This is the second part of my pre-birth story: the induction of labour that wasn’t an induction of labour. The first part can be found here. If you want to read about Thomas’s actual birthday, then hang on in, because it will be coming up.
“Your induction isn’t working, so you’ll be having a caesarean later today.”
That was how I was greeted shortly after midnight, first thing on Wednesday morning, when I was woken from my dozing by a midwife bustling in to the room. With hindsight, this was so inappropriate that I have no idea where to begin. It had not been discussed with me. I’d had no consultant visit and it was the middle of the night! This is all aside from how very much I did not want a c-section, which I was beginning to realise was obviously not clearly documented in my notes. I’ll freely admit that once again I didn’t respond in the finest fashion, but went in to pretty much complete melt down. A different midwife overheard me crying and came in to the room. She did her best to reassure me that the decision would be reviewed in the morning, but in the end had to call Ian at 4am to come in to calm me down as I was so distraught. What Ian must have thought when he was woken by the phone at 4am…. For a moment at least, he must have thought this was it! With Ian’s help I finally calmed down and fell asleep at around 5am, whilst the poor guy tried to nap on the floor!
The positive part of my midnight melt down was the fact that they finally seemed to get the memo that I was petrified of having a caesarean. On the basis that the baby was still completely happy, a decision was made to try one more round of induction. This time I was given Prostin without being moved round to Delivery Suite – I think they’d finally cottoned on to the fact that nothing very quick or dramatic was going to happen! This time I did begin to have fairly regular contractions throughout the afternoon, which was once again spent pacing the hospital corridors and bouncing on a birth ball. It was hard not to let myself begin to hope that things might be moving in the right direction.
In the evening, I was due to be examined again and either scheduled for membrane rupture or to have my final lot of Prostin. I was put on to the CTG monitor ahead of the examination, but as usual, the baby wriggled away and the signal was lost. When I pressed the buzzer to get a midwife to come a re-site the monitor pads, a male midwife that I had not yet met came in. He sorted the trace out and then went to find out what was happening with me. When he went out of the room, I joked to Ian that I had noticed he had large hands and maybe that was what I needed to really get things going! A few minutes later, the male midwife returned ad explained that the midwife who had been coming back to examine me had got tied up. He asked if I would mind if he performed the examination. Of course in light of what I had just said I had no objections, but couldn’t suppress a laugh!
I felt much more positive immediately after the exam when he said that he could actually feel my membranes and the bag of waters. Surely, I thought, that meant it must be possible to rupture them, but the midwife seemed quite negative. I couldn’t really understand when he tried to clarify why things still weren’t progressing, and it became obvious that he didn’t really know anything about my history or my fears. Nonetheless, the final lot of Prostin was in and I was determined to try and remain positive with the next examination scheduled for 6am, despite being told that I would have to fast from 2am in preparation for a likely caesarean.
I didn’t sleep particularly well again as I was contracting on and off all night. Ian arrived at the hospital at 6am by which time all the contractions had died off. I’ll admit to holding my breath when I was examined, desperately hoping for some progress. For a split second, I thought it was going to happen, when the doctor announced that it could well be possible to break my waters. The split second of hope was dashed when he went on to add that it would only be with an epidural on board, as I was now so irritated from all the Prostin and so many examinations. Of course, having an epidural was really the main thing I wanted to avoid and a major part of my fear about a caesarean was the placement of spinal anaesthetic. A natural labour but with an epidural was as bad in my mind as a caesarean. The plan was to take me to Delivery Suite, get an anaesthetist in and go from there.
This is the point at which I lost it and went a bit crazy. In my defence I was extremely tired having slept very little since my admission. I had horrendous reflux that was exacerbated by being ‘Nil By Mouth’ in preparation for a possible section, and being refused any medication to help. Added to that I was frustrated at my body once again failing to do what other people’s bodies seem to do naturally, and feeling guilty and regretful that I’d consented to starting this whole process. I was finally facing what has been my biggest fear throughout pregnancy – an epidural or spinal anaesthetic and a caesarean section. And I was left sitting there with no information on how long I may have to wait, stewing on all of these thoughts and desperate to be anywhere else.
So I did what anyone would do in that circumstance.
And I begged Ian to take me home. I packed everything up and got dressed, although Ian wouldn’t allow me to have my shoes. I cried, a lot. And pleaded. But Ian wouldn’t budge.
So I left, in my slippers. I rushed past the midwives on the ward telling them that I was off home and I wasn’t going to do it. Definitely not my finest moment.
Ian caught up with me at the lift. It took all his powers of persuasion to stop me getting in, but he couldn’t manage to get me back to the antenatal ward. Instead I sat crying in the corridor, where we were found by both the midwife who had been taking care of me earlier, and my parents, who had decide to hot foot it to the hospital following a phone conversation with me earlier from which my mum “could just tell” that I was on the edge.
It took all of them to get me back to my bed. I did finally get some medication for reflux and a promise that things would get moving as soon as possible. I was trapped really, and had to admit defeat.
To give the hospital their due, they did get things moving swiftly after that. I guess they felt they needed to get the baby born before I tried to abscond again. I was taken to Delivery Suite with all of my bags and told that this time I wouldn’t be going back to antenatal. It was baby or bust.
I was taken back to Room 5 on Delivery Suite, the same room I had been in two days previously. It had a fantastic view of the hospital car park (!) so I kept watching the cars moving around the car park again in an effort to distract myself.
The doctor that came to examine me and hopefully break my waters seemed to have missed the memo yet again, as he did not know about the epidural plan, or the fact that we were waiting to discuss with an anaesthetist. I saw an opportunity to have a go at getting my waters broken without the epidural though, so I consented to yet another examination. The plus this time was that the lovely midwife who’d been assigned to take care of me handed me the Gas & Air mouthpiece and told me to go for it.
Even with G&A, this examination was agony. I have no lingering doubt in my mind that he tried his absolute hardest to stretch my cervix. The crushing news was that, despite all the contractions the day before, I was no longer dilated at all and there was no hope of breaking my waters, epidural or none. I suppose this is the point at which I surrendered to the inevitability of a surgical delivery.
The anaesthetist who eventually came to see me was absolutely lovely. His bedside manner was brilliant and he managed to reassure me that the risks associated with a spinal block were less than those with an epidural or even a lumbar puncture. The desire not to miss the moment that my first child enters the world was so overwhelming, that I agreed to have a single attempt at a spinal block, but if this failed, we would move straight to a general anaesthetic. After all the panic and distress of just a few hours earlier, I felt strangely calm and accepting at this stage. My obstetrician even popped in to see me, and I assured her that I was fine with it. At that moment I think I truly had accepted it, because everything else aside, I was desperate to meet my baby. I felt happier to focus my nerves on becoming a new mum than on how the baby was going to get here.
It was finally time.