All the way through my pregnancy with Dexy I imagined this birth that would be perfect. I was completely petrified over the idea of giving birth but I also knew what I wanted. What I wanted, minus the obvious of an alive baby at the end of it, was a water birth with just gas and air. HAHA!! What I had was a highly medicated labour and birth, on a bed, and my child was dead. I don’t think I could have a birth so far from what I wanted. Honesty, people get upset if they don’t make it into the water, get the right playlist, or something small but me… Well I just got a shit storm of everything I didn’t want.
When Dexy died I was adamant I wanted a C-Section. I thought it was unbelievably cruel to expect me to give birth to a dead baby. I was 21 and this was so scary, I had no idea what birth was even like, I’d never done it before and now I’ve got to go through it and have a dead baby at the end. When Dexy was born I was glad I done it “naturally”. I done the hard work of getting him out and I got to experience giving birth. I knew deep down that his birth had traumatised me. His death had too. I just don’t think I realised how much it had until I got pregnant with River and even then I don’t think it hit me fully until I was having contractions in hospital with River. I still don’t know if a C-Section would have helped my mental health or not with Dexy but I will never know that and I guess that’s why it plays in my head whenever I think about his birth. Yes, I do know there is more risk to my health having one and a vaginal birth is better for my physical health but what about my mental health?
Even when I was pushing Dexy out in the back of my mind I thought the DRs got it all wrong and he would come out crying. I was completely convinced during giving birth that I would hear him cry. I think it was my brain trying to cope and was making me think that just to keep me going and not give up. I dunno, I’m not a healthcare professional and I haven’t studied brains for years so what do I know? Then when he was born there was nothing but silence. Just a floppy, pink, silent, beautiful baby boy. Dexy’s skin was so frail on his stomach and chest that I feared if I had skin to skin it would stick to me and peel off. I didn’t want to hurt him just purely for the sake of having skin to skin. So that was the main bonding moment of his birth I feel I was robbed by. That and him not crying. Robbed of a single cry. It’s hard to look back over his birth and think about it in such detail because it is painful. I feel like everything a mum is “meant to have” with birth didn’t happen and I had a baby that was cruelly taken from me. Also him having no cause of death it feels like it was all taken for no reason at all and that is also really shit.
The whole time I was pregnant with River the thought that kept me going was I might get to hear him cry and hold him, have skin to skin. I wanted it to be everything I didn’t get to have with Dexy. I wanted no painkillers (yeah childbirth is incredibly painful, won’t make that choice again). I wanted to feel it all because I didn’t want to with Dexy. I wanted him to be born and me to hold him and see him open his eyes, scream the room down and everything to be okay. I just wanted to take him home. I was planning on only staying in there the minimum time I could with him. I just wanted my family all together, in our home. I just wanted to take a baby home. But did I get to do any of that? Did I get my “perfect” birth? NO. No I bloody did not. I think I’m just doomed in the child making/birthing area of life. Honestly, I think I’m going to stop trying to have a good birth and just aim to give birth with no expectations.
Did I get to hear River cry? No. Did I get my skin to skin? No. Did I get to look into his eyes? No. Did I get to go home after the minimum time? No. No. No. No. NO. Once again my birth was taken from me. I wasn’t in control. I wasn’t able to keep my baby safe and deliver him safely into the world. I got to hold River for about 10/15 seconds before he was taken off me and being rubbed with a towel. Phil had to quickly cut his cord before he was put on the table with DRs. Just saying, laying there with your placenta in you, cord hanging out, not even really with it because you’ve just popped a baby out and having to watch DRs and nurses with your baby is awful. I still wasn’t hearing him cry. All I could see was him through a tiny gap between the DRs, him with a little oxygen mask on and them trying to clear his lungs. Then bye-bye. River is being wheeled out the room and Phil has gone with him. So I’m laying there with the cord still hanging out. No baby, no Phil, My mum and sister and a midwife. Another silent room.
I’ve actually never really talked about how this has affected me since River has been born. I find it too hard. I struggle with it because I have a lot of self blame involved. I blame my body for failing both of my boys and the pregnancy I had before Dexy. I feel this incredible guilt that I’ve let them down and I’m just incapable of doing “What women are designed to do”. I can’t even give birth without complications. Even though my physical recovery was better this time and my after birth experience was physically better it was my mental health that took a massive hit. It was about two weeks after River was born that I pretty much admitted to Phil I couldn’t cope. After talking over it with my mental health team I am feeling so much better now that I know what I am feeling is valid. I am able to grieve for the births I never got.
I’ve found it hard to also be around people who have not had complications during birth. I feel like if people have had smooth births, healthy babies then they will never understand how hard it is. I envy people for having perfect births. I envy people who get to have their babies in their arms and not have to wait to hold them or never get to hold them again. Birth announcements have been extremely hard to read and look at since River has been born. Especially if they say “Mum and Baby doing well”. I’ve never got to write that. I’ve had one dead baby and one sick baby. When is my break? When is my “Mum and Baby doing well.” going to happen? When am I going to feel like I haven’t failed?