When I had Jake on Christmas Day 2013 it ended in a very traumatic emergency c-section which affected me for quite a while after. I wasn’t offered any extra help afterwards, any counselling or explanations about what happened. All I had to go on was what I could vaguely remember from my time in the hospital and the bits that my husband relayed back. It was a long, exhausting labour and when you have been pulled and prodded, checked and injected, seen countless faces and gone through an epidural and a spinal block, then surgery everything becomes a blur and the facts and details are lost.
When I mentioned this to my lovely midwife– the same one I had for Jake– she was surprised that I didn’t have more information and she immediately told me about the birth reflections meetings. These are in place for those who have had a traumatic birth for them to discuss what happened in detail, what was documented in your notes and for you to ask any questions you may have. I was honestly stunned that almost four years had passed and I had never been offered this service. I battled with guilt, what if’s, pain from my scar and was questioning myself for a year and a meeting like this could have made all the difference to me back then.
Me and my husband jumped at the chance for this meeting and asked her to book it all in. It took quite a few months for us to be seen due to how busy the midwives are and how in demand these meetings have now become but we were finally seen on Friday. We were due to go to the hospital but as we had only been there a couple of weeks earlier for our consultant meeting she decided it would be much more relaxed for her to come to our home.
She brought along a large pack which had all of my notes from that day. She then began to go through these notes, reading them out and explaining what certain terms meant and why the decisions had been made. It was fascinating listening to the times, what was written down and what happened when… I just didn’t realise so much had gone on! During these notes being recalled, we could ask questions at any time, give our input, explain how we felt, explain how I was made to feel and just get some clarity on it all. As an outsider, she could also comment on how things were dealt with and even though she agreed with most of what was done she also agreed with me that the epidural did slow everything down and she even thought that it was given far too early.
To hear somebody finally agree with you, to give you their honest opinion and to help you plan for the next birth has lifted a weight from my shoulders. I had gone over and over it all in my mind so many times. What if I had coped better? What if I hadn’t made such a fuss ringing the labour line? What if I had stayed at home longer? What if I had rested and eaten more earlier on? Yet in the end, it turned out I did fully dilate which I never knew and that perhaps if I had been more active in labour, had the epidural later on, or not at all, I may have given birth naturally. All of which is very positive for this little guy I am cooking at the moment.
I know I go on about having a natural birth quite a bit but it is an important experience for me to have. I want to be able to see how it feels… yes, I know painful!… I want to have a faster recovery after having him and I just want to be able to do this as a woman. It could all still go wrong, I am very aware of this and I am keeping my realistic head on throughout my pregnancy but if it can happen naturally I will be extremely happy.
The midwife and the consultant are very happy for me to go down the VBAC route and I will be kept an eye up until due date to ensure I am still ok for this. If I go over my due date it could all change but I will cross that bridge if and when I get to it.
I am just so happy to have finally shed some light on what happened with Jake and to have had a chance to voice our experiences and compare these to the notes. I urge anybody who has had trouble dealing with a traumatic birth to go and speak to your midwife or doctor and find out if a birth reflections meeting is for you. It is completely free on the NHS and will really help to give you some peace of mind.