Some people feel that sharing your birth experience is wrong. That it is a very personal end to a personal journey and should be kept between loved ones or mum and dad. But when you have a slightly more complicated pregnancy (for example with multiples, a pre-existing medical issue or a new pregnancy related one) I feel it helps to share your story so that others can learn or take comfort from it! Talking of learning from things have a read of my post about recent caesarean section stigma I came up against here!
My pregnancy was pretty awful. I felt sick almost straight away. At first I felt a little nauseous in the mornings around 11am, like I was walking around on a ferry. Then it got to feeling like I was going to vomit at around 11am. Then I felt horrific, all day. It moved from morning to evening, back to morning again, then to lunchtime. It was unpredictable. All I could eat was cucumber and humbugs. I still can’t smell nachos (my partner’s favourite snack at that time) without feeling sick. I had a subway once and bought it straight back up. The only way through it was to sleep! So I spent my days curled up in bed with my laptop watching old cartoon movies from my childhood and sucking on humbugs. Towards the end of my pregnancy I swelled up and ballooned to 14 stone (I’d started my pregnancy at 10). Once I had the girls I realised I was carrying a stone of baby, a stone of extra weight from all my cravings and two stone of water weight! I developed SPD and found it incredibly hard and painful to move around. Just climbing the stairs was agony. I was ready to get these babies out!
I had already been told that I would likely be having an elective Caesarean section to give birth to the girls. It was all planned in and I had a week left to go. That week I had my last check up with my community midwife. I waddled to the GP as normal and she told me my blood pressure was high and there was extra protein in my urine. I knew these were all signs of pre-eclampsia, along with my swelling, but thought that going to the hospital was going to just be a precaution. It was not!
I was admitted into the hospital for overnight examinations that lasted a week. I was put on blood pressure medication and told to watch out for signs such as visual disturbances and the babies not moving as normal. During my lovely week long stay I had a scan booked. It was the final scan before my surgery was originally planned. During the scan we found out that my smallest twin had static growth and was still breech. With all my other symptoms and signs, these babies had to come out. The surgery was moved forward almost a week. The last week that I had to get ready was totally lost. These girls were coming out in two days time, on my 30th birthday!
Luckily I am a planner and a prepper. I had been so excited about the babies coming that I had done my hospital bag at week 20! We had our pre-surgery meeting, where you are given medications to take to avoid sickness and other issues during and after your surgery. You are also told what to expect before, during and after. Importantly you are told what to eat and drink and when not to eat and drink before your surgery. Finally the day came and I was given my gown to change into. I was already in the ward so I didn’t have to sit and wait with the rest of the elective caesarean mums. I was told I was being seen as a priority due to my extra complications (but you are obviously bumped down the list if any emergency surgeries come up). At around half nine I was told I would be going down. I took my baby things that I would need in recovery and my CD of music (I chose The Eagles Greatest Hits) and waddled through the hospital in my gown to the surgery wing.
I was SO scared. I was sat on a bed with my partner across the room from me on a chair. My music was popped into the CD player and a song came on that reminded me of my parents. After that I was a shaking, crying mess. I was scared and emotional and tired and I couldn’t stop crying. They got me to sit on the edge of the bed with my knees raised and hunched over a pillow while they inserted the needle to inject the numbing/pain relief solutions into my spine. This was the part I was most terrified about. It did hurt but nowhere near as much as I thought it would! So if you’re worried about that part then just breathe through it, it doesn’t last long and it’s fine. Honestly.
After that was done I laid on the bed, they tilted it so that I didn’t feel too sick and my partner could come over to hold my swollen, sweaty hand. I was checked for numbness with a cold spray. I was also worried about this. What if I said I was numb when I wasn’t? What if they started and then I wasn’t numb? But I couldn’t feel a thing! A curtain was put up and I took a few deep breaths. I lay for a few minutes just trying not to cry and listening to my partner. I could tell he was talking but I can’t tell you a word of what he was saying! I thought ‘oh they must be starting soon’ when all of a sudden they shouted that the first baby was coming out! What? That was so quick! I felt movement and tugging inside my body (but no pain!) and all of a sudden the curtain came down and my first tiny screaming baby was here. She was so small. They said she was fine and took her to get cleaned up. I tried not to sob as they had already told me that when I laughed or cried it made it like an earthquake in my belly! A few minutes later and a bit of uncomfortable tugging under my ribs (where she had wedged herself for the last couple of months) and baby two was out. Even smaller than the first!
It turns out that twin 2 (Bebe) had turned herself round in the last day between the scan and the surgery. Everyone expected her to be breech but she had spun! A lot of murmuring and medical speak had occurred during the surgery apparently but I hadn’t really heard a word of it. I was just relieved and so, so tired. They took the babies to be weighed and my partner went with them to recovery while they stitched me up and sorted me out. I don’t really remember being wheeled into recovery. I can’t even remember the midwife who looked after me. I remember trying to hold Bebe but as soon as a weight was on my chest I couldn’t breath and all the tea and toast I had attempted to eat cake straight back up. I remember being sick multiple times and having to have fluids on IV because I was so dehydrated. Then I was told of how much blood I had lost during my surgery. It was a lot! No wonder I was so tired and exhausted. For someone whose iron level was low to start with, this was bad!
We spent the night in recovery and the next morning was wheeled onto the ward. I was determined to get up and about so I made myself go to the toilet and have that checked so I could get home quicker. My vitals were still not good and Bebe, being so small, had trouble holding her temperature. We were checked on every few hours. Little by little we all got a bit stronger and after a few days in hospital we were told we could go home! I was so proud that the twins were both strong enough to never have to go into NICU and that they could come straight home with us. The whole time I was at the hospital I was terrified, expecting someone to come and take them and put them into incubators to keep their temperatures up.
We were sent home that night and once I got home I just cried. So many emotions and such relief at finally being home. I had done it! All the months of being scared of having the surgery and the babies health and we had done it and were home. Then the real work started!
Almost six months on and I have learnt so much. My body is almost back to normal, apart from the dreaded caesarean belly pouch, but my scar is beautiful and healing and my weight is almost normal again. The girls are big and strong and growing everyday. They are learning new things and trying solids and flipping over and holding their own bottles. It has been thee hardest six months, without a single doubt, but I’m sure when I look back they will be the most rewarding!
This has been the hardest, most painful experience. Physically, mentally and emotionally you can never be prepared for what happens during pregnancy, birth and having your newborns home to look after. But at least you can try by doing research, talking about what you are going through and sharing stories and experiences. If you are currently expecting and you’d like to learn some more on some of the points in my story you can do here –
For more on what to expect from a C-Section delivery see here.
For more on SPD, including symptoms, during pregnancy see here.
For more on Pre-eclampsia, including what symptoms to look out for, see here.
Another great source of information is, surprisingly, YouTube. Mums and dads a lot braver than me have posted lots of helpful videos of before, during and after their surgery. Some are a tad gruesome if you are squeamish but they are really useful as they also show things such as the numbing section of the surgery with the needles and the spines and the ugh! Good luck mumma, you’re going to smash it! 😘