On the Morning of my induction 12th April 2010 I woke up with my alarm at 6.15am. I went downstairs and ate 3 Weetabix while mum and I sat at the table in nervous silence. I checked I’d packed everything and took lots of pictures of my bump in the mirror. On the way down in the car I was texting all my friends and finally got to the hospital 8.30am to be induced. I handed the midwife my green pregnancy notes which is the last time I saw them – it’s weird the things you miss! I got told the induction bays were full and I was one of 4 women waiting to go in which I wasn’t very happy about but at least it gave me chance to calm down as I was totally panicking. Luke had a little walk around outside the hospital and found a Subway for our second “breakfast”. After an hour or two wait on the ward Luke went into Manchester to look for accommodation for mum and his stay. He booked an apartment hotel with 2 bedrooms so mum and Luke could sit and watch TV in the evenings and not be so bored and lonely with me and baby having to stay in hospital for 5 days after. He also bought me some Crocs for showering in. I got myself some lunch and had a nap on the bed while mum waited with me. We read magazines and had random talks about anything other than labour! Tea time then came and I had a lovely hot dinner. The anxiety had finally passed, I was just getting bored and had itchy feet to just get it over with. The midwife came in and said there were only 2 left on the induction waiting list and I would take priority because of my heart condition. I could hear another lady on the ward we were on, she was being checked over as her waters had broken and she was only 27 weeks pregnant, I really felt for her. At 8pm we got called to the induction bay, and finally things start moving forward! I was scared and nervous but glad not to be looking at the same blue curtain anymore!
At 9.30pm I got put on the monitoring machine for half an hour, this has two elastic straps one with a baby heart rate monitor on – this one was played out loud the whole time and the other was to measure my contractions which I could see the level of intensity on the screen. Mum and Luke got sent away to the hotel because with a first time mum it could be days until I gave birth, and with being induced too it could take several attempts. After the half hour monitoring a midwife totally violated my lady parts (which was the first of many), and inserted the propess which was a bit like a piece of paper smeared in hormone with a string attached (a little like a tampon) and I was monitored again for a further 40 minutes. Afterwards I got told I could get up and go to the toilet and make a cup of tea or whatever so I had a potter about then went to sleep around 11.15pm.
At 1.15am I was rudely awoken by annoying tummy pains which by 2.15am were so unbearable I needed pain relief. The midwife gave me co-codamol but looked at me as if I was pathetic as she said I wasn’t in labour yet (it had only been 3 hours since induction) and that the crampy aches I was describing was only my cervix ripening. The co-codamol started working quite quickly but by 4.45am the pain was back and I was writhing around the bed and had to get up. I went to try and find somewhere in the blinking hospital which has some signal for my phone – it happened to be outside the induction ward in a corridor. Luckily it was deserted and I sat down on the floor and dialled Luke’s number. No answer. Dialled mum. YES a friendly voice! I sat there crying on the phone to my mum and she asked if I wanted her to come back in but I said no, I just wanted to hear a friendly voice. I kept having to put the phone on the floor every 2 minutes and breathe through these strange ‘waves of pain’. My mum cottoned on to this and told me to grab the midwife and scream at her to give me more pain relief as these ‘waves of pain’ were actually contractions and me needing to fart is actually me needing to push!!! So I wiped my tears and walked back to the midwifes station, but my midwife wasn’t there, it was a different one. As I was talking I told her to hold on a second, I inched my way from standing to crouching using the midwifes station’s door frame for support and moaned a little. I then stood up slowly and said “my mum says these are contractions and you need to give me some form of pain relief as my heart can’t be under any stress”. She walked me to the bathroom where she promised a warm bath. The walk down the corridor took forever as I had to stop every minute for a contraction which was worrying me. I finally made it there at 5.15am in a proper pregnant lady ‘waddle’ and as I took my PJ bottoms off I felt my waters break! I told the midwife who asked for my sanitary pad to inspect it and even though this sounds absolutely disgusting it gets to a point where you just don’t care anymore! She looked at the pad and said that it didn’t smell like ‘waters’ and it was probably just some mucus or part of my ‘show’ on the pad. I realised that as I was so mortified at this conversation and scared, I’d totally clamed up and was actually using my pelvic floor muscles to keep it in so I thought “I’ll ‘show’ her” and let go completely, there was a big gush on the floor of a strange peachy coloured liquid. She tried to rush me back to my bed for an examination but I was adamant that I wanted to wash this stuff off my legs, or at least wipe them down with some paper towels! The next few hours feel like a blur..
