I wanted a caesarean birth fromthe start. Not only wasI really scared of the pain of labour and birth, but I was carrying twins and my real fear was that I would give birth normally to the first twin and then be rushed into an emergency situation with the second.
I was living in Finland at the time, with no option to choose how I gave birth to my children: you have to use the government health system –which is a really good system– as there are no private birthing hospitals. At the time the Finnish government were trying to cut back on costs and as caesarean births are very expensive, elective caesarean births were not allowed. I had to try give birth to my twins vaginally.
When I was about five or six months pregnant the scans showed that ‘Baby B’, Isabelle, was breech and pushing her smaller brother into a corner. I was already huge and very uncomfortable, so that by the time eight months came, I was really enormous.
Isabelle was still breech, bigger than her brother and wasn’t budging. I wasn’t getting any sleep. I now didn’t care how the babies came out, I just wanted them out. I think this is why humans are pregnant for so long, so that by the end you just want to get that baby out, you don’t care where from.
The twins were officially due in mid-February, but at each check, each midwife told me not to make Christmas plans, or New Year’s Eve plans as the babies would be coming early, but they did not come. By mid-Jan I felt like I was already months overdue.
I had a lot of ligament and groin pain and was so exhausted from lack of sleep.When labour finally began –on a Thursday, I went straight to the hospital but I was still in the very, very early stages so they sent me home...a few times! The contractions were really mild – so much so that when the real contractions came later I thought: ‘What were those?’
Eventually, back at the hospital I begged the midwife to induce me. So she inserted a tablet and let me labour in the ward with some monitors attached.
I could feel the contractions, they were strong enough to stop me from sleeping but it was slow going. So slow that on Saturday they sent me home again for the night. On Sunday afternoon, back at the hospital, the midwife said she could see the colour of the first baby’s hair and decided to rupture my membranes: now contractions were coming on hard and fast.
I was shaking from the pain. Up to this point I had been using gas, but I think squeezing the mask into my face and having something to focus on was more helpful than the gas itself.
It is standard procedure in Finland to offer a low-dose epidural and, yes, I wanted one! That epidural was like a mini-vacation, it was wonderful. I could still feel the contractions and move my legs but there was no more pain.
At 10cm the midwife looked at me at said ‘let’s do it’ and I began to push –and scream. The midwife shockingly told me not to make so much noise, just to be quiet and give birth! In Finland the attitude is very much ‘just toughen up and do it: give birth.’
But making those deep guttural noises really helped me to focus, and with a huge surge of relief I gave birth to my son Adrian (2.95kg). He was put on my chest immediately and was like a little bird, so content and calm. But suddenly it was all happening again, I remember thinking, ‘What, now? Can’t I have even a little break?’
Adrian was taken from my chest and given to hisfather. The contractionswere intense, hard and verypainful, Isabelle was coming.She was still in a bum- rstposition – they had hopedshe would turn in labour –and she had her arm up overher head, like a ballerina. Theroom was full of students,but I didn’t even realise. Theurge to push was so strong,but it was incredibly hard to nd the strength, I had not anounce of energy left.
Isabelle was stuck and was now showing signs of distress. In what felt like a tiny moment I was given an episiotomy, the midwife pulled, I pushed hard and with third degree tears, my daughter Isabelle was born, weighing 3.1kgs – 18 minutes after her twin brother. She was not breathing. As the nurse ran to the door to take her to Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Isabelle gasped for air and began to scream: she was perfect.
I collapsed onto the bed in a daze, overcome with exhaustion. I had lost three litres of blood, had shattered my tail bone during the birth and needed surgery to stitch up my tearing.
It all felt very surreal: but my beautiful twins were finally here. But next time– if there ever is a next time – I am definitely going to choose a caesarean birth over a vaginal one.”