So there we were on Wednesday 9th November getting ready to go to Bolton Royal to be induced. On the way I remember my back starting to ache quite a bit, but I just put this down to being uncomfortable. We arrived and were shown to a bed in a bay where we were left to wait for about an hour before anyone came and saw to us. In this hour I was so uncomfortable, jumping up off the bed and onto the chair, then up and went and found a birthing ball to try and sit on. I just could not get comfortable but again I put this down to just being anxious about everything. The midwife came and set me up with the baby’s heart rate and contraction monitors on my bump, which they do for half an hour before they put the pessary in, just to check all is ok. From this point on I was pretty much stuck on a bed for the whole labour, which was not what I had wanted.
No sooner than she had set me up and stepped out the room, I had a tight sensation in the lower part of my stomach. They kept coming, short and sharp but manageable. Dave was watching the paper coming off the monitor with the wriggly lines that records any contractions and telling me when one was coming so I could breathe through it! When the nurse came back after half an hour or so, she glanced at the paper and then straight to me and said “oh… are you having contractions?!” I was so happy that my labour had finally started and naturally at that, literally half an hour before I was going to be induced.
I was kept on the monitors and she took bloods and did checks whilst my contractions carried on. The midwife said I was dehydrated and that the baby’s heart was a little slow, so she hurriedly tried to put a cannula in my hand and failed, then she tried again in my wrist. I am fine with needles, I’ve had more blood tests than I care to remember but bloody hell this hurt. She went in the side of my wrist and then said she hit a valve or something and a load of blood sprayed out. In a way I was glad of the new pain in my wrist because it did actually distract me a bit from my contractions!
Another nurse came to have a go and managed to get a cannula in my right arm. This really irritated me and was a constant nuisance during my labour so if you’re in this situation then make sure they try again in the other hand or something. I had a cannula in my arm when I was little for 24 hours and they put a splint on your arm so you can’t bend it. They don’t do that for adults, so for the duration of being in labour I had to try not to bend my right arm, but the cannula kept falling out and having to be messed with and it was very awkward moving around or trying to go to the toilet. It still annoys me now thinking of the bloody thing as I was attached to the drip trolley thing for about 28 hours. I ended up referring to it as my “friend”, I think the nurses thought I was mad i.e. “Dave I need the toilet… wheel my friend in with me”.
Anyway now my friend has had his mention, back to my labour. Things started to slow down after a few hours, and my contractions were few and far between. It was only at this point that I finally realised I wouldn’t be able to give birth on the Birthing Suite, or have a water birth. I was now considered a high risk labour has it had been over 24 hours since my waters broke and with labour starting but not progressing and the dehydration etc, they wanted to speed things up. It was a very busy night, there were 7 of us in labour on the ward and all the birthing rooms were in use so it was a waiting game. I was told to try and get some sleep but this was impossible. There wasn’t anywhere for Dave to try and get some rest either, and the midwife came and said it would be best if he went home now as actually partners aren’t usually allowed on the ward. He swiftly told her he wouldn’t be going anywhere…! She said hang fire as she thought a room may be free soon anyway so he could stay. I felt bad as I had now taken priority for the room over these other 6 women who were also in labour, I kept apologising to the woman in the bed next to me!
A room had become available for me, so a midwife called Corrie (yes you heard me right) came and collected me and walked me down there. Once in the room I felt a little more at ease as I knew I would be in here until the baby was born. I changed into my labour nightie and got settled. Corrie had been asking about when my waters had broken and had decided that that must have only been my fore waters, so she wanted to try and break my hind waters to get things going. They use a long stick with a hook on the end to do this, it’s a little uncomfortable but was similar to having a sweep really. After monitoring me with the puppy training pad underneath me (no idea what to call them but they look the same), nothing had come out.
