Monday, 5 August 2013

The Birth

My blood pressure was still high and the baby was, as far as anyone could tell, pretty much cooked therefore on balance the doctors decided on Tuesday 30th July that I should be induced.

Induction sounds fairly straightforward; I was told that a tampon-like thing would be put up me and then after 24 hours they would check to see whether the baby was coming. If not they might try something else - like a drip to try to get labour to start.

I've been using tampons since I was 13. Occasionally if they are put in wrong they can be a bit painful, but you just remove it bung another one in and can't feel it again. This is not the case with this induction tampon.

The midwife reminded me a little of Delores Umbridge from Harry Potter: all sweetness and light on the surface but with a core of steel. She said before inserting the "tampon", and this is a direct quote (I made the husband take a few notes during labour so I wouldn't forget what has happened and you wouldn't ... ahem ... miss out), "I'll just pop it up your frou frou now."

Frou Frou.

The next few minutes felt like being fingered by Freddy Kruger.

Tampon my arse. Sorry, my frou frou. I didn't see it but it felt more like a hard plastic biro was put up there and I could feel it from the moment it was in until it was withdrawn for me to give birth.

It was put up at 19:55 on Tuesday night.

I was told it should take a day or two to start working and they would essential leave me for 24 hours before checking anything. But I might, I was warned feel a few period-like pains earlier. This shouldn't be confused with labour.

So at 6am the next morning when I felt mild cramping I was in control. I knew what this was all about and fully expected a day of hanging out in the labour room - we'd got DVDs, some food, our books. At 07:30 I had shower. Well, no one wants to have a baby when they have greasy hair. I was in pain but I've had worse periods.

I then got strapped up to various machines - blood pressure monitor on my arm, belly bands for measuring the baby and me on my stomach.

By 09:00 I was getting fairly regular pains - not to bad but definitely with some kind of rhythm. They were being picked up on the monitor and the mid wife and doctor told me this often happened and then they'd die away again. They were still talking about this 24 hour lead time.

But they didn't die away. Instead they got stronger and stronger. At 09:45. after the night shift had changed, a different midwife figured I was in labour (albeit just 1cm dilated) and asked if I wanted my waters broken.

I am all for freedom of choice, I like to be in control but I didn't really know. However I remembered the wombmate's last bit of advice to me. "If they want to check if your waters have broken let them". Also traumatised by the induction suppository, she had initially refused to let them check - hers hadn't broken and it resulted in a longer labour than it might have been.

The midwife went to work, reprimanding me as I instinctively tried to wriggle away from the pain. It is quite counter-intuitive to remain lying on a bed, arse still, whilst what looks like a tent peg is waggled around inside you.

By this time my pain relief was being brought solely through gas and air. I hadn't realised until my NCT classes that this is a peculiarly British thing. Almost no other countries use it for pain relief in labour. It is the equivalent of a nice cup of tea and a digestive biscuit and, in my experience, about as effective a form of pain relief. The idea is that inhaling a 50:50 mix of oxygen and nitrous oxide will give you a bit of a buzz, like being slightly stoned, and whilst it might not take away the pain it will imbue the experience with a slightly other-worldly feeling enabling you to disassociate from the pain.

It did fuck all.

The thing it was most useful for was having something (the gas tube) to grip onto as the contractions became ever stronger.

I was asked if I wanted an epidural and I didn't need to be asked twice. I was well up for one. So the anaesthetist came in and started to prepare putting drips into my hands and warning me of a sharp scratch. By this time a sharp scratch felt like sweet relief compared to the all body pain of contractions.

She was poised to start the epidural. I kept remembering from my NCT class that it would take 40 minutes to work (subsequently I've checked and apparently it takes twenty minutes but I was focusing on the fact that this was still not going to be the instant relief I craved, so the sooner it was in the better). Then just as she was poised to administer sweet, sweet relief she was called out to an emergency. Leaving me with just the bloody gas.

By this time the contractions were getting bad - which led to a much-needed moment of light relief.

Labour wards aren't really wards, they are a series of individual rooms and doctors, midwives, kitchen staff (I had to shout "NO" to a woman who asked me if I wanted lunch at one point) and  students seem to wander in at out as they check on various women under their care.

A doctor came in with two students. She was careful to introduce them to me by name - like I gave a fuck at this point. As I got a contraction I didn't scream but would whimper and writhe with pain and pull on the gas in the vain hope it might pass. I was mid-contraction and one of the students at the end of my bed caught my attention - she was pulling some really odd faces and seemed a little unsteady. It totally distracted me and I watched with curious detachment as she collapsed to the floor.

By which time that contraction subsided and the husband and I just laughed as suddenly she became the most important person in the room with the doctor applying a damp cloth to her forehead. I'm guessing she won't choose to specialise in this particular area of medicine.

At about 12:00 I declared my urge to push. In about two hours I'd gone from the beginnings of labour to being ready to give birth. I untangled myself from the mass of wires I was strapped to and started to pace, and kneel and shake my legs and push, and push and push.

Then things become a blur. I remember being told that if the baby didn't come soon they'd have to get her out quickly. Then masses of people flooded into the room.

I was back on the bed and whisked into an operating theatre. The husband had scrubs flung at him and suddenly I was being asked, between contractions, for my consent for a spinal block. A spinal block is incredibly similar to an epidural only acts a lot quicker. Within minutes of signing my consent - I would have signed anything I was given - I was blissfully numb from the waist down.

