Todays birth story comes from Nikki who blogs all about life with her daughter over at quietcontentment.wordpress.com. Here she shares how her induction and medical intervention led to her dream water birth going out of the window.
”So where should I start? Perhaps at my 34 week appointment, where the Birth Centre agreed to take me as long as I kept trying to increase my iron levels. Iron levels had been a problem since the start of my pregnancy. I’d already resumed eating meat after a few years as a vegetarian, and at this point I started taking liquid supplements too. I hadn’t really enjoyed being pregnant, and arranging to give birth at a Midwife-Led Unit seemed like it would be a lovely end to it. We had a tour and we fell in love with it – especially the fact my husband could stay overnight with us in a comfy double bed. I hoped to have a water birth with as little intervention as possible – gas and air, with lots of moving around. This was encouraged by the midwives who ran the centre. Assuming the pregnancy was straightforward, the only definite thing that see you transferred from the MLU to the labour ward was induction.
The beginning of the induction was pretty straight forward. We went in for 8am, dragging all our bags with us. We’d been told to come in as if I was in labour, and led to believe we wouldn’t be leaving until we had a baby to go home with. I was put on the monitor for half an hour to get a base line, then after a quick internal, I had the pessary inserted (why do those things have so many sharp edges?!) and was left on the monitor for another half hour. The midwife came over and admonished me for not eating enough for breakfast and came back with biscuits for me to eat, before running over potential side effects with us. Then, to our surprise, they told us to go home and wait things out, returning when I got to the mythical 3 in 10 or at 6pm that evening, whichever came first. I was told we could hang about the hospital if we wanted, but that going home to bed would probably make more sense, so that’s what we did. We left with more biscuits and the elastic straps used for monitoring (they told us to hang on to them!).
I was knackered and decided to have a nap when we got home. I could already feel things twinging a bit, but there didn’t seem to be any real beginning or end to the contractions and they weren’t even hurting enough for me to class as contractions. I had something to eat, and then tried to nap some more, before realising that these were starting to feel more like the waves of contractions I was expecting, but that there was very little let down. I could still speak through them and they were painful, but nothing as bad as I had expected. At about 4pm I rang the hospital for advice and was told to come straight back in as it sounded like I had reacted badly to the Propess and was hyper-stimulating. They had warned us this might happen – it’s when you experience continual contractions that aren’t anywhere near the intensity needed to push the baby out.
When we got there, I was whisked off to an exam room, where I produced the elastic straps for the monitor, and was hooked up again. I was then given an internal which led to furrowed brows and a more senior midwife repeating it. I didn’t hear what was said, but my husband did – my cervix was now opening, but they thought they could feel the baby’s nose through it. I was sent up to the labour ward, where I was put back on the monitor. After a while the door opened and the consultant obstetrician and several other doctors came in with a portable monitor. I was told they suspected face presentation, in which case I would need an immediate c-section, but not to worry as face presentations were ‘as rare as hen’s teeth’. The scan showed it was not a nose, and indeed they couldn’t see anything. They guessed it might have been an ear, and all bustled out again leaving me on the monitor. I spent the rest of the evening hooked up, with the contractions getting more and more defined, and more painful. At about 11pm I was transferred down to the ward and my husband was sent home.
I managed fitful sleep for a few hours until about 4am when I woke needing the loo. I sat up and suddenly realised I didn’t need the loo – my waters went in a fairly big rush. I called the midwife who got me a clean gown and changed the bed then removed the Propess. Those sharp edges hurt more coming out then going in. Much more. My waters breaking led to a real ramping up of the contractions, and they became pretty unbearable, pretty fast. I asked for pain relief and was given some gas and air about half seven, but before that I was contracting alone, with no pain relief in a darkened ward, trying not to wake the other women up. This was probably the worst bit of my labour – I was scared, and alone, and desperately wanted some support.
Once I was allowed some gas and air it got a bit easier. I didn’t find it helped the pain, but the wooziness allowed me to concentrate on something else. About 9am I was moved up to the labour ward, and I started asking for an epidural. I was so tired and in so much pain, and I didn’t think I would be able to carry on for much longer. I was told that before I could have one, I needed to lie on the bed, on my back for 15 minutes for monitoring. I refused point blank to do this, knowing that that was the position my contractions were the worst in. They finally agreed to let me stand, leaning over the bed for monitoring, and called the anaesthetist. James was allowed in just as they were prepping me for the epidural, and him and the assistant anaesthetist held me still whilst it was sited. I felt awful for being so stroppy over it, but the idea of lying down for 15 minutes was utterly terrifying.
