I’ve spoken recently about my anxieties of having a second child, and how I overcame them. And now I have to reevaluate things – specifically how dangerous childbirth is – because of something that happened just a couple of weeks ago…
One of my dearest friends had her second baby, which of course should be a time of great joy and jubilance – and in many ways it is. But in one monumental way it has been anything but that.
J had a relatively straightforward labour with her first daughter – so much so that she decided to have a home birth this time. That’s not something I could ever entertain personally, but that’s based purely on what took place during Pixie’s birth: I know all too well that things can go wrong and for that reason I choose to be close to help – just in case. J actually told me that she completely appreciates I would feel this way, and that it’s only because of her first labour that she felt confident making her decision.
The birth itself was quick and everything went to plan. J’s second baby girl arrived and was healthy with ten fingers and ten toes. And that should be the end of my post; except it’s not…
As I write, I’m yet to see my friend and so I don’t have details of what precisely happened; but suffice to say J became dangerously unwell. I’ve spoken to her and thank god she is now well, but immediately after her baby arrived, and based on what little information she was able to give me, I presume that she haemorrhaged.
J had two blood transfusions plus five bags of fluids. She was frighteningly close to death. She has a toddler, a new baby and a new husband. She also has a family and many friends – including myself – who love her dearly.
My immediate reaction to the news, received by text message when I was caring for Pixie alone, was ‘it’s okay; she’s okay’. But later that evening when hubby came home and took over and I treated myself to a second shower, I had ‘a moment’.
I sat on our bed and I could not stop my head from working overtime, venturing into those dark places which are pointless and unnecessary and yet so terribly tempting. I thought of J’s little girl, and then I thought of her new baby. I thought of J’s new husband, her parents – and myself. I was distraught at the thought of the loss of my friend on all of these levels, and of course the potential tragedy for her too.
Naturally, being a mother exacerbated my overwhelming sadness at what could so easily have been. And with every tear shed I tried to pull myself together, to remind myself that she was safe.
Of course, it doesn’t take a psychiatrist to figure out that being pregnant means not only am I susceptible to heightened emotion – I also have my own fears; in part a hangover from what happened with Pixie, and now reinforced by what happened to J during an apparently straightforward labour.
How Dangerous is Childbirth Really?
The thought of women dying in childbirth is such an antiquated one – but it does still happen.
The thought terrifies me, for so many reasons. It makes me feel selfish for putting my body at that risk when I already have a child to consider. After all, for Pixie’s sake I wouldn’t willingly endanger myself in any other way. How dangerous is childbirth in the 21st century?
I am once more back to where I was, with my anxieties making themselves felt again. I can only hope that this time, with close monitoring – and being near to help should I need it – my new baby being placed in my arms will make the entire process worthwhile.
If I love my second child half as much as I love my first (I will, of course), then none of the pain or fear will have been in vain.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that despite J’s traumatic experience post delivery – and despite being at home – she made it to hospital and she made it through.
The entire situation serves as a rather terrifying reminder of how lucky we are, every day, for every moment we are fortunate enough to spend with those we love. I am making big efforts to turn my anxieties into gratitude – for J, for my daughter, for my new baby and for having a life that I’d be devastated to leave.
“The best way to appreciate those you love is to think ahead and picture your life without them.”
So, just how dangerous is childbirth in your opinion? Would you consider a home birth, or do you feel the danger is too high?