gina's birth story
A bit of background, I had an emergency c-section with my first daughter in 2011 for 'fetal distress', I was barely in labour and although it was very straightforward and the recovery was normal, it was very traumatic for me. We have no family close by and I had no friends that had children so felt very alone and I struggled with the recovery and breastfeeding. When my firstborn was 6 weeks old, I realised I could never go back to working in a shop, I felt I was stagnating and my recent experience triggered my motivation to become a midwife. I applied for the course and got in first time, I started university the week of her first birthday.
Fastforward to 2018 and I was pregnant with my second daughter and had been working as a midwife for 3 years. After my c-section it took me some time to pluck up the courage to get pregnant again. I had always said that I would plan a homebirth if I had another child and at my booking appointment I told my community midwife (who was my mentor and has become a very good friend) that this was my intention. She was incredibly supportive as always, an amazing midwife, woman and advocate. She wrote it in my notes and told me that we would make an appointment for the birth choices clinic and that she would make sure that everything was in place. My consultant laughed and told me it wasn't an option, I laughed too and told her we would see about that. At 34 weeks I was sent for an extra growth scan because of a tailing off in baby's growth, I was told I may be offered induction at 37 weeks but the registrar gave me a good, balanced, evidence based approach. I researched for myself.
My pregnancy had been otherwise straightforward, I have no health conditions so am relatively 'low risk'. I saw the consultant midwife , I asked about statistics, she told me my chance of a vaginal birth with induction of labour would drop to 30%. The next growth scan was fine, panic over and I was still on for my homebirth. My due date came and went, my consultant mentioned induction and I told her not to bother giving me an appointment, I would decide over the weekend and speak with my community midwife. I told my midwife I was undecided, she suggested we wait until Monday and see how things went.
I woke up at 6am on Sunday morning (5 days over my due date) and I fet tired so I slept for a little while on the sofa. I woke and was aware I was having some crampy pains so I walked around, sat on the birthing ball and opened the clary sage. My partner made us breakfast, by this point they were stronger but still irregular. I had a bath and continued wafting the clary sage. 1pm My waters went in the bath, I was unsure at first so got out and put a pad on, went downstairs and made a puddle on the kitchen floor. I sent my partner to Tesco to get more maternity pads, Lucozade, biscuits and snacks (the ones I had got for my homebirth box had mysteriously vanished).
He took our daughter and I rang the midwife to update her. Things continued and the contractions became stronger, I used the tens machine and spent some time on the ball, on my knees and walking around. The community midwife rang to see how I was, I told her they were continuing and were stronger but I knew my labour wasn't established. She was handing over to the night on call midwife at 5pm so i was to ring the MLU if I needed someone. I went for another bath but realised that by this time things were definitely intensified and I could barely get out. I told my partner to ring my mum so she could sit with our daughter and he could be with me. I had spent most of the day alone as she had become upset seeing me in pain so I told him to take her to her room and they watched some films and played. He occasionally came to check on me but I was happy kneeling on the floor, resting my head on the sofa and looking out over my garden at the beautiful day outside thinking how calm and different things were this time around, listening to my hypnobirthing cd for VBAC, using my tens and labouring in peace. When my partner rang my mum, I rang the midwife to come, she told me she might take a while as she lived around 45 mins away and needed to stop by the MLU, that was fine with me as I felt I was coping well.
It felt like that hour came and went and I told my partner to ring her and make sure she brought the gas, I felt things were different, I felt more pressure, I felt like I was waiting for her. She arrived not long after but I couldn't move for her to examine me, I used the gas. A while after I asked her to check how dilated I was, I was 7cm. I hadn't met the midwife before and felt like I needed someone more assertive, I lost control and panicked. I told her I could be hours as I'd never laboured before, i needed more pain relief. She didn't argue, she called the ambulance. My mum arrived just after they did, she went up to my daughter and my partner came down to me. The paramedic was fantastic, he was so supportive. He held my hand. They eventually coaxed me into the ambulance, as I climbed the steps I had an almighty contraction, heaved myself onto the stretcher and started to push. I live 2 miles (5mins) away from the hospital, by the time we got there the midwife asked if she could examine me as she wasn't sure if the baby was on its way. Sure enough I was fully dilated, she didn't think we had time to get to the labour ward. I told her 'you're taking me to labour ward, I want an epidural'. She said I didn't have time, so I told her to take me back home.
I went up to the labour ward on the stretcher, waving to my colleagues as they were leaving the day shift. I cried to see the shift manager come into the room to care for me, I was so happy and felt so safe with her there. There were some dips with baby's heartrate and they were very slow to recover. They called the DR to come, my partner told me to push because they were preparing me for theatre, I looked at my midwife and asked if she could see the head yet, I could see she wanted to be gentle with me, she hesitated, I asked her again and she said no. The dr came in, I pushed like I wanted her to leave and baby's head was visible. She gave me some local anaesthetic, and after 1 pull on the suction cup after an episiotomy my second daughter was born at 20:51, very shortly after arriving on the labour ward.
A while later and my placenta still would not come, my bleeding was minimal. The dr left to hand over to the night staff, the midwife asked if she could try and deliver my placenta, I obliged but it was quite stubborn. Whie we were waiting, my daughter came in to visit her new baby sister and my mum saw her second grandchild. The night dr came, she asked if I was happy to go to theatre and I was, i told my partner to take my daughter home as it was late and she needed some cuddles and attention, so a short while after I was wheeled in to theatre and sat for a spinal anaesthetic. Once I was comfortable the dr removed my placenta and sutured my episiotomy while I chatted to my midwife.
I was then taken back to the labour room where I breastfed my new baby, spent some time taking her all in and then i rested. They later moved me to the ward, I had some tea and toast, had a lovely chat and a cuddle with my amazing colleague and midwife, more tea and toast, then she left me to sleep. I was so comfortable with the spinal, I was so happy that I had achieved a vaginal birth and that I had been listened to during my pregnancy, supported by my midwives, I was happy that I had a beautiful labour at home - what a fantastic experience.
To then spend the night in a place where I felt safe among my lovely work family. I was so lucky to have had an amazing experience, although I never got the HBAC I had planned, everything worked out well and I was supported with my choices, both me and baby were safe and I am so happy with the outcome. After my first daughter I wasn't sure if I wanted any more children, but after this positive, healing experience I would do it all again in a heartbeat. Just the icing on the cake my lovely community midwife that I can call a dear friend came to visit me before I was discharged and I cried and thanked her and have done many times since.
Gina's friend and colleague has written a book on positive birth stories
'Birth Stories during the Covid-19 Pandemic: Real birth experiences written by women who gave birth during a global pandemic', available to buy on amazon.
*birth story and pictures kindly shared with consent*