She said I had two options, someone else could try with the hook again or I could have a fetal scalp electrode placed on the baby’s head. This is a small clip that is inserted into the back of the baby’s head, which provides an accurate heart rate for the baby throughout labour, but by inserting this it would also break any waters too. After discussing this with Dave we decided to have the clip put in, the heart monitor on my belly kept slipping out of place anyway and isn’t accurate so at least we would definitely know how baby was doing throughout labour, and I would only need the contraction monitor on my bump. This was more uncomfortable than the hook, and it took a bit of fumbling for her to successfully insert it. You then have a wire coming out which is attached to a small plastic monitor that they strap to your inner thigh. No more waters came out in the end so she started me on the hormone drip. On the outside I think I was very calm about the whole thing, but on the inside I was quite stressed out that I would be induced with the hormone drip (refer back to my googling about being in induced in Part 1).
Over the next few hours my contractions started to get progressively more intense, and I started to pass quite a bit of blood and large… I don’t know what to call them… pieces… at one point Dave ran out with the bedpan to find Corrie and said “can you come in and have a look, something grim has come out”. I think that’s my favourite part of the labour!! Ha! I was not aware that you can pass so much blood during labour, she said this was normal and was the rest of my ‘show’. Up to now I had only taken paracetamol and codeine and was holding off on any more pain relief. We also had a couple of hospital power cuts – not at all unnerving when you’re in labour….
We had a midwife shift swap over, so Lisa-Marie became my midwife who would definitely be delivering this baby! By now I was fairly out of it, I was in a lot of pain and they were ramping up the hormone drip more and more. We decided I should try some gas and air to help with the pain, so I gave it a go and I HATED IT. I just did not react well to it, I suddenly felt very unwell and didn’t like the way it made me feel which I suppose it a bit “high”. I only tried two or three puffs before I threw it away and said I didn’t want it again. Then came the projectile vomiting- horrendous. Labour is NOT pretty. The woman you are in labour is so far removed from the woman our partners fell in love with, I think it is quite a shock to the partners to see us in such a state. The pain/pressure was so strong that it felt like I was paralysed, I just could not move my legs or my bum, so when I wanted to move positions or try and have a wee, Dave had to move me, it was very hard work!
Once we realised I wouldn’t be using gas and air, Lisa said that I should consider some pain relief as I was still only 3cm dilated so this would be a long slog. I agreed and said I would have the pethidine which I was told about in the ante-natal class. But they don’t have that, they use diamorphine, so I hadn’t looked this up so was a bit anxious that I didn’t know what I was taking. I had a bit of a freak out just after they administered it, I was convinced I wasn’t breathing, I kept saying to Dave that I wanted to shut my eyes to try and sleep but he needed to watch me because I wasn’t breathing. The midwife ended up bringing a pulse monitor in to show me that I was in fact breathing. Bizarre.
The diamorphine made me seriously drowsy, the next few hours were a huge blur for me and Dave of drifting in and out of sleep and Dave guiding me through the contractions. At one point they had to turn the hormone drip down as they had been increasing it too quickly so my labour was coming on too fast, intense contractions with no gap and I was struggling to breathe through them. So once it was more manageable, they had to start again increasing it. Torture. The doctors came for the rounds and Lisa said I may want to cover up but at this point I didn’t care, so in walk the doctor and about 8 trainees, and I am there sprawled out for all to see. Cringe. The doctor came over and placed the sheet over me to protect my modesty. I am still mortified thinking about this.
They try and ask you questions, by the way, when you are in the worst pain of your life… “how old are you” “is this your first baby” “how are the contractions”. I didn’t even open my eyes and I just gave one word answers. Every time the doctor did his check it always had the same outcome “we will check back on you in 4 hours”. 4 f***ing hours. This just tells you that they expect you to carry on as you are for the next 4 hours, and that they don’t expect the baby to be born in this time. This is not what you want to hear when you are in that state, it may be the reality but just don’t tell me that!!
