I gave birth to my first child, a beautiful, healthy baby girl in May. We felt an instant bond, she came out babbling instead of crying and latched on to the breast like a dream - she was the picture of perfection.
Most women would have some idea of what labour will be like - the contractions, pain and pushing. Others will have a plan in place for how their birth will happen such as a water birth, home birth or planned c-section.
Following the birth of my daughter, I found myself wondering why I felt guilty that my birth wasn't at all what I planned or prepared for. I wanted as close to a natural birth as I could get, in a hospital with as little interference as possible, but that wasn't what happened.
I was overdue so I was induced in the hospital and my waters were broken. After a few hours of active labour, my baby's heart rate began to drop until it completely stopped.
This is the most terrifying moment a parent can face during birth, but my amazing midwife knew she had put pressure on her cord, so quickly turned her while she was still inside. Not long after that, the midwife decided I needed to have a hormone drip to speed up the labour process as there was a chance the baby could become distressed.
I was told I needed to get an epidural as the pain would be much more than if labour were to progress naturally and under the guidance of the medical professionals, I did. I agreed to it because I felt as though I had no choice.
I had two doctors, my midwife and additional hospital midwives all suggesting that this was the only way, so it seemed like the decision was already made for me. I endured three more hours of labour and two more hours of pushing until my baby arrived.
At the time, we were so overwhelmed with becoming new parents that I hardly spent anytime processing the huge trauma my body just went through. But when the effects of the epidural had passed and I still had no bladder control, I knew something was wrong.
Almost four months later and I still think about my labour everyday.
I keep asking myself these questions. Why do I feel as though my labour wasn't a real labour? Did I not work as hard as every other mother who has given birth? What if I didn't get the epidural? Would I still have issues with incontinence to the extent that I'm still seeing a physiotherapist? And, would I still have had a second degree tear?
I love my baby, but I just can't shake the feeling that my entire labour was not what it should have been. I know what happened during my daughter's birth was needed, but it seems my heart just can't accept it.
If I am lucky enough to ever have another child, I really hope I can retain more control at birth. I also urge other expectant mothers out there to put more emphasis on their own recovery after birth and to be mentally prepared for any possible outcome.
- Stuff Nation