The first four months of pregnancy were hard. M.E/CFS and "morning" sickness ensured I remained in bed for the majority of the time and I wondered how people could ever have more than one child. Then the morning sickness went and I experienced a surge in energy that the baby books predict, calling it a "bloom", but not all women experience it. My capacity to do things didnt increase a great deal, but to me it was wonderful. I was able to sit up for longer and spend more time with people, and I felt the joy that every woman must feel when the months of constant nausea pass. My bump was very small and so I didn't experience any of the usual aches, pains and inconveniences like most do in their final trimester. I did waddle though, not because of my bump, but because of my condition. My dad joked that it was the first time since becoming ill that I could say I was normal because I walked like a normal heavily pregnant woman. It was a lovely feeling to think that nobody would look and wonder what was wrong with me.
The midwives were understanding about my condition, but they didn't know much about it, especially in regards to pregnancy and birth. I was referred to a consultant and told I could not have my baby at a midwife led unit. After one visit with the consultant it was concluded that there was no need to see her anymore unless there was a problem. My pregnancy went well, and nobody knew what effect birth would have on my body, so it was decided we would take it as it came. The only thing they stipulated was I had to wear special socks to stop blood clots due to me being immobile for long lengths of time.
not knowing what to expect from birth I tried to make a birth plan as best as I could. I wanted a natural, water birth so as to avoid the need for pain relief.
My contractions came ever hour for 5 days before real labour kicked in. They weren't too painful but enough to wake me every hour. On the 6th day they started to come every 10 minutes. I didn't think much of it, but my dad (who we were visiting) had been timing my contractions and told my husband he'd better take me home. The contractions came every 7 -10 minutes and became stronger in intensity. For the next 12 hours I was doubled over in pain, unable to speak through each contraction, but the hospital refused to let me go to them as my contractions weren't close enough. After 12 hours I couldn't stand it any longer and so I demanded that they see me. Fortunately, I was far enough along for them to keep me in. The contractions were intense, but still no closer and for the next 5 hours they offered me gas and air telling me I had done so well I could do it without anything else. My body was shutting down and I got scared. I told my husband I didn't think I could carry on. We asked for an epidural and they complied with my wish once I told them of my condition, as they weren't previously aware. The epidural relaxed my body and enabled me to get some well needed rest. 6 hours after the epidural the contractions started to get stronger again and I could feel pressure, the baby was coming. I informed the midwives each time I had a contraction and they told me when and how to push. Within three pushes I had my baby in my arms. There is no feeling in the world like it, and no words to describe the feeling you get holding your own brand new baby. The birth was a wonderful, joyful, pain free experience and I recovered very quickly from the epidural and was moved down to the ward shortly after. Through speaking to the midwife I later learned that they had not read my notes prior to birth, and so had no idea of my condition, this would have concerned me had the birth not been straight forward.
Post birth I found the after care wasn't very good. I had little strength left to do anything, a new born baby to care for and no support. My husband was only allowed to visit for a few hours of the day and then I was left to care for myself and baby. I just about managed it only due to the fact that my son slept mostly and only woke for feeding. Since I had decided to breastfeed I did not have to leave my bed. Yet I longed to go home and be a family of three.
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