So I was overdue, I had been pregnant for 120 years, this is a fact, people, family, strangers, dogs and such like rejoiced in telling me that I needed to hurry up and have this baby as I had been pregnant FOREVER!
My blood pressure had been creeping up in the week previous to my due date. The midwife decided to send me down to ante natal day care to get me checked out; she waffled that they would monitor my blood pressure and said they would probably take some blood. She advised to take something to read as I may be there a while, but in my head all I could hear was her saying “whwhwheekfebmdc,dnvmlsosuttb” as I had now decided that I would become my usual over emotional, over-reacting self and go into panic mode that this really could be happening…TONIGHT!
I took several deep breaths; I knew that on ringing the o.h at work, this would result in me not being able to get my words out whilst crying like a hysterical banshee. I sat on the toilet, I calmed myself down, I dialled his number, he answered, my voice suddenly descended into high pitched madness (like a boy who’s balls were dropping) and mumbled that my blood pressure was up and he needed to come home. I KNEW I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t even relay a simple message; how the HELL would I cope giving birth?
So off we toddled. Tears were stinging my eyes as we made our way there, o.h hugged me tight, reassuring me that we were ready to have this baby (were we?) and that we had spent a long time preparing for his arrival (o.k. we had his moses basket, clothes and bottles, but were we prepared…..really prepared?) I sure didn’t feel it. As suggested, they monitored my blood pressure over a couple of hours, I popped a pill, my blood pressure decreased, and they sent me home. HOWEVER, not before giving me a date for induction, should I not have laboured by then. Of COURSE I would have laboured before then, my waters would break in the night as I had imagined all along, I would ring the hospital and advise them that I would be coming in at some point. I would be calm and serene and I would get a bath, I would wallow in said bath, preening my pregnant skin knowing I would be a mummy in a matter of hours and o.h would feed me grapes (o.k. I added that bit on for effect, but it would have been nice). Sadly, it didn’t happen how I’d hoped and imagined it……
Due date came and went. I concentrated hard for any signs that COULD be labour starting, and Google was my friend. I just blinked 5 times in 30 seconds, is this a sign? My heart just started beating faster than normal, is this a sign? My leg is twitching, is this a sign? Honestly…..it became quite ridiculous, but I just couldn’t help myself, and I wasn’t alone, there was a whole forum of us offering each other a diagnosis, in the ‘real’ world, we’d have been committed!
The midwife was scheduled to come and see me at home on the Monday morning. She had advised me that she would check my blood pressure again and she also offered me a sweep. From then on, it was all I could think about. I checked with anyone who’d listen whether their sweep had worked, how long it took and of course I Googled again. I convinced myself that Monday was definitely my day, the sweep would kick start me into Labour and I would finally get to meet my little guy who was by the way, already giving me the run around!
Sweep day Monday arrived and I was so excited, but also racked with nerves. The midwife checked my blood pressure, it was high again. She asked if I wanted the sweep, I was undressed and laid out on the bed quicker than I would have been if David Beckham had just offered me a good time (okay maybe not that quick) but it was quick! She pulled out the elusive gloves and stretched them like in the horror movies, oh jeez, she was going to touch my intestines she was going that deep, wasn’t she? I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, I was sure she wasn’t just touching my intestines, she was tying them in knots like she was a clown making a poodle out of those balloons that you twist. She was shaking her head and saying sorry, I was squirming like a fish, “Nope” she said, “your cervix is too far back, I can’t reach it” and with that, I deflated, I tried not to cry. As my blood pressure was still high, she said she would send another midwife the next morning and that if it was still the same, she would refer me back to hospital. She left, I cried, I felt like a failure, a fed up failure. I trundled off to my mums, had a cup of tea and cried again. I wanted this baby out now, not only did I want to meet him, I was fed up being 50 stone and not being able to see my feet. I began to feel like it was never going to happen.
The second midwife arrived the next day, she checked my blood pressure, it was, surprise surprise high again, she was straight on the phone and packed me off to the hospital day unit again. As I had been there before, I assumed it would be the same drill, I’d arrive, they’d check me over, I’d pop a pill, it would reduce, I would go home and cry again that I would have to wait till induction day, an eternity, to be induced.