Back on the bed she examined me and I was only 2cm dilated. She said she’d call my mum and let her know what was happening and then put me back on the 2 strap machine again and monitored me while she went to find my midwife. I was laid there in agony, the contractions were coming on thick, fast and strong and it was becoming unbearable. I kept thinking to myself that I am pathetic, I’m only 2 cm dilated and I’m making such a big deal of it and I didn’t want to be like these women on ‘one born every minute’ who are embarrassing and scream at only 2cm dilated. I thought ‘I’m stronger than this, I can cope with this pain. Women go through this every day and survive, they walk out with beautiful babies and come back again and again to have more babies so I need to just work through this pain and each contraction is just one step closer to meeting my little Jennifer Grace.’ Keeping these thoughts in my head really helped me deal with it.
The induction bay I was in was one big room with 4 beds divided up by blue curtains. The induction bay is full so I am one of 4 women in this room and the other 3 are trying to sleep. I am writhing round in agony and cannot bear it any longer; I started swearing, I kept saying under my breath “I’m so sorry to anyone trying to sleep… Oh my god here comes an F-ing other one.. moan, moan, moan, swear, moan” then repeat from the beginning. It was awful, I’ve never experienced pain like it and I’m used to awful period pains. It felt like a ‘rubber ring’ of pain, severe period pains in your tummy and back, squeezing like a vice whilst someone is kicking you all around your tummy and back. After each one I felt winded. I needed my mum and there was not even a midwife in sight. It felt like an eternity I’d been left alone for, and then finally they wheeled me on my bed through corridor after corridor, banging me through doors all the while I’m moaning and groaning very loudly and swearing profusely. I finally reached my destination, a large rectangle room. They plugged my bed in and put a drip in my arm and called the anaesthetist for my epidural. I got introduced to about 6 new faces but I think I even said “I don’t care all I want is my mum”. I got told she was waiting for a bus, and you should have seen my rage! “A bus?” I questioned, “A F-ING BUS?? What the fuck is she doing waiting for a F-ING bus?!” I was so foul mouthed but after every contraction I apologised and tried to explain, but the contractions were so close together I struggled to. I was given some gas and air but after only 3 or 4 puffs it made me feel woozy like after a heavy night out when the room is spinning and you’re sick. I was sick but thankfully in a bedpan so decided gas and air definitely was not for me! Finally the anaesthetist came and told me to warn him when a contraction was coming so he could stop. They gave me an injection of local anaesthetic in my back first, then once that had worked he put the tube in and secured it with tape up my back up and over my shoulder to the entry valve where the anaesthetic could be administered. It was freezing cold all along the tube going down my back into the bottom of my spine, it felt glorious! After 5 minutes or so it was working ok, I was just left with a ‘window of pain’ in my tummy which was still painful but much better than all over pain. Finally my Mum and Luke walked in at 7.30am, comedy timing guys! The midwife had just examined me and I was 9cm dilated! I had gone from 2cm at 5.30am to 9cm at 7.30am on no pain relief as my co-codamol which I was given at 2.15am had well and truly worn off! The midwives were astounded; they honestly didn’t think that a first time mum whose cervix was closed on first examination could be in labour this quickly, only 8 hours after the Propess was inserted. I hope the midwife who said – ‘it’s just your cervix ripening’ now understands that each lady is different and a pregnant woman knows her body best!
I was in agony now as the ‘window of pain’ became more intense. It felt like I was being stabbed repeatedly in one place. I kept shouting for Luke to ‘Shut the F-ING door’ to which he replied “but honey the door isn’t open!” The anaesthetist knew what I meant and sorted out the newly named ‘door of pain’ by rolling me onto my side and fiddling with the tube until finally I was calm and pain free. At some point I was fitted with a catheter which I didn’t feel. I’ve been holding in pee using muscles in my lady area for 24 years now why just because I can’t feel my bottom half be any different? But sure enough after an hour or two, when I thought I’d been using my trusty muscles to hold in my pee, the midwife held up the catheter bag and it was full and needed to be emptied. The word confused doesn’t even come close! It’s so strange after being in so much pain with contractions to not feeling them at all and the only way to tell your having one is to look on the machine next to you at the rising numbers. Also so strange not being able to move your legs or twitch your toes even when you focus desperately hard and ‘command’ them to by your ever powerful brain.
