There is no doubt that giving brith is a life changing event. Whatever the outcome, and however birth unfolds, I believe that each birth is unique and personal to each of us. Some labours can be counted as ‘good’ or ‘planned’ whilst others, just seem to be firmly in the world of surreal. Personally, I took the approach to stick my head in the sand in preparation for both of mine – firmly resolving to just not really plan things at all. But there’s no doubt that I did take strength from others sharing their stories. It helped to know that if they could do this, I could too.

Whilst each story I read was different, I felt like there was something to gain from all of them – whether good or bad – they all helped to form the approach that I took. Essentially, my plan was just to trust my midwife and when in doubt, offer her bribes.

Aside from the help that I gained from reading others, I also have found that sharing my own story has been cathartic. People are often quick to want to talk about their birth stories because they are such life altering events. It helps to talk, write and share. It’s something that I always feel should be encouraged more!

So to that end, in a celebration of motherhood, this week I’m sharing birth stories and here’s Victoria’s:

The Births That Didn’t Go To Plan

Neither of my births went to plan.

I had two emergency c-sections, the second preceded by failed forceps.

They weren’t the idyllic natural births I’d imagined. My refusal of everything but gas and air to give my body the best chance of giving birth without assistance didn’t help. Nor did my steely determination.

I am well aware that without medical intervention, neither I nor my children would be here to tell the tale.

We are lucky. We live in a developed country, have access to healthcare, and not only that but healthcare which is free of charge.

Yet, when I look back at my labours there is a sadness in my heart. Things weren’t the way they should have been. We were looked after by excellent staff, but they were overworked and overstretched.

We were left alone for long periods of time, and despite being told I would be monitored throughout the second time around, because of my previous c-section, that simply didn’t happen.

I will be forever thankful for the Other Half. He caught my sick and kept me calm. Even when I was  crying with pain, he never once left my side. He was my rock. And if I’m honest I have no idea how I would have got through it without him. It was he who took me to the toilet and he who made sure I always knew where to find the magic gas and air.

The medical staff may have been the ones who delivered our baby, but it was he who took care of me. It was he who cushioned me from a system which no longer allows for humanity, a system where staff no longer have time to get to know mums and their needs, a system where unless you are medically in danger staff need to be out of the room dealing with another patient.

We have spoken many times since about that night, especially in the early days, when Number Two was sent for a brain MRI following concerns about his movement and feeding. We questioned our decisions and wondered (and in many ways still do), whether if we had known then what we know now about the use of forceps, if we would have allowed them to go ahead. And perhaps even more than that, whether his early months would have been different if we had opted to go straight for a c-section.

Hindsight is of course a wonderful thing.

None of us can predict the future. We like the doctors and nurses working to deliver our baby made the decision we thought was best at the time.

Time was of the essence. There was not time to sit and wonder, to analyse our choices. Our baby was in distress and needed to get out.

I wish my labour had been different. I wish his birth had been different. And I wish in the months that followed we hadn’t had to live with uncertainty about the future.

But despite that. The outcome was a good one. On both occasions I came home with my babies, when I so easily might not have done so.

And for that reason I will always feel lucky, I will always feel grateful.

After all that is what’s important. And I’m all too aware that in another time, in another place life may have looked very different indeed.

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