Too posh to push… you decide
Mind the Gap is a blog post I have in my mind but have yet to write. The story of starting all over again after a 12 year gap. My eldest was born in 2002. A traumatic birth that I always decline to share with people as I feel for pregnant women and just can’t see the point of adding to their anxieties. I was young, my recovery was difficult and I was advised that one hundred years ago neither my son or I would have survived.
So fast forward two years to my next son, 2004, and though I was up for giving a natural labour another go, at the last minute when I went past my due date and they started to talk about inducing me. I lost my nerve and opted for a caesarean section.
Now I didn’t mind the gap and (very happily) found myself with bun in oven again last year so my 2016 birth experience is the topic of this post. This time round my birth story was overwhelmingly positive and I’m so pleased to have been invited by The Bump to Baby Chapter to tell a story of a great caesarean.
One of my great Instamum friends was recently very heavily criticised for being ‘too posh to push.’ I find it interesting that any woman would take the time out of their day to criticise another but find this debate particularly strange. I’ve worked in the NHS for over ten years and the only argument I find myself agreeing with is the cost factor. C-sections are more expensive. You can’t argue with that.
But in this day and age when the main thing wrong with our world is a lack of tolerance of one another’s choices (be it religion, parenting choices, sexuality) I’m here to wave the flag for a woman’s right to choose the birth that works best for her and her family.
And this choice I had. My pregnancy had been pretty straightforward all the way through with a couple of minor concerns about growth towards the end that meant I needed a few extra scans. Interestingly I was enormous with my two boys and put on about two and a half stone with my first. This time round my bump was fairly petite and I put on a stone throughout the whole pregnancy. Gender disappointment is yet another topic for another blog but with two boys already in my brood everyone that cooed over my little bumpy told me it ‘must be a girl.’ Secretly I was crossing everything that they were right though to anyone that asked ‘a healthy baby is all that matters!’
The consultant who was looking after me had recommended a section and I was relieved not to have to ask for it. All being well I would be scheduled in for delivery at 39 weeks. This time delivering at Gloucester – my previous births had been in Cheltenham which is no longer an option for high risk pregnancies or sections.
The morning came and it was surreal. The 20th January this year was the coldest day of the year. But it was a beautiful, misty morning in the Cotswolds and the eeriness of the darkness at 6am matched the strange feeling you have on the day you hope, all being well, you will meet your baby.
Granny arrived as planned and took over childcare with the elder boys being packed off to school as if it was any other day. The drive to the hospital quiet, both my husband and I trying to keep one another calm. We’d done this before. It would all be fine.
Our arrival and welcome was wonderful. Our own dedicated midwife that talked us through the procedure and would assist in theatre and oversee my care in recovery. She introduced us to the surgeon and anaesthetist who asked me a series of questions. The surgeon herself was fairly heavily pregnant and was getting over a recent delivery when she had accidentally cut the baby with her scalpel (there is an extremely low risk of this with every c-section), the baby had been absolutely fine but you could see she was devastated. As she read through my previous hospital births she winced. ‘Ouch’ she said.
I was gowned up and this time remembered to remove my pants (I didn’t in 2004 much to the hilarity of the surgeon) and James donned his ER gear and squeezed his size 13 feet into size 7 crocs.
45 minutes after arriving at the hospital I was in theatre at 8.42am. Sitting very still hunched over while the spinal block was administered. This is so much worse in your imagination than in reality. I think I have a pretty high pain threshold but seriously – it’s ok. I was helped to lie down and as has always been the case in each of my sections (the anaesthetist was ready for it) had a very sudden and very significant dip in blood pressure. Seconds before the room span almost entirely away from me the drugs they gave me to counteract this very strange feeling kicked in and I was back in the room. Screen went up. Surgeon had the thumbs up from the anaesthetist and off we go.
When I had my first section I was very confused by the member of the clinical team who sat at my shoulder chatting to me about the most mundane issues throughout the whole procedure. Was she a gate crasher? Did the midwives not realise they’d let some nosy weirdo in a hospital gown in to nosey on my birth and ask me questions about where I was going on holiday this summer? Obviously now I understand that as the anaesthetist’s assistant her job is the crucial one of monitoring how I am doing, how I am feeling, keeping me calm and distracting me from the seriousness of what the hell is going on just centimetres from my nose. This time round I engaged in soothing chit chat about my boys and how proud I am of them.
Probably less than ten minutes after the screen went up it happened. Lots of excitement, smiles and looks of reassurance followed by a little howl and a gunked and squished up little baby face popped up from the screen. ‘He’s beautiful’ my husband said and even though I was expecting it I wasn’t forlorn by the news it was a boy – it was just my darling baby – here and safe and crying.
But our new friend at my shoulder challenged him…. are you sure it’s a boy (turned out he wasn’t and hadn’t even checked – just assuming that it would be a boy.) The midwife lifted little one higher and sure enough she was a girl. Cue floodgates opening on both mother and father’s side and as she was placed on my chest I may just have snotted directly into her eye. I’m not sure how you feel when you win the lottery but my guess is that this feeling was ten thousand times better.
As well as being a girl she was in tip top physical condition for which I count my lucky stars each and every day.
I was able to stroke her tiny nose for the forty five minutes or so it took to piece me back together and off we went to recovery. Safely snuggled in for some skin to skin and a good old feed (she fed for 40 minutes!) the midwife brought the nectar that is tea and toast and our little life as a family of 5 began.
My experience was first class and I was able to start my life as a busy mum of three feeling positive and physically pretty well. A caesarean section is not a failure. It is no less hard than a natural birth when it comes to recovery. Obviously the seriousness of major surgery is not to be undermined but for me it was the right option.
Our birth stories are all different. Just like as people we’re all different. Be proud of who you are and be proud of your story because regardless of the outcome or your journey your birth story becomes part of your life story and I’m sure you wouldn’t want it any other way.
Too posh to push is the birth story of our local girl Kate aka Cheltenhammaman. She holds the torch for flexible working for mums in Gloucestershire with lots of mum friendly jobs on her website and she also hosts many mum boss workshops. It’s not all work work work work work, she organises events specifically for strong, like-minded mums who want to have a bit of me time and fill their cup. Head over to her website for more information.