In July 2014 I gave birth to Toby at 39 weeks 6 days gestation, without any intervention. Whilst I know that every pregnancy is different – and goodness knows I’ve had that theory proved from day one this time – I felt pretty confident that my body would just do it pretty much the same again when it came to giving birth.
With the arrogance of someone who gave birth a day early last time, I just assumed that it would be pretty straightforward this time too. In the beginning I had a feeling I’d end up having a c-section, although I had no basis for that, yet as the weeks rolled by I really thought I could give birth to our baby girl without any intervention. Only last week I was merrily plodding along, firm in my conviction against being induced, happy to let nature take it’s course.
Then at 41 weeks, nature started giving me migraines.
I was knocked flat by a pounding headache, shooting pains across the left side of my head and flashy vision. Obviously I immediately thought of how severe headaches and vision problems can be a symptom of pre-eclampsia so I took myself to bed once Phil got home from work and had Toby, then called the midwife helpline that’s run by my birthing hospital. The midwife said I’d done the right thing by taking some paracetamol and going to bed, but said to call back should I not improve or indeed get worse. Thankfully I was able to have supper once Toby went to bed, then slept reasonably well overnight and felt better.
The next morning I got another headache and some flashy vision but we had a midwife appointment anyway so we just carried on until then. My blood pressure and urine are fine and it seems that, thankfully, the headaches, vision and migraines are nothing more than my body trying to tell me to rest.
The thing is, in the way I was adamant I wasn’t going to have an induction because I could trust my body, I now have to trust my body to tell me when it needs some help. I’m exhausted all the time, I can’t get through the day without needing naps and even with regular rest I’m still getting the headaches. What am I not doing? Going into labour!
I had a sweep yesterday at 41+1 and I’m going to call the midwife today and ask if I can have another one tomorrow. I have been given the number to call for an induction and I absolutely hate the idea of it, but if I keep feeling as ill as I have been then I’ll do it. Not because it’s what I want, but because my body is struggling and me being stubborn is only going to cause me to be in more pain, less able to look after Toby, to spend time with him and Phil and in the end, probably less able to give birth. Yesterday even laying on the bed having a sweep left me weak and with a pounding headache so bad I could barely move.
I cried last night, feeling like a failure for accepting an induction but in reality that’s not the case. Really, my tears were more for the feeling that my last ever pregnancy has been harder than I’d expected. I’m very, very lucky that I’ve carried another healthy baby to term, that I’ve not had any medical issues, that nothing is actually wrong. But I was very sick up until 16 weeks, then had a month of migraines, then 4 months of increasingly worsening SPD which – thankfully – has given me some respite in these final weeks of pregnancy.
I’m not a failure, no mother who loves her baby is.
I am now at 41+2 with our baby girl, every moment that she’s inside me is precious but there’s also a fine line between letting things play out naturally as I had so desperately hoped, and putting myself through unnecessary pain with these headaches and migraines. I am still hoping for labour to start naturally, but I am accepting that I am not superhuman. If I need help to have this baby then I’ll accept it, even if it means medication or intervention, because right now my body is starting to suffer and I need to be strong to be a mummy to our gorgeous children.
Here’s the thing, never in a million years would I think that a woman had failed for having any type of assisted birth. Whatever the method, whatever the circumstances, whatever the outcome, she is amazing! So why am I so hard on myself? It’s human nature I guess. We judge ourselves more harshly than we do others but just as I think other women are amazing however they have their baby, I must put myself into that category too.
In the next few days or week, we will meet our baby girl. However she arrives into this world, whatever she weighs, whatever help I do or don’t need, however past my estimated due date I am, it will all pale into insignificance when we hold our daughter. If the birth isn’t easy then I will reach out for support, there are amazing networks such as Maternity Experience – #MatExp – which is a social campaign creating conversation about maternity experiences and helping to support women. Some of my very good friends are involved and should I feel like I need support, they will be there as they have been during my pregnancy.
Trust your bodies ladies! Just as I trusted mine to do this labour thing on its own, I now trust it to tell me that it’s struggling a bit and needs a helping hand. It’s not what I had planned even a week ago, but it’s where we are now and I’m just so grateful that I have an amazing husband by my side, my mum who has gone to great lengths to help with Toby, friends who have been there for me with messages of kindness of support instead of pestering me about why I’ve not had her yet.
So as I come to the end of yet another long post about the latest part of this long pregnancy, I want to thank everyone who has been so lovely towards me and has helped me to feel empowered in whatever decisions Phil and I make.