Before I tell my story I would like to say that no one should loose trust in the NHS. If it wasn’t for the Staff at Warwick Hospital, and how quickly they performed my emergency section, my son and I would not have survived. They saved my baby boy and I could not thank them enough for what they did for our family. But when It comes to your baby and pregnancy, I will always stand by that Mum knows best! In this case, if I had not also put my foot down and refused to leave the hospital , then I, myself may not be here to write this.
I am extremely lucky that my pregnancy, right from day one, was what I would call ‘a walk in the park’. I could not have been luckier to only suffer from slight morning sickness for the first three months and tiredness that you would only expect from carrying a baby. I loved every minute of being pregnant. The last day however was what I can only describe as the most terrifying experience of my life.
I laughed and joked about ‘swimming’ through pregnancy, that I was bound to have the worst labour possible. I never even contemplated that I wouldn’t experience birth consciously. That I may not even see my son come into the world.
Here’s My Story..
At 38 weeks, the day before our son arrived, I started to feel a little ‘off’ but had just put it down to ‘being pregnant’. I felt like there was no cause for complaint after not experiencing any problems at all before hand. At my routine appointment, the midwife realised that my bump was measuring different than previously looked at, by a different midwife. For both reasons she sent me to labour ward to be monitored. After three hours I felt worse, however, as baby seemed fine I was sent home with an appointment to return the next day at 3pm for an ultrasound scan, this was to double check the size of baby and then to be put on the antenatal unit to be monitored again.
The next Day I arrived at 2.50 to be told, there had been a mistake and I was not to have an ultrasound, that I was in fact to return home, and then contact labour ward if I felt it necessary. I wasn’t very happy with this and after explaining that I felt even worse than the day before, and only after playing her my voicemail from them, confirming my appointment, we could stay.
The scan didn’t show much, I didn’t have a lot of waters which made the poor lady really struggle to measure him! They could see that he was slightly smaller than they thought but assured us it was still a completely normal size for a ‘full term’ baby. In my response I laughed and said “so if we have a 6lb baby with hardly any waters then I’ve basically just got fat!”
We then proceeded to the antenatal unit, to be told that, again the best thing to do is go home. The only way I can describe how I felt as this point, apart from very frustrated, was ‘out of the room’. I felt in a daze that came in waves of sickness, and really tense like I knew something wasn’t right. It was a hunch, but I wasn’t prepared to leave the hospital yet, After talking with labour ward, as to who had the space for me, I was told to go up to them and they would be expecting us.
So at about 4.10pm myself and my better half arrived on Labour ward. They were in fact not expecting me, and one lady said to me “sorry we can’t give you a bed on a hunch, go home and call us if there are any problems”.. We completely refused to move, I felt that I had been passed from pillar to post constantly the last 24 hours and I insisted they put me on a bed, I was eventually given one and put on a monitor at about 4.20pm .
At this point I was actually extremely relaxed. I still felt this sick feeling and very uncomfortable but it was mild. It would come in waves and it hadn’t returned since getting to labour ward. I messaged my sister to say, I think I may have upset a few people but I was being monitored again and I hoped they would work out what’s wrong, “I feel okay at the minute but probably the calm before the storm” I said.
As Ben and I were talking about my excessive weight gain and how our little boy was probably quite snug in there amongst all my fat, Ben noticed that his heart rate was slowly dropping and was no longer on around 140. This then gradually dropped to below 100 and we called for some assistance. The midwife looked worried, It was now below 80 and still dropping. I started to feel this same uncomfortable feeling getting stronger by the second, like someone had drained all the energy from me, the sick feeling returned even stronger than before.
I remember the whooshing sound of his heart like it was yesterday. Getting slower, felt like everything was in slow motion. The number just kept dropping, and then the panic set in.. The sound of his heartbeat was now so slow it was unrecognisable, As i watched the number on the screen drop past 50, I was quickly snapped out of my daze by a group of staff running in, rolling me over onto my side and holding my wrists to check my pulse. My heart was now going ten to the dozen, I kept telling them “It’s not mine, its our baby’s, not mine” They clearly have their procedures to follow, but I wouldn’t listen. I knew our son was in danger and I couldn’t do anything to stop it.
