After two spontaneous vaginal births, William, my third baby, came as a bit of a surprise in the form of an emergency caesarean (C-Section). I had numerous scans during the pregnancy. All came back with no concerns, 50th percentile and nothing to worry about.
At 40 weeks, my Obstetrician carried out a stretch and sweep. I was presenting approx 1cm dilated, which sounded promising. I was quietly confident as this method previously worked with Georgia, my second child at 40.5 weeks, and I was in active labour two hours later.
However, this time, after a few cramps that night, nothing progressed. At 40+6, again, the stretch & sweep procedure was carried out. The Obstetrician advised there had been no progress in dilation since the previous week. He believed I was not even 1cm dilated. Due to the increase in baby numbers (covid!) I had initially been booked in for induction at 41.5. However, luck must have been on my side as a last-minute opening became available for the following day, being 41 weeks (apparently, someone had accidentally deleted a booking line - oops).
My husband, Rick and I went home to prepare for the following day. My parents had arrived to look after the kids, and we told everyone the plan. I used words relevant to the kid's ages to advise them what was happening & answered all their questions to ensure they were comfortable. However, looking back, I was feeling quite anxious by this stage myself. The biggest fear for me was knowing the pain that was ahead & having heard that induction contractions can feel a lot stronger a lot sooner. This freaked me out a little, knowing from experience how contractions feel.
At one stage, Harrison, my first-born son, looked at me from across the kitchen bench and said, "mummy, are you ok?" I told him I was ok but had to walk away to release some of those built-up emotions.
We arrived at the hospital around lunchtime on the 5th of May and were taken to our room in the maternity ward, thankfully securing a private room! Monitoring commenced around 4 pm for around half an hour, which there are requirements to meet in order to progress to the induction.
Between Rick & I, we were feeling quite calm, chatting about the future and laughing at each other. Then all of a sudden, the midwife returned, looked at the chart & left the room very quickly. She returned moments later & the room was flooded with medical professionals.
Suddenly the room was chaos – someone was taking bloods, another was inserting a cannula, I was signing risk declarations & consent to an emergency caesarean (C-Section). I asked what was going on, and we were advised that William's heart rate was dropping below 60bpm & he was in distress. He needed to enter the world quickly. I asked if we could continue with the induction as I really wanted to attempt another vaginal birth, and they advised against it. They said it could potentially place him at risk of harm as he may not be strong enough to deal with the contractions & delivery. It would cause too much distress for William & we would more than likely end up in surgery anyway – this was the best option for him.
I was already quite anxious over the thought of induction & with this information, instantly, my body went into shock. There was no time to process what was about to happen, and I sat there, in bed shaking violently, tears streaming down my cheeks with the thought of the unknown. I knew nothing, nil, about caesareans. I was completely naïve. Rick was given scrubs, and I was rushed around to be prepped for surgery.
The theatre room was cold, Rick had to wait in the waiting room whilst the spinal was administered, a hot rush fell over my body from the breasts down, and I remember asking, "will I feel anything?" I was petrified that I would be able to feel an incision.
The worst part was being alone, as Rick was only allowed in a few minutes before William was born. There was an intense feeling of tugging & pulling in my belly during the last few minutes, which made me feel quite sick, and within a few minutes of Rick entering the room, William was born.
Someone held him over the blue curtain for a second then whisked him away to be checked as he had respiratory issues and was covered in meconium. It had stained his little nails brown, it was throughout his mouth, up his nose – everywhere, and he seemed to be choking on it (days afterwards, he was still spewing meconium).
Rick & I waited to hear his first cry, it felt like forever waiting to hear that beautiful noise & we sighed with relief when we finally heard it. Our first cuddle was a strange feeling.
I didn't feel the attachment to him instantly like I had with my first two babies, but I knew I loved him dearly. He was placed on my chest. His little hand rubbed on my mouth as it was so awkward holding him so high, almost squashing my face as the blue curtain was so close to us.
With no real concept of time, it felt like forever until I would see Rick & William again. After our short cuddle, Rick & William were taken to the nurse's station for weighing & further assessment whilst I was being stitched back together (that felt like forever, and I felt like I cried a river of tears as I lay there alone.) It seemed like everyone just disappeared once William was cleared.
I felt violated, I felt alone, I felt so scared of what now was ahead of me with recovery, I wondered if my baby was ok, and it terrified me that I could not hold him in my arms. It was all completely overwhelming.
In recovery, my body was again violently shaking, a shock blanket was placed over me & it was pumped with hot air to calm my body. When I finally got back to the maternity ward, I couldn't look at William for some time. Rick welcomed me with a warm smile & William in his arms, but also a sense of 'I am so sorry you had to go through that' kind of look. I could see it in his eyes.
I was so happy to see Rick holding him. I felt relieved that he was ok & that they had that time together, but I was not ready to look at William. Rick asked if I wanted to hold him, and I just shook my head no – maybe a feeling of guilt, I am not sure of the best word to describe the feeling, but it all felt so foreign.
Once I was ready to hold him, it felt amazing & all of those feelings came through thick & strong. The hospital stay was amazing. The midwives were incredible and kind.
William and I stayed for three nights, and then we began our journey together in the outside world. The recovery has been brutal, physically & mentally, but I know there is help there if I need it.