We arrived, I lay on the bed and o.h took residence in the chair next to me. A lovely young midwife came over to explain she would be looking after me and that I would also be having blood taken this time. She made small talk with my o.h, she recognised him, but he just nodded and smiled as he didn’t have the foggiest who she was. This always happens, we could be in Morocco and he would bump into someone who he knew or knew him, very annoying! (I’m only jealous because I’m not THAT popular!) She explained that it would all depend on the blood results as to what would happen next, if there was any indication of a problem, then we may be making our way to get this baby out sooner rather than later. We both just nodded but gave each other the ‘we know we’ll be going home look’ and so, we waited.
After a couple of hours, a doctor appeared, she was Polish, I don’t know this for a fact, but I had decided she was. She introduced herself and went on to say “Ve have yar blaaads back and ve are norrt haaappy wiv 2 of tham, zay saagest zaaat yar kidneys and liver are norrt faanctioning as zay should be” (Did you get that?) I really wasn’t listening in the slightest, because in my mind she said that we could go home and wait for 100 more years. When I realised that actually we weren’t going home and the baby really did need to come out because all wasn’t well, I could feel the tears welling in my eyes as realisation was setting in, that actually, after all my moaning and groaning, the hard work hadn’t even started yet and the baby WAS on it’s way!
We arrived home to pick up the bags that had been packed for weeks, once again the o.h consoled me, I couldn’t believe that I had been crying the day before when the sweep didn’t work and that the baby wasn’t coming to now crying because he was on his way! I’d never taken anything for granted all the way throughout my pregnancy and I had been lucky that I’d had a relatively stress free time, no scares, no trips to the doctor, until right at the end. I had however, not even entertained the fact that I may have to be induced, so now it was happening, I had no time to Google inductions, I just had to face up to it and get on with it, this baby was coming, one way or another, hopefully not another!
As we checked into the induction ward at the hospital, I realised that we wouldn’t be leaving here without our baby, our son, our perfection. A midwife led us to where we would be staying for the foreseeable future, we passed numerous rooms, where as we walked past, I could see women lay on their beds, their perfect bundles by their side, my insides twinged that this would soon be me, I felt sick with excitement and nerves. The room we were in was labelled ‘Induction Room 1’, it was very formal, it was cold inside, the windows were wide open, and thankfully my bed wasn’t next to the window. I perched on the bed and scanned the room. There were 4 beds, I was the only one in the room at the time, I hoped it would stay quiet, I think I was optimistic about everything at this point.
Before long, all the beds were taken up in my room. There was a girl next door to me, she looked around my age, maybe slightly older, and she liked the sound of her own voice. Right opposite me was an African looking lady, she was dressed in a bright carnival type robe and pulling a rather large pink suitcase, I laughed to myself; I thought I was bad with my 2 bags! In the far corner, a youngish looking couple came in, she looked quite relaxed, he made himself quite comfortable, already rigging up the television. This would be a long night!
The midwife came, she explained that I would be given a gel called prostaglandin to try and kick start labour. She told me that this could be given up to three times if it hadn’t worked, but by the third time, the doctor would have to give the gel as this was the procedure. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t get to three times; I was convinced that by morning, it would all be over. How wrong I was.
