Last week saw me turn 41 weeks pregnant. It was like one of those milestone birthday’s you’d really rather ignore even though you know it’s happening no matter what. It had been a long bank holiday weekend praying for labour to start naturally. Each morning I’d wake up thoroughly deflated to find I was still at home, and there was still no sign of a baby facing the physical and emotional struggle of getting through the day ahead.
Finding different places to go and potter around to try and keep me on my feet, and little Princess entertained was getting a little tedious. Walking was a daily challenge of increasing discomfort, but if I kept moving, albeit painfully slowly, it was manageable until my feet swelled up. Resting did help them to reduce to a reasonable size, but it really didn’t help my mobility to rest for to long. I really felt like I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. My emotional resolve was taking another battering all of it’s own, in tatters from the effects of pregnancy hormones and too many tears to mention.
I was hoping my overdue visit to the Community Midwife would be my saviour. I turned up in tears pinning all my hopes on the membrane sweep to get things moving. My husband came with me for support, and because I physically wouldn’t have made it with out being driven there. When she told me she couldn’t reach my cervix and I wasn’t ready to go into labour I broke. That was not what I wanted to hear! You know that list of things not to say to a pregnant women, this needs to go at the top.
We’d discussed foetal movements, and I wasn’t entirely happy with the level of activity I’d felt that morning so she booked me in for an assessment later in the afternoon, strongly suggesting I make them aware of how I was feeling too.
We arrived at the maternity unit and the Midwife began a trace which recorded a good heart rate and level of activity. The Doctor tried to attempt the sweep again, and struggled as the cervix was still posteria. Not only was my cervix in the wrong place but I now had a new phrase to google. Turns out it’s nothing to worry about, unless your hoping your sweep will kick of labour. The cervix is highly likely to move to the right position when the time is right, and this can happen during labour.
After being assessed by the Doctor and the Midwife I was asked how I felt about being induced. If I had been physically and emotionally equipped to carry on with the pregnancy I would have opted to let nature take it’s course, however with my own well being deteriorating rapidly I quite literally bit their hands off and I was offered a bed the next day. To say I was relieved was an understatement.
We came home, got organised and I diligently read the information sheets so I could be prepared for what was coming. I rang the hospital in the morning to see if my bed was still available. I was prepared for them to say we need to move your time slot, but to my surprise I was told I could head in for 9.30am. We were going to have our baby! At worst it could take a few days, but the wheels were being set in motion.
We arrived at the ward and met the Midwife who was looking after me and 3 other women that day. I was the third to arrive. She got on with the usual observations of me and baby before inserting the prostaglandin hormone pessary or propess which encourages the ripening of the cervix. Once I was all sorted, me and Hubby walked the hospital grounds several times over. I have every faith in gravity when it comes to the process of labour.
By the evening there was only two of us left in the bay. By 10ish, I could feel tightening’s, but nothing that seemed to be gathering pace just yet so tried my best to settle down for the night. This is particularity difficult when you snore like a wild beast, and don’t want to disturb the other lady who equally needs her rest. Needless to say I didn’t get much quality sleep before contractions started to kick in.
By 2ish the contractions were lasting about a minute, and were about 3 minutes apart but I wouldn’t have called them strong. The Midwife started to monitor me and I decided it was time to call my husband. I told him not to rush, there was no panic but things were starting to progress. Yes, I ate those words all right!
I was examined by the Midwife again, and as she did my water’s broke. At the time it didn’t register how significant this was for me and the progress of my labour. Fortunately my husband arrived at that point. The midwife very calmly went and told the delivery suite I was on my way and after gathering all my bags (of which there were many!) wheeled me down in my bed.
