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Nov 21 / Caro

Induction Story: Part One

Almost every blog about pregnancy and parenting has a birth story, but before I can add mine, I need to share my induction story. You may already have noticed that I have a lot to say and brevity isn’t my strong point, but the length of this will surely top them all. After all, I was in hospital for a whole week! I need to write this down though. For my own records and as a way of dealing with the fact that things did not go in any way how I would have liked. As such I can make no apology for the unedited detail, or the fact that I’ve decided to write this in more than one part. If you’re interested in the actual birth story, or in how I handled diabetes during this epic adventure, then those things will be coming up next. Onward…. To the non-birth story of the boy who was not ready to be born.

I arrived to be induced on the evening on Sunday 8th November . Things did not get off to great start. There seemed to be a lot of debate about various aspects of my medical history and their impact on the induction. No one seemed all that sure what to do with me, as I was told I was “as high risk as they come” and “too high risk to be induced on the antenatal ward” so I‘d need to wait for space to open up on the delivery suite. For someone who didn’t really want to be induced at all, all this indecisiveness was agonising. At one point I even asked if I cold just go home and come back in the morning as it seemed apparent that noting was going to really happen that night. I was persuaded to stay put so that the anaesthetist could come and see me and we’d go from there.

Looking hot!

Waiting… in hospital

I eventually saw the anaesthetist at around half past one in the morning. He was a truly obnoxious man who began by quizzing me on the merits of different pain relief options and clearly had no idea about my anxiety surrounding an epidural. He also told me that there was “no way” I should “let them” induce me at night, due to less staff being around. Of course this completely neglected the fact that induction was unlikely to start labour instantly, and even if I was induced in the morning, it could take until night time for things to get going. You’d think that an obstetric anaesthetist would be familiar with the unpredictability of birth! Whilst butchering my hand in an attempt to insert a cannula in to my rubbish veins, he put the cherry on the cake by telling me that “labour is pretty horrific, you know. You probably won’t cope without an epidural so you should start getting your head around the idea of having one.”

To this moment, I still can’t believe I didn’t slap him. It was the middle of the night. I did not want to be in hospital, or to be induced. I have a serious phobia regarding epidural anaesthesia. My husband was at home – our first night apart since we married – and he thought this was an appropriate thing to say! A lovely midwife found me in tears about 15 minutes later and reassured me that anaesthetists only see women who aren’t coping in labour and forget about the many, many women who don’t need an epidural. She also added that she’d have slapped him for me if she’d been in the room when he said it, which certainly helped lighten my mood.

The induction finally got going sometime around 5am on Monday morning, by which time ‘d had virtually no sleep and was not really in a frame of mind to think about giving birth. With hindsight, I really wish I’d never stayed in hospital on Sunday night, or that having done so, I’d gone home on Monday and started again the next day when I was calmer and more rested. But instead I allowed them to insert the 24 hour Propess. I was 38 weeks and 6 days and at that point my cervix was still fairly posterior and fairly thick, but was 1-2cm dilated. The way it was presented to me sounded quite positive, but again with hindsight I wish someone had actually spelled out how low my Bishop’s Score actually was and what that meant for the chances of the induction being successful

I spent the day pacing around the hospital corridors, and even walking around outside in the hospital grounds as it was a beautiful, clear day. Ian and my parents took turns to keep me company I drank hot chocolate in the hospital’s branch of Costa Coffee. Ian and I played cards. I tried to watch television, but the one in my room would only show BBC1 and I was not desperate enough to watch David Dickinson cavorting around a car boot fair!

I had no contractions. No prostaglandin pains. No show. Periodic sessions on the monitor showed mild tightenings that I couldn’t really feel. The baby was completely happy, still moving around. The most I had was a little back ache, but that was more than likely from all the walking and the lack of pillows on the bed! Ian headed home at around 10pm, and I settled in for my second night.

On Tuesday morning I was told I’d be taken to Delivery Suite to have my waters broken and be started on a Syntocinon drip. “This is it” then I thought. Today, I’m going to actually go in to labour. With luck, the baby will be here by tomorrow!” My obs registrar then explained though that they didn’t know how long I wold have to wait for a space on Delivery Suite and there was a possibility that I’d need more Prostin if my waters could not be broken. I suppose at this stage I assumed the 2 cm I’d been dilated the day before meant that it was very likely that my waters cold be broken. Now I was being told otherwise. So I consented to an exam on the antenatal ward, so that I’d at least know if we were waiting for membrane rupture or Prostin.

This exam, in comparison to the one the day before, was agony. I was told later in the week this is common after Propess as it irritates the soft tissues. And it was disappointing news. My cervix had not changed at all. If anything it was even less favourable and there was no chance of breaking my waters. I was pretty disheartened. To be honest – and this is one of many moments I cannot claim as my finest – I begged to go home. At this stage I was really regretting consenting to induction. I was fed up with staff members who treated me like some sort of major headache for having a complex medical history, and staff members who had no clue of my history and no empathy for my anxiety about epidurals and c-sections. But I was told quite firmly that the only way out was through. Now that we’d started the risks of stopping were apparently too great. In clearer mind now I wish ‘d asked exactly what the risks were given that the Propess had had exactly no effect on me or the baby at all.

Nevertheless I allowed them to insert the first lot of Prostin gel at around 11am and whiled away my time on the monitor in Delivery Room 5 watching cars coming and going in the car park. I spent the rest of the day again wandering around the hospital, walking as much as possible to encourage my body to get going.

At around 5pm, I finally began to get some pains coming at fairly regular intervals. They weren’t painful, but mildly uncomfortable, but there was also a continual background pain which never went away. I felt like I couldn’t keep still, a bit like when you are desperate for the loo. I spent some time bouncing on a birth ball, but disappointingly a session on the monitor seemed to show less contraction activity than the previous day, and the previous week when I hadn’t been able to feel anything at all! I was starting to suspect that my body, as with so many other things, didn’t want to do what was “normal” or expected. Finally, in the late evening, I was examined again to the crushing news that my cervix still had not changed. Ian went home and I tried to settle. I’d had so little sleep since Sunday by now, that I was starting to feel a bit loopy, but I now had to contend with regular pains for which I could have no pain relief as they weren’t actually contractions!

Two days in, and I was still very determinedly pregnant. Absolutely no closer to giving birth at all.

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