I was anxious throughout my whole pregnancy. It all started around week 6 when I'd had some heavy bleeding, a dash to the hospital to check if everything was okay fuelled with nerves, this sort of set the tone for my whole pregnancy. The bleeding continued on and off throughout the first trimester, every time I was scanned the baby was fine. And on we went. I'd met my partner in September '16 and we moved in together soon after. I was pregnant by the 5th month marking us living together, completely planned so no surprise just joy that it hadn't taken us very long to conceive. I'd lost my older sister to cancer in my 20's, had many failed relationships along with a history of child abuse which resulted in years of therapy so getting pregnant was a huge deal to me I wouldn't take the blessing for granted. I wanted to protect the baby I'd wanted for so long as the thought of miscarrying was, well just not happening. So on we went. My morning sickness was horrendous, I was sick like nothing I've ever felt before. Most foods along with body products like shampoo made me gag horrendously, I had to eat every hour and a half white bread and sliced cheese one of the few meals I could stomach. I drank sparkling mineral water only for months, at times I cried the sickness was so intense. Then along came week 20 and I started to get my appetite back. Slowly I started to exercise and found my new rhythm as a pregnant woman. I was working as a nanny at the time which had been my chosen career for 20 odd years but the long days had me exhausted so I quit at week 26. From this time on I took care of myself, my partner and our growing baby along with catching up on paperwork and looking for a new place for us to live as we were in shared accommodation. All our scans went well. The baby was growing and I enjoyed feeling her wriggle and kick day to day. The anxiety never subsided though and I took extreme care going about my day to day life. Around week 30 another type of sickness set in and I felt dizzy and weak a lot of the time which carried on until I gave birth. Eating wine gums and drinking ginger beer was a saviour albeit very unhealthy it was all I could do to help. Trips to the shops were hard, I managed to keep up my daily walks which I was happy about as it gave me time to bond with the baby singing and talking as I went.
Fast forward to week 36, baby was breech so I employed lots of ideas to help move her which worked. I was happy as a csection was not on my to do list. By week 38 talk of induction was happening. This is where it all went wrong for me. I never wanted an induction but I was influenced greatly by my family situation and bearing in mind that my babies placenta might stop working past 40 weeks I got scared. 40 weeks and still no sign of our baby. Induction booked for 41+3. Nervously we went along to the hospital not knowing what to expect my pessary was inserted on a Sunday afternoon and the time between this and our daughter being born was far from the wholesome birth experience I had written up in my birthing plan.
Contractions started within 1/2 hour and at first they were remotely manageable. After around an hour of experiencing 7 contractions every 10 minutes I was a wreck. It burnt like hell. It was like the weight of an elephant was pressing down on my uterous. I paced the halls. I took gas and air. We were transferred to the Labour Ward as soon as a room was free and there I sat contracting like a maniac for 48 hours. I was in agony so I opted for an epidural which worked for some time and the wore off completely. I sat unable to move in my hospital bed being examined continuously awaiting full dilation in a haze of drugs with those awful belts wrapped round my stomach monitoring the baby who everyone said 'seemed very calm' throughout.
Finally I dilated. I pushed for over an hour with no joy. I had more pain relief and was advised that my baby would need help being delivered. At this point I cried and agreed to an instrumental delivery because again - a csection was not on my to do list. The recovery time was not an option as my partner had to work long hours so I would need my strength to look after the baby. More pain relief, unable to feel anything from my breasts down I was guided by the hospital staff on what was happening and when I am needed to push. Forceps and suction were needed and our baby girl was born at 2:39pm 7/11/17 weighing 4.2kgs, 62cms long. My partner saw her first he held her as I was having her placenta manually removed. She was out. I felt relief. And on we went.
I lost a lot of blood and we both caught an infection due to the length of time my waters had been broken. Our girl was taken to the NICU and I was left to recover on Ward. Well that I did not do. I couldn't walk but I needed to be near my baby so my partner pushed me in a wheelchair to sit with her. It was harrowing. I was so weak and she was ill. I had severe bladder and bowel incontenance and so began my road to recovery after my instrumental birth experience. Home we went on day 6, to be honest I didn't want to leave the hospital as I had support, at home it was unknown how I would cope. I muddled through. I am still muddling through. On I go.
5 months later and our baby is beautiful. She has hit all her developmental milestones so far, we've had the most beautiful breastfeeding experience (after a painful establishment as most must endure) in which I am able to exclusively breastfeed her night and day with no pumping. I love this time we have together and in some way it compensates the agony I have had to face and still face daily. From the pelvis down I am weak to my knees, going to the loo walking etc have all taken time to establish new strengths. I've been back and forth to various doctors but all the tests I've had so far show no major damage nothing that extensive physio cannot fix. My belly still sits at 4 months pregnant and I'm okay with that. It's taken time to get my head around the fact I have had this experience but talking it out helps, I've been able to gain knowledge and know others too have been affected the same way and my case is in no way the worst. I am fortunate. I am blessed. She is here.
And on we go. Me and my daughter attended our first playgroup yesterday, one of many activities I can't wait to see her grow and flourish in.
I pray all you pregnant first time mums out there have the birthing experience that you desire. Seek advice on alternatives and be prepared. I am blessed to have my baby and a very supportive partner and to me that is all that matters from here on out. Minnie Valentina Apollonio, a gift from God.
Thank you for reading my story!