Emily’s conception, pregnancy and birth were all rather challenging for me. I really do think of her as my miracle baby, although I am sure all parents feel the same I really really wanted to have a water birth (who doesn’t?!) or at least a natural birth, sadly it didn’t turn out that way.
My waters broke at 8am at 39 weeks and 6 days; it was like a continuous trickle of bloody water, so we had to go and get checked at the hospital. The doctor confirmed that my waters had gone at the same time as my show and sent us home for 24 hours, to return if labour hadn’t started by the following morning.
I went into natural labour at 11pm that evening, one hour shy of bang on full term!! I define this as the point where the Braxton Hicks (which I had for weeks before hand) changed into something a lot more painful! I made DH go to bed so he could get a few hours sleep and be fit to drive the next day. I tried to sleep but I couldn’t, so I stayed up all night watching TV and contracting. By the morning they were very painful and coming 3 minutes apart, so we went back to hospital. That car journey was really tough. I said to DH, don’t worry about me, just keep us safe on the road, as I was about to put my fist through the car roof!! I don’t know if my pain threshold is really low, but honestly to me, the contractions felt like I was being eaten by a tiger!!
We arrived at hospital and I was assessed, my contractions were slowly ebbing away at this point. I was zero cm’s dilated and basically all that pain, all night long, did nothing. I was quite upset by this as I knew that I’d have to be induced if I couldn’t progress myself. So I was moved to the antenatal ward to await an induction. I had to go on IV antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection because of my premature membrane rupture. I was still contracting but nothing regular. We waited for 12 hours to be moved down to the labour ward at 8pm.
In the labour ward, I was set-up for an induction but at the last minute they decided to use a pessary instead, to get labour going before the hormone drip. So I was told to get some sleep and they would induce me at 2am. The pessary kicked me back into labour, get some sleep – hah?!
2am came and went… nobody arrived. Eventually they checked me and said I was 2cm dilated, hooray! However the hours kept creeping by and at 5am they came and said I wasn’t going to be induced because of too many other women in labour. I got very very upset at this point. My waters had broken 48 hours ago, I’d been in various degrees of labour and had no sleep since then. Something I said must have worked because by 6am things were moving. My memories go quite blurry at this point, the sleep deprivation, the pain for so long and the continuation of events were just a bit much, so a lot of the next part is actually what DH has told me!
Anyway, from friends I have heard that an induction without an epidural is unbearable, so although I felt like a complete cop out but I couldn’t bear an induction without an epidural. The on and off labour was almost more than I could deal with. The epidural in itself was scary, I was a nervous wreck. I was induced and monitored for 16 hours. Apparently I was dealing with it all on the lowest dose of medication, so that is a little something to redeem my wussyness.
I don’t remember a lot of the induction. A few things come back to me but I don’t know what order everything happened in. I could feel my legs, but I could not feel pain. Having the catheter inserted was horrible! The rest of my waters went and I was so embarrassed, I felt like I’d wet the bed! DH has just told me that after my waters went there was a lot of blood and that was the first time that the consultant was called. You can see how bad my memory is, as this is literally the first I’ve heard of this!
In hindsight, something was clearly worrying the midwives them the whole way through, I didn’t pick up on this until the end. The consultant came in three times, because Emily’s heart rate was up and down. They put a monitor on her head to be sure that the fetal heart rate monitor was not mixing up my heart beat with hers. I became 10cms dilated around 9pm I was so happy at this point, I thought I was in the home stretch!! They waited an hour I think and then they let me push, but it was only for two contractions because Emily’s heart rate plummeted every time I pushed. I remember the doctor saying we were going to theatre and that she thought it was about 65% likely she could get the baby out with forceps and 35% likely to be a c-section.
So now things are super fuzzy, I have always been scared of a c-section and the whole thing felt very dramatic and rushed. I remember staring at the ceiling and crying. I couldn’t even look DH in the face because I felt like such a failure and I was scared beyond belief. Everyone kept talking at me all at once, some making jokes to calm me down, some asking me questions. There were so many people talking that I couldn’t hear what each one was saying. Once we got into theatre I was allowed to push once with the doctor using forceps, but it was quickly abandoned. Emily had her head wedged at a bad angle in my pelvis and the cord was round her neck.
Sadly, even though the epidural worked very well in labour, it did not work well during the c-section. I could feel quite a bit of what was going on, they kept asking, is it pain or pressure? I don’t think they believed me until I started screaming. The worst bits were when the surgeon was cleaning out the blood and stitching me up. DH said that behind me the anesthesiologist was panicing and pushing everything she could lay her hands on. The surgeon popped her head over the screen and said if I didn’t stop screaming they would put me under. I begged them not to because I didn’t want to miss a moment of her birth. So I bit my lip, very hard and kept the screams in.
Emily was born at 11.20pm and hearing her cry was just the biggest relief, I finally looked at DH and we told each other that we loved each other. He went off to cut the cord and take some pictures of her. I am so so grateful that he took so many photos, I feel like I missed so much. They lay her next to me and wheeled me into recovery, we were monitored for an hour or so and then we were wheeled to the post-natal ward. I don’t remember doing skin on skin with Emily, although there are pictures of us. I am totally gutted about this, I feel like someone stole one of the most precious moments of my life away.
Anyway afterwards, I was out of it on pain killers and lack of sleep. I bled through my dressings twice and I also had a post-partum haemorrhage, although no one told us at the time. DH says that when he returned the day after the birth, I was literally incoherent. I don’t really remember much of this day until the late afternoon. Thankfully, in my confused state I did take pictures of Emily in the night. Although I only found these pictures on my phone a week later!!
From when my waters broke to when I gave birth was 64 hours of various degrees of labour. Of course the hospital are not to blame for the eventual c-section but I think that having to wait for so long for my induction (22 hours) made the whole thing so much worse than it needed to be. I feel tremendous guilt that I didn’t bond with Emily properly at the birth, I couldn’t feed her or change her, everything felt weird and I felt numb for the days in the hospital afterwards. Just writing this, with DH filling in the gaps, has revealed yet more things that I had forgotten.
Emily wouldn’t feed after her birth, not even using the cup method. The midwives thought that she was traumatised by the birth. Thankfully she started to eat after about 24 hours. The post-partum hormones combined with the guilt and lack of memories were just awful. However, eventually things got better; I recovered mentally and physically. Even though writing this makes me well up, the most important thing is that she arrived healthily. Although maybe we didn’t start off with the instant connection that most mothers and babies have, I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to be the best mother that I can be.