So I was originally going to be induced on Friday 19th February, and had to be at hospital for 11, but we were half way there when I got a call to say that they were going to have to move us to Saturday as they had some higher priority cases. They said to still come in though as they would monitor baby for a bit, and I asked if they could give me a second membrane sweep too. OH was pretty hacked off with the situation, I think because he was so psyched up for it all about to happen. I on the other hand didn’t mind. I figured everything happens for a reason and maybe my boy needed another day inside me, or maybe a second membrane sweep would bring things along naturally.
So we got there and got connected up to monitor baby’s heartbeat and the level of my contractions. Then a midwife came to do the membrane sweep and oh my goodness how uncomfortable was that! The membrane sweep on Tuesday had not been too bad at all. This was 10 times worse, and then it turned out she couldn’t do the sweep at all as my cervix was too tight and not even 1cm dilated. Very confusing.. Did this mean things regressed since Tuesday, or did they not do it correctly on Tuesday at all? We then went home and chilled for the afternoon.
Saturday we had to be at hospital for 8am! I was not a happy bunny as that meant getting up at 6am, and I am not a morning person! We got to the ward and they hooked me up for about half an hour to monitor baby again to have a baseline to check against as the induction progressed. Then the midwife put some prostaglandin gel by my cervix to soften it and then the wait began. Basically the procedure is to give the gel 6 hours, then check and see if things are soft enough for them to break my waters, and if not give another gel application and wait another 6 hours. They said it was common for first time pregnancies to need the two applications.
So we waited.. Went and had a coffee and pastry at the hospital M&S cafe, went and sat in the car and OH read to me, sat in the ward and watched the film “Man up” on my iPad, one earphone each! Incidentally a good film choice for light hearted distraction, it has us chuckling in several places and the midwife came to see what was making us laugh! In between these activities I’d be hooked up for baby to be monitored for 20 mins at a time, just to check he was ok and not in any distress. There were two other ladies in the ward also be induced. One made me mad as she was a smoker and would go outside for fag breaks..I hate that a mum can’t bring herself to give up smoking for the sake of her unborn child.
About 2pm I started having contractions. They very quickly started coming about every 2 minutes, for about 20-30 seconds. I would stand and sway on the spot and breathe through them. I couldn’t bear the thought of sitting or lying thought it. They started coming stronger and my breathing ramped up to match it and I started to use the TENS machine I had brought. The midwife said that it was likely they would get stronger but more spaced out, but no, they stayed 2 minutes apart and the duration of each slowly increased to between 30-45 seconds. Now with each one I would lean on OH and squeeze a blue smiley stress ball in one hand (using stress balls is one method in Juju Sandin’s “Birth Skills” book), hold the TENS machine control in the other, and we started saying the mantra that OH had decided would be good – “Big fat moose”! We chose it because you can’t say it and at least smile or chuckle, and you can put a lot of emphasis into the moose part. As the contractions went on we got louder saying it together, and then when I was getting tired OH would just chant it and I would listen. The midwife said we made a good team.
They didn’t want to do too many internal examinations due to my Group B strep, and the midwife said about 3:30 or so that she could see from how I behaved that things were quite well progressed and she didn’t think I’d need a second gel. She felt we should move to the delivery area where they could then do an internal check, give me the intravenous antibiotics for the Group B strep to minimise risk of it passing to baby during birth, and then break my waters. I had wanted to use the midwife led unit but sadly the 3 delivery rooms there were all in use. However the only delivery room on the main delivery suite that had a birthing pool was free, so we could use that which was a partial consolation. At the time part of me I have to admit also thought it was good to be there as if I wanted an epidural I could have this on the delivery suite floor, whereas it wasn’t an option in the midwifery led unit. So we made our way downstairs, stopping frequently as the contractions came. The whole time since they started OH was doing his best to time them on his phone!