The gel was inserted at 6 o’clock in the evening, they cannot check for dilation for 6 hours so this would mean that the next check would be midnight, which also meant no sleep and that the o.h would be at home as they get kicked out at 9 o’clock. I was convinced that I would be in labour by then and that they would have to call the o.h half back emergency style so he would make it in time to see his Son being born. I clung to this thought as I waited for any signs of labour. The o.h went home, the lights were dimmed and I listened to muffled conversations of the girl next door. The African woman went straight to sleep, she was snoring in no time at all, it’s like she was on holiday! I lay for a while, and then I got up and took some pictures of my bump on my phone. I felt strange and saddened that this would be the last time I would see my bump as I knew it, even stranger that I would see my pubic hair feet again! I plonked on the birthing ball, I lunged back and forth, it did nothing, it just hurt my back! Midnight arrived, I reluctantly opened my legs for another round of prostaglandin gel, if I couldn’t hack this, then how would I handle child birth, I shuddered at the thought. By 2am I was getting some pains, was this it? I kept moving around, I went to the toilet, writhed on the bed a while, went back to the toilet, I just wanted the o.h to arrive, hurry up 9am! By 6am I was getting real pains, I was so hot and I suddenly felt sick. I opened the draw and grabbed a plastic bag I’d brought with me, luckily it just contained rubbish, I threw up. I knew that they could all hear me, I felt rotten, and I felt like I’d done 10 rounds with Tyson on a beach in the Dominican. I pressed the buzzer for a midwife to get me some of those cardboard sick things that look like bowler hats. A midwife didn’t arrive, another woman did, I think she was one of the Nursery Nurses. I said I’d been sick, she went and got me a bowl, passed it to me and walked off. No, “Are you ok?” “Would you like me to get you a midwife?” just walked off, tremendous!
A midwife came to check me again. I was in so much pain, I KNEW I was in established labour; I must be at LEAST 7cm! She looked sympathetically at me, “You are STILL 1cm”. She was kidding right? I waited for her to laugh and tell me, it was just a bad joke, of course I wasn’t still 1cm, not in this much pain. Of course, I was still only 1cm, I was also being sick and I’d had no sleep, brilliant! The doctor arrived to discuss with me whether I would need the third lot of prostaglandin gel or whether I had done enough on my own. As I was still only 1cm dilated, she decided that it would be best to give me the third lot. Before she administered my third lot of hell, she realised I had been sick and this hadn’t been recorded in my notes. So my temperature was too high, my blood pressure was up, I was being sick and I was in a lot of pain. This day could only get better, surely.
O.H arrived at 9am to find me in pain and looking like death. He was armed with the morning papers, snacks and his Nintendo DS. What did he think this was? A busman’s holiday? The third lot of prostaglandin had been given to me and I felt like this baby really did not want to make an appearance any time soon. Up to now, I had just had paracetamol and codeine. I wanted drugs, hard drugs. MIL phoned O.H to see if I was up to visitors, of course I was, why not invite the whole of Manchester to come and view the circus freak show! I was hardly sociable, I couldn’t lie still, I wanted to karate chop everyone’s head off and to top it all the girl next door to me had suddenly changed into wonder woman! The thing about these wards is, you can hear everything that’s going on in the next bay, hence the sheer annoying wonder woman next door. The midwife came to check how far along she was. Prior to this, she was happily bouncing on her birthing ball like she was in a space hopper race, mid chat with her sister and some other annoying creature. She said to the midwife in a pitiful voice “I’ll be happy if I’m 2cm” There was a slight delay; the next I heard was the midwife saying “You’re 5cm” Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? How could this be, obviously she was elated. Listen, I’m not mad at the girl for being happy she was 5cm, I was mad because she clearly knew we could all hear her as she wallowed in being 5cm and being Mr T like, “I aint feel no paaaaaaaain” I wanted to piss on her head right there and then. She immediately rang her Mother, she happily wailed that she couldn’t believe she was 5cm with no pain relief, and she remembered being 5cm last time and feeling the same. I at this point was sucking on gas and air, sticking two fingers up to the curtain and mouthing “fuck off, just fuck off” between sucks. O.H was amused, but told me to just ignore her. Hmmm yeah ok, I’ll just ignore this 5cm no pain relief town crier in the next bed! Terrific!
Eventually, I made it to 3cm dilated and I could be moved down to delivery. I waddled to delivery clutching my new best friend, gas and air. The room was quite large, the bed was in the middle of the room, I felt very exposed and nervous. I eyed the room up; I was shifting nervously on the bed in between contractions. A new midwife came to see me, she offered me anti sickness tablets, not before I was throwing up again. I felt like this was never going to end. I was moved to another room, this one felt more personal and I felt more at ease. I knew that I wouldn’t be leaving this room without my little boy, I just wanted him to arrive safely, I was dying to see him!