I had packed lots of slow-release snacks but I was unable to eat anything during labour. My mouth was just too dry I couldn’t chew or swallow anything. So if you think labour is starting, have something to eat to keep you going later! I didn’t eat anything for around 28 hours. I had spent months bouncing on my ball ready for use in labour, but the pain and pressure was so intense in my lower back, bum and legs that I couldn’t move or take my own weight so every time I tried the ball I lasted a matter of seconds before I had to get back on the bed. I was also unable to have a bath as I wouldn’t have been able to get in but I was hooked up to loads of monitors and drips so I wouldn’t have been allowed anyway. My hot water bottle was such a big help in labour, we had to be forceful in asking for it to be refilled though as we often got “oh yes I will do in a minute” and then 10 mins later it still wasn’t done, but the heat was a bit of a relief of the pain for me.
The midwife needs to test all urine passed through labour, but as I was unable to get to the toilet I had to try and squat over a cardboard pan, and try not to crush it whilst Dave took all of my weight. In hindsight I wish I had just tried and let it go on the puppy pad thing as I wasted so much energy trying to wee when most the time I didn’t need to, it was just the pressure making me feel like I needed to.
I am amazed if you even get this far as this is such a long post – so thank you and well done if you have. Around this time I had the mother of all contractions, accompanied by an involuntary sound that sounded like a cow being tortured. This is when I knew it was time. Lisa said I couldn’t push just yet as she needed to check me first and let the team know. It is so bloody difficult not to push through these. She checked me and I was now fully dilated, so on the next contraction I could push. I think it takes a couple before you work out what you’re doing. I just focused on not wasting any energy on making any noise, and tucked my chin in to my chest. Dave helped me with my breathing as it’s really hard not to hold your breath when you’re pushing. I also would like to point out that by this point I wasn’t on any pain relief, the diamorphine had worn off and I refused to use gas and air so I felt every single thing from this point forward.
I was pushing for a few minutes when a load of people suddenly appeared in the room and started doing all sorts around me. I didn’t actually know what was going on at the time, it was only afterwards Dave told me that the baby’s heart rate had dropped quite dramatically and they wanted baby out ASAP, but I hadn’t realised this as I was just focused and in the zone pushing. Lisa was trying to get my attention and was saying ‘you need to do a big push and deliver this baby NOW, this is the best thing, or the doctor is going to have to intervene and you don’t want that’. I was trying my best, they put my legs up in stirrups and told me to hold the back of my thighs to get a deeper push.
The doctor then came up front and took over, she said that she was going to have to use the suction cup or ventouse to get the baby out quicker. Now she was a very petite lady, smaller than me. However she needed to feel which way around the baby’s head was to attach the suction cup the right way. Oh my god. She told me to carry on pushing whilst she did this but jesus christ her little hands were pretty brutal– it was incredibly painful trying to push with her feeling around in there. This is when I began swearing, up to now I had been fairly dignified with the odd ‘shit shit shit shit’ but the F bombs came out as did the Mother F bomb. Once she had attached the cup, I was still pushing and they could now see the top of the baby’s head, so I am proud of myself that I almost managed to deliver him on my own.
Then came the news I had been dreading all through my pregnancy. She needed to give me an episiotomy as she feared I was going to tear. She said she was giving me a local anaesthetic but then immediately began making the cut. I can’t lie, I felt everything and it hurt a lot. I was very vocal at this point I believe. I did a few more pushes and she was finally able to use the suction cup and there we were- he was out at 4.49pm. I was in a state of shock at this point, after such a long day this last part had happened so quickly and I was still in shock about the assisted delivery. He was given straight to me, the cord had been around his neck and he was really swollen and his head was a bit misshapen and a bit of a mess at the back from the popping of the waters, clip in his head, and the cup. But he was here and he was safe and well!
Pretty much every mother I had spoken to up to now had said “as soon as they are out, all the pain goes away and you forget about it all” and I remember doubting them at the time. I am sure there are people that may instantly feel relief after giving birth but not for people who end up with complicated deliveries! Perhaps if I had more pain relief I wouldn’t have felt as much pain after the delivery, but that’s just the way my labour panned out.
