I hadn’t wanted to be induced – in fact, that was what upset me most when I found out about my gestational diabetes. I knew that they don’t let you go over your due date and I knew that as a first time mum, I probably wouldn’t go into labour early.
So it was with a little anxiety that we arrived at hospital, just after 8.30am on Saturday 3rd May. I had had my bags packed for ages, and this was it!
The midwife I had looking after me was lovely and she did an internal assessment and said my cervix was still quite thick and posterior, although she could get a finger inside. I was hooked up to monitors for 30 minutes to measure the baby’s heart rate and any contractions. She then came back about half an hour later with a prostin tablet and inserted it. I had to stay monitored for another hour after that to make sure the baby wasn’t reacting negatively to the prostin. All was fine, so she said she’d check me again in 5 hours time. 5 hours! I’d already read most of a magazine…
We were allowed to go out of the ward and go to Costa on the other side of the hospital. It was good to get fresh air. I had to have my blood pressure etc checked every couple of hours, so we couldn’t stay out too long, but Mark and I were able to sit and chat and imagine what was to come.
Through the afternoon I started getting very regular tightenings – it was bizarre. They didn’t hurt, although they were slightly uncomfortable. I was fascinated watching them go up and down on the monitor. I didn’t think much of them because they just felt like strong Braxton Hicks but the midwife was slightly concerned that as I was having these, the baby’s heart rate was dropping a little. The doctor didn’t want to give me another prostin in case it distressed the baby too much. Instead they were considering breaking my waters. I was really glad that they decided not to and left me to see what happened.
As evening approached I started getting really upset about the prospect of Mark leaving for the night. I was not in active labour, so he had to go home. This was one of the worst things about being induced. I cried. A lot.
By this stage the tightenings were quite uncomfortable so I had put my tens machine on and was using that with quite positive effects. I decided to leave it on over night. The midwife examined me at about 9.30pm and said I was about 2-3 cm dilated and the doctor might come and break my waters.
When the doctor arrived it reminded me why some people are doctors and some are midwives – she was so abrupt and matter of fact. I had been in that bed nearly all day, my partner was about to be sent home and she just seemed in a massive hurry to get on to the next patient. She then examined me. Far from the gentle, soft approach from the midwives, she was rough and it was painful. I was really shocked actually. I know she had a job to do, but there was clearly someone who had never had HER cervix examined! Anyway, she was scathing of the midwife who had said I was 2-3 cm – frankly stated that I was only 1cm dilated and demanded another prostin. By that stage it was about 10.30pm and Mark really had to go.
The night was weird. I couldn’t sleep very well as the ward was really busy – lots of women being admitted and moved to delivery rooms. Lots of noise. Lots of activity. And my tens just kept buzzing away in a reassuring way.
I woke at just after 6 and was worried that my phone had little battery left. I was desperate for Mark to come back but he’d been told not before 8.30am. I needed the loo so at about 6.30 I sat up in bed and then the floodgates opened – my waters broke. It was a mixture of shock and relief – relief that they had gone naturally and things were getting going. I rang Mark and told him to come in, then put on my Lazy Daisy music and tried to relax. The tightenings I had been feeling started to become more painful and it all started to feel a bit more real.
One problem was that I started feeling really sick whenever I was contracting, so the doctor gave me an anti-sickness injection which really hurt! I had to have that before the midwife would let me have gas and air as she said it would make me feel more sick. The gas and air was good though. I didn’t find it helped with the pain of an actual contraction but it made it go very quickly afterwards and I felt very drunk!
At around lunchtime the contractions were really strong – I was still hooked up to monitors as they were concerned that the baby’s heart rate was dropping when I was contracting. At one point I thought they were going to say I had to have a Caesarian, as a friend of mine had had the same thing happen and they gave her a C-section. I remember at the time really hoping they were going to say this was essential – I was in quite a lot of pain! But the doctor wasn’t too worried.
At this point I was still in the antenatal ward with three other women as they didn’t have any delivery rooms free. The midwife kept telling me that they were just getting one sorted. I felt embarrassed being on the ward as I was making quite a lot of noise and that was adding to the stress. I also started feeling like I needed to push with each contraction. The midwife examined me and said ‘ooh you’re 7cm dilated – let’s see about speeding up that delivery room!’ She was amazed I’d got to 7cm already as my contractions were only about 7-10 minutes apart.
I had to walk to the delivery room, which was agony, but probably good for keeping the baby’s head against the cervix.
From here, it’s a bit blurry in my memory (probably an effect of the pethadine) but I know I started off on my knees on the bed, leaning over the back of the bed, but I kept falling asleep between contractions. I very quickly got to 10cm and the midwife was trying to get me to push, but I really couldn’t. In the end she got me on my back, sort of sitting up with my legs up on stirrups. She was concerned that my contractions were still so far apart – rarely more than one in 10 minutes. A doctor came in and assisted with the rest of the birth, although I found her far less helpful than the midwife as she kept saying things that stressed me out, like muttering about how dangerous the baby’s heart rate was getting and worrying that mine was getting too high during a contraction. The midwife told her that that was obviously because I was working hard and pushing!
They decided to put me on the oxytocin drip just after 4pm as the contractions were slowing down and the baby was going back up after each one. They needed to make them closer together to give me a chance to push him out. Then the doctor started muttering about forceps and other interventions and there’s nothing quite like that to make you learn to push effectively!!
The last bit was painful. But the midwife was amazing – as was Mark. In between contractions she started getting everything ready for the baby and told Mark to go and get him some clothes ready. She asked about the placenta and other details that made it seem like it was imminent. The last few pushes were excruciating – I wasn’t allowed any more gas and air as I ended I focus on pushing properly. It seemed like forever from when she said she could see the head to when she said the head was out. I was surprised that once the head was out, I still had to have two more contractions to push the rest of him out, but the feeling when he was out was indescribable. It was like a switch had been turned off on the pain and it was just utter relief. It was 5.18pm.
She plonked him straight on my chest and Mark said he wished he had a photo of my face in those split seconds – I looked at the baby as if thinking ‘what the fuck is that?!’…obviously then motherly instinct kicked in and I thought he was beautiful of course!!
I had the injection to deliver the placenta and then needed stitches for a 2nd degree tear, but I remember very little about any of that – it certainly didn’t hurt.
What was bizarre is how every scrap of dignity you had goes out of the window in labour. I spent the last few hours just wearing a top and nothing else and thought nothing of it at all. Even legs up in stirrups and being stitched was fine.
It was not the labour I’d hoped for, but I’m not sure that it’s possible with induction – it was a bit traumatic at times but could have been a lot worse. I certainly don’t want to do it again any time soon. People say you forget it instantly…that’s not true. But I have something amazing out of it and so every second was worthwhile.
The first night was tricky. More on that soon.