The midwife explained that she would be breaking my waters for me, I was absolutely dreading this, I was expecting a tsunami type wave to come gushing out of me. It was actually quite the opposite, she was very gentle, and when she did break them, I could feel the warm trickle, I was just glad that we were on our way. I was still in so much pain, even with the gas and air. I was very tired and I knew that I would need help to get through this. Some people are ashamed to admit that they had an epidural or even plan on having an epidural, why? It’s not a contest to see who can get through labour with the least drugs in the shortest time; you’d think it was though. If you’re one of those people who just tipped up at hospital feeling fine and dandy and popped out your offspring in 2.4 seconds Lewis Hamilton style, I’m happy for you, no, I really am. HOWEVER, I don’t want it flaunting in my face. I gave birth, I struggled, it was awful, the most painful and terrifying experience of my life, but we still came out with the same outcome, our children. It doesn’t matter how we got them here, we just did.
So, the epidural guy came in and explained that basically I could either be paralysed or at worst die if I chose to have one. As the pain ripped through my body, I just nodded and muttered “yep yep yep” all the way through. It was like being at school and making eye contact with your teacher, nodding and smiling as if you’re fully engaged in what they’re saying, but really, you’re thinking about which boy you want to snog most in your year, well that’s how it felt, except I was thinking about when this would all be over! Before I knew it, I had a 12 foot needle pressed in my back and I zoned out to another planet. It’s not as bad as it looks on television, for me, it was WELL worth it, it started to kick in within about 5-10mins and I could feel the relief straight away. As the pain tearing through me subsided, I actually thought I might enjoy this whole birth thing. I was shattered, I’d had no sleep, the pain had been constant and I just wanted my baby in my arms. I was told by the midwife to get some rest, that she would keep coming to check on me and that within a few hours, I should be holding my boy. It couldn’t be that simple though….could it?
Of course it couldn’t be that simple. I still had some pain on my right side, I was still squirming around even though my left side felt fairly pain free. I mentioned this and whether it was normal and got told that an epidural doesn’t take pain away from everywhere. I thought it was just me and i carried on as I was. I wasn’t getting any rest at all, what was the midwife talking about getting some sleep? I couldn’t sleep when I was still in agony, but as I’d had the epidural and I still had gas and air on hand, I just felt I should shut up and get on with it. I don’t know why, but I placed my hand on my left leg, it felt huge, it felt numb. I placed my hand on my right leg, it felt normal, no numbness at all, that’s when I realised that actually, no wonder I was in extreme pain on that side, the epidural either hadn’t reached it or I hadn’t been given enough dosage and it had worn off quickly. As if by magic, epidural guy appeared back in the room. To me, he was standing at the foot of my bed with a golden glow and wings. In reality, he just came back as he’d left his coat. I grabbed the opportunity to tell him that my legs felt differently. He just nodded and said, “I’ll get her to up the dose”, and off he went.
The midwife reappeared and straight away she changed the dose that I was originally given. Almost immediately I felt at ease. I couldn’t believe that I had sat there for over 2 hours after having the epidural still in pain because I didn’t believe that it could happen, it can and it does. You know your own body don’t you. I was exhausted; my body didn’t feel like my own anymore, it just felt like I had been in labour for a week, just awful.
Once the contractions had settled, I was able to chat with the o.h about our impending arrival, we were excited to meet him but I was growing more and more physically and mentally tired. The midwife arrived to check how far I was, we placed bets that I was about 7cm dilated. I almost kissed her when I heard the words “You’re 10cm!” The three of us congratulated ourselves; it couldn’t be that much longer now! A doctor arrived; she explained she was going to check on baby. She picked up my heavy legs and placed them in those awful stirrup type things that throw all your inhibitions out of the window, regardless of whether you want them to or not. The doctor frowned and muttered a few “hmmmmmms”. She said she could see the top of his head and that he had really fair hair. This was my first glimpse, even though I couldn’t see him, I could imagine him, I felt emotional, very emotional. Next she told us that she would need to take some blood from baby’s head. Myself and the o.h just looked at each other; we both knew what the other was thinking without having to say anything. We were worried, we knew that even now, after the pain had calmed down that it wouldn’t be a simple case of giving birth to our baby. She took the blood, as I lay looking at the ceiling, I was trying to concentrate on the silver lighting but my heart was beating out of my chest and my nerves in tatters. She explained she would be back in half an hour and she may need to take more blood; I just prayed that everything would be okay. True to her word, half an hour passed by and she was back. She took another look at me and said she was going to help me get the baby out. I knew what this meant, it was going to be what I dreaded, he would be helped out with the use of tools. What if it hurt him? What if his head became deformed? I wanted to cry but as cheesy as it sounds, I knew I had to be strong. He was coming out one way or another, nope, one way, and I had to make sure I listened to what they told me and followed all instructions. The midwife hurriedly started to prep me for giving birth; she explained that there would be other people in the room such as a paediatrician as this was normal procedure. She could have screened me Truman Show style to the world for all I cared; I just wanted my Son out, now.