I asked Ben what the screen said and he couldn’t reply. I was so concentrated on this number, I had to see it, I moved round to catch a glimpse and it had now dropped into the 30’s. I didn’t quite understand what was going on, with so many people surrounding my bed pulling at me, i just felt useless.
I was then confronted by a really calming voice behind me, telling me that she was the one reviewing my notes. she said “I’ve made a decision, we are going to get your baby out… and we’re going to do it..right now!” I looked back up at my partner, He was white as a sheet, He kissed my forehead and said “I love you” and with that I was lifted up, striped of all my clothes, replaced by a gown and whisked past reception. I had lost sight of him, the only person I wanted to see, calling for him I was told he was just behind me.
At this point I had a rush of comfort, I kept thinking “Okay Ben is here, This is our baby’s birthday, It’s happening now, I’m going to see him being born, and everything will be fine, as in a minute, I will see Ben walk through those doors in his scrubs and I’ll will laugh my head off at how ridiculous he looks, he will make everything seem okay again. He always does.
I was wheeled into theatre and asked if i had any problems with anaesthetic, I replied of course not thinking ‘that’s a silly question’ when it suddenly hit me and I remembered.
This was an emergency, That means general anaesthetic, that means I’m going to sleep. In an absolute shock and panic I drifted to sleep.
My beautiful baby boy was born 16 minutes after I messaged my sister. Ten minutes after the amazing midwives and doctors decided to perform the emergency c-section that saved our lives. Harvey was born a small 4lb 10 ounces.
I don’t really remember the next few hours, I was extremely weak and dosed up on all sorts for the pain. I remember them telling me that my tiny baby was taken into special care as they were concerned about his weight and the fact that it had gone unnoticed.
Unknowingly at the time, he would spend a week in the high dependency unit of Special Care and although he would eventually come home happy and healthy, it was going to be the most difficult week of my entire life.
The medical bit
I was told by the doctor that my gorgeous baby and I were extremely lucky to be alive. As he was only 4lb 10, he had managed to wrap his neck around my umbilical cord twice. As I was 38 weeks pregnant he should of been engaged, being wrapped around the cord made this difficult for him, and every time he moved, it pulled around neck and on me. This explains why each time he did this I felt worse, and this is why his heart nearly stopped. They also explained that they weren’t sure why his weight was never picked up, as i was healthy throughout pregnancy and nothing ever concerned them until the last moment.
The week he spent on special care was so difficult, not knowing if he would be okay, if his blood sugar levels would be all right when I walked in or if he had gone downhill again. Naturally I was frustrated and upset about the fact I experienced an emergency section, but the doctor explained that I wouldn’t have been able to give birth naturally, and the probability was that neither of us would of survived it because they were unaware of his size and what had happened to him.. and it certainly would have been too late for the both of us if I had gone home.
There are really two parts to recovering from an emergency section in my opinion.
The first one is obviously the physical recovery. After 24 hours I could walk without aid, go to the bathroom myself, eat a meal, although I could not shower without any help from my partner. I was given self medicated forms and tablets to take as I was never in bed and constantly on the special care unit. I took these for about a week and continued to take normal pain killers when I got home. I was also given injections in my legs and stomach each day for my stay in hospital. My dressings came off after 24 hours and a midwife came to check my scar every day and check that I was healing correctly. My scar has healed perfectly. Although the line where it is now is still numb and I don’t expect I’ll be able to feel it again! Overall my experience of recovering physically seemed to be no different to a normal C-section.
Secondly, is the psychological recovery. This is obviously different for each new mummy, not only did I have to deal with the after effects on me from my emergency c-section , but the emotional effects of having a baby on special care, being without my son was heart wrenching, and I did everything I could possibly do to be there for him. But you do need the time to heal physically and this can be hard when you have to look after a newborn, so the positive I can take from this, is that I was given the chance to rest when I needed it, as my baby was safe being looked after by the wonderful staff on scbu. We also, with help, managed to get him onto regular feeds every four hours and a good routine by the time he was home , something i know a lot of new mums worry about and this helped me so much.
