Saturday, 12 February 2011

Vaginal birthing evangelicals

Don't get me wrong, any woman who has the strength (physically and mentally) to push something the size of a rather large melon out of her fanjo has my respect. BUT there are some women (and men too!) who see those who have a CSection as a lesser being. Like you gave up in some way.

It is now over 9 months since I gave birth to Immie, some would argue that having not pushed her out and instead having to have her taken out through the sunroof I did not give birth to her. Bullshit.

For those of you who don't know, Immie's 'birth' was less than straight forward. I'll tell you the story (get comfy, it's a long one!) 

After the most rubbish birthday weekend EVER which mainly consisted of me doing nothing exciting because I was so uncomfortable and having a curry that I couldn't face eating, I finally started to have contractions on the Monday evening (whilst watching Glee!). Despite all the books, websites and midwives telling us not to get excited because it could be days, WE GOT EXCITED!

Christopher dutifully timed the contractions and wrote them down (I found the notepad the other day with the timings written down LOL). They were fairly far apart, and we sat and waited to get to the 5 - 10 min mark. We phoned the hospital only to be told actually wait till they're 3 -4 mins apart So we did, phoned again, then went in but I was only 2cm, so came home again with paracetemol (Which by the way does bugger all for a contracting uterus!).

So the contractions carried on during Tuesday, husband came home from work at lunchtime (after I thought they were getting more regular and was a bit worried he'd get stuck in traffic) and they were intense but not awful, but by the night I was in agony, so back we went to the hospital, only to be sent home again as I was only 2cm.

Wednesday I was nearly beside myself, I tried a warm bath but nearly passed out having a contraction the water made it way too painful. My day consisted of doing laps of the lounge and kitchen, watching 'Run fat boy run', maybe I wasn't in the mood but the least funniest comedy Ive watched! Went to the hospital again (again in the middle of the night!) this time they said I was still only 2cm, I started crying so they kept me in, gave me some pethadine so I could sleep (I hadn't slept since Sunday night) and Christopher went home to sleep too. Then they sent me home with more paracetemol and codiene and a TENS machine (Christopher took great delight in trying to ramp the intensity of the machine up, TENS doesn't stop the pain but it does distract you from it)

Thursday the contractions carried on, in we went again but you guessed it I was still only 2 cm. This carried on in to Friday. Both Christopher and I were nearly beside ourselves with exhaustion. At some point I even slept in the bath with a soggy pillow (Christopher kept and eye on me to make sure I didn't drown! )

Friday I spent the day mooing like a cow, thinking I was about to poo myself (lovely!) Everyone kept telling me to eat. The only thing I wanted was a bowl of sweetcorn but I only managed 1 spoonful because at about 2pm, I had a massive contraction and thought more mucous had come out but when I went to the loo my waters burst in a rather spectacular fashion everywhere all over the floor! (It was a proper movie style water break LOL) (Incidentally that bowl of sweetcorn stayed in our bedroom till Christopher came home after Immie was born haha glad my mum didn't see that!)

So now I knew we were on. So in we went (again) but you guess it I was still I was only 2cm!! (Apparently it is pretty unusual for your waters to go like that at 2cm, must have been one hell of a contraction!) They were about to send us home (again!) when the MW decided just to trace the heart rate and discovered everytime I had a contraction Imogen's heart rate was dropping, so suddenly we weren't allowed home but I was transferred to a consultant and this meant, no home from home room, no birthing ball nowt.

I decided at this point to have an epidural (and let me tell you before the labour I was adamant I wouldn't have one!), if I couldn;t have my yoga ball and I knew from the other day pethadine doesnt do much I thought I'd go for it. Gas and Air saw me through till the anesthetist came (there was an emergency, there always is if you ask me) but the epidural worked a treat. It wore off dead quick though and when they tried to top it up it wouldn't work. 

They put me on syntocin to try and make me dilate but all it did was make the contractions really strong and non stop. I remember virtually screaming (Although my husband assures me I was actually quite calm really!) at the mw at one point that the baby was trying to come out or I was about to poo myself LOL So they monitored me through the night, the smug consultant bloke was convinced I would be ready to push by morning but you should have seen his face drop when he realised I was only 3cm at 6.30am! (there is nothing like having some idiot consultant stick his hand up your fanjo whilst you are in agony with a contraction! I swear he thought I was being a wuss!) Socouldnt have cared less at this point. But due to emergencies etc I didnt get in to theatre until about 10.30am! (I remember being totally angry at the midwife by this point, saying I didn't care what emergencies they had they needed to get the baby out!) They had to remove my epidural because it had failed and do a full spinal block, which took them ages to get in, but OMG once it was in, it was the best thing ever!

I was really shakey all the way through the op, not because I was scared but they had pumped me so full of drugs. So Imogen was born at 11am she gave a little cry, they showed her to us (it took me a good 30 secs to register she was a girl LOL those drugs had space me out), cleaned her up, her daddy had the first hold, she then promptly pooed all over her daddy and the anaethestist hahaha I was laughing my head off.

So you see whilst I didn't actually push Immie out through my fanjo, I think its fair to say I did go through a birth! So why does it all still play on my mind?

I think girls are conditioned from a very early age that childbirth involves pushing a baby out.  Its what you are told about at school, if you are lucky they give a passing nod to Csections but it is the pushing you are told about (maybe this is to scare teenagers in to not have sex!) Yet according to around 25% of us won't get to push (for a variety of reasons), we'll have a Csection. That is 25% of us deemed failures by the vaginal birthing evangelicals. "Oh poor you, what a shame, I'm glad I didn't have to have a CSection". 

The fact is if you have 1 Csection, you are likely to have subsequent CSections (You don't have to, but it is often recommended esp if you have csections for a specific medical reason). So I think about my own labour and 'birth'. Had I not had a Csection, I and Immie would have undoubtedly carked it, because there was no way on this earth she was gonna be able to get out, for whatever reason I just did not dilate, I probably never would have.  

So why do the vaginal birthing evangelicals think I took the soft option "oh a Csection is the easy way out" "oh too posh to push were you?" Er no, I had no choice. Believe me I wanted to push. I'd spent months preparing to push, watched every birthing program known to man, I was pumped up and ready. I done the yoga, learning all the breathing techniques, I was gonna bounce on a ball and get that baby out the way nature intended. But it wasn't to be.

Some of us go through labour and push, some have ventouse or forceps, some go through labour but have a Csection and some don't even get the labour part. The point is we all carry the baby for 9 or so months and then we for the most part end up with a beautiful baby (There is a whole other post there). The birth is just such a small part of it. It's not about how the baby comes out that defines you as a mother, but what you do with that baby once it is here.

So yes if you were one of the 3 in 4 who pushed, well done, it is painful, hardwork (I imagine!) but spare a thought for the 1 in 4 when you look down your nose and talk about us being too posh to push or being a wimp. For most it isn't a choice and even if it is a choice who cares! In the US they prefer Csections because the risk of litigation from vaginal births if something goes wrong is far higher.

CSections are nothing to be ashamed of, they are a means to an end. It has taken me a fair few months for me to feel comfortable with saying that. I have regularly beaten myself up about it. I'm still curious about vaginal births and who knows maybe my next one (If Im lucky enough to have another baby) will go that way but if it goes the way of a Csection I wont be disappointed this time.

Mama x

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