Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Labour, Love and Fear

My news feeds have been full of beautiful newborns and blossoming bumps. Pictures full of love. But, the space where broodiness was once swelled by these wonderful sights, is now filled with fear and trepidation.

Not fear of the newborn, not fear of the sleepless night, not fear of the growing family and its demands. But fear of the labour.

No birth is a walk in the park, but our labour with L was far from how we imagined it. It remains a confusing and painful memory, and missing memories still trouble me. 

I have my section scar as a permanent memento of how it ended, along with four scars from failed epidural attempts on my back. This site is still the focus of back pain and aches, especially when I recount or think about the birth. My section scar still itches. I am aware of it always, not pain necessarily but it's there on the right hand side, a dull throb. 

Birth trauma comes in many guises and I wouldn't say I have birth trauma but I do certainly have labour trauma. My residing memory of labour was after my waters had been broken and the constant contractions trying desperately to turn my back to back baby. I am on the bed curled into a foetal position, as much as bump allows, I have the gas and air in my hands but I am screaming and asking J what is happening as I don't understand what is happening. That's my last memory. Before the pethidine. Before the epidural. Before the caesarean. 

I can't do that again. And I don't know how to heal that scar.

At my booking in appointment at just 8 weeks pregnant nearly 3 years ago the midwife cheerily said that I would give birth in the Midwife led unit this time with its home from home atmosphere, birthing chairs and pools and then next time I could go for a home birth. I was young, fit, healthy and had no risk factors.

Now, now I face not only another hospital birth but possibly a constantly monitored hospital birth. A VBAC or an elective caesarean. Miles away from my original lose birth plan of water and gas and air. My labour would be classed as risky this time. Certainly no home birth, and all things considered this is the last plan on my mind. I know how quickly things can change and how suddenly the low risk becomes high risk. And how the scars of pain can last longer than physical scars. 

I wish things had turned out differently. My baby just took the long way round. She turned the wrong way. And then got stuck. 

Should I have carried on and tried to deliver her in a dangerous face first neck flexed presentation? Hoped she continued to turn and tuck her chin on her way down? 

No, we made the right call, I knew there was no other plan as soon as the consultant mentioned it. The clarity and ease of making that decision makes me know it was the right one to make. As I said above I don't have birth trauma of the caesarean, I have labour trauma. 

But, but, if we had carried on, if we had delivered vaginally, would I now be thinking differently about the pain which preceded her delivery? Would I be able to see it as necessary and productive pain, the pain of my body trying to get baby into the right position? 


The caesarean was not my favourite experience. They need to do something about how cold you feel. They need to do something about how reflective those damn lights are above you. They need to do something about the falling feeling as you lay tilted on the bed. 

For us personally they need to do something about being left alone in the operating theatre after the surgery feeling scared and woozy and sick. About the lack of skin to skin or even properly seeing the newborn once they arrive until they are safely contained in an incubator. 

It makes me unsure of going elective next time. But I also am unsure of labouring again and of more pain induced memory lapses.

But love, love is also there when I see these bumps, these babies and these families. Growing families filled with love. 

L is such an amazing little person, she is surrounded by her adult family and I would love to see her with a sibling. J also wants to grow our family, he is eager to do so. And from a family of five our little unit is a very different thing to what he is used to and from what he wants for L. 

So while I continue to admire the beautiful bumps. The squishy newborns. I continue to also fear labour. 

To fear pain. 

And to fear the unknown. 


Since writing this post I've made steps to have a debrief with the local supervisors of midwives so that both myself and J can talk through my labour notes and hopefully put some of these ghosts to rest. 

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