Real Life Birth Story: They Lost My Baby's Heartbeat

24/03/2011 15:12 | Updated 22 May 2015

Lil Jary, 33, from Sunbury had an emergency c-section after doctors failed to find her baby's heartbeat. Thankfully, her husband Michael (pictured) was on hand to support her, and the story had a happy ending...

When did you go into labour?

My labour started on Friday night. We had a vindaloo (I don't know if that instigated it!) and went to bed as normal. At two in the morning I woke with contractions. I didn't wake Michael up as they weren't too bad, so I just wandered round the house and watched a film.

When it got to six in the morning I woke Michael up. We live 20 minutes away from the hospital but annoyingly my contractions stopped as soon as I got into the car. When we arrived they found I wasn't in established labour so sent us home. Frustratingly this happened again on Saturday night. This time, my contractions became very painful so we rang the hospital again - only to be told they didn't have space for me.

That's sounds very stressful?

Yes, I did panic a little! They recommended another hospital but we didn't know where it was. While we could have worked it out, we then remembered that my midwife worked in a midwife-led unit which wasn't in a hospital and weighed up the pros and cons of going there instead.

We chatted about our options and half an hour later we rang the hospital again just in case. There wasn't a bed available but they said there could be one soon so we took the risk and went back in. By the time we got there it was free, which was a relief.

Our first midwife was lovely and she popped in and out while I was having early contractions. I was on gas and air, which really helped. At 6am in the morning the midwives changed shift and I burst into tears as I had really bonded with the first one and didn't want her to go home. I felt really bad as I didn't want the new midwife to think I was crying because of her. Fortunately it turned out well as she was training a student midwife which meant they stayed with us the entire time after that.

How did your labour progress?

At 8am in the morning they broke my waters because I wasn't progressing - I was still only 4cms. By 10am I was starting to feel tired. I got to a point where I had so much gas and air that I literally didn't have a break in the contractions - they were on top of each other. I think I got quite high on the gas and I got quite hysterical. The doctor had to come in and calm me down which is exactly what I needed as I had got myself into a state.

We decided on an epidural but someone had taken the trolley so we had to wait. In the meantime, however, they lost the baby's heartbeat. Fortunately we had the midwife with us and she pressed the red button. Everything happened at once and it was action stations. Unfortunately they kept bashing my bed against the door as there was a weird angle in the room but I was relaxed as I could see an end. I remember going past Michael and seeing him holding back the tears trying to be brave for me.

What happened next?

They thought they'd have to put me under general straightaway which meant that Michael wouldn't have been able to come in the operating theatre. Fortunately they found the baby's heartbeat and everything calmed down a bit.

Lots of people were trying to explain what was going to happen but I was so out of it I had no idea what I was signing. The doctors gave me an epidural and then I had a caesarean - it was so wonderful to hear Max cry. They cleaned him up and then laid him upside down on my arm. I remember looking at him and couldn't work out whether he was strange-looking or just at a weird angle! We went into recovery and that's where we had a proper cuddle. Max was 9 lbs 1 ounce. The surgeon did say that had broad shoulders which is why he might not have come out the proper way.

Did it take you long to recover?

I didn't really understand that I wasn't supposed to eat straight after the operation so I started eating the snacks I had brought with me. Luckily I was fine and not nauseous. I did think it was strange when we were in recovery they were offering Michael toast and not me!

We were taken upstairs and, as I had had a caesarean, I was near the midwife station which was really nice. I got loads of support - I was really lucky. They say it takes up to six weeks to recover. The first night I was bedridden, I had a catheter and couldn't get up. The nurses make you get out of bed the next day and walk down the corridor to get your breakfast. I was doubled-over but I could walk fine. It's just amazing how much you move your stomach muscles even getting out of bed. I was lucky - I was driving within four weeks.

Has the experience put you off?

No, but I would try for a vaginal birth next time. They have to monitor you more if you've had a caesarean but I was lucky I recovered so quickly. Within a week I was wandering around pretty much as normal.

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