Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim
One in three-hundred!
One in three-hundred!
This is probably the most important story I’ve ever shared on this blog. I am very grateful to the brave mother who submitted it. There are many important topics, from postpartum depression to VBAC to homebirth and more. I don’t want to give the story away, so I won’t say more, except take the time to read this one!
Now on to the story, Another Not so Perfect Labor...
This birth story didn’t start when I went to labour or when I became pregnant. This story started right after my first child, my daughter Hafsa, was born by emergency c-section in autumn 2010. The experience was very upsetting. (See: Not So Perfect Labor)
We spent 4 days at the hospital. When we came home I was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. I was in pain; I was tired, and I was crying all the time. I just didn’t feel right in myself. I didn’t really like my daughter either; it just was not what I expected, planned, and wanted.
Something was very wrong within me and I found it very hard to identify. After months of sleepless nights, nightmares, and self blame, I needed help. I was later diagnosed with PTSD and a postnatal depression. Some people will say it’s just a lack if ‘imaan’ and I should have turned to Allah for help. I don’t care what others think. These were the darkest days of my life. And these should have been the happiest!
I knew I wouldn’t let this happen to me again and I was determined to do my utmost best to ensure that the next birth will happen as I wish – no c-section, no drama, NO HOSPITAL!
I contacted one of my friends who gave birth at home and who is a great promoter of natural birth. She gave me some information about home birth, took me to an informal meeting with mothers who gave birth at home or who are planning to do so. I started preparing myself for the next birth. “With the will of Allah, it’s going to be great and it’s going to be at home!” I thought. All I missed the first time around, I want it now. Suddenly my life had meaning again. I had a plan. I needed to pull myself back together. I started exercising, ate healthy, kept fit. I needed to get my body ready for the next birth!
I knew we should wait some time before getting pregnant. Patience is not my strong side, but I managed to wait 1 year. After 1 year I got pregnant pretty quickly, alhamdulillah, and the game was on. All my research could be finally put into action.
I was bleeding during the first trimester, so I was trying not to get my hopes up and I kept my pregnancy a secret, except for telling a couple of my closest friends, until I was about 17 weeks pregnant.
I was working, planning to move a house before the baby arrives, and planning the big day. I kept myself busy and the time was flying. We moved to the other side of the UK when I was about 33 weeks pregnant. I knew this would happen, so I hadn’t discussed my dream of a home birth with my previous antenatal care provider. I simply wanted to spare myself the lectures of how dangerous it can be, that it is irresponsible, and all the other things I already knew. Remember, I did my research and I knew it all J.
At my first ‘new’ antenatal appointment I mentioned that I want a home birth. I was given the expected lecture, but I was told it can be done. Between my 34th week and my due date I saw more medical staff then I had through the first 34 weeks. I had an appointment at least once a week, seeing midwives, obstetricians, having scans done, some more midwives, home visit to assess whether my home is suitable for birth and to put an emergency plan in place. At every appointment I have been given the same old lecture, but hey, I knew it all! J At the end I had to sign that I understood and that the choice of homebirth is at my own risk. I was happy to sign and to be left alone.
Just a week before my due date I went to an antenatal class ran by a local hospital. After arriving it seemed it will be just a tour around the hospital. I told the midwife I am planning a homebirth and I don’t think this is even relevant to me. She convinced me to stay on, that she will show us the different wards and then we’ll talk about other things too. At the end she pulled me aside saying that planning a homebirth after having had a cesarean is bit risky, but she understands my choice. Obviously the most serious complication can be uterine rupture that can even be fatal if not diagnosed and dealt with as soon as possible (but I knew it all!). She mentioned to look out for pain in between contractions, that that is a warning sign. I went home thinking what a waste of my evening. Little did I know, these were probably the most valuable 2 hours of my birth preparations.
Fast forward, the big day arrived. I woke up on my due date at 5:30 AM with some mild cramps in my stomach. I wasn’t sure that this is it, but I couldn’t fall asleep again. I got up, went downstairs to get myself something to eat and to tidy up. One hour later I could tell these really are contractions, so I started to write down the times and the length of each of them. Compared to my first labour, these were some lazy contractions, 2 hours in and still 6-7 minutes apart.
I was determined not to say anything to my husband and sent him to work. But he spotted something wasn’t right with me and decided to stay at home, masha'Allah. Four hours in and my contractions were still just 5-6 minutes apart, but getting more painful. I sent my husband and my daughter out; I wanted to be alone, no disruptions.
By 12 noon, 6 hrs in, my contractions were still just every 5-6 minutes apart lasting about a minute and getting really painful. I was getting bit desperate, but I knew I had to hold on. My husband dropped our daughter at my friend’s and I called the midwife to come and check me out. I filled the bathtub with warm water and tried to relieve the pain a bit; it didn’t seem to help much, but I just had to keep myself busy.
The midwife was getting late; she came after 2 PM, at which point I sent my husband to open the door saying, “Tell them I need some gas!!!” (Meaning entonox, but I needed to keep it simple for my husband. J)
By this time I was in serious pain, screaming through contractions and I couldn’t do without some pain relief. Now over 8 hours in, contractions were still very far apart and my water didn’t break yet. (With my first, my water broke within half an hour of the first contraction and within 2 hours I was contracting every 2 minutes.)
