After forty-two weeks and one day of being pregnant, a thirty-two-hour induction process and an emergency caesarean, on the 17th of September at
The induction process and ‘labour’ itself was difficult, to say the least. We arrived at the hospital at 8am on Monday, knowing that it was going to be a super long day. I hadn’t, as far as I was aware, had any symptoms of labour and I was expecting, even on arrival, for the gels to not be successful. After being talked through the whole induction process, initially assessed and monitored, the first lot of gel was administered, and after being monitored again, we were allowed to go for a little walk around the hospital grounds. We had to come back to the ward every hour for the baby’s heartbeat to be checked to ensure the gel wasn’t causing the baby to become distressed.
We went and got breakfast during the first hour, and baby’s heart rate was okay at that point. The second hour, we chose to stay in the ward and I watched some Netflix. When the midwife returned to check baby’s heart rate again, there was a slight concern as her heart rate would dip every so often – so I remained hooked up to the CTG machine for the next hour, and this whole process kept reoccurring. We’d have one lot of monitoring where baby’s heart rate would read okay, and then her heart rate would drop, and we’d remain hooked up for another hour.
At 4pm, I was reassessed. I was only half a centimetre dilated, they didn’t want to pop my waters, but it didn’t look as though baby would be making her arrival naturally any time soon, so a second lot of gel was administered. After a little while, I started to feel small pains in my back, which was super exciting, but they disappeared again pretty quickly. The midwife had explained to us in the morning that if the second lot of gel didn’t induce labour, I wouldn’t be able to give birth in the midwifery-led unit, and that I would have to go to the delivery suite. In many ways, not having much of a birth plan – other than not wanting a water birth, wanting skin-to-skin, and being okay with having students in the room – worked in my favour, as it meant that when the induction process wasn’t proving successful, I wasn’t surprised or disappointed. I was being told that I wasn’t allowed things that I wasn’t too fussed about having in the first place, meaning I was still pretty relaxed.
At around 7pm, we were moved off the ward and into our own side room and began to settle down for the night. After a shift change of nurses, we were told that the delivery suite was super busy and that I wouldn’t be heading down until they had a midwife to assign to me, which probably wouldn’t be until the morning. So, my mum made her plans to head home for the evening, we settled down watching telly and after what had been a crazy long day, we ordered a Maccies!
The midwife had explained at the beginning of the day that if at any point I noticed I was bleeding, to make a midwife aware – so when I began to bleed around 10pm, I buzzed through, a little worried. The midwife was lovely and reassured me that it was probably nothing, but I had to be monitored again to make sure that baby was still happy and healthy. Ten minutes after first being hooked up, the midwife returned – she told us that both mine and baby’s heartbeat wasn’t looking great, we were both tachycardic and that they weren’t too sure what it was, but something wasn’t looking right. One of the midwives down on the delivery suite had been monitoring both mine and the baby’s stats, and wanted us taken down sooner rather than later. Everything went from being really relaxed, to really rushed very quickly, and I think we were all a little shocked.
We headed down to the delivery suite and were all introduced to my midwife, Liz. I was reassessed, and although I hadn’t made any progress since I was assessed at 4pm, now that I had an assigned midwife, I could have my waters popped. They had wireless monitoring, unlike on the ward, which meant that I could have a little wander around, and once the sudden rush of babies being born was over, I was hooked up to the hormone drip.
The drip was incrementally increased every half an hour or so, and to begin with, things weren’t great but I could deal with it without any pain relief. I began getting contractions quite quickly – I was expecting for them to be every few minutes, lasting for maximum a minute to begin with as described in the antenatal class, but that wasn’t what happened. Instead, they came thick and fast – I would get two or four contractions all together, with no rest in between, and then get a minute or so break, which kept repeating itself. As the drip was increased, the length of my contractions grew and as they did, baby’s heart rate began to drop. After being on the drip for four or so hours, and having it increased multiple times, it was increased to the second-highest amount, and that was when things went downhill.
