I was certain that I was going to go overdue like many do in their first pregnancy so for weeks leading up to the big day we decided to decorate the house whilst we had the chance since it was coming up to Christmas and we wanted everything ready for when the baby came. This may have been my nesting instinct?
On Tuesday 30th November we put up the Christmas Tree, we don’t usually put the tree up so early but this year we didn’t want to leave it too late and have to battle a Christmas Tree and a newborn baby. This day was also the day of my last midwife appointment unless I went overdue, I was given the flu vaccine on this visit ( I must add that I never usually have the flu vaccine and even so late in my pregnancy it was recommended, I’m glad I decided to go ahead with it.) At home that evening after putting up the tree and adjusting it numerous times due to a rather over excited cat, we continued to decorate the dining room. I must point out that during my third trimester I developed a nasty case of SPD in which walking, moving, bending had become increasingly painful on my hips, lower back and pelvis. I was given a set of crutches to help, but being heavily pregnant and walking with a waddle I didn’t really find them that useful, especially in the arctic conditions (ok so they weren’t arctic, but they were very icy, slippery and we had lots of snow) I find navigating myself hard enough, let alone having crutches, bump and snow to deal with. I tried not to venture out too much because of those factors.
Wednesday 1st December started like any other day for me, making dinner for my other half and then doing a spot of tidying. On this particular day we went to visit my grandmother, she lives a few roads away from me and it was nice to get out of the house. She made the usual fuss of rubbing my bump and becoming increasingly excited at the prospect of becoming a great grandmother. On this occasion she asked “Have you got your hospital bag packed?” My partner and I were bemused as I wasn’t due for at least another week and again it was likely that we were going to go overdue. So in all honesty we told her, no we didn’t have the bag packed yet but promised we would pack it when we returned home. She found this amusing and replied “You better had as you are going to go into labour today by the looks of you” Just great, I looked overtired and haggard. The batty old woman and her superstitions created a lot of laughter that afternoon for both myself and my partner. We did pack out hospital bag that day, not because of anything my grandmother said, just because there was no point in putting it off any longer. I was planning on packing it in the next couple of days anyway. We had everything that we needed for our labour and birth including many sweets and treats for my partner. (I shall add my hospital checklist & Birth Plan at the end for those that may be planning their hospital bag, I found looking at other peoples helped.) I felt exhausted but had the need to carry on painting. At around 5pm I stared to get period type pains and cramps in my legs and back, thinking I had over done it I gave up and made a start on dinner. Whilst taking a break, I spread myself out on the sofa taking comfort and trying to nap with my head on my partner’s knee. The pains were getting stronger and my partner kindly made me a hot water bottle for my back, I just couldn’t get comfortable. At around 7pm nothing was easing the pain then I began to get a niggling feeling and was worried that this could be the start of it. Around that time I also started to get tightening’s along with waves of pain which were focussed in my back.
Not wanting to scare my partner, I tried to remain calm as the pains began to come closer together and I realised that they were contractions. I was able to breathe through them, took two paracetamols and refilled my hot water bottle. I was beginning to get constantly fidget which is when my partner had started to notice something was wrong, he paused the film that he was watching (I’m pretty sure it was a cheesy 80s action film but I hadn’t really been paying any attention) To see if they were contractions we decided to time them using a useful website called The Contraction Master.
|8:57:41 PM||8:58:02 PM||0:57||1 m, 7 s|
|8:56:34 PM||8:56:51 PM||0:58||1 m, 52 s|
|8:54:42 PM||8:55:33 PM||0:51||2 m, 42 s|
|8:52:00 PM||8:53:13 PM||1:12||1 m, 54 s|
|8:50:06 PM||8:51:05 PM||0:58||3 m, 17 s|
|8:46:50 PM||8:47:27 PM||0:36||5 m, 46 s|
|8:41:03 PM||8:41:51 PM||0:46||6 m, 19 s|
|8:34:45 PM||8:36:12 PM||1:26||4 m, 48 s|
|8:29:56 PM||8:30:43 PM||0:46||2 m, 2 s|
|8:27:55 PM||8:28:19 PM||0:45||2 m, 18 s|
|8:25:37 PM||8:26:43 PM||1:6||2 m, 13 s|
|8:23:24 PM||8:24:22 PM||0:58||2 m|
Since they were quite close together and lasting for nearly a minute we contacted the hospital and were told to go in to see how I was progressing. Packing our bags into the car we set off, my partner going into panic mode assuming that we had to be at the hospital straight away and it was a mad rush. We arrived at the Triage centre and told to sit in the waiting area for an assessment room to become available. I became irritated at being cramped in a tiny room on the most uncomfortable of chairs, I was sick, in pain and knew what was coming. I wasn’t scared about the labour or birth at this point, I was scared of them telling me that I wasn’t established enough to stay in hospital.
