On the evening of the 31st of May, I was having a bath, burning my oils, relaxing to my birth music and practicing envisioning my birth. In my head, I could see myself in a bath surrounded by candles, bringing my baby up out of the water, on to my chest, tears strolling down my face, and I could feel the love, and see my husbands face near me, overwhelmed with love.
This was my vision. This was my birth.
I had read the books, learnt about the hormones, and I had never felt so strong in my life. Pregnancy bought out everything I had never felt about myself as a woman. I LOVED my body. I never felt so strong, so empowered. I realised how we are absolutely fucking incredible beings. Women are powerful.
During my bath I felt a tightening in my abdomen, stood up, and next thing I knew my waters had broken. Water was trickling out of my body in a constant flow for a few minutes. I took this time to relax, gather my thoughts, prepare myself, and take a moment to myself. After 5 minutes I called in my husband, and we had a laugh as I awkwardly just chilled out against the wall with water flowing from between my legs. My contractions were 14 minutes apart, I called the hospital, and they asked me to come in because I was in the bath when my waters broke. By the time I got to the hospital they were around 5 minutes apart.
Upon arrival to the hospital, I was put in a small birthing room, and left. No midwife. No instructions. No bath. Door open, lights on…No idea. I got fed up of not knowing what the hell I was supposed to do or who the hell was supposed to be there to help me. We called a midwife to come and turn off the lights – they looked for about 20 minutes and left as she couldn’t find the switch – so I locked myself in the bathroom in the dark. I wanted to hop in the shower but we were told to leave my bags in the car, so I had none of my comforts. None of my oils, my affirmations, clothes… nothing to create my space.
A midwife eventually came in and told me that they wanted me to lie on the bed for half an hour to then examine me to see if any of my waters had pooled, to know If they had really broken or not. I told her they had, and that there was no way in hell I was going to lie on the bed. My back was in pain, my contractions were strengthening, and by this time I was on my hands and knees on the floor to get through them. She wanted to monitor babies heartbeat, but didn’t want to do intermittent with the Doppler, and the wireless monitor was broken, so my only ‘choice’ was to be strapped up and have the length of the chords to pace. Because every contraction had me on the floor, it kept slipping off, so ’20 minutes’ turned in to a bloody long time. I was told they need a steady trace before it could come off…. but they couldn’t get one and it was going to continue to slip off, but they wanted to leave it on… defeating the purpose!
During this time, the midwife also had bought in an OB to try and re-convince me to have an examination of my waters breaking… here I am, hands and knees on the floor, hardly able to speak, and they’re talking at me during contractions. I was starting to get pissed off. No. No, again and again. Take this fucking monitor off me, let me get my music going, leave me alone, get me in the shower or in the bath, and just let me labour! Nobody asked about my birth plan, nobody let me know if I was birthing in this room, it wasn’t until my friend and acting doula arrived to help that I was even offered a birthing ball and shortly after I retreated away and in to the shower. Eventually, after my waters breaking just before 9pm at home, arriving at the hospital at around 9:30, I was finally transferred to a room with a bath around 3am where I could labour and try birth in the bath.
Up until this point I had no support from a midwife and no idea what the hell was going on or if I was even in a birthing room. I think it took about an hour of labour in the bath before I felt the urge to push. And did I push!! And push, and push and push. I pushed like everyone said “through your bum, like you’re trying to poo.” “Don’t be afraid to poo, it happens all the time” … so I did. I let go of my fears of my mum and husband and support friend seeing me shit, and I pushed. For what seemed like hours. I pushed in the bath, on the toilet, in the shower, on the floor, on the bed, over the bed, back in the bath… I pushed and I fucking pushed some more.
Nothing. Nothing was happening.
As the sun rose, my request for dim lights went out the window as the blinds were all they had. I’d forgotten about my mantras to display, my homeopathics, my oils and diffuser.. all my ‘zen’ things were in my bag still due to the stress of earlier labour. By 7:30am I had two midwifes in my room due to staff change over. Up until now I was basically unassisted bar my own support crew. They asked how long I had been pushing for and they were told around 2 hours. They then quoted hospital policy of after 2 hours pushing its considered failure to progress, but I asked for more time. Somewhere in amongst there, I consented to my first VE. I was, and had been for some time fully dialated, and they could feel Miss Ruby’s head, just not too far down.
I was given more time to push in different places, as being on the bed hurt my back. Back in the bath, toilet, shower, floor, I pushed some more. I was starting to feel weak. An OB came in and started discussing assisted birth, after another VE some few hours later there had been no further lowering of the baby for 2 hours. I didn’t want assisted birth, so agreed to oxy to try and strengthen my contractions, even though they were hitting hard and fast.
Worst. Idea. Ever.
Instantly, my contractions came on harder, faster, stronger, longer. My whole body was exhaustedly pushing with all my might. I had one hand with counter pressure from mum, one hand the same from hubby, I was using one midwife with my leg on her hip to push against, and hubbys other hand on my back. I lay on my side for 45 minutes pushing before the tears came as I exhaustedly cried that I felt like a failure, and that all I wanted to do was meet my baby. I called the OB back, and after another VE, she still hadn’t moved. At this stage I agreed that we would try assisted birth, and was told that if that failed, the next plan would be C section.
They prepped me for theatre, administered an epidural, which they tried to tell me to hold still – while I was still pushing! – and after an hour I was wheeled in to theatre. I requested they play Queen and to finally bring me back my husband- which they did – and on the other side of the curtain I heard a voice tell me to push as hard as I possibly could. And I did. But there was nothing at all. No movement, I was ‘pushing wrong’… and so ensured an Emergency C.
Ruby Jean Bullock was born at exactly 1:30 on the 1st of June, her due date. She was a perfect petite 6.6lb. One of my first thoughts was ‘What a tiny head!! That would totally fit through my vagina!!” I was told I couldn’t have immediate skin to skin because they had to do their checks – something I’ll put my foot down a lot harder about next time if it happens again.
I realised I have a choice. I can look at what happened to me in as a negative, or I can rise above and be positive. I can choose to be upset and traumatised, or I can look at my husband, my mum, my friend and say “We did an awesome fucking job” – and so I do. I thank my body that it didn’t give up. I thank my baby for being chilled and not being stressed at all throughout the process, and I thank myself. I cried for a few weeks every time I looked at my scar and mourned the birth I didn’t get, grieving, which I feel has been really positive in my recovery.
Next time, and there will be a next time – I’ll rock the shit out of birth again.
Now over to you… Are you ready, Rockstar?
* To read more powerful and positive caesarean birth stories, head here: Positive Caesarean Birth
* To hear more inspiring and empowering caesarean birth stories, check out the Positive Caesarean Birth series in episodes #12 – 16 on Rockstar Birth Radio (on iTunes or Stitcher).
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* If you are still processing and healing from your own birth experience (caesarean or vaginal), and are ready for some supportive healing, you can grab your very own copy of the Healing Birth issue for just A$7, send me a quick note here: firstname.lastname@example.org
* To prepare for your own incredible Caesarean Birth experience, you’ll find everything you need at the interactive Rock Your Birth Academy. Four+ weeks of uplifting, informative, evidence-based actions for you to rock your birth on your terms with me right by your side. Let’s DO this! x