by tea time it was getting ready to push time. I’d had an epidural but it was a really good one as I could still move my toes and I felt each contraction as a tightening of my belly, not hurting although a little uncomfortable. I began pushing, but an hour later she still wasn’t moving and hadn’t moved at all. Only one thing did seem to be moving and that is something really embarrassing that they don’t tell you could happen in labour! It seemed she was stuck in my pelvis and nothing, not even the forceps which had helped my son, seemed to work.
The decision was made and I was taken to theatre for an emergency section. One look at hubby in his scrubs and I started laughing and wish I’d taken a picture, but I knew it was serious and I worried about the baby.
As the caesarean went on, things changed rapidly. My baby was wedged in my pelvis. As I had suspected, her head had engaged early and had continued growing inside my pelvis. She was also facing the wrong way, which meant she the largest part of her head was trying to travel down the birth canal instead of the smallest part and it wouldn’t fit.
Becky was completely stuck! She was so stuck that even though I was completely numb from the epidural and hadn’t felt them cut me open, I felt them tug her out and it hurt!
The next bit is a bit of a blur as I haemorrhaged. I still say, to this day, that someone said she was a boy but hubby swears no one did! I do remember the midwife bringing her over and saying “Meet your daughter!” followed by “Are you ready to hear how big she was? You’ll need to brace yourself… She weighed 10lb 14oz, almost 11lb!”
I gazed adoringly at my daughter, in too much shock to take in her size at that moment or that despite being told she would be the same size as her brother she was 2lb 1oz heavier! Then I passed out because of the haemorrhaging.
No one explained to me why I haemorrhaged Once they had stabilised me, I remember lying in recovery with tears running down my face as I wanted my baby. I didn’t know where she was, but I knew her dad was with her because I had ordered him to follow her and to stay with her. I wanted to scream and shout “I WANT MY DAUGHTER!” but instead I just lay there quietly with tears streaming down my face.
Finally, after what seemed like forever, a decision was made to move me to the Intensive Trauma Unit (ITU) as I needed a blood transfusion. Before they moved me, hubby was finally allowed in with the baby and I finally had a chance to hold her and try to breastfeed her. She nursed a little and then fell asleep and I was moved to the ITU ward. The nurses offered to bring her to me when she wanted feeding, but worried about the other patients in the ITU who would be disturbed by a crying newborn, I made a decision that haunts me to this day. I told them to give her a bottle if she was hungry and leave her in the nursery. To make matters worse I was told the following day that she had cried most of the night as she probably had a headache and wanted her mummy and I wish with all my heart I had told them to bring her to me.
I spent the night in ITU, very uncomfortable and in pain and missing my daughter. I couldn’t get comfortable to sleep and it was very noisy with all the machines beeping and people snoring. I couldn’t wait for the morning so I could be reunited with my daughter and I was already regretting my decision to leave her in the nursery.
Eventually, morning came with the beautiful sight of hubby pushing her in her crib towards me. He had also attached a balloon and he’d bought her her first teddy bear. I cuddled her to me and nursed her. I didn’t want to let her go. I was thrilled when they said I could be transferred back to the maternity ward where I would be with my daughter.
The next few days are also a blur, I was in pain and I just wanted to sleep. I’d had a difficult delivery and now it hit me, both physically and emotionally. I tried to nurse her, but after spending 7 hours with her on the boob and then her drinking 2oz of formula I decided to give her a bottle instead. Looking back now, and having had difficulties in starting my breastfeeding with my 5th. I wonder if with Becky, just like with Reese, I had trouble producing colostrum. The difference was with Becky I had never breastfed before as my son hadn’t taken to it, but with Reese, I had breastfed my 3rd and 4th successfully and knew I could do it if I persevered. I will write more about Reese’s delivery soon as that involved diabetes and low blood sugars.
Sadly, I wasn’t the only one who was struggling after Becky’s difficult birth. Becky was as well. She became quite poorly. Not only did she develop jaundice and need to go under the special lights. Becky also developed an infection and needed antibiotics. This meant she had a cannula in her foot, then her other foot, then her hand and then her other hand as the veins would close and it would need to be moved.