The relief was almost instantaneous. I was able to nap a bit and get some rest, which was sorely needed. Unfortunately, the epidural also slowed my contractions right down, so at midday I went on to the Syntocin drip. The afternoon passed in a haze of napping, eating Percy Pigs, topping up the epidural and a gradual ramping up of the drip. The contractions were coming regularly but weren’t increasing in intensity. A couple of internals were done, and I didn’t seem to be dilating much. Baby was doing fine but I was getting tired, and it was decided that we’d give it until 6pm, then a decision would be made as to next steps.
The whole time this was going on we were listening to the heart monitor, which was reassuring, but if I moved around too much it slipped and we had to get someone to come back and re-site it, which was stressful – especially because the monitoring bands itched an unholy amount! Every 90 minutes to 2 hours the epidural was topped up just to keep the pain managed, but other than that there was nothing much anyone did.
At 4pm we got a new midwife. She did a quick internal showing I had dilated a bit more, but still not enough. She checked the Syntocin drip and suggested that the valve on it might have been set incorrectly, which would explain why the increasing doses weren’t causing more contractions, but no-one ever confirmed whether this had been the case. We chatted and she did some paperwork, and before long, the deadline of 6pm had arrived. The epidural was topped up in preparation for the internal, and I don’t think anyone was more surprised than her to find out I had finally got to full dilation! For reasons I don’t fully understand, she said we would give it an hour then start pushing. The epidural was tapered slightly to allow me a bit more feeling, and then we started. We kind of thought that the pushing bit would be fairly quick, so I was surprised when she said they’d review the situation after I’d been pushing for two hours. I was thinking I’d be holding my baby by 8pm at the latest!
We tried many different positions, using a stool, using the bed, squatting, lying down, on all fours…but nothing was happening. At 8pm we got another new midwife. She was pretty brusque, and seem determined to get the baby out, but it wasn’t happening. At 9pm a doctor was called in, and it was decided that I was going to need some help, but the monitoring was showing that despite her being pretty much wedged in the birth canal, she was doing fine, with the steadiest heart rate we could ask for. Because of this, they prioritised another mum whose baby was in a little distress, and promised to be back as soon as they could. The midwife decided that we were going to get this baby out in the meantime, and I tried my hardest, but by this point I was getting exhausted and was tearful, convinced I couldn’t do it. During this time, an incubator was brought in, and at half nine, the doors opened and quickly the room filled with people. It all started to get very hectic and I was put in to position on the bed, legs up in stirrups, and they explained they were going to use ventouse to get the baby out, along with an epistiostomy. The epidural was topped up, and there was a lot of pulling and prodding. I could feel the cup being attached, and then the monitors were watched, waiting for my next contraction.
I don’t remember how many pushes it took. I do remember being shocked at the violence of it. NCT classes had led me to believe it was a gentle procedure, using the suction to help the baby out. My husband described it as basically a tug of war. Suddenly I felt her come out and saw her briefly as the cord was cut. I didn’t hear her cry, and couldn’t see her, and I was so worried something was wrong. James could see her moving and knew she was okay, but in the commotion neither of us could communicate to each other, and it seemed like an age before she made a noise. Then she was brought over to me, this squinty little baby, frowning at everyone and all I could think was how perfect she looked.
The next few hours are blurry. Emmy was born at 9.45pm and I know I was stitched up, that we spoke to our parents, that I got the fabled tea and toast, that I cuddled her. Apparently I fed her, but I don’t remember this. The next thing I remember is about 2am, the midwife asking if I wanted a shower. She gave James the baby, then left so that I could go shower. I got up and went in to the bathroom, and promptly fell over. James called a midwife, who came in, hit the alarm, and once again the room filled up. I was helped in to a wheelchair, whilst my bed was remade, and I was put in a fresh gown, and out back to bed with more tea and toast, and told to get some sleep. Me passing out was out down to a combination of exhaustion, blood loss, and little food and sleep for 48 hours. James spent a couple of hours cuddling our baby girl whilst I slept. When I woke up, they said I’d soon be moved down to the ward so he was sent home. I changed her for the first time on the ward and, in the morning she was given a BCG injection (which is normal for West London). James came back in around midday and we left the hospital about 18 hours after her birth. She didn’t have much swelling from the ventouse cup, but there was a huge open sore and a big bruise from it, which looked so painful for her.