After the traumatic birth of our first son I found out we were expecting again probably sooner than I was ready emotionally. I was very tearful attending midwife appointments with the community midwives who are wonderful so I sought some appropriate birth trauma counselling. It was very difficult and even more so with the pregnancy hormones on board. I was classed as a high risk pregnancy as I had a placental abruption which resulted in an emergency caesarean with our first son Rory. So initially I wanted all the scans possible the consultant care everything possible that was available as I was so scared.
After some time part of me felt like I wanted to experience labour and I felt I had really missed out on something special. I started approaching the idea of having a vaginal birth after a caesarean and I attended the vbac clinic. I knew it was something I wanted to at least try. A vague thought or memory occurred about independent midwives so I did an Internet search and found Wessex independent midwives and I decided to drop them an email. Erika promptly contacted me. I found out that their VBAC success rate was higher than that of NHS maternity unit success rates, I also felt that I needed extra reassurance and support during the early stages of labour as I knew that this might trigger anxiety as the placental abruption with my first child had felt like one long contraction. As I was a nurse and had some NICU experience I felt I had went into overdrive during our first birth worrying about everything when really I should have been trying to stay calm. The continuity of care that we would receive was important to me and I was frightened of being left in a room alone being attached to a CTG machine and not knowing what was going on again. I needed someone really experienced to be with me, to look after me and never leave me when I needed that support. Realistically midwives on busy maternity units are unable to provide the level of support I felt that I wanted and needed. I wanted one to one care during labour and latent phase if I needed it.
When things started happening for me I was in regular contact with Erika by text because that's what I preferred. I had a long start stop labour, started at 9pm in the evening and stopped at daylight and this went on for a very long time. I enjoyed the labour pains, we played music and I used TENS, had baths and used hypnobirthing techniques. However, through no fault of our own and despite our best efforts my body wouldn't dilate to allow our son to be born and we knew the time had come to have a caesarean. Ben our second son was born, and we chose to delay cord clamping in the operating theatre and employed another technique to transfer maternal bacteria to our son called seeding. Ben was passed to me for skin to skin as soon as possible. When I was transferred back to the ward I kept Ben in bed with me lying on my skin and allowed him to breastfeed when he wanted. We did that all night until the morning when I could get up and about. Despite having the caesarean I had fallen immediately in love with our son and I felt calm and relaxed and in control not like my first experience. I did have baby blues day at day 3 and day 5 but after that we went from strength to strength and managed amazingly.
Now 4 months on I have had a lovely experience. We were empowered to make the right decisions for us and to choose our risks but knowing Erika would always be there at the first whiff of any trouble. I achieved labour !! My body did what it was meant to do up to a point and that meant everything to me. I didn't feel like a failure. I had all those lovely labour hormones to help Ben and I bond. He is a health bonny boy and I feel I have healed a whole world of emotional pains from our first delivery. After the birth of Rory I said never again!! After the birth of Ben it was such a lovely experience I feel I could do it all again tomorrow!! (Emotionally anyway!!)
My only regret was not knowing about independent midwifery sooner as I would have loved to start working on the special bond with our midwife Erika earlier than when I had booked at 32 weeks. However my community midwives were wonderful up to that point and I was very sad to be leaving their care.
That's our wonderful story!! Love Tom, Emma, Rory and Ben.