When I had my son, I refused to let him out of my sight, but because her birth had taken so much out of me, and I was struggling to bond with her, every time they offered to take her to nursery so I could get some rest, I was happy to let her go. Out of all 4 of my children, she was the only one I let go, the others I always kept with me 24/7. Of course, this didn’t help the bonding process between us and I still feel guilty, not only because I wasn’t bonding with her but I was also sending her away (or so it seemed to me). What shocked me is that I didn’t realise it at the time, but whenever they talked about the nursery and taking her to the nursery for her antibiotics, they were actually talking about SCBU and that’s where they were taking her. I assumed it was a room behind the nurse’s desk like you see in American TV shows full of cribs and a big window so you can gaze at your baby. It wasn’t until Reese had to go to SCBU because of her blood sugars, 8 years later, did I find out the truth! It also makes sense as to how they commented about how much bigger she was when you usually find tiny babies in SCBU and here was this giant almost 11lb baby lying beside them!
Finally, after a week, we were both well enough to go home. We had started to bond and now it was her daddy’s chance. Sadly, at the time he didn’t drive which meant he was reliant on other people to give him a lift, which isn’t easy when you live 60 miles away from the hospital and it meant he hadn’t seen us as much as he would’ve liked. Not to mention I was missing my son dreadfully as well. The paediatrician wasn’t happy that I had given up breastfeeding my daughter as it would have helped make her feel better, but I wondered if the difficult delivery and blood transfusion had affected my milk and supply. I was also beginning to believe that I couldn’t breastfeed as I hadn’t been able to breastfeed my son either as he’d refused to latch on when my milk came in. Thankfully this wasn’t true as I successfully breastfed my youngest three daughters until they were around 3.
Once we were home we settled into a routine, but my daughter seemed to get poorly again. Every time she was fed she would bring back most of it straight away. It got so bad that no one wanted to hold her because they knew she would cover them in sick and both her and I would run out of clean clothes on a daily basis and my poor washing machine never stopped!
When she was 2 weeks old we were back at the hospital. They were worried because her weight had dropped from 10lb 14oz to 10lb 2oz, meaning she had lost almost 10% of her birth weight. After spending all day at the hospital they diagnosed her with reflux and discharged her after telling us to try using a different baby formula, one which was designed to be gentler on her stomach. It did cost more to buy but luckily her doctor prescribed it on prescription as she needed it for medical reasons.
Eventually, she began to gain weight, although she was still sick a lot. As she grew up though and especially when she moved onto solids the reflux cleared up and now aged 13 you wouldn’t think she had had such a tough start in life! Although she has a sensitive stomach like mine, and just like me suffers from travel sickness which can make going anywhere difficult, especially as we live in a rural area with everything over 60 miles away!
I’m also pleased to say that her delivery didn’t put me off having any more babies and the next deliveries were a lot easier and all were natural births (or VBAC’s as they’re sometimes known., which stands for Virginal Birth After Caesarean). My 3rd popped out after a 3-hour labour, much to the amazement of the midwife when she heard the story of my eldest daughter’s delivery. My 4th was induced as I was suffering from Gestational Diabetes and came even more quickly with just a 1 hour and 20-minute labour. With my 5th I was again induced because I have type 2 diabetes and she came after 1hr 35 mins (slightly longer as she was back-to-back). All three girls were also breastfed until they were around 3 years old.
Becky was my biggest baby. Ryan was 8lb 13oz, Becky was 10lb 14oz, Ruby was 9lb, Rhian was 8lb 15oz and Reese was 7lb 11oz.
Having a big baby increases your risk of developing gestational diabetes, which I caught when I was pregnant with my 4th. Having gestational diabetes also increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, which I developed a year after my 4th was born.
Whilst my caesarean was quite a difficult delivery. I will never regret it as it gave me my wonderful daughter. I am proud of my caesarean scars, they are a tribute to what I went through to gain my daughter and whilst I prefer a virginal birth, it doesn’t mean that one birth is better than the other. All that matters is delivering the baby safely, any way possible!
I would also like to add, that one caesarean doesn’t necessarily mean your next one will be. You can have a virginal birth afterwards and I was very lucky that my doctors were all very supportive and an elective caesarean was never discussed, not even when I fell pregnant 11 months after my caesarean.