When I was examined I was 3 centimetres dilated. When I got to delivery suite I was pushing, even though to be honest I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on. Bearing in mind I only travelled down one corridor and went down one floor in the lift, everything went from 0 to 60 in minutes. One minute I was in control, breathing the pain away and the next minute I was in transition. Another term I’d not heard before, but now I know it’s the last stages of labour when your 7-10 centimetres dilated (thanks Google). I broke out into a sweat, one minute I could have a conversation, the next I couldn’t and I’d lost all faith in myself to deliver this baby. My body had had no time to build up any natural endorphins, so the contractions were INTENSE!
In delivery suite they asked me to get onto another bed. In my head I’m thinking ‘Are you bloody joking, I can’t f****** move!’ Fortunately it didn’t come out quite like that. The gas and air was tactfully placed on the far side of the other bed, that was my reward for climbing the first mountain. I made it! I sucked on that gas and air like it was going out of fashion, I can tell you. I needed to catch my breath and get the pain under control so I could focus on what needed to be done.
In the background I could hear words like ‘decelerations’, ‘yes, get the Doctors’, ‘I promise she was only 3 cms’, and ‘are you pushing?’ Oh yes, that wa smy cue! Am I pushing??? Do you know what I said…’I don’t know!’ What kind of crazy answer was that! But it was all happening so fast I didn’t expect to be at this stage of labour so quickly.
So getting to the new bed wasn’t enough, I had to lay on it! All fours wasn’t cutting it as they couldn’t monitor the baby or me. By this time I’ve taken in a substantial amount of gas and air, so I’m pretty out of it. After probably being shouted at a fair few times they got me to lay down and all of a sudden there were a lot of people in the room. This has to be one of the scariest parts of any labour, but reassuring at the same time. As soon as there are issues protocols are followed and everyone is in the right place at the right time to ensure the safety of Mum and baby.
Everything was happening so fast, I really wasn’t sure what was going on. The gas and air slows everything down at the same time so my awareness of what was going on was completely distorted. At some point the realisation kicked in that if I didn’t get this baby out something bad was going to happen. Her heart rate wasn’t recovering and I needed to push like there was no tomorrow. Once her head was delivered it was apparent the cord was round her neck.
The next contraction was crucial. Someone shoved my head forward so my chin was on my chest, someone else was shouting at me and I went from’ I can’t do this’ to ‘this baby is coming out no matter what’ in the blink of an eye. Delivered at 3.44am.
She was whisked across my chest, but I couldn’t hold her. The Doctors and Midwives where with her at the resuscitation unit for what seemed like hours. I don’t know how many times I asked if she was OK. She was making noises, but she didn’t give that first cry for ages. She was in a state of shock, like me.
The Senior Doctor explained that he had carried out a series of tests and he was happy she didn’t need to go to neonatal, but she did need to be monitored again as her sucking and gag reflex hadn’t kicked in. Once everyone had been cleaned up, sewn up and sorted I was given my precious baby. We all caught our breath, had some tea and toast. I kept her skin to skin for a good hour before getting ready to go back to the ward, then Daddy took over so I could take a shower. She wasn’t able to breastfeed though, but this was to be expected in the circumstances.
Fortunately the Midwife who was looking after me on the ward was still on duty when we returned, and I found it really helpful to have a debrief with her as I’d felt so completely useless at bringing may baby into the world. I also spoke to the Doctors who helped me unpick the events leading up to the delivery. It had all happened so quickly I hadn’t even realised it had been a normal delivery, the only intervention I’d had was an Episiotomy.
For the Doctors and Midwives it’s all routine stuff, and they have their procedures nailed down, but for us Mum’s we just have our labours, and if things haven’t gone to the birth plan, I think there is some benefit in going over the events to help you put anything that may have been traumatic behind you. I was shocked by the speed of events but now understand that what actually took place wasn’t that bad, especially as now a week later little Tinkerbell is doing really well. If I hadn’t had chance to talk it all through I think I’d have been left feeling a failure and that I didn’t help my baby. I now know that I did my best, given the speed that everything was happening at and when push came to shove, so to speak, I delivered 😉