I was really hungry and kept getting a whiff of food smell, I’d not eaten since 5pm the day earlier andthrown up after my gas and air. Now I’d missed breakfast in case I needed a C-section so I was well and truly starving! Mum and Luke went down to the canteen to get some food and I was left feeling very hard done by! I was left in the room with only the midwife when suddenly (bearing in mind there was only me and the midwife in the room) I heard an almighty loud fart and looked at the midwife in horror. I was actually disgusted that she could do that in my presence – fair enough she’s been closer to me in my intimate area than a lot of my past boyfriends but still, does that excuse a ‘lady’ who is working for the NHS to pass wind with such gusto in my presence? And then not even acknowledge it? So I said “oh my god!” to which she replied, “It’s ok, it happens to most people after an epidural!” I literally could have died – as if that was me!
The hours then seemed to roll by. As I wasn’t allowed to eat, I drank about 3 bottles of still raspberry Lucozade glucose drink for some energy and to try and perk me up but this was having a strange effect on the colour of my urine in my catheter bag; it was going pink! I also kept slipping down the hospital bed so my mum and Luke had to keep pulling me back up the bed under my armpits. One of these times Luke grabbed my hand which was being used as a pin cushion for various drips and monitoring devices, (the worst of which was an arterial line which was huge and had to be stitched onto my skin at all four corners,) and I screamed and cried. I would rather be slumped halfway down the hospital bed for the rest of the duration than have to feel that pain again! In fact I’d say that being not able to move and having all the drips, lines, needles and monitoring systems is one of the worst parts of my labour. The list of ways I was tied down to the hospital bed goes like this: 1 strap round my tummy to monitor baby’s heartbeat, 1 strap round my belly to measure my contractions, one clip on my finger to measure the oxygen levels in my blood, a drip in my hand for the epidural, the epidural going into my spine, an arterial line going into my wrist, three sticky pads on my chest to measure my heart rate, a cuff round my bicep for blood pressure, a catheter going into my lady area and that’s all I can remember in my drug induced state!
I had another internal at about 10am and I was almost 10 cm’s dilated but there was a tiny ring of skin which would stop baby from being able to be born just yet so we had to wait a little longer, so I just thought to myself I’m not quite 10 cm’s yet probably more like 9 ½ cm’s which kept me sane! I had a top up of my epidural. It’s strange, every time the midwife tops up the epidural she got an aerosol canister out and sprayed me several times starting up by my shoulder with freezing blasts until the lower it went I couldn’t feel a thing. Finally at 12 Midday I was fully dilated so mum, Luke and I bet each other on when I’d give birth. We all said before 3pm as all I need to do now is push her out.. Or so I thought.
My midwife who had been with me since 7.30am was changing shift and I felt like my world had ended, I really liked her, bonded with her, I even farted in front of her, and now she was going to disappear and leave me? I had to be left for ages anyway for baby to work her way down naturally as much as possible as my heart couldn’t be strained at all. My new midwife was lovely but I really just wanted the midwife who first told me I was 9cms dilated on no pain relief and who had listened to me fart and not giggled, but this lady was all I had and was going to bring my baby into the world so I had to pull myself together.
At 2pm I was eventually allowed to push, finally the 2nd stage of labour had arrived! My legs were in stirrups, the midwife was down the lady area end and Matt was one side and mum on the other side – both ‘head’ end. As I was only allowed to push for 30 minutes max I was told I had to make each contraction count and as soon as one appeared on the little screen next to me I was to push into my bottom like I was pushing out a big troublesome poo. Well honestly, if you can’t feel your bottom or your lower half for that matter, how are you supposed to know which bits to tense and push? It was so hard and all the time I was worrying about pooing myself like you hear about on these birth programmes. The 30 minutes absolutely flew by, contraction after contraction came and I felt like collapsing. My eyes were all bloodshot and strained and I was knackered and felt a total failure. No joy, baby was not coming of its own accord. Theatre was called for forceps delivery but both theatres were in use so there was another wait where I tried to get some sleep and my epidural was topped up again.
