*First published here on Medium, 9 June 2019*
Having spoken to all the women I have a close relationship with in my life following the birth of my son; I felt like I had to take action to share my experience and speak my truth without fear of judgement by anyone.
I am so confident in my power and ready for my voice to be heard because honestly; if you’re a Mother: why the hell would you not be?
I quite quickly realised after a debilitating 60 hour labour that women really lie about this stuff, that was for sure. The reasons varying from fear of looking like a failure, being perceived as unworthy of the child they had birthed or overwhelmed with the expectations placed upon them by their immediate or wider community.
For weeks and months before he arrived, everybody greeted me with a smile and was full of advice on how to grow this blessing inside of me; none of which I needed. I felt at my best being pregnant and enjoyed pretty much all of it after the nausea went away. So why, amongst the sea of advice did nobody feel it necessary to tell me the realities of life on the other side?
First of all, contractions were manageable for me but as soon as I was induced; the level of pain became indescribable. I’d attended antenatal workshops; two types in fact — one from the NHS and a more holistic Doula perspective. But neither had told me what to expect on the pain barometer.
Secondly, the likelihood that something could happen and deviate from even the loosest of plans was likely; so again why had none of those midwifes touting for my home birthing business mentioned that in the classes?
After being admitted to hospital after presenting there with contractions timed as closely as I could get before wanting a second opinion, I was given a room and left for several hours to play it out after being scare-mongered into staying with potential pre-eclampsia.
Home birthing/ birth centre plan out of the window; I navigated my way through contractions like a boss (even if I say so myself), with the support of my sisters Reiki healing hands) as well moral support and love from my partner and Mum.
Did you know that doctors in the UK (I cannot speak for further afield) do not get to experience any natural birthing scenarios during their rigorous training to qualify; instead only witnessing births involving medical intervention!
No wonder they have no fucking idea how to support you with your wishes; talk about condescending. I cannot speak generally about all doctors; but as a woman trying to focus on one the biggest tasks given to us by mother nature, how many of us have any reserves left to argue your point about the safe delivery of YOUR child in the middle of one of life's most vulnerable and difficult situations (quite literally).
So fast forward some hours later and the head consultant decides I’m not dilating quickly enough. Somewhere during the third midwives shift, (please note the length of shifts an NHS staff member undertakes and the fact that I’m now on my 3rd shift member monitoring me). Also note that these people try and tell you that you’re not in “active labour” until you have reached 10cm dilation and I still was yet to achieve 6cm.
The decision was made to give me a c- section as the babies heart rate dropped after taking in some Entonox (Gas & Air), something the hospital claim is unrelated to the fact that the babies heart rate decreased directly after this. The situation changed dramatically when the babies heart rate dropped a second time and struggled to recover, so I was whisked away with paper being forced under my nose to sign and no time to kiss my partner goodbye. I was told he could join me later but that they needed to administer the epidural block.
Unfortunately, my partner was never brought to support me and was left in limbo for the next hour or so, unsure of what was happening; meanwhile, I was put to sleep as it turned into a Category 1 situation with the baby at enormous risk with a struggling heart rate.
I awoke to a room full of people telling me this screaming thing being thrust into my face was mine and that I now had a baby boy on the outside of my body after 9 and a half months safely inside of me. I found it so difficult to comprehend.
With no time to adjust to this new idea and haziness as I shook of the General Anaesthesia, I was welcomed to Motherhood with a crash back down to Earth and through the other side to a different dimension entirely.
How could I feel so estranged and alienated from this thing I had so wanted and was told that I would instantly love? Nobody had ever shared an experience of not wanting their baby after it had arrived or feeling like they couldn’t function or breath, so what was happening to me?
All I could think was, 'what the F*!% have I done' and can I please just go back to before?