This has taken forever to write – and even now this won’t be the whole thing at once!
Despite our hopes that the wee man would make an entrance beforehand, we checked into hospital on the 10th January at 7:30am for our scheduled induction.
We were shown to our delivery suite and asked to settle in while the paperwork was getting underway. I had also agreed to participate in an induction trial where 50% of scheduled inductions would be induced by foley catheter balloon rather than the traditional gel. With the catheter you were able to go home and return the next morning. Unfortunately despite being an excellent candidate cervix-wise, I was randomised to receive the prostaglandin gel, so we settled in to be in the room for as long as it took.
At 9:45am the gel was inserted, and the wait began. An IV line was inserted (ugh) and I changed into my super sexy oversized nightie to hopefully give birth in!
They monitored me periodically to check baby’s heart rate, and all seemed fine. He would wriggle around a lot and affect the CTG which was typical of his behaviour in the womb thus far.
By that afternoon I was dilated at about a 1 and had 2cm left of my cervix not effaced. So not exactly progressing. The decision was made to insert more gel and try and break my waters in the morning. I was offered a sleeping aid and settled in for the night.
On the morning of the 11th, I was checked again, and even though I’d had some backache and cramping overnight, I was still in the same situation as before, though maybe sliiiiightly more dilated. So we went ahead with breaking my waters. The consultant said it was definitely doable, so in went the hook, and out came the flood.
It was hands down the strangest feeling of my life. I had mild polyhydramnios (an excess amount of amniotic fluid) and my waters gushed out like a waterfall, and just kept coming. My nightie was ruined, the bed was soaked, and the consultant had to go change his scrubs – no joke.
Into the ugly hospital gown I went.
On a positive note, however, it felt like things were finally happening – I had contractions! We started timing them and I paced the room in between. We felt good! The baby was coming! And I wanted to move as much as I could while I could as I knew the syntocinon drip/continuous monitoring/being stuck on the bed was coming.
Once the drip began, the contractions began to intensify. I concentrated on breathing through them, digging my nails into my palms and squeezing D’s hand. After 4 hours of more and more intense pain, I hadn’t progressed any further (maybe a smidge in dilation, and I was more effaced). I was strongly advised to get an epidural if I was to cope with just how many hours I had of labour ahead of me. I asked for the epidural.
Once the epidural was in, we settled in to just wait it out. I could still feel the contractions were happening, but the pain was gone. My legs were heavy but I could move them, and I was pretty astounded/impressed by the magic of it.
The main downside was that I couldn’t eat on the synto drip, and so had been starving since 7:30am (when I’d just picked at my lackluster breakfast – if only I’d known). And either the epidural or the drug made me a bit itchy. Not annoyingly so, just enough to notice.
It all seemed to be taking such a long time. Every time I’d get disillusioned, however, I’d look over at the wee cot in the corner and remember what we were there to do.
During the evening we noticed a few decelerations of the baby’s heart rate on the monitors, including one scary episode around 6pm when the midwife hit the emergency button and all of the staff ran in and it was truly terrifying. Everything came back up pretty quickly after and they were happy that he was fine, but for a moment my world was ending. They tried to apply a scalp monitor at one stage but it was faulty, so we continued with external monitoring. It was very hard not to obsess over the monitor and worry after that.
As we got closer to 12 hours on the drip, the hospital midwife looking after me started to suggest that a caesarean section might be likely. I was determined to avoid one, so kept hoping as we got closer to each internal examination (now totally tolerable on the epidural!) that I would miraculously be fully dilated.
Around 9pm, my midwife was phoned to come in as I was finally at 4cm or very close to. I spoke with her about getting a section and the more we discussed it, the more I came to terms with it not only being a possibility, but it being something I could possibly cope with. I still wanted to avoid it – I was scared of feeling the operation, of there being complications, of hysterectomy, of the long recovery period. After working in maternal morbidity and knowing the (extremely rare but extremely terrible) things that can go wrong, I was very anxious about things getting to that stage.
Unfortunately, baby’s heart rate started to accelerate and while that’s usually not a bad thing, it stayed that way. A steady and slow rise in heart rate can indicate baby is not happy, and well, it started to make us nervous.
I was told if we didn’t progress, a caesarean was inevitable. I was given a deadline – at the next check we’d have to make a decision.
D went home to check on the puppy and pick up some things and before he returned (around 10:45pm), I was checked again and was suddenly at 9cm. We got excited and decided that in an hour’s time, if I was fully dilated, I’d be able to start pushing. I was a bit nervous that I wouldn’t be able to, because the epidural does start to build up a high level, and I was struggling to move my legs at all. I wondered where I’d get the strength from.
Shortly before midnight, the final check came – still 9cm. The final cm also seemed to be in a spot where baby was not applying pressure, and baby’s heart rate was still rising. The doctors came to speak with me and we all agreed that the section was our only option.
And suddenly my bed was being wheeled downstairs.
Because of the epidural and the stage I was at, I started to shake uncontrollably. And the anxiety started to rise. I was exhausted – it was almost midnight and my day of labouring had started before 7am, I hadn’t eaten since 7:30am, and I was so scared of the operation. But I wanted our baby boy out.
Down in theatre I struggled to change tables, my legs were so numb. The room was full of staff getting prepared and everyone was kind and patient with me as I worried and waited and wept a little.
Once the operation began and I realised I was definitely numb, I waited what felt like an eternity but in reality was only a few minutes – and then there he was. They held our son above the curtain and I saw his wee face and I just broke down and sobbed. I was overwhelmed and so relieved that he was okay.
It seemed like it took hours to stitch me up. The curtain was obviously protecting us from seeing anything (and I kept telling D not to look over it), but the ceiling tiles were aluminium and while blurry, I turned my head not to see even the red and white splotches of my open body reflected in them. D went with the baby while they checked him over, and he never really took that big wailing cry (at least not for long), he passed all his tests beautifully.
D took the baby and held him skin to skin and when I was ready, they brought him to me and laid him on my chest. He was so beautiful. I felt a bit dopey and still so numb, but I had him in my arms.
I’ll post soon about what happened next – unfortunately my recovery has been complicated and difficult, but every day with him is worth it.
Welcome to the world, wee Euan.