Trigger Warning: This birth story contains details of instrumental delivery (forceps, ventouse), PTSD, prolapse induction and pelvic pain. If you are triggered by these topics you may wish to skip this blog or read it once you have support available. If you are seeking support for your birth trauma, you may wish to contact our Peer Support Service.
8th Feb 2017
I want my story to help others so here goes…. 41+4 days. 9 am, I was assessed to be induced with Cervadil. We had no ‘birth plan’ didn’t attend antenatal classes and felt comfortable enough with the info provided from the midwife clinic I had been attending. Overdue with our first baby we had no idea what to expect.
It was all pretty chill at the start, we walked the hospital grounds, had visits from family and such we were told that this type of induction may take hours/days to work. I sent my husband home at 7 pm as nothing was really happening.
9 pm The pain started, I was OK, I let the nurses know, got some pain relief, tried to walk and then rest
11 pm Contractions became more regular nurses called the doctor to review
12 am No doctor yet I started to get anxious, alone in my tiny room with no idea what was happening to my body. I asked the nurses if my husband could come back…”it’s too early it might not even be real labour yet. Just wait”….Piss off! I thought I called him anyway.
1am THIS IS WHERE IT ALL WENT SOUTH. The Doctor arrived to examine me. No real explanation just straight in there. I felt like she was ripping my uterus out. I screamed the loudest I ever had in my life…nurses rushed in to “calm me down”…other mothers were trying to rest and my blood-curdling scream was “too loud”. The doctor couldn’t finish my exam as I couldn’t keep still enough. My husband burst through the door and I sobbed “I’m so embarrassed” I said “I was screaming so loud” I was in panic mode. The Doctor and nurse left me to calm down and would be reassessed later.
6 am No dice guys. What is going on!!! I started to vomit and shake uncontrollably. The nurses called for the doctor again. She walked in and I panicked, even more, I knew what was coming and didn’t want her to touch me.
7 am Like an angel, my midwife came in, took one look at the doctor. She knew what had happened without me saying. She asked the doctor to leave. Calmed me down, examined me. “Yep you’re in labour let’s walk you over to the birthing unit”.
15 HOURS IN – PART 2
I tried, I really did. The bath, the chair, the bed, the gas. I was progressing and the midwife had broken my waters. My baby was posterior and HUGE (but we will get to that later). But the pain oh the pain!!! At the 12 hour mark, I asked for an epidural. Just asking for it made me feel like more of a failure – I suck at this I thought.
My mum and sister came in not knowing I was in labour. We had forgotten to tell them in the thick of it all. I was glad they were there though as my poor husband had held me the entire time. I had my eyes closed for hours the pain was just too much.
Soon after they arrived so did my anaesthetist…praise Jesus Amen!!!!
Finally, relief, I opened my eyes. My husband said to me ‘welcome back’. Mum got me a coffee. I was so excited after 2 sips BLAH! Projectile vomit everywhere and it didn’t stop. I just kept vomiting.
Later on my mum told me that at this stage she was worried – I would talk for a bit, vomit, and then drop my head for a few minutes. This went on for hours. Even then, my Mum knew that what was happening to me was not right.
We started counting the other babies being born, we could hear their cries. 6, there were 6 BABIES BORN while I laid there exhausted and scared!!
We had a radio in the room and Ed Sheeran played about 25 times during this stage of my labour. It’s a running joke when we hear him now. F*ck you Ed Sheeran f*ck you.
Lots of talk about what the plan was but not with us, it was all done outside the room. We were literally kept in the dark. “We will re-asses you in another hour….and the next hour…and the hour after that”. There was a massive communication breakdown which also contributed to the trauma of it all.
20+ HOURS IN – Part 3
My epidural had started to wear off and I was terrified of the pain. We still had no idea what was going on all I knew was that I was dilating each time they assessed me (1 to 2 hrs apart). By this stage, my midwife had gone home and I had a new midwife who I had never met before. As well as this, it was almost change over time for the treating Doctors on duty as well. The new midwife came to check on me and I asked for an epidural top-up.
Not long after, the anaesthetist came. I was so happy as he was a colleague of mine a few years back (I am a Registered Nurse in case I didn’t mention that earlier). He topped me up, made sure I was comfortable. Before he left he said “good luck, hope we don’t see you in theatre for a C-section later on”. C-section? What was he talking about I thought? Is this a question I should be asking?
The doctors changed over and discussed the plan of care outside my room. My mum was there. They were arguing over what treatment method to take, again none of this was discussed with me. The Doctor that was going off duty came back in, leaned over and said to me “It’s called labour for a reason”. She made me feel like I wasn’t good enough.
At around 25 hrs since my labour began I was examined by the new doctor on duty. “You’re 10 cm let’s get this baby out”.