I was right, being only 1cm dilated and not effaced I was sent home with paracetamol and told to take a hot bath. PARACETAMOL! What a fat lot of good that was.
Arriving home, my partner filled the bath for me. I couldn’t understand why all the pain was focussed around my back and my contractions were still every 2-3 minutes lasting for a minute or over. By this time I was being violently sick and couldn’t take any more. I felt like I couldn’t cope and then I began to feel scared, if I felt like I couldn’t handle it now then how was I going to handle established labour and the birth? I honestly felt like a failure at this point. I dragged myself out of the bath with the help of my partner and he contacted the triage centre again after only being home for an hour. I could tell the midwives that he spoke to were not best pleased due to the tone of his voice and his choice of words. We returned to the hospital anyway just after 1.30am.
Back on the triage ward, we were greeted with a huff led to a side room and told to wait for somebody to come in and speak to me. We were left alone for 45 minutes, by this point the contractions were extremely painful and brought me to a standstill every time they came. When the midwife arrived back she gave me a lecture that I should have stayed home longer and me returning was a waste of time as they were busy. Wow I felt like an idiot but since I was there she would examine me anyway, it turned out that I was 4cms, hooray! The actual internal procedure didn’t hurt, but teamed with the contractions it was the most uncomfortable I have ever felt. When I heard that I was 4cms I felt a wave of relief. I was told that I had progressed enough to be admitted onto the midwife led unit and this is where I met my incredible midwife June. She was amazing!
Arriving into my room, I instantly felt a lot calmer. June showed me around; the room had en-suite bathroom and was fully equipped with rocking chairs, giant inflatable balls and an unlimited supply of entinox which was pumped around the hospital rather than being in individual canisters. June asked if I had a birth plan which I introduced to her along with my maternity notes.
The Birth Plan
- I will be going to St Mary’s Hospital as soon as my contractions get to two-three minutes apart or until I cannot deal with the pain and stay at home any longer
- I would like to be in a birthing room
- I would like a room with an en suite including a shower if possible
People & Visitors
- I want as few medical staff in the room as possible
- No one other than my partner and medical staff to be in the room.
- No visitors are allowed during labour.
- No visitors unless otherwise agreed when the baby is born.
- I would prefer to keep the number of vaginal examinations to a minimum.
- I would like to have my music playing during Labour.
- I would like Gas and Air to be available to me to use
- I would like a water birth
- If a water birth is not possible, I would like an epidural as a form of pain relief
- I only want a caesarean section if necessary and discussed with me and my partner first
- No forceps or vacuum delivery unless absolutely necessary and discussed with me and my partner first
- Even if I am fully dilated, I would like to wait until I feel the urge to push before beginning the pushing phase, assuming that the baby is not in any distress.
- During the pushing phase I would like my partner and/or nurses to support me.
- I would prefer not to have an episiotomy unless absolutely required for the baby’s safety.
- I would like the placenta to be delivered with the help of an injection.
- I wish to have the injection to deliver the afterbirth as soon as possible
- I would like skin to skin as soon as possible
- I would like to try to breastfeed as soon as possible after delivery, and unless medically necessary I do not want any bottles or pacifiers to be given to my daughter.
- I would like my daughter to be given the vitamin K injection.
- If my daughter must be taken away from me to receive medical treatment my partner will accompany her at all times.
- Myself and partner wish to delay cord cutting until it has stopped pulsating
- My partner wishes to cut the cord
- We wish to donate the placenta to the hospital for research
- I would prefer not to be induced unless it is required for the safety of my baby.
- I would still like to be as mobile as possible if I am induced.
- If a caesarean delivery is required I would like an epidural/spinal block for pain relief and to be mobile as soon as possible after.
- I would like my partner to be present at all times.
- If my daughter doesn’t need any medical treatment I would like her to be given to my partner immediately after birth.
- If my daughter must be taken away from me to receive medical treatment my partner will accompany her at all times.
