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Samantha Inwood: My birth story

Tired, alone – and 12 days overdue. One mother’s remarkable account of birth after IVF

Author Samantha Inwood
Categories   Birth Stories

The Edit

[TW: This article discusses infidelity, homelessness and miscarriage and may be triggering for some readers.]

'Stretching’ is how I would describe my pregnancy. I was being torn apart, not tearing. Shattering but not breaking.

My fiancé had cheated on me throughout our entire IVF journey. Made me homeless at 34 weeks pregnant with nothing but my clothes and hospital bag in the boot of my car. My trust was broken, and my confidence was ruined. I felt completely alone, rejected and abandoned. Some people cut so deep you feel no amount of time could ever heal you. That is what I thought until my beautiful baby girl entered the world.

Growing up, I knew I wanted a family of my own. But being in a same-sex relationship, it’s taboo. Would it even be possible? I felt as though I should be grateful I had a family that finally accepted I was gay. Could I throw a baby into the mix too?

In 2017 I met the person I thought I would spend the rest of my life with. We were engaged, had a beautiful home and felt what we needed to complete us was to become parents. So, we set about our IVF journey in 2020.

We spent days reading through sperm donor profiles and finally found the perfect one. He was tall, blonde and had a PHD. My partner at the time set about the lengthy process of fertilising her eggs. I was to carry our miracle. Shared motherhood.

On 9th November 2020 I found out that our 36% chance had worked. I was pregnant! A bittersweet feeling after our initial embryo ended in a miscarriage in August, this was another chance to become mummies!

It was a healthy pregnancy and our little miracle was growing perfectly even following the breakup. She was so comfortable she didn’t want to come out! I packed up work four days before my due date, perfectly timed for the start of the summer holidays as I am a teacher.

Six days overdue, I went for a check and the midwife gave me a sweep. I walked a lot, I bounced on my ball a lot, but labour was not coming. Two days later, on the Monday, I phoned to speak to a midwife who booked me in for an induction on the Friday. I was so ready to have this baby!

Friday arrived. The last hurdle and my sweet baby girl would be with us by the weekend – surely! Being high risk due to IVF and a previous back operation, I wasn’t allowed to leave the hospital and all the Covid and PPE safety measures were in place. No visitations meant a rather lonely experience. But I had been through the worst – the most upsetting thing a person could do. This was the last stretch before my baby was in my arms.

The first stage of induction was like a giant tampon – which I thought would be a breeze. Behold, I experienced nothing. Not even a twinge. I kept imagining movements and labour twinges. Surely that was something?

On the Saturday morning I had the gel. This has to be it, I thought to myself. I was 2cm dilated by this point and feeling some mild twinges. I celebrated with a McDonald’s in the lobby with my best friend. Eleven days overdue and not even two inductions and a Big Mac could move my girl.

She felt safe, she was secure and quite selfishly, as much as the wait was agonising, this meant she was still all mine and sheltered from the emotional turmoil and stress her mum’s life had become.

The early hours of that night were spent with the blue and pink straps wrapped around my stomach for over four hours, and the monitor was beeping differently. My baby’s heartrate was racing and dipping but it was ‘‘nothing to be alarmed about’’ they told me. ‘‘It’s just not meeting our expectations.’’ Alone, scared and alarmed I sat wondering what she would look like. Would she be blonde or fair? Would we recognise her? Would she favour the donor’s genes?

Sunday morning, a changeover of staff and a very tired and anxious mum to be. I could hear the team discussing ‘bed 14’ which was me. A new doctor who was pleasant and matter of fact examined me. She could feel the baby’s head and told me she was going to burst my waters. Three minutes later I was informed I had meconium in my waters - the baby had a bowel movement in her distress. She reassured me it was nothing to worry about.

My stomach was in knots. I was 12 days overdue, emotionally and physically exhausted and just wanted my baby here and now. This build up was intense. An entire year, hormone injections, pessaries, meetings, statistics, love and hate. I was ready to give birth to my baby but although contractions had started, they were not strong enough.

A midwife said she wanted to check my baby’s heart rate before heading to the labour ward. She spoke to me calmly about the baby’s name choice. Kennedy I told her. I’m naming her after my dad who passed away when I was nine years old. His name was Kenneth. She didn’t reply and simply said, “I’m just going to press this button, a few people will come into the room.”

Suddenly 12 people came rushing around me. It was like the Generation Game. Different names and different job titles in my face, one after the other. I couldn’t comprehend what was happening. The room seemed to be getting bigger and whiter. “No heart rate. It’s a CAT 1,” said the lovely, calm doctor who examined me in the morning. “We are doing an emergency C-section, we cannot find baby’s heartbeat.”

Ceiling lights long and white flashed over me. Someone in a red hat explained the complications and risks, asking me to sign her clipboard. Another worked putting a canular into my left hand. We hit walls; we were moving so fast as a unit. All that crossed my mind was – I’ve already lost one baby, I’ve had so much thrown at me this year and now my baby is going to die, over and over. My life or my safety never entered my mind.

Things calmed down when we entered the theatre. A heartbeat was found – it was slow and steady. I was allowed to have a spinal block and be awake. Things seemed to move in frames and nothing flowed. My ex had made it in time. In that moment we were reunited, holding hands and crying at the possibility of losing our baby. All our troubles briefly forgotten.

My beautiful baby girl entered this world at 11:53. She was purple, she was wrinkled but she screamed. She screamed so loud. It was the best scream I have ever heard. I gasped with relief and cried. I cried and then I couldn’t stop crying. She was OK. We were OK. The past cannot be undone. I thank it, for a better future with a love like no other. Me and Kennedy.

Author Samantha Inwood

Samantha Inwood works as an assistant head teacher in a special needs school. She believes helping others is a way of helping ourselves, so has shared her journey in the hopes of supporting others on their own pathways to parenthood.

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