I did have trouble sleeping whilst in hospital and this carried on for months after we came home. As happy and exciting as it is to bring your amazing baby that you created home, its hard to know what ‘should’ feel right.
Does he know I’m his mummy? Does he know I wasn’t there for him when he was born? Was he scared? Will we bond now? Do I feel as much love towards him as you should? Am I doing everything right? Does he love me? Will he be different to other babies?
I felt it difficult during the first week mentally to take in any happiness from what happened. Everyone we knew wanted to congratulate us on the birth of our new baby boy. But I wanted to shout in the face of everyone that said that to me because i thought “why is it congratulations? it’s not happy.. it was the worst day of my life… my son is in high dependency, born of emergency c-section because my body wasn’t able to look after him.”
Even when we all finally came home, I kept hearing “well he’s home now, he’s healthy and that’s the main thing” Yes, everyone was right, that was the most important thing. But I still couldn’t help but feel sad and overwhelmed that it all happened the way it did. I definitely went through what I can only describe as a mourning period for the loss of an experience that sets you up for motherhood. I felt like the chance of experiencing a natural, bonding, birth with my son was ripped away from me. I would lay with him in my arms and cry because I didn’t give him an entrance into the world that he deserved, he was just so special to me, I hated the thought that he was put through all of that. I felt that it was all my fault. I was angry that my family got to meet him before I remember seeing him. At the time all I wanted was someone to keep him safe and that was fine. I felt like I had worked myself up for nearly 9 months to go through labour, to see my son being born. I had imagined it day after day in the last few months of pregnancy. Hearing about how important is was to bond with your baby straight away. But It took me a long time before i truly understood that nothing could of been changed. That having the emergency c-section was for the best and probably an easier birth for him to experience.
A lot of time has passed now, that tiny baby is 11 months old and thriving but I still look back on the first few months and occasionally feel sad. But I do look at my scar now and think that is my proof, that someone in the world thought I deserved to be a mum. To be alive. That scar is the proof that our family can fight through anything and come out of it the other side. Without it, my son wouldn’t be here , and every day he fills me with so much joy and appreciation of my life. I’ve learnt to let go of some things that seem now to be so unimportant. I know that I have such a strong bond with my son, something I thought I would never feel in the days after I had him. For so long I referred to it as “when he was born” or “when they took him out” but now I’ve got to a point where I can say “When I gave birth to him” because i know we still gave him life however he was born.
If I could give any advice to mums that have been through an emergency section, then I would say as hard as it seems to ever move past it, you will. There is so much support and advice out there. If you ever feel like it’s too much. don’t give up. Finding some help to move on does not mean that you are weak. It means that deep down you really care. Pregnancy and birth is emotional in itself, let alone dealing with any problems along the way, don’t be afraid to speak how you really feel. Because you do not have to go through any of it on your own. I was extremely lucky to have an amazing partner, family and friends, who did everything they could for us… But for a while I felt that no one understood me, and how I felt about the whole thing. It’s important to talk about your feelings and know that you are not alone!
I’m also glad to say in this case I am proud of how stubborn I can be, no matter what you think some people may say, you should always stand your ground.
If you feel anything is ever ‘not right’, even just a hunch, always make sure you are seen and checked out.
Sometimes our bodies just don’t do what we want it to do, and I am living proof that emergency sections can have a happy ending. I hope even if it helps to bring awareness of things that can go wrong, that telling my story may just help someone out there to know that they aren’t alone and everything can be okay in the end. If I had known that such things could happen I just may have been more prepared for something to go wrong.
Take It From Mummy would like to thank Charlotte for sharing her experience so that other Mum’s might be inspired to believe in themselves and trust their instincts.
What an amazing, person you are for simply sticking to your guns and trusting your instincts. Without a doubt, if you hadn’t stayed in that hospital you wouldn’t have Harvey with you now & no matter how he came into this world, you were already the best Mum he could ever have dreamed of having.
This story just cements in my mind exactly why I work so hard to raise money for Warwick Hospital’s Special Care Baby Unit – Our Just Giving Page is here, please do have a look 🙂