I've heard people bemoaning the fact they've had epidurals or other serious pain medication during birth. They miss the real experience, feel disassociated from the birth. Each to their own. For me it was amazing. I could at last breath again and remember where I was and who I was. And frankly with such an unnatural conception I had no qualms about an "unnatural" birth - my priority was that this little being who had been growing in me and absorbing my thoughts for the last eight or so months was going to be OK.

And she appeared, safe and healthy, at 12:53. After some curious acting when I had to push for all I was worth without feeling any kind of sensation, this mucky, pale, yoda-like thing was thrust in my face for a quick kiss and then whisked to be checked in an incubator two meters away.

The husband, who had early on declared he was not going to cut the umbilical cord, cut the umbilical cord.

My placenta took its time coming which was - I think - responsible for the mass of stitches I now proudly and painfully sport. The husband wants credit here for not asking the doctor to add an extra stitch.

Suddenly the husband and I who have been a couple for half our lives are a three.


  1. Seems we had identical births! Being induced, waiting for ages with manageable(ish) pain, waters broken by a knitting needle, gas and air being amazing for about a minute then having no effect whatsoever, spinal block, a Paddy in scrubs and lots of stitches. Oh and a beautiful baby girl xx

  2. I am SO SO happy for you!! Congratulations!!! Sorry about all the other crap though, childbirth is awful. Or magical and soul awakening. Depends who you talk to.

  3. As soon as you mentioned Umbridge I felt pain. I'm glad you finally got relief from it -- and that your daughter (!!) is here and happy and healthy.

  4. Wow, that sounds intense-- hadn't heard of 'gas and air', it sounds a bit like fighting a raging bush fire with a water pistol, but to each her own, I guess. I'm so glad that she's here and safe and that you're recovering. Congratulations on becoming a family of three, and welcome Olive Francis-- you are beautiful!

  5. Rather dramatic, aren't you? It's supposed to take a day or two! Not less than 18 hours! Overachiever...

    Glad to hear you finally got some relief. And that the yoda-looking thing arrived safely.

  6. What a beautiful birth story. I'm so glad she arrived safely. CONGRATULATIONS!!!

  7. Congratulations!! So happy that your lovely little Olive is here. Beautiful name, gorgeous baby... well done mama!!

  8. Wow what a birth story. I hope you are all settling in well :-) xx

  9. Wow--makes my planed c-section seem like a breeze . So glad you are all doing well.

  10. Wow!!!! Two babies for me and not a single contraction ever felt. That 1st breech baby sealed my scheduled c-section fate and I will be forever grateful to him for that. Before having my own children I attended the natural birth of my sister and friends 5 times. I KNEW how it all happened and I really didn't have an emotional attachment to experiencing it when I was told my son was breech and a c-section would be needed. I smiled...feigned like I was sort of upset and then signed the papers. For baby #2 who was perfectly positioned to try a v-bac....I gracefully declined and once again picked her date of birth to suit my and my doctor's schedule. It was glorious. I am so happy you have a beautiful and healthy baby girl. I hope your "frou frou" heals up nicely and these first few weeks are magical.

  11. First of all: Congrats again! What a story!

    Second of all: Frou frou?! LOLLOLLOL!

    Glad to hear you're doing well!

  12. It sounds like you maybe had a ventouse/forceps delivery, which would probably account for the stitches (placentas being somewhat softer than baby skulls and not requiring stitches, so the internet tells me). I'm sorry you didn't get the epidural when you wanted it... blah blah emergency blah, it just seems quite cruel!

    Hope you are recovering beautifully!

  13. I had a drip induction and it all chugged along with the help of gas. We use it for pain relief in Oz too. When I stalled I called for an epidural but it arrived too late. Did it all sucking on gas and I think I could do it again. But I wasn't a hash smoking champion in my youth... perhaps that helped? :) SO, so glad you have your lovely girl in your arms after waiting so long x

  14. A few hearty LOLs as I read this! Seems as though it went quite quickly really. I heartily recommend surgical removal to anyone who will listen, though. xx

  15. I can only imagine with horror being kept from an epidural... But then I was screaming so much they probably would have considered it top priority to shut me up...!

    Very glad she's here safe. Can't wait to hear more. Oh the stitches, ouch. It does stop feeling like the world is going to fall out of there every time you stand up eventually. In the meantime, recline!

  16. Congratulations! Oh I'm so happy for you! I delivered my first at 35 weeks 2 days because of Pre-E as well. So I totally get where you've been. This is my first time commenting and just wanted to let you know I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog! All my very best to you!

  17. CONGRATULATIONS!!! I've been reading your blog for nearly two years now and am absolutely thrilled for you! I also loved the part about the medical student fainting -- classic! May the three of you live, love, and laugh happily ever after!

  18. congrats! I swore for the first 11 weeks or so pp that my doctor DID give me an extra stitch...but it got better. Eventually.

  19. Ooh, I thought I commented on this. Maybe too busy crossing my legs in sympathy after the words stitches and frou frou were mentioned.

    Never mind that now, she's here, you're fine (if a bit embroidered) and that's the important thing. Well done, all of you.

  20. winner! My partner and i promised to the first 14 months possibly even pp in which our physician Does give me an additional sew...but it became accomplished. Sooner or later. Rs To Gold
    World of Warcraft Gold Billig


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