June 03, 2020
In HuffPost Birth Diaries we hear the extraordinary stories of the everyday miracle of birth. This week, Cath Rooney shares her story. If you’d like to share yours, email amy.packham@huffpost.com.
I Had My Sister On Loud Speaker As My Son Was Born During Lockdown
I started working from home when I was 30 weeks pregnant – someone on another floor in our office building in London tested positive for Coronavirus, so it had to be deep cleaned. Lockdown officially came in two weeks later. 
From then on, I only left the house for short walks. I got things delivered, had local Friends drop off essentials, and accepted this was how it was going to be. I was in protective mode. There was so much uncertainty – and I live on my own – but it worked with the bubble I created. 
During my pregnancy I’d been quite adamant that I wanted a natural birth. I’d been with the home birthing team, but home births in my area stopped during lockdown due to ambulance availability. I had a scheduled induction planned.
I’m 44, and from my 20-week scan he’d shown large for his age so the obstetrician said they didn’t want him to go full-term. I was feeling confident I’d go into Labour early, though, as we have a strong family history of early births. 
That didn’t go to plan.Related... How To Plan For A Positive Birth In The Midst Of A Global Pandemic At 4am on May 4 – the morning of the day of my induction – my waters broke at home. I called the hospital, who told me not to go in incase I went into labour naturally. They said to call back after 24 hours. I stayed at home, went for walks and did what I could, but nothing – absolutely nothing – happened. 
First thing on Tuesday morning, I went into hospital at 8am. I’d always planned to have a doula, but she couldn’t come for the induction so I was on my own.
It was quiet on the ward – only two other woman there. The staff were lovely. I was hooked up to a machine, had a pessary, and was told they’d reassess me after six hours. That’s when things started happening. 
From lunchtime, the contractions started. They went from being pretty spaced out to thick and fast in under an hour. I couldn’t even walk the 20m to the other side of the ward to go to the loo without stopping. My doula was on WhatsApp throughout it all – they told me not to tell her to come yet, but I knew it’d be soon, so I asked her to come anyway, even if she had to hang around hospital for a few hours. 
I was right. Everything suddenly sped up and I was moved into my own room. 
I’d packed so many lovely things in my hospital bag to keep me occupied and calm me down, but none of it came out! There was definitely no ‘ambience creation’ in that room. I’d packed so many lovely things in my hospital bag to keep me occupied and calm me down, but none of it came out!My doula arrived when my contractions were coming quickly. I was standing up, leaning on the bed, which had been raised, with gas and air. It was tough, but I felt like I could get through each contraction. And every time I did I felt positive, like I could manage this. 
After all that, my midwife checked on me. I was only 2cm. My son’s heart rate dropped dramatically so they advised me to lie on the bed for a rest. I didn’t want to, but as soon as I stood, his heart rate dropped again and I bled. Staff came in and agreed they’d monitor me, with a potential C-section later in the day. I had an injection to slow the contractions, but it didn’t work for long. 
I felt cold and started hyperventilating. My midwife told me it was a panic attack and helped me to control my breathing. I felt so miserable at this point.
Soon after, a senior obstetrician called Lisa walked in – I remembered her from my 36-week scan and she’d been lovely. She recognised me and that made me feel more secure. She noted my son’s heart rate and that my panic attacks had been a concern – we each had our own distress. The conversation ended with the realisation that an emergency C-section was needed. I agreed. It all happened so quickly from there. An anaesthetist came in to slow the contractions down, I got wheeled into theatre. My sister was on speakerphone and my doula was able to talk to her about what was going on. 
I’d been very scared of a C-section, but it was the right choice in the moment. The whole team in theatre were female, and it was a really positive atmosphere. And once the epidural worked, it was amazing how suddenly the pain went. My doula was next to me the whole time, and my sister heard my son scream as he was born. They showed him to me really quick, and he went off for checks. He totally stopped crying when he was laid on my chest and heard my voice.
I was shocked I never went past 2cm, but I felt empowered making the decisions I needed to in the moments that mattered. It was a huge relief and nothing else mattered in that moment. He was there. He was perfect. My birth advice?Remember that although you might not be having the birth you might have wished for pre-pandemic, it’s still your birth and the NHS will support your choices when possible. It’s important still to feel empowered to ask questions and say no if something doesn’t feel rightRelated... 'I Walked Out Of Hospital And A Woman Screamed At Me To Cover My Baby's Face' We Are Single Parents In A Pandemic. We're Coping But Don't Forget Us What It’s Really Like to Parent A Newborn Baby Under Lockdown
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