We got to the room and started to settle in. Then they said that a room had come free in the midwife led unit, but by this point I really couldn’t face moving again, so we stayed put. Now with each contraction I was leant over the bed, which was raised quite high. The midwife allocated to us for delivery, Anne, sorted out the antibiotic drip, which I think was in for 20 mins but it seems really short to me now, everything was starting to blur as all I could concentrate on was each contraction. She started filling the birthing pool before she was going to examine me and break my waters, but then with the next contraction there was a huge warm gush and a splat as it hit the floor – they had broken on their own! She chose not to examine me then and I just got in the birthing pool. It didn’t noticeably make the contractions less painful (or maybe it did and they would have gotten more painful if I wasn’t in the pool?) but it did immensely help with relaxing in between contractions. I really worked on my breathing and OH thinks he’s never seen me as relaxed as I was in those in between times! So I think the pregnancy yoga breathing and my natal hypnotherapy CD really did help me.
I started off on my knees in the pool leaning over, but then at Anne’s suggestion sat back and with each contraction I would brace my feet against the side of the pool, and squeeze the stress ball still in my hand. People are right that when the time comes you really don’t care who sees you in the nude. Anne really mostly left me to do my thing, my body seemed to know what to do. With each contraction I was now really groaning and bearing down. I never thought I would be so vocal but it did help immensely to listen to the sound, and apparently I was far from loud compared to some. Anne thought from my behaviour that I moved into transition fairly quickly. After a while though she wondered about me getting out of the pool so she could check me, since she hadn’t at all yet, and she didn’t want me continuing to put all the effort in that I was if baby wasn’t close yet. Although I had never thought previously that I would want an actual water birth, now I really didn’t want to get out, and I felt baby was close as I just had immense pressure down below. I told Anne i thought he was really almost here. So she held off and kept checking with a flashlight to see if she could see baby’s head yet – I thought using a torch was funny! Anyway then he was right there and with the next contraction his head popped out, which physically was a huge relief, and one or two contractions later he was all out and Anne placed him on my chest. His eyes were already open and alert. I was a mummy, with a gorgeous little boy! Such an amazing feeling.
I am so lucky to have had just a short 5 hour labour, and I’m so proud of myself for not needing any pain relief. It never even occurred to me to ask for gas and air. That’s not to say it wasn’t hard, and at the end I had a very strong sense that I never wanted to go through that again. Not that it’s likely anyway as we would struggle to justify funding another IVF cycle.. I mean if you could guarantee success that’s one thing, but to spend so much on top of what we already have, only for a chance of a sibling, when that money could be spent on nicer things for the one we already have.. Although it is funny how the birth memories fade, as now on day 10 I feel that I could go through labour again if it came to it. Anne said how nice it was to have such a quick natural birth on the delivery suite floor, as it doesn’t happen often and the birthing pool there doesn’t get used that much.
Back in the pool it started getting chilly so baby Ethan went to have some skin on skin time with Daddy whilst I waited for the placenta to be delivered. I was hardly having any contractions and after a while of waiting and nothing much happening, I got out and onto the bed as I was just too cold. In the meantime Ethan had both pooped and peed on daddy! Hilarious 🙂 after 40 minutes I was just fed up of waiting and wanted the whole process to be over, so I chose to have the injection that helps the placenta to come out, and within 5 minutes it was out and OH was amazed by how large it was. Then I got Ethan back for cuddles, he was weighed (3355g or about 7lbs 6oz) and we had a first breast feed. Then I had some stitches.. I didn’t have any pain down below but evidentally I had torn just a little, so had my legs up in stirrups whilst they sorted me out.
The time after this is a bit of a blur. I know I had a shower, and they left us for family time. Eventually about 1am we moved up to a ward and got settled in for the night. I will blog more about that and the first week another time, this post is lengthy enough as it is. I hope reading about Ethan’s birth may be reassuring for some – that an induction does not mean a more painful labour, or a distressed baby, or that you can’t still have a natural birth experience. Don’t get me wrong, labour is hard, but it is also absolutely amazing, and incredible how our bodies work. It is not something to be afraid of.