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Our names: Paula and Chris Jarvis
Baby: Melissa Rose
Date of Birth: 3rd April 2001
Time of Birth - 22:47
Weight - 11lb 12oz
Place of birth - Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport


I had a very easy pregnancy really, just a few minor complaints. At around 12 weeks I decided I wanted a home birth. I collected all my research from the internet and finally persuaded my husband Chris, which was no easy task. Once he was behind me he stuck with me all the way. Its not that I hate hospitals but I knew that at home I would be in charge, I could labour in any position I wanted and not be constantly hooked up to machines. I just knew I could cope without pethidine or an epidural as these aren't allowed at home, only gas and air or a tens machine. It took a lot more persuading with the midwives who weren't very pleased with it being my first baby. They said that I have an unproven pelvis and that I don't know how I will be during labour. Homebirths are becoming very popular now and there are support groups run by the NCT in most areas. We went to a number of these meetings and also attended antenatal classes.

I went for the standard tests at the hospital and at 36weeks went for a growth scan, which showed the baby was approximately 9lb in weight already. I was tested for diabetes but I was fine. I steadily got very large as you can imagine carrying such a big baby! At 38 weeks I went for another scan and then had another at 40weeks where they wanted to induce me but I wasn't having any of it. I didn't fully realise how my large my baby was, I didn't trust the scans, after all they can't accurately predict the sex can they? By this time the consultants weren't happy with my decisions and wrote as such in my notes but they couldn't make me. I really did not want to be induced as I'd heard so many horrible things about it, so I tried every self-help technique I could to try and induce myself, none of these worked. The midwives were concerned now as my iron count was low, I had high BP and was on bedrest, I was carrying a big baby and I was a first time mum. They did not want to deliver our baby at home and said that a supervisor of midwives would have to come if I insisted but they would not recommend it.

As it happens I went 12 days overdue and was admitted to hospital to begin induction. I was both sad and happy. Upset that I couldn't deliver at home but I became focused on trying to make the hospital birth as like a home birth as possible. I was also happy that I was going to see the baby as by this time I was huge, had hundreds of stretch marks and was in a lot of pain when I moved.

All packed we headed for the hospital. There I was examined and found to be 1cm dilated. The baby's heart rate was monitored and the first dose of gel 2mg inserted. This aggravated me and made me sore but nothing else happened. The monitor has to stay on you for at least half an hour to make sure that the baby isn't reacting badly. At about lunch time the hind waters broke, but still nothing happened and a further 2mg of gel was inserted at 8pm, the water remained clear throughout. The 2nd dose of gel should have been inserted earlier but because my waters had broken a doctor had to apply the gel instead of a midwife, and the doctor was busy. All night I had contractions 5 minutes apart, I walked the corridors, took a bath then some paracetamol and tried to sleep.

When I awoke on Tuesday after only 2 hours sleep they had gone again but I did have a show. Once more the doctor was too busy to examine me so around lunchtime the doctor came and found I was about 4-5cm dilated but as the head still hadn't dropped, she recommended having my fore waters broken. It was a difficult decision for us to make as I had already agreed to be induced and nothing was happening while around me women were having contractions and going down to delivery. We knew that having the fore waters broken should help the head to drop down but would mean being constantly monitored during labour. After much discussion we agreed and at 3pm I was taken down to the delivery suite and my fore waters broken by a doctor. A tap was also put in my hand ready for the drip and for blood to be taken. After discussion with the midwife and doctor they agreed to letting me try and start contractions by movement for about 2 hours before starting the drip. I mobilised letting them monitor the baby's heart rate frequently but I was still not getting contractions and the head was still very high. The drip was set up and the contractions started coming.

Having the drip meant that I had to remain monitored, I moved when uncomfortable from bed to chair and eventually settled on leaning over the back of the raised bed. The midwife did an internal examination and I was still 5cm. The drip was increased slowly to the maximum flow, baby was still comfortable and I was just breathing through the contractions as I knew there was still 5cm to go. The midwife kept offering me pain relief as usually it is taken half way through the increases due to the intensity but I wanted to wait. Chris was with me the whole time and would massage my back through the contractions as I felt like it was breaking.

In-between the contractions I was able to talk with Chris and the midwives and have a laugh. I was starving hungry as I'd missed tea time and wasn't allowed to eat during labour, only take sips of water. Time just went nowhere and before I realised it I had been in labour 6 hours. The midwife did another internal and called in the sister to double check. I remember the doctor then being called in to check too and being told the head still hadn't descended, I was still 5cm dilated and that we should start thinking of a caesarean. This was when I asked for gas and air. The doctor was called in to chat to us about a caesarean. Chris asked what would happen if we just continued with the labour, they said that really if I was still labouring the same in another 2 hours time then it would be obvious that it wasn't going to progress. Seeing how nothing had changed with 6 hours of labour it seemed pointless to me to try another 2 hours of intense contractions so I agreed to the caesarean through tears.

