Tonight one of my readers, Kate Boles, shares her birth story ‘A Rollercoaster of Emotions’, and as the title says it’s an emotional one with a very important message and something I believe that is not talked about enough. Since sending in her story I’ve chatted with Kate, she’s ten months postpartum and her surgery was a huge success, she’s finally beginning to feel herself again.
A Rollercoaster of Emotions by Kate Boles
It was a Sunday night and I was due my baby the following Friday. My husband and I had a pretty good sex life throughout my pregnancy but as the days grew closer to my due date I began to feel even more whale-like. I was unsure to start this blog off with the Sunday night but really I think that having sex on the Sunday night kick started my labour.
At 4a.m. I woke up with a sharp intense pain down there and sat up on the bed with a yelp. My husband, Ian, got excited and asked if I was in labour, as I sat disoriented on the bed. I went to the loo and felt one more pain deep into my groin. Ian got excited when he heard me “OW” again but I passed it off and tried to sleep, however, he kept asking “any more pains? well? anymore?” I shrugged it off and slept on and off, anxious that the pain would come back.
The next day my groin was so sore, I could barely walk and I was beginning to regret the previous night’s antics! My waters broke that night. I was driving home from a baby shower and I thought I slightly wet myself. I went to the bathroom and was about to jump into the shower when more water came trickling down my inner thighs. Ian studied the liquid and confirmed it was my waters as more came trickling out at a steady pace. Excitement, nervousness, anxiety swept through my body.
We drove straight to the hospital, while singing Christmas songs and laughing and joking. By the time I got there (40-minute drive) the water had surpassed the huge maternity pad, all the way down my leggings and into my shoes! I had to be put on a drip straight away due to infection. The midwife found it tough to get a vein, after 20 minutes of stabbing and poking, they put the cannula in. I began to panic a little on how I was going to deal with the pain as I found the cannula sore!
The waiting game started. The midwives said that the contractions could start anytime and that if they didn’t start by Wednesday morning that I would be induced. I prayed that they would start sooner rather than later. The prenatal ward was full so I was moved into the antenatal ward for the night. Between crying babies, crying mothers, nurses coming in to check my drip, my anxiety, excitement, thinking every twinge was a contraction – I didn’t sleep a wink that night.
The next morning Ian came in early and I was so glad to see him. I was wrecked after not sleeping the past two nights plus you don’t sleep much in your last trimester anyways. We played the waiting game. Every hour seemed an eternity. At 12pm I got some little pains. I told the midwife that I felt some pains and thought that I was having a contraction. She smirked and said that if I was having a contraction now, that I wouldn’t be able to talk to her. Oh right. Shit.
Then at 2pm the first contraction happened and of course, my husband had gone off for lunch, and, which he later told me he brought a van out for a test drive (as you do when your wife is in labour!!) The first contraction was okay. As in it was bad but not as bad as what was to come. I had downloaded an app on my phone to record the contractions. It is a way of distracting my thoughts and getting through them. Each contraction lasted about 50 seconds to a minute, it didn’t seem long but the further on I got the more intense they were. I started to vomit after each contraction. I hadn’t eaten much that day and I couldn’t believe after getting sick about 10 times that I was still able to bring stuff up. Anyways, I was told to keep moving and walking up and down the hall. I was glad to get out of the antenatal ward as it was visiting hours and I could hear whispers of ‘oh that poor girl getting sick’ and gasps as I tried to handle each contraction.
It was finally time to see how far I was dilated. I was 3-4 centimeters so I could be moved to the labour ward. I waved off my friends in the antenatal ward and I could see the pity in their eyes as they knew what I had to go through. I was happy to know that I was making steady progress.
As I was wheeled to the labour ward, I can only describe the sounds I heard as animalistic. I peered up to my husband and he tried to reassure me as best he could. It was half eight. One of the midwives sat down on the bed beside me and said that an epidural would be a good idea now, I sighed with relief. I waited for the anesthetist. Each contraction got even more intense and I was still heaving after each one, bringing up some yellow bile. Thinking back over it now still gives me the shivers.
The anesthetist arrived and reassured me everything would be okay and that I wouldn’t feel much after the epidural. I felt so relieved. I sat up on the table after a contraction and felt a sharp pain in my back, it was cold but not too painful. I felt I could relax a little as the tension left the room. The midwives said to try to sleep a little and told Ian to go get something to eat as it would probably be a long night.