Thirty or so seconds after it was increased, I began to have a contraction that didn’t end. After fifteen minutes, my body hadn’t properly relaxed at all and I was in so much pain that I was bawling my eyes out, so I was taken off the drip. Baby’s heart rate had also dropped and wasn’t increasing to the levels it should. Although I wasn’t due to be examined for nearly three hours, I couldn’t deal with the pain and the pressure in my back that I was experiencing, and they agreed to examine me early, but prepped the room for delivery, which in itself was scary. They also made the decision to attach a clip internally to baby’s head to monitor her heart rate, to give a more accurate reading. I was assessed – and was so disappointed to only be three centimetres dilated and that baby had turned back to back, which explained why it was so painful.
At this point, I’d been in ‘labour’ for around eight hours, and we’d been in hospital itself for a whole day. I was tired and hungry, and just wanted her to be here already – and that’s when I opted for the epidural. Liz was more than happy, knowing it would give me a chance to rest and the decision was made that once I’d had the epidural, we’d restart the drip from the lowest dosage to see how baby would cope this time around. Liz said goodbye to us as her shift ended, and we were introduced to Marta in time for my epidural to be administered.
The epidural itself was incredible, and gave me the opportunity to sleep – I was so happy, I could’ve cried all over again. After an hour or so of sleep, with Kai kipping on the floor next to me, I was woken up by Marta. Throughout my whole labour, the machine wasn’t picking up my contractions which made it difficult to monitor both me and the baby. Instead, she sat with her hands on my stomach and scribbled on the graph when she felt uterus contract and was slightly concerned as it never fully relaxed. The epidural meant that while I was only feeling slight pains from the contractions, baby’s heart rate was still dropping and not recovering as it should. The time came around again for the drip to be increased to the second-highest amount, and almost as soon as it was, the pain returned, despite the epidural, and baby’s heart rate dropped. The decision was made by the doctor to reduce the dosage in the hormone drip to closely monitor baby’s heart rate for thirty minutes before reassessing me and deciding what to do next. I was told at this point that I had three possible options – if monitoring looked good, they could increase the dosage in the drip by a smaller amount in the hope that baby wouldn’t get distressed and labour could progress ‘naturally’, a small amount of blood could be taken from baby’s head if they could do so safely to see why her heart rate was dropping so much, so often or, if the other two weren’t viable options, I would go down for an emergency caesarean..
Thirty minutes passed in the blink of an eye – my mum had popped out to get a coffee and some fresh air, and hadn’t even made it back before it was time for me to be reassessed. Having monitored baby’s heart rate, things still weren’t looking good so increasing the drip again didn’t seem like a great option, and her head was still too high to safely take any blood. Just before 3pm, after thirty one hours in hospital, I was only four centimetres dilated. My labour was essentially over, and I started to be prepped for theatre..
Within five or so minutes, the procedure had been talked through, the anaesthetist had been in to check over my epidural, and the consent forms had been signed. I said goodbye to my mum, and we headed down to theatre – it’s crazy how quickly everything had happened.
The procedure itself was pretty surreal. I can’t find the words to describe what a caesarean itself feels like, but it really is strange being able to feel things happening whilst simultaneously not being able to feel anything. After so many weeks of waiting and so many hours of worry, our baby girl had finally made her arrival into the world. Knowing that she was finally here and healthy brought with it the biggest sense of relief. The whole thing was finally over – we’d done it.
Asher-Grayce was born just over an hour after the decision to go down to theatre was made, and we remained in theatre for an hour after she was born whilst they waited for a consultant to assess a four-centimetre cyst found on my ovary. I was eventually stitched back up and headed through to recovery.
Throughout the whole process, I felt as though every midwife, every doctor we met cared about both me and the baby on such a personal level – from the moment we arrived to the moment we left, the level of care we received was phenomenal. I felt as though every decision along the way was made with my best interests and safety at heart, and whilst my labour experience itself wasn’t necessarily a positive one, my hospital experience was and for that, I’m more than thankful.
I still feel as though it isn’t really real, it still hasn’t sunk in yet – maybe it never will? I constantly find myself just looking at her, watching her as she sleeps, trying to come to terms with the fact that after making us wait so long and causing as much stress during labour as she did, she’s here and entirely healthy. I made her, and she’s perfect.