As she was reading through my birth plan, my partner went to collect our bags from the car. On his return we discovered he had been issued with a parking ticket for parking in the wrong section of the pay and display car park, this lightened the mood and he and June were able to laugh and joke.
June welcomed my birth plan and asked if we have the music that we wanted playing, this is where we discovered we had left the electricals bag at home. No phone chargers, no ipod and no camera, not to be disheartened June provided us with a radio. It was time to discuss pain relief methods, as stated in my birth plan I wanted to start off on pethidine or diamorphine which June gladly prodived and whilst I was waiting she set me up on entinox. I couldn’t get the hang of the entinox through the mouth piece and became frustrated. The diamorphine made me vomit violently which became a concern to June as I had brought up almost 3 litres already so she insisted I keep drinking as to prevent dehydration. She noticed that I was unable to use the G&A through the mouth piece and suggested I try a mask, wow what a difference that made. I spent the next few hours breathing through the contractions with my partner and June by my side, I started to enjoy my labour then.
Running back and forth from the toilet, I had my bloody show at around 8am much to the delight of June and she was more than happy to examine me again within the next hour. I was coping well but knew that I wanted an epidural even though June was insistent that I was doing great and would be able to cope without she kept telling me “you are doing great, I think you can go all the way with just the G&A” and I believed her. At this point I wanted to get through labour by myself, no intervention, no epidural etc I felt empowered but that changed later on.
When the time came to examine me she was very pleased that I had progressed to 6cm but my waters had not broken, she would not intervene for another couple of hours. My partner and June had developed quite a good relationship and were constantly talking as I breathed through the contractions.
12am came and June asked if she would be ok to proceed and break my waters for me as I was not progressing any further. We agreed that this would be the best choice for us. It didn’t take her long but there were a lot of waters (which continued to leak up until the very moment I gave birth.) June noticed that there was meconium in the waters so attached me to a drip for antibiotics as my temperature began to increase and also a drip to help with the sickness. It was also discovered that my baby was back to back which was causing all the pain in my back and the reason why the contractions were felt in my back. My contractions were coming thick and fast and it was then I changed my mind and requested an epidural, it could not come quick enough. At this point June thought it would be best if I left the midwifery led unit and went on to the consultant led clinic where I could be monitored with one to one care (and also get the epidural that I had been asking for) I had coped well on the G&A, but it didn’t really reduce the pain in anyway but it did help me deal with the pain alot better. June came down with me to the consultant clinic to do the handover and she promised to stay with me until the end of her shift.
On arrival to the consultant clinic I was attached to blood pressure and heart rate monitors, I had been strapped to a foetal monitor to make sure my baby wasn’t stressed and to make sure her bp was stable. I was still being sick from the diamophine and started to feel exhausted. My partner was being a trooper and wouldn’t leave my side, except to go grab a sandwich for himself. I didn’t like being strapped up to all the monitors and having my temperature being take every 20 minutes.
I was given another dose of antibiotics via drip as my temperature continued to soar and they suspected an infection.
Finally an anaesthetist arrived to administer my epidural, unfortunately I was his last patient of the day and he was in a hurry. He was very short and snappy with the midwives. I lay on my side trying to breathe through the contractions without the G&A whilst I was marked up and the area was sterilised for the epidural. I wasn’t nervous or scared about having the procedure done; I couldn’t welcome it any more. At this point the midwives lost contact with the baby’s heartbeat so I was moved back onto my back before he could administer the epidural much to his annoyance muttering something along the lines of “I can’t work like this, you either want this done now or I leave” It was understandable that he had a very long day like most of us had but when you are in labour and there is a possibility that your baby may be in distress you do not want to hear this. June cut him short and then the procedure started again with sterilising my lower back. I didn’t like not having my G& A to hand, it had become somewhat of a safety net for me and I began to panic through the contractions whilst having to keep perfectly still for him to numb the area and administer the epidural. I had heard many horror stories of them going wrong if you made the slightest movement and people becoming paralysed so this played on my mind whilst struggling to remain still. The anaesthetist left soon after filling out his paperwork, without saying a word. I offered him a Thank You and prayed that the epidural would soon take effect.
