Laura-Rose, from The LGBT Mummies Triberecounts how her miracle baby arrived into the world despite a traumatic birth experience and over a year of trying to conceive.
Many dream of having ‘the perfect’ birth - the one they wrote in their birth plan, but it doesn’t always happen that way. The birth’s you see celebrated on social media and publicly are always perfect and magical - rarely do you see stories talking openly about traumatic births and how it impacted you, but these too should be shared and celebrated.
My wife and I have three children by IUI and IVF and each birth has been different. When we started trying for our third child, it was just before the pandemic hit, but three failed IUI’s later further testing my ovarian reserve had diminished by half at the age of 33, so we moved to IVF which was cancelled by the first lockdown and all our treatments were done without my wife. The fresh cycle failed, however I finally got pregnant with our fifth attempt at a frozen embryo transfer. After having an emergency C-section before, I desperately wanted to have a vaginal birth.
On the Sunday before I gave birth, I passed my mucus plug throughout the day. At around 2am I woke my wife as my contractions started. We laid snuggled up, with the phone recording them. When it came up with the alert ‘Get your bags ready & go to the hospital’ at 4.30am, we called the birthing centre and the midwife confirmed we should head to hospital. We got showered and ready and I used my hypnobirthing techniques to breathe through them, going up onto my tippy toes when they were on the crescendo of the contraction.
My wife, mother-in-law and I headed down to the hospital and it was eerily quiet as we made our way up to the maternity ward, walking through with our face masks on, sanitising our hands as we went through each set of doors - a pandemic birth we’d never forget!
We were taken to a large, beautiful room with an en-suite and a birthing pool. We turned the fairy lights on, lit-up candles and played my calming music - it was perfect! I had it in my birth plan that I wanted a water birth and because I had Strep B again, they had to administer medication intravenously prior to the birth and wrap my hand up ready for when I got in the pool.
The midwife examined me and confirmed I was around 4-5cm dilated so I put my bikini and a maternity dress on. I got in the pool around 7cm and laid there breathing deeply through my contractions. I wanted to avoid any pain medication, as I felt I was comfortable enough without it. However, for some reason, my body was reacting to the contractions and I was vomiting - manageable but not pleasant, it still felt like a calm birthing experience.
By the time I got to 9cm dilated, I was breathing heavily, holding my wife and my mother-in-law’s hands. I had a sip on the gas and air, but it made me rather incoherent and all they could do was giggle at me! At one point I felt a massive ‘pop’ and a gush of water from below so asked the midwife if ‘the baby had flown out’- she laughed and checked me, advising no, that it was my front waters that had broken, to which I announced it felt like a ping pong ball popping - clearly the small amount of gas I’d had went to my head!
After pushing for what seemed like a lifetime and at 10cm dilated, the midwife examined me again, as with the mirror in the pool she couldn’t see the baby's head when I was pushing and I was now in a lot of pain - I’d been pushing for hours at this point. She advised she wanted to get a consultant in to assess the situation.
Unfortunately, from that moment on what was a calm and wonderful day turned to an anxious and traumatic one. The Dr that examined me was aggressive in her examinations and rude to the staff and said they’d do an assisted vaginal delivery with forceps.
When I was taken into theatre, I was still vomiting whilst being held up by the midwife as I had contractions, then as they stopped rushing to get the epidural in. By this point I was so exhausted. They scanned me to confirm the baby was in fact back-to-back with her head tilted in OP position - exactly the same as our second child was, meaning the baby was stuck in my pelvis and couldn’t get through the birth canal.
The Doctor then leaned over and said that she’d have to cut me to get her out. My body was pulled down the table as they tried to get the baby out and some of the men in the theatre had to drag me back up the table and hold me.
Several tugs later, the baby was pulled out and seemingly ‘flopped’ onto my stomach; she was covered in blood and it splattered everywhere up my face and neck, so my midwife started cleaning it up.
They placed her near my face then said they couldn’t do delayed cord clamping or skin to skin, as they needed to ‘work’ on her. She wasn’t breathing or moving; I kept saying “she’s not crying, I haven’t heard her cry, why isn’t she crying?”. My wife went pale, rubbing my hand to reassure me that she was going to be ok. I looked sideways past her to see the baby lying out on the table with tubes in her nose and throat and the paediatricians suctioning blood and fluid from her nose and throat.
It felt like time had stopped and I was an outsider looking in on what was happening. I just kept yelping that I hadn’t heard her cry, and after what seemed like forever (apparently it was just over a minute), she let out a scream and I just bawled.
They let my wife cut her cord, wrapped her up and she gave her the first cuddle. She then checked on me and went out to let my mother-in-law know we were ok, whilst I was being stitched up. When they finally wheeled me out to the recovery room, I asked the midwife to bring my colostrum syringes and give to my mother-in-law to give the baby her first feed.
When they placed her on my chest and I started to breastfeed her, the stress, tears and anxiety came pouring out of me. A year and a half of trying to conceive, secondary infertility, all treatment attended alone, failed cycles, a pregnancy through lockdowns and now a traumatic birth all during the pandemic just cascaded out of me like a waterfall. I just couldn’t believe she was here, finally in our arms.
Regardless of the fact I didn’t get the birth I wanted and the feelings of guilt, failure and helplessness from the trauma, I know how lucky we are that after all this time, she is here. And I am still proud of us, trauma or not, that our little pandemic miracle baby is here - the embryo that could!