Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Oh goodie – a really good reason to share my birth stories with even more people – because let’s face it, we all love doing it. Pour a few drinks down my neck and I’ll regale you with my stories at the drop of a hat. Today, with no wine involved, I Blog it for babies :

Blog it for Babies logo
– and I’m pleased to be sharing my stories is because I’m here, alive to blog about my emergency C-Sections, and my children are running around, infuriating and amazing, and ALIVE. There are many women in the world who don’t have the option or the facilities available in the same circumstances, and who die – and their babies die – in childbirth.

Blog it for babies is about raising awareness – and funds to support Save the Childrens’ Build it for Babies campaign: to raise money for selected equipment for a delivery room in a healthcare clinic in Bangladesh.
So let’s get on with it. Are you sitting comfortably?
Blue – 10 days over his due date. I was massive not only with bump, but bloated having consumed my own bodyweight in pineapple and curry, constantly needing to go to the loo from all the raspberry leaf tea, and exhausted from daily route marches all designed to avoid induction. It was not to be. Into hospital I headed at the duly appointed time.
I was hooked up to a monitor for 45 minutes at which point a midwife examined the trace and wondered aloud why every 10 mins or so the trace went a little bit mad, then back to normal.

“Can you feel anything?” she asked.

Off she went to fetch a friend. Teeth sucking ensued. “We don’t want to give you the gel because we think you are in labour already. How about a sweep?” I graciously acceded. She got down to business, hand up there and a puzzled look came over her face. “I think I can feel a bottom” she announced. One scan later, and indeed, my massive, 10 day late baby was breach and I was already in labour. I got given the NHS ‘options’. “Well, we could try to turn it, but we normally do that at 37 weeks and you haven’t got much room. You could try naturally (if you are completely and utterly stark raving bonkers), or we could do a section.”

“And when would you do a section?”

“When did you last eat?”

Off we headed to the appropriate room where I was prepped for a c-section. The Husband had to wait outside. We were nearly ready to go when an alarm went off somewhere else. Literally everyone, apart from the anaesthetist’s assistant, dropped everything and ran out of the room in the direction of the alarm. Pity the Husband waiting outside, who heard the alarm and saw 7 people stampede out of the operating theatre where his wife was supposed to be giving birth. He assumed I was the emergency...
Back on track. Spinal administered, lots of rummaging around (as someone had said it would be – like having the washing up done in your stomach) and the next thing I know, there’s a baby. Crazy.

Let’s now fast forward 2 ¼ years. 6 months pregnant with Pink, and Blue is diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia at the age of – oh yes – 2 ¼ . During the next few weeks, when I am not thinking desperate thoughts about my poorly boy and trying to keep it all together, I have many conversations with the midwife(incidentally, the same community midwife who swore blind that Blue was the first breach she had ever missed... that and her quirky suggestions as to what a working mum could eat to keep her strength up during long business meetings aside, I loved her) and an amazingly sympathetic consultant. Would an elective c-section be better  - I wanted to have a natural birth, but logistically, in view of the chemo regime and everything else we were going through with Blue, there was a certain appeal to having it all planned. The consultant supported me on the natural front. Excellent.

A week early, I went into labour as Blue finished a particularly gruelling 4 hour chemo session on a drip. We were in the wrong hospital (45 minutes drive away from the right hospital) with nothing, not even the blood service bag containing the wherewithal to harvest stem cells in case Blue needed a transplant. We knew Blue was scheduled for more chemo back at our ‘home’ hospital (where I was also booked in) and was also likely to need a blood transfusion in the subsequent couple of days. We couldn’t get hold of my mother, or any of the standby friends and the contractions were coming every 4 minutes by the time we were ushered out of Southampton hospital (a paediatric oncology ward is no place to give birth).

The Husband made it to Basingstoke in about 30 minutes. He took me straight to hospital, Blue in tow. Once the midwives took me – and the whole situation – in, I was moved to a delivery room. Blue was still with us, and so I was trying hard not to make too much fuss, but it was pretty hard not to. After half an hour or so, with a plan in place for Blue, my menfolk left me to get on with it. I was strapped on to a monitor – the NCT lady had been very vehement about resisting this – but I was more worried about Blue and frankly, as you will see, it was a blessing.
The Husband returned at some point, blood bag and hospital bag in hand. The midwife came and went, as did the contractions. At one stage, a doctor came in and had 3 goes at putting a canula in to my wrist ‘just in case’. The bruises lasted for about a week.

