Post-natal readmission-residual traumas turn positive.

We escaped the hospital within hours of Squirrel’s birth but when we popped to the hospital for her 5 day check they were a little concerned about her jaundice levels so unfortunately we had to get admitted to the post-natal ward for phototherapy.

Just being on the post-natal ward for the paediatrician checks was causing anxiety and flashbacks to Munchkin’s post-natal stay so when I heard we had to be admitted I burst into tears.  We had such a horrible time with Munchkin, I really didn’t want to go through it again.  Luckily my fabulous supportive supervisor of midwives was on hand to keep me calm and thankfully I got my own room and Squirrel and I made it cosy with my chillout birth playlist and birdy lights! image

We were in for 4 days (3nights) in the end and while it wasn’t a fun experience (difficult to sleep in hospital especially when everyone ignores your “please do not disturb” signs so you can sleep. Humph no I don’t need pain relief at 6am on the drug round- I need sleep- that is why there is a sign on my door!) it also was much much better than my first post-natal ward experience.

Firstly I wasn’t as worried about Squirrel as I was about Munchkin (bit of jaundice to get rid off is nothing compared to a suspected brain damaged baby with congenial pneumonia who had a cannula, nasogastric tube and various monitors attached.

Secondly it turned out that first time I learned a stupid amount of information about sterilising, hospital grade breast pumps, hospital routines etc. which meant second time felt a whole lot less stressful as I knew what I was doing, not only with my newborn but with all the hospital faff going on. I also think I was more confident to assert for the care I needed which I wasn’t first time around. So actually it meant that I now feel more positive about my first horrid postnatal experience as it held me in good stead for my second.

Thirdly- it defo helped the staff on the post natal wards were just a lot nicer! There were still some characters but I never encourntered anyone who was even a fraction of “evil midwife from hell

So all in all, while getting readmitted days 5-9 was not great and I was kind of fed up to work out that even after my fab birth experience, some of the birth trauma stuff was still with me, overall some positive stuff still came out of it. So it’s all good really.

 

I suppose there will always be things that “trigger” me but now I’m able to recognise and deal with them positively rather than get too hysterical and teary (well hysterical tears may sometimes be part of it but they now act as catalyst for positive change rather than wallowing in anxiety!)

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Walking past a labour ward with a smile

So since Munchkin was born I still twitch when I hear the name of her London hospital she was born in. I would really struggle to go back there (and did when we had to take her for check ups etc or if we visit London and drive past it visiting friends who live nearby.) I suspect that is something that will always be with me.

We live near the hospital Omble and Squirrel were born in and after Omble I never really thought about it as I walked past, it definitely didn’t affect me in any way negatively and was quite nice to think about the place Omble was born. Yesterday though something had changed, I was walking Munchkin to her swimming lesson (at the hospital hydrotherapy pool) and we walked very near the room I gave birth to Squirrel in and I was able to point it out to her sister and I had such a warm glow of happy wonderful memories of being in that room, giving birth and chilling out all morning with my gorgeous newborn. It was so lovely to have had a hospital experience that genuinely will put a smile on my face every time we walk past it.

Just ace!

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Birth story of #3- She was actually tickled out by fairies!!!

So our third baby girl(internet name Squirrel) was born almost 6 weeks ago in a genuinely heavenly water birth.  I wanted to write this story earlier but annoyingly we go admitted to hospital with her jaundice day 5-9 and then having the usual feeding issues so only just getting chance to write this now. Sorry the post is very long, I just wanted to capture as much of the experience as I can!

The scan dates had me as due 9th October but my dates by charting had my dates at the 14th. I don’t think it is physically possible to conceive on day ten of my cycle when I didn’t ovulate until day 15 so I think my dates were more accurate!  I was very very uncomfortable in the final days “overdue”, the baby was stretching the skin by my ribs so taut I could no longer feel anything there – it was numb!  I was offered a sweep at 6 days overdue (or 1 day by my dates!) and my cervix was already 2-3cm dilated and the midwife thought labour was imminent! The sweep didn’t hurt at all, very gentle but it certainly did the trick as about 5am the next morning some of my waters went with a pop and gentle contractions started.  I had enough time to grab a bowl of cereal while phoning the labour ward and my father in law to give us a lift while my husband had a shower and a cup of coffee! Very civilised. We even had time to grab a lemon and a peeler for reasons I shall explain shortly. I decided to bounce on my birth ball while waiting for the lift which was a mistake as made my waters go even further and I had to go and get changed fully!  My sister in law came along to look after my older two girls (Internet names- Munchkin and Womble).

