The difference positive support can make - Louise
June 2012 - I was 10 days overdue, I wanted to meet my baby. My midwife booked me to be induced, I didn't know what that really meant or entailed.
February 2016 - I was 8 days overdue, I wanted to meet my baby. My midwife suggested booking me in for induction, I knew exactly what that meant and what it might entail.
I went into that first birth blind, which was probably for the best, it was long, complicated and for two people who rarely access the health care system it felt exceptionally traumatic, but at the end of it we had a beautiful baby girl who although fragile at first was soon healthy and happy.
What I did not realise in those first few months after having her, was just how damaging that experience had been and how it would affect me going forward. My baby grew, I was able to go back to normal life and eventually we decided to try for another child. As it had with our first, it took us a while to be successful, in fact looking back now I think it took until I realised people like me do have normal, happy birth experiences. I finally fell pregnant the weekend my nephew was born; a normal delivery and a healthy baby. Did my mind settle and accept this could happen to me also? Was it just coincidence?
I was finally pregnant, I was excited, I was happy.....I was petrified.
I knew this had to end with birth....just going back to the hospital to have scans took every ounce of courage I had, seeing those doors, recalling all the fear, helplessness and emotions. Seeing the doors to SCBU. I wanted to shout HELP ME but instead I stayed silent, bottling all my emotions. I had the same community midwife and thank goodness I did, although I didn't realise it then. Even these appointments were hell for me, entering any form of clinical environment was. In the space between pregnancies I even struggled with dentist appointments, having flashbacks when looking up at the spot lights as I had done in theatre during our first birth experience.
As my pregnancy progressed, my anxiety increased. Flashbacks entered my dreams, vivid horrendous images and the overwhelming feeling of helplessness that nobody was listening to me. Still I stayed silent.
In the final 8 weeks of my pregnancy I was not functioning as normal, although I was unaware at the time. My anxiety levels must have been sky high. Fortunately my midwife I think picked up on some subtle comments I made, offered to go through my previous birth notes with us and spent 3 hours on a Sunday afternoon taking us through step by step and listening to us when we wanted to comment on aspects of the birth. When she left I was a mess; she had made some excellent suggestions on how to prevent being induced........how to seek alternative treatments and relax my body and mind.
I followed these to the letter, I meditated, I visualised, I sought out reflexology and most of all I talked to friends, cuddlecare in its best form?
I went 8 days over; my midwife was so kind and supportive that she carried on my care despite being on leave, above and beyond; NHS staff at their very best. Inevitably induction came up; I told my husband it would break me of I had another birth like that and that I couldn't go through with it. I don't think I could have.
However with amazing support and commitment from my midwife, dedication to my alternative therapies and a lot of care from my husband, I finally went into labour on my own; it was short, it was quick and it was the most beautiful experience.
I was able to call my midwife 20 minutes after having my daughter and thank her for all her help.
I was so lucky to have been given such excellent care and guidance but I am sure others are not. Could Cuddlecare help here? Providing the support for women going through similar experiences? I think so. Just a conversation with someone who has had a similar experience followed by a positive birth can make all the difference.
My story does not end there, but it is enough for now.