This is my very honest account of Dorothea’s birth story.
My induction of labour was planned for the Friday of my due date; this was due to being classed a ‘high risk’ pregnancy due to many issues ( IVF pregnancy, family history of maternal hypertension, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis). Although realistically I was a ‘fit and healthy’ but slightly older Mum to be.
The first Induction pessary was given at 11.30 on the Friday and at this point I was 1cm dilated with a soft cervix!
There wasn’t much movement during the day; lots of walking the corridors, visiting the coffee shop and colouring in books. I must say I didn’t realise how bloody boring induction could be! I really expected things to happen more quickly. There were several other women in the hospital bay with me and in the same boat; which helped.
Some mild practise contractions started in the evening; like mild tummy cramps that gripped the whole of my lower abdomen. Luckily I made a friend, ‘Katie’, in the next bed – who was on her fourth baby – being induced due to lower water levels; it was nice to share a chat and bounce on gym balls together. Katie was a great help reassuring me when my contractions started shortly afterwards.( Katie still hadn’t given birth when I left hospital 4 days later! Poor thing)
A lady in a nearby room was having a very very noisy labour (think stereotypical screaming!)so sleep was a stranger; and anxiety was increasing.
At midnight contractions started coming thick and fast (well I thought so at the time!), every two minutes lasting for a minute each, meaning very little break. The ‘kind’ midwife suggested some pain relief- I had some paracetamol and codeine for this which helped slightly (it was still fecking painful).
I never managed to relax, or be pain free enough to sleep at all; at 4am the contraction pain was really ramping up. The midwife offered more pain relief and suggested a warm bath. Yes a warm bath!!! (For fucks sake)
So I followed her advise and reclined in the hospital bath with a nice smelly bath bomb – THIS DID NOT HELP – I remember lying in the bath moaning and groaning, saying “oh my god, oh my god” and “ouch this hurts” over and over- yes I was that woman! I felt like I’d lost the bloody plot- felt like an animal wailing and groaning with every gripping pain. Fair dos do the ladies who do it sans analgesia- I really have no clue how that’s even survivable.
At 5am the contractions were very painful – I mean VERY painful – I couldn’t control my loud moans and the pain relief was doing nothing! The midwife examined me and broke my waters (at 3cm dilated)- honestly it was the weirdest feeling in the world- but the contractions felt less ‘pressured’ afterwards. She then moved me to a delivery room where I started using gas and air. Worringly the waters were slightly bloodied.
My partner was called in when I was settled in the delivery room – I think he was shocked that I went from calm, cheerful and happy at 23.30 to a deranged crazy shouty woman by 06.30! (Although this was maybe exacerbated by him saying she was ‘just’ going to get a shower, and grab a coffee first!)
At 8am contractions were very intense; they examined me again and found I was only 3-4cm- I felt like I’d gone through so much pain to get nowhere! It was at this point I requested an epidural (something I was quite determined not to have during pregnancy – for no other reason than fear!) this was the best decision I’d made!
I then had a nice relaxed morning/ afternoon and managed some naps- my partner and mum were present- mainly watching rugby and feeding me mints (I wasn’t allowed to eat- but was very hungry).
I was still regularly getting strong contractions two mins apart still (only felt as mild tightenings due to epidural). My cervix was showing little progression so I was started in a syntocin drip to speed up labour.
Unfortunately, Little Miss had decelerations of heart rate (to 80-100bpm) when I was sitting/ lying on bottom/back – so whole of labour I had to be on my sides – this was very uncomfortable and gave me hip pain (something I suffer with anyway due to rheumatoid arthritis).
In the evening I started to show signs of sepsis – a high temperature, heart rate and breathing rate, although I felt okay; I was started on antibiotics and told I would have to stay in hospital for at least 24 hours. I was really disappointed by this as wanted to get home with my baby ASAP.
I reached fully dilated at about 10pm and by this point Dorothea was having increased heart rate decelerations so was told to be prepared for a c-section! They decided to give an hour for the head to descend and at 11pm request I started pushing in the hope of delivering vaginally.
The joy of the epidural I had was that it was a ‘mobile epidural’ so was actually able to move onto all fours etc to push which really helped – it was due to this I was able to have the birth I wanted.
I was told I was doing really well pushing, but Little Miss dropped her heart rate to 85, so the drs were called in to assist (by called in I mean an emergency bell was sounded and my room suddenly filled with a whole team of people) I was told we had 3-4 contractions to move her or would have to have a c-section – I was super determined not to go to theatre!
We managed to get her out with the Drs assistance with a kiwi (suction cup device) and an episiotomy (also tore a little). I must say the pushing and actual birth was nowhere near as bad as I’d imagined – although the epidural must have helped loads! The pushing part went so quickly and afterwards I couldn’t believe it was 65 minutes.
During the end stage of labour I was told that I would be unlikely to be able to hold the baby as due to decelerations she was going to be tired and would be whisked away! Fortunately this didn’t happen- she came out screaming and was put on me immediately.
It took about 35 minutes to stitch me up, but to be honest, at this point I was breast feeding my daughter so really didn’t care.
My partner got to cut the cord (we had delayed cord clamping) and we both had skin to skin for the first hour. She fed within a couple of minutes; I was shocked at how simply she latched on.
My estimated blood loss was 600mls, but my partner said it looked like a horrifically gory horror movie – I guess we women don’t see the worst of it.
I was told afterwards that her cord gas showed her oxygen levels were really dropping and that we’d got her out just in time. Also my placenta was quite ‘gritty’ according to the midwife. I was so relieved that I didn’t go too far overdue as this is a first sign of deterioration.
Top tip from me? Don’t be brave – take the epidural!
I would never have been able to push her out if it wasn’t for the rest the epidural allowed me to have in the afternoon.
Also, try not to worry; your body does so much naturally and you don’t remember the bad bits afterwards! ( I know everyone says that- but honestly; it was the most excruciatingly painful experience of my life- but I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again).