When theatre was ready for me there were two new doctors who examined me internally – by this point I didn’t care, I wasn’t pretending to have any of my dignity left and I was being used as a human lucky dip. I had to be cut out of my nightie as the arterial line in my wrist couldn’t be disturbed – it would have been impossible to take the nightie off over my head while still being attached with all of the wires. I had to put on a sexy backless hospital gown and Luke had to get dressed into his ‘scrubs’. He also stole the stethoscope from the anaesthetist so actually looked like a real doctor! After signing my life away with all the hospital operating theatre contracts, and having some last bump photos taken I said a teary goodbye to mum. She couldn’t come in with me as only one person is allowed as support in theatre and that had to be Luke. He was bundled off into a little room and I was on my own being transferred onto the chopping slab – theatre bed. I was being spoken to by a lovely guy who was totally drugging me up, there was another anaesthetist who has been checking in on me through my labour, two porters, two female surgeons, my midwife and about 3 other random people – no wonder there was no room for my mum, this place was like a circus with me as the main attraction!
I suddenly felt sheer panic and realised Luke still wasn’t there by my side. I think they had forgotten about him because as soon as I’d said something he suddenly appeared! With me clutching Luke’s hand I felt safer but I felt myself struggling to keep my eyes open, they felt really dry and I felt so drunk. Then the surgeons were speaking to me so I had to pull myself together, they were lovely girls one looked very young but I felt totally at ease. They explained to me that they were going to make a cut called an episiotomy then insert the forceps and pull baby out. Easy! Well again, unfortunately it wasn’t easy, baby was facing the wrong way she was back-to-back although no one had told me this so I didn’t feel so much a failure for not pushing her out the old fashioned way. She was manually turned by hand then the forceps were inserted, but Jennifer had quickly turned back round -obviously she was comfy! She did this three times and on the last attempt the surgeon said if she turned again one more time it’ll be Caesarean section time! I was devastated that after slicing me down in my below parts I’d also have to be sliced in my tummy too. Luckily baby stayed put like a good girl and I was told to push into my bottom again. I pushed with all my might whilst the surgeons pulled with the forceps. They were yanking me so much I slid right down the table, and the porters had to pull me back to the top by my armpits!
With me pushing and the surgeons pulling, at 4.51pm Jennifer Grace was finally born! I was tired beyond belief having not slept in 2 days, was so hungry as I’d not eaten for a whole 24 hours and I’d been sick from the gas and air but I suddenly got a massive rush of energy. I looked at her purple, wrinkled, wet, bloody body and touched her tiny purple foot with my finger. I saw her little face and thought “wow, that’s what she looks like”. The midwife said to me she couldn’t believe how long her eyelashes were; but my response was “I can’t believe it, it’s a baby”. When you’re in that situation you realise that you’ve never met this tiny little person before and she has a face of her own – she looked completely different to what I imagined. As quickly as I saw her she was rushed away to be cleaned up and weighed, Luke went with her. I was given an injection to start the placenta delivery and as I was losing quite a lot of blood they started stitching up my episiotomy straight away. I could hear Jenny screaming from the other room and smiled to myself. The 3rd stage of labour was here but they had to manually remove my placenta as it wasn’t coming of its own accord – the injection had been given time to work but as I was losing so much blood the surgeons acted fast. They manually removed the placenta by pulling on the severed umbilical cord and I had to push some more. Jenny was then handed to me wrapped in a towel. She weighed 6lbs 13ozs and we had our first photos taken. The surgeon was pushing on my tummy lots to try and make sure none of the placenta was left inside me and my tummy now looked like a water bed – all jelly on a plate and rippling even when she had finished touching it! They then started stitching me up again as manually removing the placenta had torn all the stitches – all I can say is thank god I was drugged up!
Jenny is beautiful, dark hair, long eyelashes, blue eyes, a little turned up nose and has a really big set of lungs on her. She has forceps marks and bruises on her face and little blood shot eyes from birth trauma but she is perfect; I look at her all full of awe and emotion and cry silent tears of pure happiness.