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Sarah Dinsdale: My birth story

“I still remember her first cry, it was music to our ears.” 

Author Sarah Dinsdale
Categories   Birth Stories

The Edit

From that first missed period and first positive pregnancy test (I took about five!) it has been a whirlwind. I remember telling my partner Chris and showing him the test. He was lost for words but incredibly happy. It was a shock, as we only started trying in September 2021, and did not expect to fall pregnant as quick. I was due 25th October 2022.

The pregnancy itself was pretty much by the book – nausea, headaches, food aversions. I was extremely tired too, which didn’t help as I was working 12-hour shifts in a hair salon. But I knew it would pass and plodded along without any issues. I felt extremely lucky that I hadn't had any particularly rough pregnancy symptoms.

However, around the 22-week mark, I went to the midwife and told her I’d been feeling a little uncomfortable and thought I may have a water infection or something similar. So, a urine sample and a swab later, I was done. I received a phone call telling me that I had thrush (not a worry), but the swab had also detected I was positive for Group B Strep (GBS).

I'd never heard of this before, so frantically started researching on the internet about what it was and whether it would affect my baby or me. It turns out 1 in 4 women have GBS but show no symptoms – it’s a bacteria that women carry and is harmless. However, being pregnant meant my baby would be at risk of picking up the bacteria when I go into labour, so the protocol is to have antibiotics every four hours throughout to ensure the baby is safe.

Knowing this information changed the whole dynamics of my birth plan. I had planned on a water birth, and although my plan was quite vague, it contained all my wishes – mainly for my partner to know if I was unable to advocate for myself.

Fast forward to 27th October 2022. At 5:30am my waters broke quite suddenly! I rang the hospital and they told me to come straight in to be seen. Due to how busy the maternity unit was, the birthing centre was closed which meant I was unable to have the water birth I would have liked. I had the first round of antibiotics at 7:15am and felt relief as soon as I had them, as I knew my baby was going to be safe.

Me and Chris were both calm and relaxed at this point as I wasn’t having contractions, but my waters were just constantly going – something I didn’t realise happened. Due to lack of contractions, I was induced via a gel pessary to help soften my cervix which would hopefully help bring labour on slightly faster. But after four hours I was examined and there was no progress, I was so disheartened.

I felt sure something would have happened by now. The nurses advised me to go onto a hormonal drip which again should encourage contractions. I was hooked up to monitors and lots of other machines during this to check baby was comfortable and I was too. After around two hours the contractions were thick and fast and I was sure this was it, I was going to meet my baby.

I was wrong. I had only dilated 2cm and was absolutely devastated. I stayed on the drip until 9pm at a higher dosage and when I was checked again, I was still only 2cm. I was really uncomfortable but didn't want them to slow the drip down, so I asked for an epidural (this was one thing I specifically said I did not want unless necessary).

I spoke to the anaesthetist at around midnight, and we went through all the ins and outs, pros and cons of the epidural. Before I signed and agreed to anything, my partner asked me if I was certain I wanted this epidural, as I had explicitly said “NO” in my birth plan. I took a breath and agreed it wasn’t what I wanted. I declined the epidural and opted for pethidine instead. However, by 8am I was emotionally and physically drained with no sign of baby at all.

I was crying and said, “If baby comes now, I don’t think I have the energy to push.” I had to wait until 9am to have another examination which I declined and told my midwife I couldn’t cope anymore. She replied, “Don't worry we will take you to meet your baby now.”

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Chris was informing everyone I was going to theatre for an emergency caesarean, but not to worry as me and baby were fine. I was frantically asking the staff if he was allowed to be there as it was classed as an emergency, but by this time he was in his scrubs and holding my hand. I remember him telling me how proud of me he was and how much he loved me.

To be honest, I was so exhausted from the 28 hours previous that I was extremely chilled out throughout the surgery. I went down at 9am and our baby girl was born at 9.55am. I still remember her first cry, it was music to our ears. Tears of joy rolled down my cheeks as I held her to my chest after she was weighed. I was absolutely smitten with her.

Unfortunately, the next few moments were a little scary. I had haemorrhaged and lost a lot of blood. Before this, Chris and baby Scarlett went to recovery to wait for me, I said “I’ll see you both soon,” whilst the surgeons were finishing up. He had no idea what was happening and was waiting for me until 11:45am when we were finally reunited. The time spent in recovery was precious, I fed her straightaway, we had lots of cuddles and we could not believe our baby was here.

Over 28 hours of labour is something I won't ever forget. But I would go through it all again for Scarlett. Even though my labour didn’t go as planned I wouldn’t change a thing. It will be a story to tell her when she's older about how we knew she'd be trouble before she arrived.

Becoming a mam has been the best gift in the world, nothing can prepare you for the rollercoaster journey, but all I would say is – keep positive, keep calm and enjoy every second no matter how hard or uncomfortable.

Author Sarah Dinsdale

Sarah Dinsdale shares her birth story with The Edit, including her experience of Group B Strep (GBS) and an emergency caesarean.

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