The midwife who came, did loads of talking and I cannot really remember it all, because all I could think about was the entonox! In my mind I was thinking if I am at least 7-8 cm I could do this. I just needed some mental support; I needed to know it’s progressing. After some more talking the midwife examined me. I was open just 1 cm! I thought I would faint!
This cannot be happening! I was getting desperate. After 9 hours of contracting I am just 1 cm open, therefore officially not in established labour, therefore NO PAIN RELIEF YET! I couldn’t believe it! They helped me back in the bath saying they will return later as there is no point for them to hang around. If I won’t be able to cope with my pain I will have to go to the hospital. HOSPITAL??? NO WAY! I was in so much pain I couldn’t even imagine getting out of the bath, let alone getting into a car and going to the place of all evil!
Time was running and I was in more and more pain. The bath wasn’t helping; my husband wasn’t helping; nothing was helping and I was in agony. Then I heard a little whisper in my head of what the midwife said, “Watch out for pain in between contractions.”
I was in pain constantly and it was peaking during contractions. I was getting a bit worried and at 5 PM, after nearly 12 hours in labour, I gave up and asked my husband to take me to the hospital. I could tell he didn’t want to. He didn’t want me to give up because he knew how much it meant to me to give birth at home, but I just didn’t feel safe at home anymore.
After arriving at the hospital I had to wait for my husband about 15 minutes at the reception before he found parking. I was huffing and puffing and screaming; I could see the faces of other patients and relatives full of pity as they were passing around me. I must have looked pretty bad.
Finally my husband came and we headed for the maternity assessment unit (remember the tour of the hospital I didn’t want to attend?). I stormed into the waiting area demanded to be seen and all I wanted was some pain relief! The midwife on duty kept asking me some questions and after every answer I begged her for some pain relief.
After her initial shock of me having planned a homebirth VBAC, she examined me. I was just 1-2 cm open. I WANT SOME PAIN RELIEF NOW!!! She put me on a monitor and went somewhere. I was watching my baby’s heart rate and I could see it dropping quite significantly during a contraction. I thought I will wait one more contraction and I will call the midwife to come and have a look, but she came straight away calling another senior midwife to come and have a look.
They both looked very worried and called an obstetrician. Suddenly there were so many people around my bed and it all look very scary. Then my baby’s heartbeat was undetectable. They tried to turn me to one side, than to another side, no luck. Now I didn’t care about pain relief anymore; all I wanted was for the baby to get out safely, even if I had to have another c-section then and there in full consciousness!
The call was made, “Emergency section, RIGHT NOW!” The break on the wheely bed went off and the team pushed me, running into the theatre. I was prepped straight away and given general anaesthetic. I recall the sweet smelling gas as I was drifting away into unconsciousness.
When I woke up all I could think was, “I WANT SOME PAIN RELIEF!” I also wanted to know whether we had a boy or a girl. It was a boy; he was a healthy, 3.8 kg little man, right next to me, all well, alhamdulelah. Suddenly all was ok. Such a peace went through my heart and mind. It was all over and we were both fine. Most importantly he was fine.
He was born around 5:30 PM. I woke up from the anaesthetics around 8 PM, but it took another 12 hours for me to really sober up. In the morning the midwife who gave me the tour around the wards and the advice came to see me. I was happy to see a familiar face. Later in the morning the doctor came to see me. I was “the one” in 300 odds of uterine rupture; my uterus had ruptured alongside the old c-section scar and further down towards my cervix.
By the time I was opened up there was blood everywhere and hole big enough for my son to be pulled right out, no need for incision. My bladder ruptured as well and I had to have a catheter in for the next 10 days. They told us if we had arrived 30 minutes later we wouldn’t have survived, subhanAllah. By the guidance of Allah I put my pride and my fear aside and I went to the hospital in time. To Allah I thank that I am still here and my son is fit and well.
I requested to go home as soon as possible, so I had to see a whole bunch of doctors who tried to persuade me to stay in. They even offered me a top-notch private room for free just to keep me in, but no luck. I wanted to go home, to be with my daughter, to be left alone in peace to enjoy our little addition to our family. We were discharged (self-discharge against medical advice) just 24 hours after my son was born.
Today, 12 weeks after the dramatic birth, I went to see a doctor at the hospital to be checked up and to see what my options are in the future. Official medical advice – don’t have any more children. Doctor’s friendly advice - to wait at least 2 years before even trying to get pregnant and elective c-section before the due date is a must.
My thoughts – I am notorious in doing things against medical advice and I am not sure I can wait a whole 2 years, but I am afraid I will go with the elective section. As much as I would love to give birth as nature intended it and I so wish to give birth to my baby, I cannot put my life at risk again. I am grateful to Allah for giving me this opportunity to enjoy my life and to see my children growing up; I cannot take this great favour lightly.
Although things didn’t go my way, I am happy I gave it a try. I would never forgive myself if I was to give up at the beginning or even went for an elective c-section without trying to give birth naturally. I don’t want to scare anyone by my story. If you want to go for a home birth, go for it. If you want to go for a home birth VBAC, go for it. If you want to give birth at the hospital or in the middle of a forest, just go for it! Having a baby is a magical thing. Some women don’t have a chance to go through it and most of us will go through it just a couple of times in our lives. Don’t let anyone steal this magical moment from you!
Thinking about my next birth, an elective c-section, I have another plan in place. If Allah will bless me with another child, I will tell you all about it in couple of years time inshaAllah J