In HuffPost Birth Diaries we hear the extraordinary stories of the everyday miracle of birth. This week, Shilpa Bilimoria shares her story. If you’d like to share yours, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
My pregnancy was pretty normal. I ODed on natural birthing videos, watching every single empowering clip I could. I was set on a water birth – 100% natural, no drugs. But it turned into the complete opposite.
I went into the hospital with mild contractions – they were about three minutes apart – and immediately got put into triage. Looking back, that was where it went for wrong me. I didn’t like it in there. The bed was a plank, I was hooked up to monitors, and I felt like I couldn’t move. I know everyone was doing their job, but my back was killing me. All I could do was lie down – or go to the loo.
It was such a sterile environment and everyone was rushing around, so I didn’t feel relaxed. And I didn’t feel confident enough to ask to be moved because it was my first baby. I was just there, in my head, so aware of the pain I was in.
Finally, when a room became free, I was able to go up but my husband was sent home at this point as it was already night-time. Being alone in that new room in excruciating pain was scary, exhausting, and isolating. I was awake all night with contractions. I’d go and sit on the toilet whenever one came – and that eased the pain a little.
The next morning, my husband came back and our mums visited. I spent the day trying to walk around, in absolute agony, with nothing happening. They finally took me down to the delivery suite that evening.
There was a lovely German midwife there – the most caring woman of the whole process – and I started to feel some sense of ease as she told what was going on. My waters broke shortly after getting into the suite but I was told my contractions weren’t coming quick enough. They injected oxytocin, which tripled up the contractions – and the pain. It was agony. I was screaming asking for a C-section, but they said I was too far gone.
My back hurt, badly. Next, they gave me pethidine – this wasn’t the natural birth I wanted at all. But it totally knocked me out. I didn’t know whether I was dead or alive. I hadn’t eaten or slept properly in two days and just wanted it to be over.
Then, when I got up to go to the loo, I suddenly felt the urge to push. The baby was coming. But when I started pushing, it never seemed to end. My daughter wasn’t coming out.
I had nothing left in me – I’d had all the drugs, and she still wasn’t here.
“You’ve got to push!” the staff were shouting at me, worried about my daughter’s heartbeat. “This baby is coming! Push in your bottom!”
I couldn’t do it. I had nothing left. I had no strength to speak, let alone push. They reached for the forceps, as my daughter’s heart rate was dropping. I would’ve done anything to get her out of me at this point, I just wanted her to be safe.
The forceps were so painful. It felt completely unnatural. That feeling of them in there was awful – a smear test is nothing in comparison. Having a foreign object inside you like that, like two massive spoons wedged inside your vagina, was awful. But I was focusing on my daughter and hoping she was going to be okay.
When she was handed to me I felt absolute relief – 52 hours after going into labour. They say the moment they put your child on your chest you forget all the pain – I didn’t forget, I’ve never forgotten. But I was so glad she was there, my world instantly became better in that split second.
My birth advice?
Have an open discussion with other mothers about what really happens during birth and know that you contest some things that you’re told to do. And keep on drinking and eating! When you’re in that situation for the first time, it can be scary. You do what you’re told because it’s something you’ve never experience before. After having a second birth with a hypnobirthing experience, I know it can be completely different.