A good pregnancy, a good labour, and a good baby. Apparently most women have at least one of these. If you have two, then you’re pretty lucky. But if you have all three, well you’ve hit the jackpot! But I think those women are just a myth. To those who don’t have any of the three…I feel your pain!
No I exaggerate! By no means did I have the hardest pregnancy or most difficult labour, and I know that a lot of people have it so much worse. I am so lucky and blessed to have my healthy perfect little girl. But ultimately I still found it really tough. As mums I think we have the tendency to down play our experiences. As a result new mums-to-be can miss out on the realistic take of what it’s actually like. So this is why I have decided to talk about it so openly and honestly. And also why I decided to start this blog. I think that writing it down in black and white is cathartic and somewhat therapeutic.
So back to my story. Up until the third trimester my pregnancy was pretty good. Barely any morning sickness, no major complications and everything was on track. However at 34 weeks I was diagnosed with obstetric cholestasis, a pregnancy specific condition which affects the mums liver. Bile builds up in the mums blood, mainly resulting in intense itching and tiredness. The bile can pass from the mum’s blood to the baby, which can be fatal to the baby and risk still birth. This risk increases as the pregnancy progresses, particularly over term. There is no specific cure but it is agreed that early delivery helps reduce the risk of stillbirth. However, there is no agreed best time to induce.
So this is when my mum-to-be worry ramped right up to pretty debilitating anxiety. As my pregnancy continued, I experienced a rollercoaster of emotions. I wanted my baby to get bigger and stronger but I wanted her out, safe in my arms. As every day passed she faced an extra day of risk. This lack of control over the most precious thing in my life was tough to say the least. As we reached the day of my induction of labour at 38 weeks, I couldn’t have been more relieved. I didn’t care what I had to go through to get her out, as her mother, I would sacrifice anything for her.
Although being a doctor has given me insight into the different problems that you can face in labour, I felt that nothing prepared me for the pain and emotional trauma. It’s hard to find the words to properly describe the experience. All I can say is that I felt as though the pain completely took over my whole body, almost paralysing me. But when I felt as though I had been broken and there was nothing left in me, my body surprised me. It is incredible what your body can do when you are pushed to the ultimate limit.
It took 21 hours from the beginning of my induction for Evelyn to be born. Which in the grand scheme of inductions, isn’t too long! But 12 hours of frequent intense contractions, 2 hours of pushing and then over an hour of being stitched back up was long enough to me! I thankfully managed to deliver Evelyn naturally, something which I had given up hope on happening as it took 8 hours into the regular contractions for me to actually dilate. This was is most soul destroying thing, I couldn’t understand why my body seemed to be so out of sync. But somehow my body managed to do it, and our bundle of joy was finally in my arms!
I won’t go into all the details but basically those 12 hours were the hardest and longest 12 hours of my life. By the end of it I was somewhat in a state of shock, I felt numb. It took me a long time to recover physically and emotionally.
I think the trauma of it all along with the sleep deprivation made me quite anxious initially, particularly in the first 24 hours after Evelyn was born. Suddenly becoming completely responsible for another human being, so tiny, precious and fragile, when you feel completely broken was overwhelming. But day by day I got stronger, more relaxed and more confident. And now it’s amazing to think just how far I have come and how special our bond is.