45 minutes later and I was still feeling every contraction and the pain was becoming more intense with each one. It was decided by the midwife team in the room that the procedure should be repeated and within 10 minutes another anaesthetist entered the room. He was lovely and instantly put us all at ease, he was much more pleasant. He spoke to us and made us feel a lot calmer and was very understanding between contractions. Why couldn’t he have come the first time?
He was quick with the procedure and stayed with me until it started to take effect. I felt a cold tingling sensation spread until eventually nothing except tightening’s and discomfort when the contractions came. Wow what a difference that made, I couldn’t thank him enough. In fact at some point I may have told him that I loved him, and at that moment I probably did, I was so grateful. He laughed and wished us good luck as he left.
June had to leave and she told me her shift had actually ended hours ago but she didn’t want to leave until she knew I was settled. I couldn’t believe she had actually stayed with us all that time. She was replaced with a newly qualified midwife, so new in fact that I was her first ever patient. I didn’t care; I didn’t doubt her capabilities in the slightest. If she was concerned or wanted second opinions she would consult the other midwives and this put me at ease. For the next couple of hours it was bliss, I could still feel the contractions and they were still painful but with help of the epidural they were manageable.
I zoned out and managed to keep myself focused so I barely remember anything that was going on around me until it became time to examine me again. Not expecting much I let her get on with it but holy moly I was fully dilated! I would have been ecstatic if it wasn’t for the fact I was still being sick. A senior midwife also came in to double check and was told to give it another hour or two then I could start pushing. My epidural was topped and at that point I was happy as Larry, my partner said that the conversations that I was having with him didn’t make sense and I was giggling away.
Well it was time to push; again I wasn’t scared or nervous. I did find the whole situation hilarious as before I came into the hospital I was worried about people seeing me naked, about me losing my dignity and most of all, the thing that scares most pregnant women the most “pooing during the pushing phase” But ladies I can honestly tell you, by the time I got to the pushing stage I was butt naked and I didn’t care about anything except having my baby. The whole hospital could have been in that room with me and I wouldn’t have cared. If I pooped, then I pooped, I wouldn’t see it. So this is why I was so amused.
My midwife had everything prepared for me to start pushing; she was much more calm and relaxed now. She was very encouraging with her words and guided as to what to do. I remember thinking this is the moment I have my baby, I’m going to meet her soon and we will be parents. After almost 2 hours of pushing we were getting nowhere, my baby was stuck which was most likely due to her being back to back and she was starting to show signs of distress. Another midwife was brought in for a second opinion and she examined me whilst I attempted to push again. They were unable to manually turn the baby whilst pushing so they called for the consultants.
Now I was scared, I could feel my epidural starting to wear off and there were lots of people coming in and out of the room all looking very serious. Even my partner who had been my rock throughout labour started to look like he was worried. I was told my baby was fine but they needed to deliver her straight away. I couldn’t focus on anything, and the pain was beginning to become unbearable with contractions that were literally on top of each other.
What were my options? Well a consultant wanted to examine me to find out what options I had. This was the most painful thing I have ever experienced. I was quite good throughout labour and had only been moaning about the pain but now I was beginning to get vocal whilst she examined me. I was not impressed to say the least.
My only option was an assisted delivery in theatre as she was well and truly stuck and had travelled too far down the birth canal for a C-Section. I wasn’t happy with this option but as it was my only one I signed the paperwork for a forceps assisted delivery and was led to theatre on the trolley. My partner was taken to be scrubbed up so he could join me in theatre. Since my epidural had worn off they decided on a spinal block as a form of anaesthetic. Trying to stay still for this was almost impossible; the medical team were very professional and could clearly see I was in distress. I felt absolutely nothing when the spinal block took effect, it was very surreal. I could see the team working around me and moving my legs but I felt nothing and couldn’t move. I remember thinking that the forceps resembled very large salad tossers.
I was very tired and was dipping in and out of consciousness but my partner strongly held my hand throughout. After 20 minutes my little lady was born. She was passed straight to me and my partner before being taken away to be looked over. I had tearing even though I was given an episiotomy and massive blood loss so was in theatre for a further hour whilst they stitched me back up. By this point I must have blacked out as I awoke in the recovery room with my partner holding our fully dressed baby. She was beautiful, even with the forceps marks on her face.
Isabelle Louise was born at 9.55 pm by assisted forceps delivery, weighing 7lb 10oz
She was a perfectly healthy baby girl and we couldn’t have been any more proud. I didn’t get the Birth that I wanted but I wouldn’t change it for the world.