Vivienne, from South West London, wasn't expecting to have a caesarean birth when she was induced but baby Zara wasn't coming out any other way.
Did you have a conventional birth?
If conventional means going through the pushing stage and dropping, no I didn't. I was two weeks overdue and had to be induced. I was terrified at the prospect of being induced so we did call ahead. I ended up having a caesarean section.
Can you describe what happened when you went into hospital?
It's a blur really. I went to the appointment to be induced and they started the process off. They give you a pessary and that kept not working so they kept adding another one until the contractions started. I ended up with four pessaries. The contractions finally started and they increased in severity and length.
How long did that stage last?
Were you on any pain relief?
I'll say! I had the full monty. I started off doing breathing techniques while sitting on a ball. That was quite helpful as it helped me stay calm. I then went on to gas and air but I found that difficult as you have to breathe in at the right time to get the hit. I felt quite queasy on the breath out. It was difficult to do. You want to take a big breath and not have something stuck in your mouth but it did make me feel quite drunk and ok. As the pain escalated I had a serotonin drip in my arm. They really wanted to kick-start the process along. I had an epidural when labour became ridiculously painful. They asked if I would consent to a ventouse and a caesarean at the same time so if didn't work they could get Zara out on the operating table. I agreed and funnily enough that's what happened. I had an epidural, the ventouse didn't work and they whipped me over to the next trolley for a caesarean. It was a very efficient process.
What happened during the operation?
It was very quick. It took about ten minutes. It would have been a terrifying experience if I had not gone through it at my NCT class. It's all very efficient and clinical. People descend on you, you don't know who they are. There was an excellent anaesthetist at my head talking to me all the way through. She normalised the situation by talking about dogs and cats. The process feels like someone rummaging in a handbag. There's a curtain up so you can't see anything. Peter, my husband, was at the head end, not the business end, also chatting. It was very professional.
How did you feel when your baby was delivered?
The baby came out and I forgot about 36 hours of labour. Labour sounds grizzly but it isn't. It genuinely isn't. You just do it. The baby looked like it was covered in sick. She had to be taken away initially as she was in shock so she didn't come up to the breast which is de rigueur, as I understand it. She was weighed and they bought her over eventually and I held her in my arms and it was the best feeling ever.
How did Peter cope with the situation?
Peter is very mellow and a wonderful man. He was a complete rock. He was there for me the whole time. He went with the flow completely and got me whatever I needed. It was very, very emotional. Even he had a tear in his eye.
What was it like meeting Zara for the first time?
I'll never forget the image. She was lifted over the curtain. It's not possible to describe. It's a sense of absolute, relief and elation. The previous fandango was completely irrelevant and still is irrelevant. Everything they said was true.
How long did it take to recover from the caesarean?
I'm still recovering to be honest. I can still feel it a bit. You can start doing stuff after six weeks. It's fine as long as you've got help around you. I had the advice, 'you've had major abdominal surgery. It takes a year to recover. Slow down Viv, stop doing so many mad schemes'. I find it hard to listen to people at the best of times but it's true. You can't do too much. You get a huge adrenalin rush giving birth and then you're trapped at home. I've found exercise the only way to get over that.
Do you have any advice about caesareans?
Don't worry about it. Don't worry ever. People aren't doctors and professionals for no reason. My surgeon was amazing and all surgeons are. They know what they are doing. They only do a caesarean as the last resort. They will do everything to prevent that because it's a pain to have surgery. They do everything for you, just don't worry, they are very professional.