Before I knew it, the doctor was holding the ventouse machine, I felt like I was in Doctor Who or something. I was told to breathe in on the gas and air and hold that breath while pushing into my bum. I had seen this on TV so many times, I could do this. We did this in bursts of three then had a little rest. I honestly expected to be there for hours the way things went, but in 9 pushes exactly, he arrived. I felt his head pop out, they all at once said “don’t push now just pant” I knew that in 1 more push, my boy would be delivered. When I could push again, I pushed my chin into my chest, the o.h was right by my side saying how well I was doing, I pushed with any shred of energy I had left and I felt him slide out. We both gasped, I think partly in thankfulness and relief that it was finally over and partly with the rush of seeing our baby. They placed him straight onto me but I couldn’t see him properly, my vision was blurry and I couldn’t even lift my arms to hold him. I was beat, I thought it was probably normal to feel like this but I was disorientated, worryingly so. They took him off me to clean him up and check his airways. I felt sick again, I remember a midwife rushing towards me with a bowl; I threw up green and black bile. I don’t actually remember this next bit, but as told by the o.h, they apparently sat me up quite quickly to remove the epidural. As they did, I suddenly went into a spasm and I passed out. I apparently threw myself back on the bed, made some worrying noises and then went out cold. The machines starting bleeping casualty style, someone must have pressed a buzzer because a whole team of people rushed in to bring me back round. I lost about 2 litres of blood. My o.h said that it was like a scene from the movie Saw; he said it went everywhere, all over the floor and some of it had even splattered onto him, how grim! A midwife shoved our newborn to my o.h who was in so much shock at seeing me as what he thought at the time dying and holding his minutes old Son in his arms with not a clue what he should be doing. I came round with an oxygen mask over my face and epidural guy and a midwife stood over me asking if I was ok. I just blinked and blinked, I couldn’t muster any energy to even talk. I wanted to, I so desperately wanted to hold my Son but I was too out of it. A midwife tried to place him on me again, I remember her saying “Do you feel well enough to hold him?” I just threw my head back and shook it from side to side, I couldn’t even look at him, I felt like a failure. I felt like I was watching a scene through someone else’s eyes, I was there in body but I couldn’t speak or move. I could see my o.h rocking our son, I knew he must be safe and well but all I could do was lay there exhausted, this wasn’t how it was meant to be. What if I didn’t bond with my son? What if he rejected me?
The next hours passed in a blur. The doctor spent what seemed like forever stitching me up and prodding and poking me. I remember feeling that she had been there for such a long time, but I guess now that the minutes felt like hours at the time. The midwife asked if I would like the baby to be given the vitamin K injection, I just nodded and lolled my head again.
I gave birth to Jacob Lawrence on 15-04-2011 at 2:11am. He weighed 6lb 15oz. He is just perfect. My o.h told me a few days later that as he held him within minutes of him being born, he held him up to the sky to show his Father who sadly lost his life to cancer in 2007. Tears welled in my eyes, he is such a proud Daddy and Jacob’s Granddad would have been so proud of his Son and Grandson.
I may have had a traumatic end to my pregnancy, but throughout the pregnancy I’d had no problems other than blood pressure worries at the end. We are all individual, each birth experience is different and there really is no room for planning, it will happen how it happens. Some of us will breeze through, some won’t, but is it all worth it in the end?