We got into the car with my bags and the ridiculous birth ball (it was a VW beetle- can you imagine the comedy of two grown men fighting to get a giant birth ball into a tiny boot- my husband hated that birth ball with a passion but was under strict instructions to not get cross about it while I was in labour as it would stress me out!).  We got to the hospital just before 6am and unloaded, and I was carrying the ridiculous birth ball down the corridoor when a man stopped us to comment on the ridiculous birth ball and tell us about his daughter who was overdue but would be having it any day now. Was very funny but seriously a labouring woman is not in the mood for small talk!

We got to the delivery suite and were swiftly put in the 4bay triage room with a lovely midwife assessing how far along I was.  At this point I had a bit of an unexpected panic attack when another labouring woman came into the cubicle diagonally opposite. Just being able to hear her sent adrenaline through me and I burst into tears and had to put my hands over my ears and I was trying very hard not to hyperventilate. Luckily my awesome and very supportive husband was on hand and grabbed my music and earphones and I got my labour playlist going and I calmed down when I could no longer hear her. The midwife came back and as soon as she saw how upset I was offered to move me somewhere else but I was calming down so we got my assessment done so we could get to the delivery room. At the time she said something like the baby’s head wasn’t effacing properly to my cervix so she thought it might be a little while and maybe if I tried to stay out of the pool as long as possible.  At the time I remember a fleeting thought of “oh no my body isn’t doing it properly again” but instantly followed by “nope, my body is doing it exactly right and this midwife is going to be proved wrong as I think it will be faster than she thinks!”

We were given a choice of birth pool rooms and opted for the smaller pool but with the pool in the room as it felt like a posh hotel room, the other pool might have been bigger and maybe more comfy was in a windowless room and it just wasn’t as nice.  My husband got the room set up with my relaxing birdie fairy lights and my music and I put the birth ball on the bed and a baby blanket over it and kind of flopped my head and arms over the ball so I could rock and sway.  At this point we bought out the lemon and peeler again. Basically I find the scent of fresh lemon and the texture of the rind very soothing and grounding. I tried to find lemon oil that smelt right but none were as good as a genuine fresh lemon so we thought sod it and bought one in. Just rubbing the peel between my fingers and sniffing it was a really nice distraction focus in early stages.  I also had my squeezy stress balls for my hands and was banging them on the big birth ball as a distraction (thanks Juju Sundin – Birth skills!) Later on my husband bought out my wooden pebble. This wooden pebble he bought me for our wood wedding anniversary and it says “I love you” on it. It had actually been down the back of the radiator for a couple of years from when the toddler dropped it down there, but I had decided in my counselling sessions that would be another good grounding object plus it is the perfect size to grip hard in your hand. I had infused it with a lemon and mandarin oil so it smelt pretty good along with my lemon peel and this was working nicely along with my husband doing a sterling job of massaging my back through each contraction.

The midwife offered me gas and air which I decided to start as things were starting to get painful and although I was planning on managing the whole thing on gas and air only (so had a vague idea to hold off on it until I really needed it) I decided to say sod it and not be a martyr! At this point the midwife commented I was progressing faster than she thought I would (internally I did a little smugtastic “I KNEW IT!” dance!) and we had better start filling the pool up! So we had a little while of me on gas and air swaying leaning against my birth ball with my husband massaging my back.

When the pool was only half full the midwife said I could get in if I wanted while we waited for it it fill.  I had a riculous tankini with me (hideous bright pink thing bought in a £5 sale for this moment) but I went fuck it I need to be naked for this so got into the pool starkers and it was bloody bliss as soon as I was in I was able to wiggle my hips through each contraction, hold my husband’s hand, breath the gas and air.

