Giving birth after fertility treatment and early loss.
Giving birth after fertility treatments and early loss was such a journey. I finally became pregnant with my daughter in 2019 after 4 years of trying. Whilst I was beyond happy to be finally pregnant, I was also very scared about something going wrong. In the early days, my husband and I did some counselling to give us the tools to cope with that anxiety.
As my pregnancy progressed and I passed the 26 weeks stage (which I’d read was a point in which if anything happened and baby came early, the chances of things being ok were good) I started to think about birth. I felt a real mixture of emotions – worry that something would go wrong but also increasing excitement to meet my little miracle.
We took NCT classes for the reason most people do – to make friends with people at the same point as us, but not so much for the birth preparation information. While it covered the basics, it didn’t go into nearly enough detail for me or help me really feel prepared. Off the back of a friends recommendation we did an online hypnobirthing course (before Luce was running her courses!) and it was a game changer. I felt I understood so much more about what would happen to my body (and mind!), picked up some brilliant tools to cope and most importantly sat down and really thought about and wrote down my birth preferences. I say preferences because the course taught me that curve balls happen and having a ridged plan isn’t so helpful!
I wanted to be on a midwife led unit because of everything I’d read about the environment and set up, however I was anxious about not having access to doctors/surgery if needed. So I decided to go for a hospital which had a midwife led unit but a delivery suite on the floor above and that really took some of the weight off. I thought about (and practiced!) the labour positions I found most comfy to be in and what I wanted for pain relief. I declined the offer of an induction (something routinely offered to IVF mummas) because I really believed my body would be ready in it’s on time.
I went into labour on naturally at 3am at 40+4 weeks (on a sunny bank holiday weekend which I’m sure also helped!), with what felt like period cramps. I’d had a bit of Braxton Hicks, but somehow I knew this was it! Although they weren’t too strong, right away they were regular but I was happy in bed with tea and a book and practicing my breathing, which really calmed and focused me.
By 9am the pain had ramped up a bit and the app I was using told me I was in established labour. I called the midwife led unit and they said I could come in if I wanted to be examined. I considered it, and although I was aware lots of examinations can upset the birthing mojo, for me it brought peace of mind so we went in an hour later.
I’ll never forget that waddle from the car into hospital, breathing through the surges, leaning on the walls! I was only 1cm dilated, and decided to go home to be in my own space. For the next 5 hours or so I listened to beach/wave sounds, bounced on my birth ball, breathed, sort of micro napped and my lovely husband kept bringing me food and water. I was in a bit of a trance – which continued for pretty much the whole of the rest of the experience. I just felt so in the zone – don’t get me wrong I felt the pain but I embraced it rather than fought it, knowing it was bringing me closer to baby.
I felt things had got to a point where I needed some extra pain relief in the form of gas and air, as was my plan, so we went back to hospital about 4pm and I was 8cm!! On that examination, my waters broke and had thick meconium in them and the midwife said they’d want to monitor me on the delivery ward because of this. I asked if I could still be active in my labour (the thing I really didn’t want was to be laid on my back) and I was more than happy to be monitored when they said yes.
I had a monitor on bump to measure contractions and one was actually put on babies head to monitor heart rate – amazing! I spent the next hour or so breathing, using gas and air, walking about a bit but mainly leant on the bed semi squatting while raising my heels/peddling my legs. I have no idea why but the movement just felt right so I went with it. My body pushed and I went with those motions as they came. Around 6pm I was told that bubs heart rate was dropping and it was important to get her out fairly quickly now. I was told so calmly and although lots of people came in, I was still in the zone and just felt focused rather than panicked or scared.
I had to get on the bed as it required the help of ventose and an episiotomy in those final minutes. About 10 minutes later my daughter was born. She was lifted to my chest, gave a little cry and I just kept saying ‘my baby, my baby’ – I was overwhelmed with love and so in awe of the fact that she was actually here, safe in my arms. Very quickly after I felt a new pain and was told I had a large hematoma that needed surgery. I got to have lots of cuddles with my girl first and breastfed her. She then had time to bond with Dad while I headed off to surgery, where it all hit me and I cried happy tears! Although unexpected things happened, I felt strong and in safe hands and thinking back to that day I feel so grateful and empowered by the experience I had. The best day of my life!