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Birth stories and testimonials

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The Pregnancy and Birthing of Kyra Ruby Rosie Fraser

I20th October 2008. I knew from my mum, Rosemary Townsend, that birth was nothing to fear, yet I was terrified of it. But, despite this, I wanted a home-birth and with as little intervention as possible. Because of my weight, the NHS did not advise a home-birth and so I decided to pay for independent midwives because I did not want the 'battle' of going through the various channels to try to get them to agree to a home-birth. I got in touch with Wharfedale Independent Midwifery and they took over my care. My pregnancy was uneventful apart from persistent nausea and vomiting and symphasis pubis dysfunction (SPD) - this is where your pelvic joints hurt (a lot!). At my first scan I was given a due date 8 days earlier than the date I knew to be accurate, which had the potential to cause problems if the subject of induction came up. Thankfully it didn't.

My given due date was the 11th October 2008. On Monday 6th October I felt my first tightenings (I didn't know the word 'surges' then). I rang my midwife to let her know, but they were very irregular and short lasting so she asked me to ring her when they became more regular or if I needed her earlier. About 05:00 on Tuesday 7th October, I felt that the tightenings were becoming more intense and so I rang my midwife and she came about an hour later. I asked her to examine me and to my great disappointment I was 'only' 1 cm dilated and she felt my baby was 'back-to-back'. She stayed for a few hours, but as my tightenings remained irregular, she went home to get some rest.

In the meantime, my invited birth companions arrived - these were my friend Emily, my mum Rosemary and my dad Ian Townsend who was invited to the house but not the room. I had a birth pool ready to be inflated and filled and my husband, Scott Fraser got this ready for me during the day on Tuesday 6th October. At some point between Tuesday and Wednesday I got into the birthing pool as I was finding the tightenings more difficult to cope with. I managed them by breathing through them. This meant I found it very difficult to sleep because every time I woke up with a tightening I found it very difficult to breathe through it to manage the pain.

Throughout Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I continued to tighten irregularly but intensely - anywhere from every 2-3 minutes to having an hour between tightenings. I got in and out the pool a few times, ate now and then and occasionally fell asleep between tightenings. I was becoming more and more exhausted and upset by my lack of progress. I did not have any more internal examinations during this time but I did have my baby's heart listened to whenver the midwives were in attendance and on feeling my tummy they felt she was still 'back-to-back'. My friend, Emily, had to go home as she had two young children of her own and my parents checked in to a local B&B as we only had a small house.

By Friday the midwives were in constant attendance and listening to my baby's heart every 15 minutes and I was constantly in the pool as it eased the pain and I was exhausted. At this point I cried because I just wanted it to be over! On Friday evening, my baby's heart rate decelerated and my midwife phoned the hospital to let them know we were coming in. In transit I took a homeopathic remedy (my dad's a homeopath) and by the time we got to the hospital her heart rate was perfect. I was examined in the hospital and found to be almost 4 cms. I remember feeling distraught and that all I wanted was baby out, even if that meant a caesarean section at this point. Having not slept properly for 5 days, I was becoming less rational by the minute! As everything was physically fine with both my baby and me, I was sent home for my home-birth.

The midwives had to call back up as they couldn't be with me 24/7 over such an extended period and I had two teams of two doing 8 hour shifts! I got to know them very well. By Sunday early morning I felt a change in pace in my labour and contractions were coming thick and fast and I was no longer coping well with them - mainly due to exhaustion I think. I asked for another examination and was 8 cm dilated. At this point I asked to try gas and air (first pain relief I tried) but didn't use it properly and declared it didn't work! I didn't want to get out the pool and my poor husband was constantly refilling it to keep the temperature up. I should also mention that my cat jumped on it and punctured it. My friend's bicycle repair kit was used to mend this.

Throughout Sunday I became more and more distressed and found it harder to cope (remember I KNEW I couldn't do this). My midwives put pressure on acupressure points which really helped as it gave me something to focus on. By Sunday night, it was becoming clear that my baby wasn't making an appearance and by very early Monday (just after midnight), my midwives began suggesting that I transfer to hospital. Initially my baby's heartrate was fine and I could not stand the thought of moving as I was in so much pain - even though I knew that things weren't progressing as they might. Eventually my baby's heart rate became less satisfactory and an ambulance was called. I was given gas and air in the ambulance - I don't know what it was, but it was good stuff!

On arrival in the hospital I was put on the monitor, which showed that my baby's heart rate was fine for now. I was examined again and my water's were artificially ruptured and I was examined and found to have just a little bit of cervix left at the front. But, my baby was still quite high up had not rotated into a more favourable position. As my baby's heartrate was acceptable, the doctor's decided to given me a little time to see if the last bit of cervix would go. I didn't care at this point. I just wanted to sleep and the pain to stop. I was contracting every 30 seconds and had been at 8 cms dilated for a day. I wanted a caesarean section right away, but that wasn't an option. I asked for an epidural so that I could sleep but just as the anaesthetist was about to do it, he got called away to an emergency. I had an injection of meptid, but it felt like it had no effect at that point.

