So remember my rant about drugs, pain relief and how women have been giving birth for centuries?
Well… perhaps I jinxed myself!
So… I should have known when they wanted to induce me into labour that the intervention was only just beginning.
It had been explained to me that as an “older mother” I should have baby by the due date. I was told that late in the pregnancy the placenta starts to struggle to supply all the necessaries to baby and being an older mum would only compound that… better that baby arrives in prime condition rather than going beyond the due date and losing condition because the placenta wasn’t delivering the goods. Made perfect sense to me… in theory.
So, on Thursday 7 January I toddled off to the hospital so they could get things up and running… we arrived late afternoon and it was about 10pm by the time they got me all monitored up and applied the gel… I felt a few twinges and settled in ready for baby to make it’s presence felt … not long now!! I was nervous but very excited!
I was in the area where all the arrivals were first investigated to see if they were really in labour (and then either shown to a delivery suite or sent away again). There were people coming and going constantly so between the nerves, excitement, twinges and disturbances it was well after 3 in the morning before I managed to get some broken sleep.
In the morning all the activity in my uterus had subsided… how disappointing! I was told more gel would be applied later in the morning but of course it didn’t happen until the afternoon, and we started again. By this stage I was starting to lose a bit of confidence in the hospital staff as they debated just when my due date was… WTF???!! But the twinges started again, the monitors recording all the contractions and this time around I asked for some sleeping pills to get some rest while all around other women were arriving in various stages of labour, many of them going on to have their babies.
When I woke on Saturday morning I didn’t need to look at the monitors to know that everything had ground to a halt again. When I got up to stretch my legs I discovered I’d been bleeding and so the midwives organised an internal exam which resulted with them breaking my waters…. Something was bound to happen now right?
I would walk.. or rather waddle… around the wards, down the stairs to the ground floor and out into the hospital grounds to try and get things moving… nothing seemed to work!
Finally in the early afternoon I was transferred to a delivery suite… some privacy … woohooo!! At 2pm they started the drip and the contractions intensified… but still weren’t happening fast enough for me to be officially in labour. The worst thing about this was that with all the monitors I was essentially confined to the bed… so much for all the yoga and dance and massage classes!! As often as I thought I could possibly get away with it I would ask to be unplugged so I could use the loo. I’d shuffle of into the toilet with my drip, lock the door behind me and sway and circle my way through the contractions for as long as I thought I could reasonably could. Oh the relief!! If I was really lucky there would be no-one there to hook me up to the monitors when I got out again so I could stay on my feet and move. The contractions got stronger and stronger but weren’t increasing in frequency so they tried to increase the drip dosage ever so slightly… oh cripes! Contraction after contraction with no rest in between, baby wasn’t getting any rest either so they would wind it back again and I’d be back to every few minutes.
The gas was hooked up at 6pm and I tried a few wee “sips” but didn’t find it particularly helpful until my midwife arrived and told me to use it every contraction, and to “keep breathing it in until you think you’re at the top of the contraction then take one more suck on it and ride back down the other side”….. yep, that helped! And still things weren’t progressing. Baby hadn’t moved any further down and I still wasn’t technically in labour.
Late in the evening I discussed with Tom the possibility of having an epidural. By this stage it looked like it was going to be another looong night. I was okay on the pain front, I felt as though I was handling it okay but it was exhausting me and was conscious that I needed to be okay for baby on the other side of the birth. We couldn’t get any indication from anyone how long things might yet take….I could be there for days at this rate!! By this point it had completely escaped me that my waters had been broken so there was a finite amount of time before more drastic intervention would happen.
At about 11pm my midwife told me that if I was considering an epidural I had make a decision fairly soon as there was a long line of emergency c-sections ready to roll and the anaesthetist would not be available again for quite a long time. We talked it over again briefly and by 11:20pm it was being administered. That certainly took the edge off and I even got a few naps!
I was getting really frustrated with the registrar who was happy to let me continue on as I was indefinitely despite it seeming as though they were not actually getting me into proper labour. It was a huge relief when the shift changed and after another internal I was told baby was posterior (and they only just noticed???!!) and wasn’t moving further down… Oh and my pelvis is rather shallow … maybe that’s why baby isn’t moving further!!?? Still at least we were getting some action. The epidural was starting to wear off so they got me pushing for about 45 minutes before re-examining and deciding that it wasn’t going to happen that way! They told me I could stop pushing… hell no! That is not something I could just turn off once I’d started so I had to keep going until they could top up the epidural. I would be going to surgery… baby would be coming out the sun-roof…
My midwife handed Tom some scrubs … “What are these for?” Sunshine you’re coming with me! Poor Tom, surgery had never really entered our sphere of possibilities and now after 3 nights and days of contractions we were going to theatre.
As we made our way to theatre we were almost jovial… baby’s arrival was finally almost a reality!!
Theatre was amazing… party time! Every one had different, brightly coloured headgear, 60’s and 70’s party music playing (I remember Suzie Q, Devil Gate Drive), not a single kiwi in the place (except myself!) and once they knew baby was a “surprise” they started laying bets on the gender. I half expected to be offered a glass of wine or chips and dip!!
They had asked Tom whether he wanted to watch and he blanched, I don’t blame him! So they told him they’d keep him informed and he could decide. So… off they went performing the operation… it’s hardly a gentle thing, despite the epidural I still knew I was being pulled and contorted… I felt like a sack of potatoes! Next thing they were telling Tom they could see the head and did he want to watch now… hesitantly he kinda started to stand… it was like he really didn’t want to but felt compelled to simply because they were telling him… anyway before he could get completely to his feet I felt an almighty heave… and a weird sucking sensation as if my lungs were being ripped out through my …. well … you know…. And the surgeon exclaimed “OH.MY.GOD!!!” following closely by everyone else in the room … Holy moly!!, sheesh!!, Crikey!! Tom leapt to his feet by now and was standing there with his chin hitting the floor. I was the only one there that had no idea what was going on!
“Tom! WHAT IS IT???!!!”
“A girl! We’ve got a girl!!”
“NO!! Why is everyone freaking out? WHAT IS IT?!”
“Oh babe … she’s enormous!!”
Phew!!! Is that all! At this point Tom was whisked off to watch her being weighed, cut the cord, get the first photos (or rather the nurses did – he was so shell-shocked).
Once all the formalities were over they brought her over… and she looked right at me…. I was smitten… our Terri was finally here!