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my birth stories

These are shared here really to highlight the contrast that there can be between a birth that is blindly walked into with no preparation and one that is researched, practiced for and prepared for.

Chloe, August 2016

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The birth of my daughter in 2016 was 'fine', but very medicalised, and although it was ok, it was not what I had expected or hoped for and afterwards realised that I could have done so much more, if I had known more (I had done absolutely no preparation at all!).

My pregnancy was fairly straightforward and uncomplicated. When I got to 40 + 3 I was offered and I accepted a membrane sweep, although on inspection my cervix was not 'favourable' so it didn't go ahead, nevertheless the experience was uncomfortable and invasive and in hindsight totally unnecessary. I was booked in for induction in 3 days time (I had no idea what that meant by the way). However, in the middle of the night after I had the failed sweep, at 2 am, my waters broke like a tidal wave, but nothing else happened, no contractions, nothing. Again, I had no idea what this meant, the potential affect that this would have on things, or what to do next.
A trip to the Horton Hospital that morning and I was told that if nothing had started by that night I would be induced. Thankfully things did start later that afternoon and I coped pretty well, moving around at home, trying to stay relaxed, but I wanted to leave in plenty of time to get to hospital as it was a bank holiday weekend and I was worried about traffic!

When we arrived at the Horton I was totally disheartened to be told I was 'only' 4 cms and would be inspected in another 4 hours time. That sounded like an impossibly long amount of time to wait so I asked what pain relief I could have (again, I had no idea what my choices were or the implications of any). I accepted pethadine which did take the edge of a bit, but a later 2nd dose gave me vivid hallucinations of two children in Victorian clothes watching me from the end of my bed (spooky!).

Due to my waters having gone earlier I was hooked up to continuous monitoring which meant that my movement was hugely restricted compared to the amount I had been moving around at home and as the night wore on I requested an epidural (which took an age to set up and get working), and at last I slept. The next morning I was 10cms, and with guidance I commenced pushing, but I didn't feel as though I was doing anything, as the epidural removed all sensation. After a while the baby started to show signs of distress with heart-rate decelerations with every contraction, so a doctor rushed in and commanded the midwives to prep for forceps (note he didn't actually talk to me) the midwives were brilliant and while the doctor left the room to prepare they told me to get on with it and we could do it before he got ready, and we did! I had an episiotomy, which had been one of my biggest anxieties, but was actually absolutely fine and the recovery was relatively quick, especially considering I lost 1.3 litres of blood.So, on paper it was all fine, but just not what I had thought it would be like, in the final moment as my daughter entered the world I felt like a bystander, not really an active participant. Afterwards I felt pretty shell-shocked, and not sure what had happened to me and why, and generally knocked for six. It was only after the event that I did my homework and realised how different things could have been.

Henry, September 2019

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Following my experience with Chloe I began to read everything I could on birth and knew that next time it could and would be different. Cue 2019 and pregnant with my son I took a hypnobirthing course with my husband (more for his benefit than mine!) and I began to prepare for the big day.
I was initially told that I would not be elligible for the birth centre at The Horton hospital, and I would not be eligible for the attached birth centre at the John Radcliffe hospital either, due to my previous blood loss. However, armed with more knowledge I transferred my care to Warwick hospital where I was able to meet a senior midwife who had no issue with me giving birth at the beautiful birth centre in Warwick. For me, this is one of the best things that hypnobirthing taught me - the ability to question what I was being told as policy set in stone, and I'm convinced that this is one of the biggest differences I made to this birth.
At 39 + 5 I thought my waters may have started to go, so at a growth scan that day (I was told he was going to be BIG!), I mentioned this and a test was done to check. I was told they had not, but I think that this test accidentally stimulated my cervix and kicked things off as I began to have contractions almost as soon as I left the building to drive home!

As the evening went on I realised this definitely was happening, but I still managed to collect my daughter from a friend's house, get her home and put her to bed on my own, before running a bath. When my husband got home he didn't quite believe me as I looked so calm. I managed to eat my dinner and keep moving, and as the evening went on I knew it was definitely happening, and a lot quicker than the last time, especially once my waters broke.

At this point things started to speed up, and became a lot more intense. The drive back to the hospital was the hardest part, but the relief on entering the birth pool was indescribable. No exams needed, just get on with it! I laboured with gas and air for about 3-4 hours and my son was born in the water, all 9lb 11 oz of him! The birth was fantastic - hard work, yes; I swore, I moaned, I said I couldnt do it, but I did and the feeling afterwards was indescribable! I needed a couple of stitches, but nothing major, blood loss not even worth recording, and we stayed in the hospital for one night of monitoring for gestational diabetes due to his size (he was just big!). 
The contrast between my two birth stories is something that I often hear, I was unprepared first time around but the knowledge I had by the second time made all the difference. The experience that I had second time around meant that I sailed into motherhood (and all the challenges that brings) but without the baggage of a difficult experience to work through. Feeling at the centre of things, knowing what was happening and why made such a difference to me - preparation really is the key. 

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