Birth Diaries: 'A 60-Hour Labour Made Me Feel Like I'd Failed My Baby'

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(Photo: Supplied)
(Photo: Supplied)

In HuffPost Birth Diaries we hear the extraordinary stories of the everyday miracle of birth. This week, Emily Rogers shares her story. If you’d like to share yours, email amy.packham@huffpost.com.

I never thought I’d have kids. It wasn’t because I didn’t want them, but because at 18, I’d been diagnosed with endometriosis and after three laparoscopies was told the chances of conceiving were slim. At 27, however, I noticed changes in my body. Then my periods stopped. I was pregnant! Having resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn’t become a mother, seeing two positive lines on the pregnancy test stick was absolutely exhilarating.

The birth, however, could not have gone much worse.

My son was two weeks late when contractions finally kicked in. It was mid-morning, and I was sitting in a coffee shop with my best friend when they began; to start with they felt like really bad period pains. My friend and I headed home and then she stayed with me, chatting on the sofa, for the next few hours until the contractions were coming thick and fast.

[Read More: ‘I lied about my contractions to get into hospital – and thank God I did’]

At this point, I headed to hospital thinking this was it – my baby was on his way. Except actually, I was the grand total of... 0cm dilated.

For the next few hours, nothing happened. I tried to find ways to occupy myself: for a while I sat on a birthing ball; I stomped around the car park to try and hurry things along. (Bad idea: I ended up crouched on the ground whimpering!)

Eventually, the midwives decided to induced me in an effort to speed things up. Over the next 60 hours – yep, three days – my contractions continued to increase in intensity, but my cervix remained stubbornly closed. I was exhausted, wading through pockets of sleep, only to wake up and find nothing had changed.

I had three uncomfortable, failed inductions during those hours. Each time the induction didn’t work, I felt like my body was failing my baby.

After the third, I was moved to nil by mouth, which was difficult because I really needed the energy to keep going. But I had other things to worry about: my baby’s heart rate had started to dip each time I had a strong contraction. Midwives hooked me up to a machine to be monitored – this meant when it dipped to a certain level, an alarm would sound. It was frightening.

I stayed hooked to the monitors for what felt like decades. And then, quite quickly, the mood became very serious. My son’s heart rate dropped a significant amount. Suddenly, I was being handed a backless gown and surgical stockings. A midwife helped me change and wheeled me into theatre – they were going to perform an emergency C-section

It all happened in a strange almost silence. Nobody spoke to me, only to each other about how the baby was doing. It was really, really scary and I felt helpless. The midwives and surgeons were brilliant, but it was obvious by this stage they were seriously worried about the baby’s health. There was no room for small talk.

[Read More: ‘My phobia of birth was so all-encompassing, I couldn’t imagine being a mother’]

When my son was born, he was blue. He was immediately taken away for oxygen and it felt like an eternity before he was brought back and placed on my chest. In reality, it was only a few minutes – but I was borderline hysterical with relief when I heard him cry.

It took a long time for me to pull myself together. I was in a state of shock and while my son was my world, I didn’t do a very good job of being a mum straight away. I just stared at him, feeling totally disconnected. The fact I couldn’t breastfeed him properly either was really upsetting – I’d had a vision of how it would be and it was nothing like it.

It took a good three days until I felt more like “me” again – and able to truly feel the immense gratitude and love for my baby. I remain indebted to the staff for bringing him safely into the world.

My birth advice?

Don’t assume all births are bad. Looking back on mine now, the shock has obviously worn off, and having two drama-less births since has showed me that what happened was out of the ordinary. I feel extremely lucky to have a happy, healthy seven-year-old boy now – and remain indebted to the staff for bringing him safely into the world.

As told to Amy Packham.

Emily Rogers is the director at Uprise PR.

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