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I had a c-section with my first daughter, Angelica, in March 2007. I have a complicated medical history of endometriosis, cysts and ME/CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). Unfortunately with my CFS my muscles will literally stop working when I am tired and after 24 hours of labour in which I was refused pain relief when I asked for it (the hospital was really bad and unsupportive and constantly told me to 'wait an other hour' before having pain relief until it was just too late) I just couldn't push. My muscles had stopped working completely.
Initially when we found out I was pregnant this time I was going to opt for another c-section because the resulting relapse from my first labour went on for months and months and I was terrified of it happening again and not being able to look after my family. However, as time went by I thought more about trying for a VBAC and luckily the hospital I chose this time around were really supportive.
I had been under the consultants because of my CFS during the pregnancy and was due to have my last appointment on Friday morning at 10:20. I had a feeling Natasha would come early (my due date was Monday 18th August) and I'd been joking that I'd like to go into labour on Thursday night so that I wouldn't have to go to the appointment! I suppose I should have been careful what I wished for!
At 6 am on Friday 15th August I woke up and found I had some pretty bad pain which gradually faded. I dozed back off, then my husband woke me up accidentally and I got another bit of pain. I kept an eye on the clock and waited - five minutes later it came again, and again, and again. When it got to about 8 I woke DH up and said to him, "I'm sorry to wake you but I think I'm having contractions." I had to laugh as Steve's first reaction was "But what are you going to do about your appointment?!" - Like that was the most important thing!
Angelica woke up and as I started moving around the contractions got stronger and stronger and I knew for sure I was in labour. I called the hospital to cancel my appointment (heh, got my way after all!) and they said that because of my previous C-section I needed to come straight in. This was the first time anyone had mentioned this, and also probably the worst thing that I could have done. I tried to stall as long as I could because I knew I would be better off at home but they would only allow me to wait an hour before I went in at the most. I must admit I was naughty and stayed at home for almost 2 hours, but that was as far as I could push my luck because the hospital started calling, asking where I was :/
I managed to get my last few bits sorted out and my parents came to look after Angelica. We set off for the taxi rank (we don't drive so we had no other option) and faced a half hour taxi ride. On the way there the taxi driver had the radio on and the newsreader kept going on about some penguin receiving a knighthood which - of course - is how you want to remember the day you went into labour with your second child...
The taxi driver annoyed the life out of me by asking - after I'd been panting in the backseat for 20 minutes - if I had an appointment at the hospital. "No - I'm in labour!" I told him. Then he didn't know where the hospital was and I started to think we should have taken a bus or something!
We arrived at the hospital eventually and went to delivery. They had a very busy day and I was put in the kind of 'spare room' they don't usually use. The whole time I was there the midwives were apologising for the room not having a window, but that was the last thing I cared about by that point! By this point I'd been in labour for about six hours and I was already starting to feel drained. I had some gas and air to help a bit and the hours began to pass by. Because they'd made me go in so early I had barely started dilating and because they had me strapped to the monitors the contractions began to slow down. If I'd been allowed to stay at home for longer and been able to move around I don't think my labour would have been so long and slow. There was also a disastrous cannula insertion incident in my hand where my blood ended up spurting all round the room and I ended up with a swollen, bruised hand until several hours later when the midwife conceded it had not been inserted properly and they put one in the other hand instead!
At about 4pm a second midwife took over who was really pretty and very nice. The staff were much more supportive at this hospital and took my CFS into consideration at every turn. However, it was hospital policy not to give an epidural until 3cm dilated and I still wasn't there yet so the pain of the contractions was taking my energy, plus I hadn't been allowed to eat anything all day so I couldn't even replenish my energy that way.
At 7 yet another midwife took over, who was the one I then had all through the night. Ironically this was the one midwife I didn't like. She was very strange and was the only one who seemed oblivious to the CFS as well and it took hours of reminding her about it before she finally started to take it on board.
I finally reached 3cm dilated and was allowed the epidural. However, it took over an hour before they could arrange to put it in and when they did it was one of the most painful parts of the whole labour. I also don't think it worked that well for me because although the contractions weren't *as* painful they certainly had not faded to the extent they should have done and I was still in a lot of pain. Looking back, balancing the pain from insertion and the level of relief it gave me I think I would have stuck with the gas and air because, by that time, the damage had already been done and I was so exhausted that I couldn't move my limbs, let alone think about pushing.
It was 6 in the morning before I was ready to begin pushing and by that point I had no energy or strength left. I knew that I had no chance of pushing out Natasha. I pushed as hard as I could but my whole body was shutting down by that point. I did everything I could but I'd been in labour for over 24 hours and I had nothing left. At seven it was decided I wasn't progressing and talk started to turn to a repeat caesarean. One doctor said they would try the ventouse (suction) first but it was pretty clear I was being humoured because *everyone* else was preparing me for a C-section instead.
I was taken to theatre and again everyone was talking about the c-section apart from this one doctor who said we would 'have a go' with suction first. None of them seemed to have any faith that I would succeed, and neither did I but I thought to myself "I've pushed for over 25 hours now - I'm not going to let them cut me open without a fight!"
They told me when to push so I did, but nothing happened. They told me to try one more time and I drew every last shred of energy I had, knowing it was my last chance. I heard one of them say the suction had come off her head but I carried on pushing for the rest of the contraction, and then I heard DH say something I hadn't expected;
"Her head's out!"
I thought it was a bad joke. I didn't think I could possibly have pushed her head out. I was crying, "are you serious?!) Someone said, "you're going to deliver your baby now - get ready to push again."
There was music playing in the theatre and the song "Waiting For A Girl Like You" by Foreigner started to play at that moment as they told me to push again, and I delivered my beautiful baby girl Natasha. The next thing I knew she was laying on my chest, crying just a little which stopped as we spoke to her gently and rubbed her back. I gasped in surprise as I saw how much she looked like Angelica. She looks EXACTLY like she did when she was born! We just couldn't believe she was there, safe and sound.
They let us hold and talk to her for a while before they took her to clean her up and weigh her, then laid her back in my arms and she had her first feed. It was love at first sight, it really was.
I had to spend a long time in recovery strapped to a malfunctioning blood pressure machine that was supposed to go off every 15 minutes but kept inflating and deflating at will. My blood pressure kept dropping really low for some reason so it was mid afternoon when I finally got put in a ward; a three-bed room called Laburnam Ward. I managed to get discharged the following afternoon and despite some encounters with some REALLY horrible hospital food my stay wasn't half as stressful as it had been in the awful hospital I'd had Angelica.
Natasha is amazing. Truly amazing. Looking at her is like looking at Angelica 17 months ago. They could NOT look more alike! Natasha even makes the same noises that Angelica used to as a baby. I could tell her noises apart from the other baby in the ward because they were so familiar
She's doing really well with breastfeeding. Angelica never really got the hang of it and I don't think my body was producing what she needed either, but Natasha loves it and latches on really well. She does, however, try to latch onto anything and anyone, much to Steve's annoyance when she tries to get a good meal out of him! I am supplimenting with 2 bottles a day because I need to keep an eye on recouperating from the CFS and Natasha is a VERY hungry girl, but all is going well.
Angelica is fascinated by her little sister. She calls her 'Na-na' so we've started calling her that, too! She's always going over and peering on tiptoes into the moses basket and saying 'Hiya Na-na!' I can't believe how happy and content I feel with our two little girls. Everything's so much less daunting this time and she's really fitted in well to our routine. We just couldn't be any happier if we tried!