The doctor came back with a consent form for me to sign and I was prepared for theatre. I was gowned up and the drip stopped, which didn't stop the contractions though straight away so I was still on the gas and air. The doctor insisted on taking more blood samples before he would perform the operation as my blood could have changed in the last 6 hours. When they came back the doctor agreed they were OK and I was moved on to a trolley and taken down to theatre.

Chris was taken into another room to gown up while I was given the epidural. By this time the contractions has slowed right down and eventually stopped. After the epidural was given they inserted a capitor, gave me injections and took my blood pressure and pulse. I had terrible shakes which apparently is partly shock and from the epidural, I was also sick when the epidural was being given because of the drop in blood pressure. I can remember asking if I would still get my tea and toast after the delivery which amused everyone, as it was I wasn't allowed to eat until tea time the next day.

In theatre I asked where Chris was and he was then called into the room and he sat on a stool next to my head. There was some pulling and pushing and then we heard her cry in-between the suction which is a sound I will never forget. Then I heard the midwife say "What a Whopper!" The first shock was that the baby was a she we both had been very convinced it was a little boy. The second shock was the weight at 11lb 12oz! They just couldn't understand how she had fitted inside my 5ft 2 body! I heard them say that Melissa was posterior which would have explained the terrible backache I had experienced.

Melissa scored a Apgar score of 10 at only 1 minute, she had never shown any signs of distress during the labour or delivery. I was in recovery a long time as my blood pressure and pulse wouldn't calm down. Chris held Melissa right from the birth until we went to the ward, all I could see was two chubby cheeks sticking out of a cover. The midwife put her on the breast in the recovery suite but I was still shaking and couldn't hold her myself.

That was the part that I found the most difficult when she was born, all I wanted to do was to hold her. The midwife put her head close to mine as soon as she was born and I kissed her. I found it upsetting that she was crying but I couldn't move to cuddle her, I just wanted to hold my baby. When we finally went to the ward it was about 1am. Chris stayed until 2am then the midwives hinted that it was time he left, I didn't want him to go, he had done a wonderful job looking after Melissa and I didn't know how I was going to cope.

I don't remember much else about what happened that first night probably because of the pain killers. I know that Melissa wasn't there when I woke up as they had taken her to the nursery for the night. I did manage to breastfeed her with the help of the midwives and we fell asleep together for a while which was wonderful. I lost a lot of blood because of the large placenta that had been feeding her so needed two blood transfusions. It was bad timing really as the drip was removed and then the next day the capitor and drain. I had just started to be mobile when they gave me a blood transfusion and I couldn't walk very far again. All this at the same time as the baby blues made me pretty depressed and blubbery.

Melissa was taken to the nursery a few nights to allow me to sleep. A lot of midwives came to visit us in the first few days to see the "large" baby and also to talk about the birth.

It has taken me until now to get over the birth of Melissa. At first I thought it hadn't affected me in any way but at about 6wks I started with post natal depression. I denied it of course but would cry and was exhausted. It didn't help that I was still anaemic and Melissa had colic that lasted most of the day and night. She slept very little until 10 weeks old when the colic was in control. She still has colic and is now 17wks old but is sleeping a lot more and I'm over my depression, well nearly. What I find so hard is the fact that I will never be able to try for a home birth which is all I ever wanted and am more likely to have another large baby and another c-section. We missed out on the tiny baby stage.

Life after Birth -
Even though my birth story sounds pretty horrific its amazing how you get over it. The first smile is to die for and now she is a very happy contented little baby, chuckling, cooing and chewing her fingers while cutting her teeth. I'm much happier now and am coming to terms with the fact that I did need a c-section, I would never have pushed her out and yes, nature does get it wrong sometimes. I've since had a glucose tolerance test to test for diabeties and I don't have it so I must be destined to have big babies. Which is good in a way as Melissa never had a floppy head and we weren't worried about holding her. The down side is big babies take a lot of feeding and I've got a pile of newborn clothes and nappies brand new that she couldn't fit into! The up side is they have offered me a c-section at 36wks if I have another large one so you never know I might take them up on it and the clothes might fit. I've been told I can't have a home birth because I still have an unproven pelvis, risk of a ruptured scar and a history of large babies. My community midwifes have refused to deliver but there is always an independent one isn't there :-)


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