Before you read any further, I will be honest from the start and say my birth did not go to plan in any way, in fact you could probably go as far to say it was at the complete opposite end of the scale! Sure, I have got upset about how it happened, and I do feel sad that I didn’t get the birth I wanted, but overall I would say the birth itself was a positive experience.
On Thursday 8th October at 11.25am, my beautiful daughter Gracie Elizabeth O’Reilly entered the world via an emergency c section. Nearly 2 weeks later, it all still feels like a blur – from first going to the hospital to Gracie being placed in my arms was approx 12 hours, which in reality really isn’t very long at all, and it was also completely unexpected. I wasn’t in labour, or even showing any signs so I was not expecting to meet my baby so soon.
On the Wednesday evening I was concerned that I hadn’t felt many kicks that day & that the baby was really quiet. This wasn’t the first time I had been worried, in fact over the course of my pregnancy I had been monitored for reduced movement on quite a few occasions, but thankfully everything was always okay & there was never anything to worry about, but still… I always called the delivery suite whenever I was worried as you just never know, and the best thing to do is always get checked out (and I promise you, the midwives really don’t mind how many times you go in!) So I called the hospital as I normally did, and they advised me to come in so they could check that the baby was okay.
I don’t know why, but in the back of my mind I felt like I knew something wasn’t quite right, maybe call it mothers instinct, but I just had this feeling. I arrived at the hospital and luckily got seen straight away, they hooked me up to the CTG machine and both mine, and babies HR were high, initially this was not a concern, in fact the midwife just commented on how strong the babies heartbeat was.
I felt relief, and then the usual silliness for coming in to hospital again, but then the midwife began to act concerned and said she was going to go and get the Doctor on shift to take a look at the monitor. After what felt like forever (it was about two minutes in reality) they both returned and were looking at the results and I could tell something wasn’t right.
At this point as well, due to COVID restrictions I was on my own whilst Danny had to wait in the corridor outside, I started to feel really nervous that if it was bad news I would have to try and process it by myself, but I pulled myself together and tried not to think the worst.
The doctor explained that not only was the babies HR high (it was between 170-180bpm) they were not seeing the dips & spikes they usually like to see, which meant that the baby was not moving as much and that is usually a sign they are trying to conserve energy and could be quite poorly. Obviously I burst into tears when I heard this, but I tried to be calm and just asked what this all meant and what was going to happen.
The doctor explained that they were going to continue to monitor me for a little longer, and if there was no improvement they would be looking to get the baby out as soon as possible via c section, but even if there was some improvement they still wanted to get her out, so either way I was not leaving the hospital without my baby! At this point as well, they said that Danny was allowed to come in, and I just asked that they explained the situation to him so that I didn’t miss anything or get anything wrong.
As I lay there on the bed I started to feel a bit terrified that one way or another I was going to have my baby soon, and I was just keeping everything crossed she was okay.
We were then moved to our own room for continued monitoring, and thankfully, things started to settle down. Her HR dropped down slightly (although still at the higher end) and she was moving more, so the talk of getting her out there and then had stopped, and instead talks of induction started.
All the way through my pregnancy I was adamant that I did not want to be induced (in fact my birth preferences stated I wanted an intervention free, drug free, water birth in the birth centre!) but once I knew there was some concern about the health of my baby, this went out the window. I stopped caring about what I wanted and all I cared about was that she was going to be okay. The doctors explained what they were going to do, and I agreed that I was happy for the induction process to begin. I started to feel excited that this was going to kick start my labour, and that even though the start wasn’t ideal I was determined to still have a positive experience.
The doctors explained they were going to insert a pessary, which could potentially be in for up to 24 hours but would hopefully kickstart early labour, they did advise that it can sometimes take longer than this though and to prepare myself that I could be in hospital for a few days…! I tried not to get stressed about that though. So after I asked all my questions & agreed to kick things off, the pessary was inserted just after 1am… this was it, the journey to meeting my baby had started!
After a couple of hours of monitoring, the doctors then advised the best thing I could do is get some sleep, so I sent Danny home to get some rest too and tried my best to relax and switch my brain off (easier said than done!).
I woke up around 7am and was excited that I was feeling some pretty intense cramping, I knew it could mean that things were still a way off, but it felt like it was definitely a step in the right direction. I was hooked back up to the monitor and the midwife advised they were just going to keep an eye on the baby and make sure she was coping okay in there.
As the morning went on, so did the intensity of the cramping. It just felt like really strong period pains and lying in bed definitely made it worse. I wanted to be up and active, and kept thinking about what I had learnt in my hypnobirthing course and how the best thing to do is stay open & upright, so that’s what I did. The midwife also bought me a birth ball to sit on which really helped too.