So at 9pm Ian headed off to McDonald’s, I really wanted some curly fries and a caramel sundae. One midwife suggested that I try to get some sleep. The anesthetist was happy her job was done and said that my back was the smallest she had ever worked on but that the epidural should still work after a while. So, that “after a while” had passed still in intense pain. The midwives tested the feeling on my tummy and I could still feel everything. They got the anesthetist back in and she walked around and checked the wires and all the bits and pieces that went along with the epidural. I was still waiting for it to kick in. I asked to try it again but I was too far gone. At 10pm I was 9cm dilated, I was waiting for Ian to come back from his late night feast, envious of his freelancing ability while I was left in pain and self-pity.
I started to get the tremendous urge to push. The midwives asked me to try to hold back for another while. Eventually, Ian came back about half 10, he was expecting me to be asleep and relaxed after the epidural but instead I was frantic and in full swing of labour. I think I cried when I saw him. I managed to get to 11.30p.m, the urge to push was immense. Eventually, I was allowed to push. I pushed down with all I had. I felt like I was getting nowhere though. At 12a.m, the midwives said to hold off the pushing for another while. I was glad of the break but also wanted it over. With every contraction that came, it took all my strength to not push.
At 12.30a.m, I tried pushing again. I remember seeing Ian’s face filled with fear and nerves. I wanted to hold my baby so badly but each time I got my baby down, it slipped back up again. I thought back to my antenatal yoga classes and breathing but this baby just didn’t want to come out. The midwives started conferring in the corner. They thought it was time to get the doctor. I pleaded not to and wanted one more chance to push. I pushed with all my might. The midwives said they could see a black curl! I felt my baby was there but still nowhere near where it was supposed to be!
At 1.50a.m, the doctor arrived. I looked at the midwives for reassurance but they even looked scared for me. I felt a contraction coming on again, the midwives wanted one last push while the doctor looked on. I pushed and pushed and pushed. But I was exhausted and lost hope at this stage. I was pushing for 2 hours and never felt so tired in all my life.
The 6″6 doctors rolled over his tray of tools. He explained as he put on his gloves that he was going to use scissors to perform the episiotomy and also a vacuum to pull my baby out. I felt sick with fear but I needed my baby out safe. He picked up his large scissors and was sitting in between my two elevated legs. Waving his scissors in the air, he said he needed to perform the episiotomy first, then connect the vacuum to the baby’s head, then, with the next contraction, I need to push while he pulled. Ian’s eyes nearly popped out of his head when he saw the scissors. The midwives rubbed my legs and reassured me it would all be over soon.
I can’t begin up explain the pain I felt in the next 5 minutes. It was like an out-of-body experience. The episiotomy was done and the doctor pulled and pushed to secure the vacuum on the baby’s head. We all looked at the monitor to see when a next contraction would come. I could still feel everything as the epidural didn’t work so I told them that I could feel one coming. With one last push and pull from the doctor, my baby was born.
Ian told me it was a girl as she was placed on my chest for skin to skin. My body was shaking and I felt dazed. I am an extremely emotional person but I didn’t cry when my baby was born, I think that I was just in shock and dismay.
From that moment my baby girl was placed on my chest, my life changed forever. My heart suddenly overfilled with love and I was in total awe of this tiny human being. Ian cried and hugged me so tightly. To go from complete and utter pain to that amazing feeling of holding your newborn baby is an experience I will never forget. A rollercoaster of emotions.
Seven months on after doctors and hospital appointments, I was in another hospital getting surgery for the damage that the doctor had done to me during my labour. I am grateful for him for getting my baby out in good health but also disheartened and angry about the way he made me feel and what he put my body through that night. I needed quite a significant amount of scar tissue removed in the surgery – due to a lot of things!
The postnatal recovery wasn’t just physical for me but emotional too. My husband and I couldn’t have sex for eight months after our daughter was born. It wasn’t just that physical side, but mentally I felt so miserable and worthless. To care for a newborn and to have this extra stress on top of that was just too much. I know every labour is different but I don’t think we hear a lot of the stories that aren’t all rainbows and butterflies. It was only until I went for my surgery that I met lots of other women who were made feel demoralized for months after their delivery too.
This post is for all the mothers out there who had a traumatic delivery and recovery. You are not alone. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. It may take time, but it all works out in the end.
There are a whole collection of birth stories on the blog if you would like to read more. Birth stories go live every Sunday at 9pm. If you would like to feature your birth story email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.