I had been listening to my hypnobirthing cd fairly regularly (and memorised much of it from Omble’s birth) and although not sure how much of it stuck I do remember visualising a pain dial and turning down the pain (which may also have coincided with an extra deep breath of gas and air!) which kind of worked. I couldn’t use the beach visualisation the cd used as sadly around the time I was developing my seascape safe space visualisation a little refugee boy Alan Kurdi was found washed up on a beach and the image was so haunting I could no longer make a beach scene a safe space for a labour visualisation.

The pool was filled up and all cosy. The contractions got more and more intense and I remember thinking these are painful but at no point was the pain too much to bear (words from my CD again!), it felt like a really positive powerful pain that somehow I was in control of even though I was completely off my tits on gas and air.  I was breathing a little bit much gas and air in at this  point so the midwifes were trying to encourage me to have some breaths of fresh air as well. I do remember complaining “but I want to stay in fairyland, I like fairy land!”. I was just at the point of saying “I’m not sure I can do this any more” but while I was saying it actually I knew full well it was far too late for a change of plan and to go with an epidural! Anyhow I didn’t really want to as I knew I could do it because I had done it before, and of course I was in transition.  It really helped the midwives reminding me of the fact that when you say that it means the baby is nearly here because of course she was!

Then came the incredible bearing down feeling seconds after the midwife had asked if I felt the urge to push. I remember going back to my hypobirthing cd words about bearing down and breathing in golden light and the feeling of pressure (not pain) and with one big push/contraction (that my body just did more than I tried too) her head was out.  I know the midwife had a mirror at this point but I was too out of it to look and just had my eyes closed focused on the next bit to get her body out. I was bracing myself against the back of the pool at this point (to the extent I had a bit of a bruised and sore neck and shoulders for a few days after the birth- mental note next time bring a bath pillow!) and with one last massive push she was out and bought up to me for a cuddle.

The next bit was euphoric and peaceful. The hardest bit was over. I had my wonderful perfect baby cuddled peacefully on my chest- she didn’t cry at all for ages (not until the vitamin K injection at least an hour after birth!), she was covered in vernix (which suggests she wasn’t overdue and my dates were more accurate!), we just got to snuggle her for ages while waiting for the umbilical cord to stop pulsing to maximise her blood volume etc.

Squirrel did not cry at all during this period, she was just way too chilled. The midwives were really happy with her colour and I just got to snuggle and hold her for ages which was incredible. We were nice and warm in the blood  bath.  At this point the midwife who had helped deliver her had to leave as actually she was over her shift by a little  bit while but had decided to stay as I started to bear down while she was doing handover! Midwives I salute you for staying over your shift to support women (and not miss the best bit of a birth!).

So eventually the cord stops pulsing and I get to chop it (something I didn’t get to do with other two) which was awesome. As think this is my last baby, it felt right that I sever that final link of pregnancy between me and my baby. Squirrel then went to daddy for a skin to skin cuddle while I focused on getting the placenta out.  This took a little while but it was all very chilled. Funny story- I felt the placenta come out and reported to the midwife, who looked and said it hadn’t, which was odd as it was defo down and out of my uterus as I felt it. Turns out when I shifted a bit it was sort of tucked up inside me. Cue husband sighing about how “anything that is lost is always under mummy’s arse” as in our house 9/10 times I am sat on the lost tv remote! Still makes me giggle!

Got to have a good look at the placenta, then the baby got weighed and checked. She was 4.23kg (to the gram the exact weight of munchkin) so another big baby but this time one who was so happy and healthy and one I delivered myself magically! She was very chilled I think the first time she cried when she had her vitamin K injection which was ages after she had been born!

She was born at 7.56am and by about 10am we were all clean and dressed (and stiched up!) and chilling out in the labour room listening to my chillout playlist, drinking loads of tea and eating toast and enjoying brilliant cuddles. It was such a lovely time of bonding for us all.

At 12ish husband left to get carseat and get father in law to collect us.  Squirrel latched on properly for the first time and OMIGOD THE AFTERPAINS!!! I was in a chair in agony knowing I was about to be sick and no-one around to help me, luckily I somehow managed to scoot my chair backwards to reach the call buzzer and my midwife got a sick bowl to me in time. I was feeding a vomiting and in pain as bad as early mid labour but with no pain relief (how I wanted more gas and air at that point!). I was allowed paracetamol but not co-codamol (on top of the diclofenac I had previously) and at this point I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to go home until I had pain relief under control. We decided to wait another hour as the pains faded and then felt able to go home. The afterpains were probably the worst bit of the whole labour but by then I had Squirrel so who cares! (also ended up vomiting with the pain with a feed later that evening but thankfully the severe afterpains had stopped within 24hours or so.

