The Birth of Judah
After our first child was born by emergency c-section at 30 weeks due to me developing severe pre-eclampsia; we were determined to have a natural and peaceful round 2! There was always a risk I could develop the same condition again but if so, it would be much later in pregnancy and much better monitored (if it even happened at all).
After the trauma of last time we decided to take some hypnobirthing classes as we’d heard that the techniques could really help us to remain calm and relaxed throughout birthing, whatever we faced. Our tutor Abby came to our house to deliver the course which was a huge blessing. She was so down to earth and practical and the theories behind calm birthing made total sense to us. As we practiced the visualisations, affirmations and breathing techniques we felt confident we could actually enjoy the process of welcoming our boy to the world.
Everything with my pregnancy was normal and going to plan until a routine appointment with my community midwife at 37 weeks. She picked up that I had a slightly higher blood pressure, some protein in my urine and an abnormal heart trace on the doppler. so we were sent to hospital for a closer look. We left our daughter with my parents who’d been staying at ours over Christmas and headed up to St James’. They did a CTG, blood tests and blood pressure which confirmed I had pre-eclampsia again and I was eventually sent home with blood pressure medication & advised to go back in the following day for a check up. Even at this stage I was able to use TCBS breathing to stay calm & it helped me sleep where I was starting to get anxious.
The next day I went in they told me I’d also developed a condition called obstetric cholestasis which meant my liver wasn’t getting rid of bile acids effectively which can be harmful for baby too. They gave me medication for that too but the Registrar was starting to imply that all these factors together weren’t a good sign and could quickly escalate if we left it too long. They suggested I be induced ASAP as the only fix was to get him out. We used our BRAINS to find out all our options and told them we’d take a day to think about it and we’d let them know if we were going ahead with the induction. I was so disappointed as I really wanted a VBAC but I read through some of our notes about induction & emailed Abby who sent me loads of helpful tips. We both concluded the induction was probably the safest option for our boy and certainly preferred it over leaving it too late and potentially needing another emergency section again.
They’d arranged for a foetal scan the following week but a cancellation opened up a slot on the Friday morning so we went back to Jimmies for the 3rd day in a row for the scan. The scan showed reduced blood flow to the placenta and they strongly suggested I be admitted that day and get induced first thing the following morning. We managed to persuade them to let me go home for a few hours to spend with my daughter who’d been a star for her grandparents but was obviously missing mummy & daddy too. We had a lovely few hours with her and tried to explain that I could be in hospital for a few more days yet, but that soon she would meet her baby brother!
I went back in that evening expecting to start my induction the following day. I was feeling positive and calm by this point and listened to my MP3’s as I went to bed. I had the usual observations throughout the night and in the early hours of the morning the CTG was starting to show signs of the baby being less active with some decelerations in his heart rate. The Registrar came to see me about 4am who turned out to be one of our good friends who happened to be on call that night! The fact it was him actually gave me an extra peace of mind but he basically advised that the baby was already under some distress and he would be unlikely to manage the stress of contractions from an induction. He suggested the best course of action was to do a c-section because if we left it much longer it could become more of an emergency. I was disappointed to say the least but I knew we had to do what was best for our boy and it was clear that this was the right thing now.
I rang David to explain and he came straight away. By the time he got there I’d signed all the consent papers and we were ready for theatre.
As we walked into theatre I did my TCBS breathing & felt amazingly calm about the whole thing. We’d be meeting our son within the hour! All the staff in theatre were amazing – so calm and professional. We made clear our birth preferences and we were granted these. It was actually really great to have our friend do the section. He lifted him out so I could see him above the draping in front of me and I can honestly say I’ve never felt so much joy, relief and wonder in all my life. Having those initial minutes of skin to skin with him was the moment I desperately wanted to have since it was taken away from me last time. It was a moment I’d rehearsed over & over in my mind and to finally get to enjoy it was truly wonderful and worth all the stress! We named him Judah which means ‘praise’ and we thank God for his safe arrival.
One thing we learnt on the course was this – we take control of what we can and let go of what we can’t. Something I held onto throughout pregnancy and the few days running up to his birth. It wasn’t the ‘perfect’ birth we were hoping for but it was calm and we were able to stay positive and relaxed through each setback. He’s here now and he’s perfect and my memories of his birthing process are only good ones!
Pippa and David, Leeds