Unfortunately whilst all this was going on, I noticed on the monitor that the babies heart rate had increased again, nobody had said anything to me yet so I tried to ignore it and just focussed on bouncing & breathing! If I could go back I think I would have asked if there was anyway the screen could have been turned off so I couldn’t see what was going on, as I think that was subconsciously making me more stressed & worried.
Danny arrived back at the hospital around 9ish, and I think we were preparing ourselves for what could potentially be a very long, boring couple of days. The Doctors & midwives kept popping in and out to check on us and soon after they explained they were going to examine me to see if anything was happening down there. Unfortunately even though I was in quite a bit of pain, after an examination I was told that we were still a way off anything happening, and that they were still concerned about what they were seeing at the monitor as the babies HR was still a bit higher than they would like.
The doctors left us again, but came back in very shortly after to explain that they wanted to remove the pessary to see if that would help stabilise the HR, as they were concerned the hormones was causing her stress and this is when they also bought up having a c-section again as it was getting to the point now they just wanted to get the baby out and they didn’t think she would cope with the stress of labour.
We decided that we just wanted to do what was best for the baby, at that moment I didn’t really care about anything else so I agreed to the c section, thinking that we would have at least a few hours to get my head around it but that was it.. once I had agreed to it, it was all systems go! The next thing I knew I was getting read scary lists of ‘what ifs’ that could happen during surgery and being asked to sign my life away (again this all sounds very dramatic but it is just standard before an operation like this), Danny got handed a pair of scrubs to get changed into and I was getting prepped to go to theatre.
I think this is when it really hit me, and suddenly I got very upset & overwhelmed about everything that was happening. The midwife I had at this point was brilliant though, she talked to me, held my hand and just reassured me that everything was going to be okay. Although I hadn’t planned for a c section, I pulled myself together and made sure I requested everything that was important to me and tried to remember all the techniques to stay calm I had learnt through my hypnobirthing course.
We made our way into the theatre, it was a big, open, bright space and there were lots of people in there getting prepped & ready for surgery. Again this is the complete opposite to what I planned, but by that point I was just concentrating on staying calm and my practicing my hypnobirthing breathing that I didn’t really mind who was there or where I was. The only request I made was to put the radio on as I wanted to have some background noise to focus on whilst everything was going on (Magic FM wouldn’t have been my first choice but I was very happy when Backstreet Boys came on!)
The anaesthetist started to talk me through everything they were going to do and how it was all going to work, he really was lovely and definitely helped me to feel calm about everything that was going on. The anaesthetic was injected into my lower back, and now all we had to do was wait for it to take effect!
I have to say, it was one of the weirdest feelings I have ever experienced. It started with my feet going warm and slowly this feeling made its way up my body up to around my chest. It wasn’t instant, but I started to slowly lose any feeling from the chest down, and finally I was completely numb – to the point I thought they were lying to me when they said that they were touching me!
This was it… I was going to meet my baby at any moment! We had the screen up so I couldn’t see anything that was going on, so instead I just spent the whole time talking to Danny who was sitting with me up next to my head. I can’t even remember what we were talking about, but it did feel very odd that I was just having a very normal conversation whilst a baby was getting cut out of my stomach.
She was finally here! And this was the moment I was first going to meet my baby! They lifted her up above the sheet and the first thing I clocked was all this dark hair!! I couldn’t believe she was finally here. I burst into tears and then paused as I waited for that newborn cry, and even though it was probably only a few seconds, it felt like a lifetime! She then got taken over to the table to get cleaned up & weighed whilst I started to get stitched up, and her Daddy got to go over and meet our little girl for the first time!
She then got bought over to me and placed on my chest, I couldn’t believe that she was actually here. Danny and I then looked at each other and decided that the name we had picked was definitely right, our little Gracie was just perfect.
The next 40 or so minutes felt were spent just staring at this tiny little thing that was on my chest whilst the surgeons stitched me up. We took loads of photos and just stared in disbelief at each other that we made something so perfect. I couldn’t believe she was finally here.
I will be honest, as the days have gone on, I have got upset about the way my birth panned out, and that I missed out on labour and the full birth experience, but I am making sure that I keep talking about it and not bottling anything up, and also trying to remember that the most important thing is that Gracie is here & healthy.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story… and if anyone else is struggling with how their birth panned out I really recommend writing it down, even if you don’t share it! It’s really helped me to process what happened ❤️
Lots of love
Jordan & Gracie xxxx