During the whole time we were waiting for the midwife to come back, my independent midwife held the monitor on for me as it was not picking up very well and I did not want to attach a clip to baby's head. I used the gas and air and remember those 4 hours after my water's being broken as the most painful of my labour. Being constrained to one position for the monitor was agony, particularly as my baby was laid against my back.

The hospital midwife came back after 4 hours and examined me again, but the bit of cervix was still there. My baby's heart-rate was showing that she was becoming distressed and meconium was present in my waters, another sign of possible distress. The decision was made to do a caesarean section and I gladly agreed. My husband came to theatre with me and we went to the anaesthetic room (me on the bed) for a spinal. I couldn't stay still for the spinal as I was contracting so frequently so the anaesthestist gave me some special gas and air in a mask I put on my face and was continuous (I don't know what was in it, but it was effective). The spinal going in was fine and the relief when it started to work felt blissful.

We were taken through to the operating theatre and my husband was seated next to me. He wanted to see the whole thing and looked over the drapes! I was so relieved to be out of pain that I went to sleep and apparently snored my way through it. My daughter Kyra was born at 07:10 and despite the long labour and previous signs of distress, screamed immediately. She was wrapped and given to my husband as I was in no state to hold her - I couldn't even stay awake to see her.

After the section we were taken back to the room and I gave Kyra her first breastfeed. She went straight on and I remember it making my toes curl! Despite the exhaustion, I was on an adrenaline high then and couldn't sleep, despite her going to sleep and not being interested in further feeds.

I stayed in the hospital for two nights, during which she refused to sleep at night and I became more exhausted. By the time I went home on the Wednesday morning, I was in floods of tears and a lot of pain. Also, my leg muscles kept cramping and didn't feel like they were functioning correctly. I put this down to the section and expected it to get better.

Back home, we sat down and didn't know what to do with her - it was our first baby! She refused to sleep and started to scream for hours at night. My parents had gone home on the day she was born after seeing her first and despite lots of visitors, we felt very alone. I still couldn't walk properly and had developed an angry red rash on the backs of my legs. By Friday we felt we couldn't cope and were worried about me. I phoned my parents and they came over with the plan of taking us home with them to look after us. First though, we phoned the hospital and they wanted us to go in. My mum and husband took me in and we were admitted to an adult ward and then to gynaecology. To this day I do not know why I wasn't taken to the postnatal ward! My husband wasn't allowed to stay overnight, but they allowed my mum to stay. I was seen by many different doctors, none of whom knew why I had a rash or couldn't walk. Eventually I was sent home with the advice of 'come back if it doesn't get better'.

We went to my parents house in Lancashire to be looked after and to let us sleep. Kyra still screamed for hours and breastfeeding was becoming incredibly painful. I got to the point where I would cry if I had to feed her! She was seen by a cranial osteopath, but it didn't seem to change anything. I did get some sleep and my midwives came to see me daily, but I still couldn't walk and felt very, very down. I cried on and off for days and I think everyone was getting rather worried about me. By two weeks after her birth, I was no better and my dad's friend, also a homeopath came to see me. She treated me and there was a quick and obvious difference in how I was coping. I still felt I needed to talk about the process constantly, but was not in tears all day.

By this time my husband needed to return home as his paternity leave was up and we decided to all return to York. I still couldn't walk well, but felt I could cope at home. I went to see a clinical massage therapist and after one appointment there was a massive improvement in my legs. She said that the muscles were so constricted that it was damaging the nerves and restricting blood flow. For 24 hours my legs felt hot and tingly, but I could walk! After going back to her again 2 days later my legs were still weak, but fully functional. The relief I felt at this was indescribable. I will be forever grateful to the woman who gave me back my legs!!!

Another couple of weeks down the line and I looked at Kyra and experienced the most incredible sense of joy and love. I think this is what some mums experience immediately after birth. But for me, in my circumstances, this was rather delayed. Kyra started cooing and smiling and I stopped feeling so depressed and started to enjoy being a mum. I think what I experienced would probably have been classed as either postnatal depression or PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), which can happen even after a birth that has gone smoothly (according to healthcare professionals). Mine was the opposite of what I wanted and very physically and emotionally challenging for all involved. But, I believe that given my belief that I could not do it, it could not have gone any differently at the time. With the knowledge I have now, I am very excited at the prospect of having another baby in the coming couple of years and very much look forward to the labour and birth :-)

Points to remember:

Fearing birth will have an impact on your labour. Working out where the fear has come from and working to remove it, will help!

Although Jenefer ultimately had a caesarean section, she had the satisfaction of knowing that she had done all she could to try and achieve a home-birth. This helped with her emotional recovery afterwards.

Sometimes having an internal examination can cause distress if the results are not the desired ones!

If you have an inflatable pool, have a puncture repair kit ready!

It's not always enough to 'just' have a desire for a normal birth. Knowing how to combat any fear and knowing how to work with the environment to create a safe, calm and private place to allow the birth hormones to function effectively is also necessary. :

 

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