Caesareans: 'Keep an open mind'
Gillian Malone (40) lives in Donacarney, Co Meath and is married to Stephen. The HR manager is mum to Ted (4), born by crash caesarean, and Emma (3), born by VBAC.
'IT WAS my third pregnancy and considered high risk because of a previous miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. At a pre-natal course I learned about caesareans and I told my husband that if it were to happen, he was to hold our newborn inside his shirt against his skin, in what is called the kangaroo hold.
"By the end of my pregnancy, however, I'd almost forgotten those words. I didn't think I'd end up having a Caesarean and I never dreamed I would be under anaesthetic as my baby entered the world!
"It was a healthy pregnancy with only nausea until 18 weeks. I went seven days overdue, but when I went to hospital for a membrane sweep (a procedure used to start labour) I was 3cm dilated and was sent home.
"Next morning we were back. By now I was almost 7cm dilated. Then the midwife put the trace on again to check the baby's heartbeat. After the gas and air I felt woozy, but I heard the words: 'Gillian, I'm tracing the heartbeat but it's dropped . . . and it hasn't come back up.'
"Suddenly, she slapped a button – and it was like staff emerged out of the wall!
"What's happening?' I asked, dazed. Someone mentioned nail polish but I heard: 'No, we don't have time!' before a form was put in front of me to sign. Then I was rushed into theatre.
"There was no time for an epidural and I struggled against the anaesthetist as he put a mask over my mouth.
"Next thing I remember is waking up with a searing pain . . . it was all over.
"'You have a beautiful baby boy,' a nurse reassured me.
"They brought me to meet my son. Ted was tucked inside his dad's shirt.
"I had no problems bonding with Ted. But I was shocked I'd been asleep for his arrival. They'd suspected a placental abruption when they lost his heartbeat. Ted was fine, but the fright for me was awful.
"I understood why it had happened but that didn't stop me getting panic attacks.
"Ted was a hard-got baby, so imagine my shock to discover I was pregnant again when he was only six months old.
"There were a number of reasons I really wanted a natural birth this time. The recovery from a caesarean makes everything – from feeding to lifting – that bit harder, you can't drive for a while either, plus I had a toddler to care for as well.
"Emma was born by VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) after a three-and-a-half-hour labour. Afterwards I was sore but not in pain, and home quicker.
"My advice would be to have an open mind. Don't feel guilty about your choice or if the choice is taken away.
"I might not have met Ted for the first three hours of his life, but he was safe, relaxed and calm when I did, cuddled into his daddy's chest!"