I had my first daughter at 19. I had a healthy, uneventful pregnancy and a beautiful natural birth. I carried small, and my body returned to normal very soon after Anna was born. At the time I thought it was so different, and struggled for a short time to come to terms with those changes. I now realise of course that those changes were SO miniscule and I wish I had appreciated the body that I had before my second pregnancy far more than I did. I loved it for providing me with my child, but struggled to come to terms with the physical changes and didn’t appreciate how good I looked for having had a baby. I made a submission here after Anna’s birth. As Anna approached 1 year old, we decided to try for our second child as we wanted a close age gap and I want to go to university and work on a career, but not before I have my family. I did not want to wait 4 years to get my degree and however long it took to find employment in my chosen work area and however long it would take to fall pregnant… at that rate our little girl would be 6 or 7 by the time she had a brother or sister, and that was just too long for us.
We tried for our second pregnancy for 6 months before we fell, and sadly we lost that pregnancy. We were lucky to fall again the next month, and when I started bleeding heavily at 7 weeks I was so sure we had lost another pregnancy, however when we were scanned at the EPU at 8 weeks gestation, we were given the wonderful, incredible news – There was not a heartbeat, but there were two! – We were expecting TWINS! I got really big with the twins, it was nothing like what I experienced with Anna, and began to dread how I would look after the birth – expecting the worst.
I had a hard time of the pregnancy. I went into preterm labour at 31 weeks when my waters broke, but they were able to stop the labour and I went on to 34 weeks 5 days before they induced me due to the risk of infection from my ruptured membranes and suspected IUGR of twin 2. I had a traumatic birth where, after I had reached 10cm all by myself with no pain relief, the doctors and midwives took control and interfered in my birth in ways that confused and terrified me. I felt scared and violated – suddenly the contractions were unbearably painful and I struggled to push my babies out as I was forced to lay on a table with my arms strapped down and my legs in stirrups. I successfully gave birth to “twin 1” who we called Sophie-Rose. It angers me in hindsight that I had to ask for my arms to be unstrapped before I could hold my baby. After she was born the midwives pushed on my tummy to try to encourage “twin 2” to come down. This also angers me as I soon started to haemorrhage, and my placenta detached before my second daughter was born, which I fully believe was as a direct result from this pushing and prodding on my uterus from the outside. Because of this, I had to have a caesarean for my second daughter’s birth. I was knocked out with a general anaesthetic and my daughter was cut from my body. I didn’t get to see her for some hours until I had come around from the GA. We called our beautiful, tiny, “twin 2”, Grace.
My caesarean scar is a constant reminder of how wrong that birth was, and I feel like I let Grace down that she didn’t benefit from natural birth and have a cuddle straight after birth like both of her sisters did. The other marks on my body make me proud, though. My body has changed a lot more than it did with my first pregnancy and birth – my tummy is covered in stretchmarks and I have a slight overhang above my caesarean scar, but these are all reminders to me that I carried, nurtured and loved my babies with everything I had in me, for almost 8 months. I feel like a true mother, and my “mummy tummy” is a badge of honour – It speaks to the world and to all who see it, and it says, “this is more than a woman – this is a MOTHER.” It tells the story of the amazing journey that I have been through of pregnancy and birth, and of carrying three babies through two pregnancies. There is no achievement greater than that, and I am so proud.
My baby girls are so perfect, all three of them. I breastfed Anna for 16 months until she stopped asking for it, and I am planning on breastfeeding the twins until they decide it is time as well :-) I’m so grateful to the universe that no matter how they arrived here on earth, I have been blessed with three amazing, beautiful little girls and that makes me one of the luckiest people in existence.
I only wanted and planned on having two children (I got a bonus baby!) but after this birth experience… Initially I was so sure I would never want any more children ever again – not just because we had had all the pregnancies we had planned for, but because I had been so traumatised that I didn’t think I COULD do it again. But now, part of me yearns to have a fourth baby some time (not any time soon!), just to prove to myself what can be done. Not that it will right the wrongs of the birth that I experienced with the twins, but it would heal some of the hurt I have been left with after that birth, if I could do it again and do it RIGHT. I still yearn for that last perfect birth that I feel was taken from me in the theatre room where I birthed my last two children. Part of me feels it would be helpful and healing to do it again before I’m done, maybe after my degree is complete and I have been working for a few years, so when the girls are 7 or 8… I’d have to convince my husband on that one, though – as he is as offput as I was after the whole ordeal that I don’t think he’d be willing to risk me going through it all again :-(
The attached photos are:
1 – 28 weeks bump photo
2 – One month postpartum side on
3 – One month postpartum other side
4 – One month post partum face on
5 – One month post partum tummy only
6 – Caesarean scar
~Number of pregnancies and births: 2 pregnancies, 2 natural births and 1 caesarean birth
~The age of your children, or how far postpartum you are: Anna is aged 22 months, and Sophie-Rose and Grace are 1 month old (so 1 month post partum)