We went home and enjoyed newborn snuggles until it was time to get the big sisters home from school and preschool. They fell in love with her straight away just like we did.

Such a fabulous experience and definitely the kind of birth “I could do it again tomorrow!”, such a healing experience to have finally had a “tickled out by fairies” birth.

First birth: BAD

Second birth: Good

Third birth: MAGIC

Awesomes! And Huge thanks to my fabulous midwives (both antenally and during and after labour) as well as the incredible supervisor of midwifes who all contributed massively to helping me get to this point and made it such a fantastic experience.

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Birth plan: have a dance, have a bath, have a baby.

I love this video.  She is working it through her early labour and it is just brilliant.

Although admittedly my actual birth plan is still on two pages (I restrained self from laminating it this time😉 I think it can be summarised thus:

  • Have a dance
  • Have a bath
  • Have a baby

We shall see what 5 weeks actually brings but feeling very positive about it all at the min.

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erm so I am excited about giving birth!?

Just come back from a hospital appointment with the wonderful supervisor of midwives. Me & t’uzband attended to go through my birth plan and get a refresher tour of the delivery suite. It was amazing how effective it was to just  to run through everything from pressing the buzzer at the front door, to entering the delivery suite to seeing the rooms available.  Since I had omble there they have redone all the rooms and hidden all the medical equipment behind wooden pannelling. It is phenomenal what a difference this has made to the feel of the rooms. They feel so much less medical and calmer.  A bit like a hotel environment (admitedly I did put my foot in it by saying “Oooh it’s like a travelodge!” but I did mean oooh its like a nice hotel and I think I meant more nice chain hotel – but for the girl who grew up staying in youth hostels- travel lodges feel luxurious to me!)

The birthing pool rooms are really lovely. especially one with the pool right in the room (although the hot pink walls aren’t as calming as the pale green walled room!) so I am really optimistic that I might be able to get my planned water birth but I’m also feeling calm about other possibilities, just gonna go with the flow.

It all feels so positive and everyone is being so kind and supporting me I really feel great and excited about meeting baby #3. I am so very lucky to be able to access this level of support in hopefully having another positive birth experience.

Bloody brilliant! Bring on the next 5.5 weeks!

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Crowdsourcing facets of my safe space visualisation- A seascape taste and smell?

So I am working on a new safe space visualisation after deciding I want the meadow imagery from Womble’s birth to remain hers.

So my new visualisation is:

On the beach:

The weather is warm and sunny and I am sat in a comfy sand dune looking out across the pebbly shore over the sea. The waves are breaking over the pebbles making lovely noises as they push forward and then pull back into the sea. There is no-one else around and no boats in the water. The breeze is gentle on my skin as I am sheltered but it is fairly windy and smells fresh of the sea.  (I can’t hear any seagulls!) I am warm and comfortable sat here looking at the sea and it makes me feel very relaxed just watching the waves come in and out of the shoreline.

I have a soundscape on my ipod that works (need to double check no seagulls!) and I am going to create a collage of suitable images to focus on.  I will probably find a good beach pebble or piece of driftwood to focus on and touch).  But two aspects of fleshing out my visualisation I am struggling with are the taste and smell aspects.

Obviously icecream is something I probably can’t have in my birthbag but I am pondering a really nice salted caramel or salty fudge?  Any reccomendations? Or something that tastes reminiscent of the sea that won’t make me vom (salt water and fish fingers have been ruled out😉

Also smell- I want a really good sea smell but know so many are synthetic yuk and don’t work at all so pondering if anyone has come across any good smells that remind them of the sea/ being outside on the coast?

Help!

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A source of anxiety – barriers to accessing healthcare on my terms when in labour.