The Husband kept disappearing. Although he didn’t tell me, Blue was threatening a temperature. At that stage in his treatment, anything above 38 meant we had to bring him straight in to hospital. The friend who was looking after Blue until my mum could get down to us (Leeds to Basingstoke in a thunder storm – I have much to thank her for) was ringing with regular updates. The poor man must have been going mental, while I was cursing his nicotine habit – did I mention that there was no gas and air left?

Anyway, back to the main action – when he was actually in the room with me, the Husband was paying close attention to the heartbeats registering on the monitor. He has more idea than I do, and could distinguish my heart rate from the baby’s. The baby’s kept fading. We called for the midwife. He insisted that she check. She told us it was fine, but to keep an eye. Round about shift change on the ward, we were listening to the heartbeats and the baby’s just dropped out. It didn’t come back. No one around – we had no option but to hit the big red button.

What seemed like hundreds of people appeared – kind of the reverse of what happened to me first time around. My waters were broken, there was meconium, next thing I know I was being rushed down the hall on a trolley, clothes flying. It was awful. The pain was intense, I was flat on my back and some child popped his head up next to me and said “Hello, I’m Ben, I’m your anaesthetist”. I recall that I uttered the words “Fuck Off! You are too fucking young , you are NOT putting me to sleep” and then carried on yelling about how important it was that they collected the cord blood - then suddenly, I saw stars, and oblivion. I expect Ben was thanking fuck for general anaesthetic.
I came to, and the Husband was holding our daughter. I can’t truthfully tell you that the stress disappeared as I gazed at her in wonder – from memory, he was telling me we had a little girl and I was bleating about more pain relief. I felt completely shattered and desperate to know how Blue was. But there she was, Pink. Alone with her later that day, I wrapped her, sleeping, on my chest, tucked her in with blankets around me and breathed in her smell. My daughter – alive.

I have read a lot of literature about the evil of caesareans, about how being on a monitor is akin to being shackled and how so many women feel cheated of natural birth after a section. Everyone feels differently about their birth experiences, and no doubt some c-sections are administered when not strictly necessary, but I look at my children and I thank God, truly, every day for the medical facilities that were available to me and my children.  

This blog post was written for Save the Children’s BlogitforBabies campaign. Every hour of every day, 11 newborn babies die in Bangladesh. That’s about one every six minutes. 1 in 19 children do not live to see their fifth birthday in Bangladesh because access to basic services such as healthcare is very limited, particularly in rural areas. For every 10 births in Bangladesh, 8 mothers have to give birth in their home without a skilled health worker present, putting the life of their baby at risk.

Please help Save the Children to raise money to build 7 new clinics in Bangladesh.

The new clinics in Baniachong and Ajmiriganj will reach 21,500 women of child-bearing age with family planning services; 3,000 pregnant women with antenatal care; 2,190 newborn babies with postnatal care, breastfeeding support for their mothers and antibiotics when they become ill; 2,218 infants aged up to one year, by helping their mothers to breastfeed and wean them safely and reducing the chance of life-threatening diseases such as diarrhoea and the risk of malnutrition and 43,600 people in the area with information on how to stay healthy and where to get help if they do become ill.

READ MORE BIRTH STORIES AND UPLOAD YOUR OWN HERE: http://blogitforbabies.org/posts-by-bloggers/


  1. Beautifully written, thanks for sharing. I hope you are all well now.

    1. yes, thanks - all thriving - Blue has just over 2 years to go before he gets the all clear, but has been in remission for nearly 3 years, and Pink shows no sign of any ill effects from her rather stressful arrival...

  2. Wow what a story! Also an EMCS birth story bragger here but yours is the first I've read that really made me feel thankful that mine wasn't 'that' bad. Not sure if this is a good thing?! x

    1. not good or bad!! You should blog yours too... at the end of the day our babes are here so we have reason to be thankful x

  3. Oh R! That's such a powerful read xx

  4. Really moving, beautifully written, and good to hear all is well now x

    1. thanks for your comments, single married and apple pie x

  5. An amazing story, with a wonderfully happy ending!

  6. oh wow thanks for sharing your moving stories. i love this idea. i might do the same... as you say, we all love sharing our birth stories!! b

    1. don't we just! go on - you know you want to!

  7. Wonderfully written! I love the bit about "the child" Ben; that's happened to me on more than one occasion as I look much younger than I am. I like your musings on the matter of being "cheated" out of natural birth.
    Quite a lot to deal with all at once - Blue alright these days?

    I also wrote a #blogitforbabies post here :)


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