In a very calm operating theatre in a north London hospital, my daughter came into the world a few weeks ago.
The doctors and midwives had been chatting away to me minutes earlier, the anaesthetists making jokes I even found myself able to laugh at. My husband was by my side, reassuring me and calming my nerves while the radio played in the background … and then we met our baby girl.
She was born at 39 weeks by elective cesarean section. My waters hadn't broken, I hadn't gone into labour and I had no medical complications that made a c-section necessary. Her birth had been planned since the 17th week of my pregnancy when I sat in a hospital room with my consultant and we picked a date for the diary.
The consultant had talked to me about the birth of my son nearly 19 months ago. Following a complicated pregnancy which saw me develop pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome, my son was born healthy and happy at Wellington Hospital. But I’ll never forget the fear that accompanied my late pregnancy and his birth.
This time around I was treated as a high-risk patient. I was fortunate not to develop pre-eclampsia again, but my consultant suggested early on in my pregnancy that I plan for a c-section in case things got complicated.
So I did. I've written before about how I feel that women who have had caesareans can be unfairly judged. After my son was born, I felt a kind of pity from some people – a few even went so far as to say it was a shame I wasn't able to have him naturally. My view was, and still is, that there is no shame about it. My son was born safely and that's what mattered.
And this time, I chose not to have a natural delivery. It was a decision I could have changed my mind about on the morning my daughter was born. Yes, I planned for an elective c-section, but I also practised natal hypnotherapy in case I decided to have a natural birth. I spent many hours working through what happened when my son was born, and I knew this time my pregnancy had been far more straightforward.
Right up until the night before I was booked into theatre, I was still weighing up whether to go ahead with the c-section or try for a natural delivery. But in the end, the morning in the diary came around, and I didn't want to try and have a natural birth. I didn't want to risk undergoing the same trauma and fear I felt last time when I’d been rushed into theatre. I didn't want to risk anything going wrong.
For me, an elective c-section was the option that gave me the most control over how I felt about my body and my child's birth.
I know my decision won't be popular, but I believe that every woman has the right to choose how they have their baby. For me, knowing I was booked in for a c-section meant that I was able to relax a little more during my pregnancy than if I had been worrying constantly about the chance of another complicated birth.
There were other considerations, too. Recovering from a c-section when you have a 19-month-old son at home who wants to be picked up all the time isn’t easy. However, I knew that I would be coming home to a supportive household where my husband had six weeks off work, and my parents would also be on hand to help. If my husband and I had still been in Wellington it would have been a harder decision to make as, we wouldn’t have had the same level of support.
My daughter is now four weeks old. Her birth was uncomplicated and my recovery so far has been straightforward and without difficulties. And for me, a c-section was definitely the right choice.
Planning a caesarean, or want to know what it's like? Read stories and talk to others in the Essential Baby forum.