My Mum and sister waited outside the room to give me and my husband some privacy. Suddenly, four other Doctors or nurses (I am not sure who they were) came into the room. I was placed in stirrups and I noticed a surgical tray being prepared. This doesn’t seem right I thought.
The Doctor explained that we may have to use a vacuum to get the baby out and that may bruise the baby’s head. “We will try the vacuum four times and see how we go”. Ok I thought, seems like everyone knows what’s happening, so I didn’t question it.
It’s time to push. And push I did, I already felt like I failed at labour so far, so I pushed and I pushed with all my might. Nothing was happening and I was exhausted. They attached the vacuum. So much pressure then “POP!!”, “Nurse adjust the pressure!!”…”POP!” blood and mucous was flying everywhere. “We can’t get a seal”, “pop, pop, POP!!” 6 TIMES, they had 6 FAILED ATTEMPTS at getting my baby out with the vacuum, they couldn’t get a proper seal and the vacuum kept slipping. The room falls silent……………”Get me the forceps now!”
Before I know it I’m sliced open from top to bottom (huge episiotomy), my husband looking on in horror. He shoves the forceps in and then – He arrives, flopped on my chest. This not so little boy of mine. He is whisked away as the vacuum had left a massive haematoma on his head. My husband wasn’t overcome with joy he looked petrified; with my legs in the air in stirrups, I couldn’t see a thing. My mum and sister heard “It’s a boy!” and burst into the room to a scene of mass destruction. Doctors working on my baby boy, my legs in the air while the doctor shoved all my bits back into my vagina.
I was in the stirrups for another hour while I was being stitched back up. Luckily my son appeared to be ok apart from the large bruise on his head. It wasn’t a happy joyous occasion, we were all in shock. What had just happened?
My baby boy, was delivered posteriorly. He was over 9 pounds 55 cm long with a 40 cm head. I am not a big person I’m only 5’3 and pre-baby weighed in at 58 kg. My labour and delivery was just over 27 hours.
PART3 – The Aftermath 2 years later
My recovery has been long and is ongoing.
I was in urinary retention for 3 months and had an indwelling urinary catheter (IDC/ Wee bag) for a month, it was horrible. I was so swollen and sore and had a tube sticking out of me. I then had to self-catheterise for a further 3 months due to nerve damage. I had to drain my own bladder 4-6 times a day and then re-train it how to function ‘normally’ again. All this on top of being a first-time mum breastfeeding etc. I was in survival mode
I developed pubic symphysis pain and could barely walk as my hips and pelvis were so out of alignment. Not to mention the terrible pain from the episiotomy and the stitches. In the first 3 months, I wasn’t able to leave my house either due to pain or worrying about my catheters.
I had a triple pelvic organ prolapse. A bilateral avulsion caused by the forceps. Thankfully my rectocele has healed, my cystocele is now only classed as mild grade 1/2 but my uterine prolapse still gives me grief. This has taken months and months of physical therapy and rehab with a whole bunch of women’s heath physios.
I have had three surgeries in total. One for painful hyper granulation along my episiotomy site, the other two were nerve blocks for pudendal nerve pain.
I developed PTSD and post-natal anxiety and referred myself to a psychologist. I had regular sessions for just over a year.
I am still seeing a women’s health physio and have a new gynaecologist who is taking care of my pain and prolapse.
To say it’s been tough is an understatement. I think I have experienced every human emotion possible. My year of maternity leave has been my year of recovery. Countless specialist’s appointments that ultimately took that initial bonding period away from me and my son. I feel let down by the health system, a system that I work for and am a part of.
The lack of information and support for women who have had a similar experience astounds me. Thank goodness for Amy and ABTA, they have saved me, given this whole ordeal a purpose.
As for me today – well I am currently expecting my second child. I searched and fought for a medical team that I know will take great care of me. The surgeon that helped me recover from my pain will be delivering my baby. We have a great Doctor-Patient relationship. He knows my whole history and I have faith and trust in him. I’m more educated and have the knowledge that I lacked with my first birth.
My bladder will never fully recover but for the most part, it’s as normal as it can be. I still occasionally deal with pain and have had to modify a lot of my lifestyle quite a bit. I’m adjusting to my new normal. Physical therapy will be something that I will continue to have to work at for the rest of my life – but it’s worth it just to able to function ‘normally’.
I want to help others, I want my story to educate people on the risks of assisted delivery – risks that were never explained to me at the time, I want the system to change, I want women to have the basic right to an INFORMED consent, I want to tell you if you are reading this, it DOES get better and we are here for you.
If you or your partner are seeking support for birth-related trauma, please contact our Peer2Peer Support service to connect with one of our Peer Mentors.