In today’s therapy session we discusssed how one of my significant anxieties around a 3rd labour is if I have a stop start labour (apparently common in 3rd labours) and getting sent home or not being listened to and admitted on my terms.

This stems from fact that when I was in labour with Munchkin the doors to the labour ward were all locked and barred, we were ringing and banging and no-one was coming to let us in. We were phoning the labour ward. We were only locked out for 10 minutes but it felt like forever. It was the moment I started to panic and from then on things were not calm and completely panic stricken and out of control. It all went wrong and down hill from there.

With my second labour when my waters broke and I rang the labour ward, the midwife on duty was very nice but I got a strong sense of “and if we don’t think you are in established labour we will send you home again” (she might have said words to that effect). Which caused a twinge of anxiety that I still remember (but all was fine as I was admitted and gave birth hours later!).

Now I appreciate home may be the best place for many women to stay in early labour, and labour wards can be very busy places which can’t be overrun with people “not far enough along”, but I am also very scared about not being listened too and sent home (despite history of reasonably fast labour 3-4 hours) and giving birth without healthcare or giving birth in a hospital carpark like my friend Glosswitch did!

So I figure best thing to do to help me with this particular anxiety is talk it through with the lovely supervisor of midwives (who me and husband are meeting on 1st Sept to go through my birthplan and revisit the birth suite) and make a plan that works for me and fits within hospital protocols (if it means setting up a tent on the grassy area just outside the delivery suite that’s fine!).

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A new emotion- Anger

Today I relived my birth experience with #1 with my new therapist. Something which invariably makes me cry but I had been avoiding so I wanted to do it in a safe space to just remind myself I am not in that place and I am safe.

A new emotion emerged while I was talking through it all. Anger. There was a lot of swearing.  I am fucking furious at some of the practitioners in that hospital and the absolutely apalling way I was treated at times. How fucking dare they treat women like that and leave them with long term psychological damage.  I was not a piece of meat, I was not a silly little girl needing to overpowered, I was and am a human being who deserved to be treated with kindness and respect during a very scary vulnerable time.

The anger feels positive, I think I will be more confident to assert my rights (harder when you are in labour!) with healthcare practitioners and not let them make me feel unsafe or scared. Also when I am out the other side I am going to turn this anger to activism and do more to stop other women going through what I experienced.

At the minute I feel kinda powerful, growing a mini human, and just watch me birth her!

ROARRRRRR!

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Dear Midwife with a Halo,

Dear Midwife with a Halo,.

via Dear Midwife with a Halo,.

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Restarting a blog for baby number 3

*waves*

Hi all,

So here I am 32 Weeks pregnant with #3, I was hesitant about revisiting this blog before now as didn’t think it necessary after Omble’s lovely birth but turns out birth trauma isn’t always as easy to heal as a positive 2nd birth.  Now I am getting close to my third birth I am feeling a little anxious so thought would be helpful to blog it out.

I am in a hugely better place psychologically than I was with #2. If you remember when I was pregnant with her I had an elective section agreed and it wasn’t until after a megaton of therapy, support from the hospital and hard work on my part that I agreed to go for a vaginal birth again.  It didn’t quite go to plan (my early epidural got taken off me due to a crash section) but it didn’t phase me and I had a 3hour labour on gas and air (still fecking hurt!) and was home same day. Was magic! Sadly my dad died when Omble was just three weeks old and that means pregnancy, birth and newbornness is associated with grief and trauma and with this being my 6th pregnancy (3 losses- one MMC at 10 weeks, one ectopic where I lost my tube and nearly died, and one early MC with mirena in) then I kinda want a nice straightforward mentally soothing time of it this time!

Have all my support networks in place, midwifes know, my consultant knows (he said very kindly- “prob best if you stay away from the obstetric team as much as possible this time!”- he knows waterbirth, gas and air and midwifes are what I want this time!), I’m getting supported by the same awesome supervisor of midwifes as last time (*waves if she is reading this as sent her the link!*) and I am having therapeutic support focusing on relaxation and reducing birth anxiety so I can go into this birth with the same calm mindset I had with #2.

So with 8 weeks to go I suspect I may add a few more posts just to carry on processing all this stuff and getting my brain into gear for birth of baby #3. I’m kinda excited and that can only be a good thing.

😀

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