They took him away to clean him up, and whilst they did this the Doctor was feeling around and said she needed to check me as she thought I had quite a nasty tear. She felt…. everywhere… ahem…. with those delicate but brutal hands and I was swearing again as this was incredibly painful. She confirmed I had a third degree tear and would need to go straight to surgery. I had the jab for the placenta and asked if I needed to deliver this, but I’m not even joking she actually pulled it out. I feel sick thinking about that. I’m a bit gutted I never got to see my placenta as I had wanted to see it.
They handed Xavier back to me and I was a bit more with it now so was trying to take him in and comfort him, but then the anaesthetist came and started asking me a million and one questions about what kind of aesthetic I wanted and the risks, when did I last eat, what’s my medical history, what is my family medical history and so on. This was very overwhelming and I felt like I couldn’t focus on anything as there was so much to take in and I had my new baby right there too. Just as Xavier was starting to route for my breast they said I had to go right now, so they had to take him off me and I wouldn’t be able to give him his first breastfeed.
I was taken down to surgery and given a spinal block. Hats off to anyone who has an epidural administered during labour as it’s so hard to stay still I can’t imagine trying to do that when in labour. It took a few attempts as it was like a jerk reaction every time she went near my spine I jumped. Once I was numbed from the waist down I remember seeing them move my legs but I couldn’t feel it – it was the weirdest sensation ever and sent me all funny. I was in real shock by now so I began uncontrollably shaking and I remember feeling a bit like I was fading away, it was very unnerving. There were two young ladies on the anaesthetist team and they were brilliant, I really have admiration for anaesthetists now as although the doctors did a great job at the surgery, it was these two girls who got me through it. They comforted me, told me it would be ok and the shaking was normal and tried to calm me down. Guess what we ended up talking about to calm me down? My bunnies! I was in surgery for nearly 2 hours and I think they knew everything about Pebbles and Bambam by the end and one of them had now decided she definitely wanted a bunny. They had given me some antibiotics on my drip as my BP had dropped and along with the shaking I think they just needed to stabilise me a bit. One of the girls went and checked on David and Xavier for me to let me know they were ok and that David had fed and dressed him.
They cleaned me up and took me away to be reunited with my boy. As soon as he was in my arms I stopped shaking and felt so much better. This felt more like holding him for the first time, it was so beautiful and he already looked different after a couple of hours, he looked less swollen now and so cute. I finally learnt that he was 7lb 13oz and I couldn’t believe I had such a big baby as I am so small. I did feel a bit upset that I had missed him being weighed and dressed (especially because daddy put him in the wrong first outfit!) and that I couldn’t give him his first feed, but I was just glad it was all over and we were all ok.
There we have it. My labour didn’t go to plan at all, and unfortunately I ended up with a third degree tear, however I believe only around 2-3% of women will have one so they really aren’t that common. I hadn’t even known about these kinds of tears before, I thought if you got a tear the midwife just stitched you up there and then. I also didn’t realise you could still tear after having the episiotomy. I did feel quite traumatised by my whole experience, it took me a good few months until I could really think about properly and talk about it without feeling unwell. I don’t think anyone prepares you for feeling traumatised after labour, and it wouldn’t surprise me if people end up suffering with PTSD afterwards as it is such a huge thing to go through!
But here I am 6 months later and me and Xavier are doing just fine. I know people who have had a really smooth labour, from first contractions the baby was born within 4 hours and not a stitch in sight. I also know someone who was in labour for a few days and got to 9cm before being told she had to have an emergency caesarean. So every single labour is different. If you are pregnant and reading this, I hope I haven’t alarmed you, I just wanted to record my experience and I feel like the more you know, the better prepared you are. I do feel lucky though as I know there are way worse labours out there, and we were both healthy and ok in the end.
Thanks for reading – you deserve brew and a slice of cake now.