Our beautiful son was born at 0350 on Thursday 27th October 2011. He weighed 10lbs and was 56cm long. He had a very chubby face, blue eyes and a head of fine dark hair. His arrival was something my husband and I had been dreaming of for more than two years - but it was also the most traumatic thing I've ever experienced.
I was told at 36 weeks that I would be induced on my due date as the baby's head was measuring very large so they didn't want him to cook for too long and get even bigger. So at 40+1 I checked into the antenatal ward and had my pessary put in place. My first concern came when I was told I'd be checked in 24 hours - I thought that doesn't sound very speedy! The pessary didn't have much effect so once the 24 hours or so were up, gel was put in place to try and get things going. Well I thought it definitely worked. I was starting to feel real pain...only to be told these were just 'tightenings', I'd later learn what a contraction really felt like but at this point I was rather proud of coping so well - ignorance really is bliss!
It turned out the gel was working as it got me to 3cms dilated - so the next step was to have my waters broken and that's when the fun started. The hospital was so swamped with labouring women that there was no space for me on the ward so I'd just have to wait until I went into labour or a room became available. So for THREE days I was stuck in the ante natal ward, watching women screaming in pain, almost giving birth there and then, as the poor midwives desperately tried to find space for us all. I kept slipping down the waiting list as women in established labour or those with more serious issues kept coming in.
Then during a routine check, we found the baby's heart rate had jumped from 130 to 180bpm and it stayed that high for around 40 minutes. Suddenly doctors were coming in and out, checking things, muttering to each other. Obviously I was in tears and panicking by this point. The staff made sure a space was now found for me on the labour ward and I was whisked away.
Once on the labour ward the baby's heart rate did settle back down - I think he was being sneaky to make sure his arrival was speeded up, we'd probably still be on the ante natal ward otherwise! But when my waters were broken, it was discovered that there was very little fluid in there. Another scan was done and the consultant said as I was expecting a large baby, along with the lack of fluid and the fast heart rate, that I would be given just four hours on the drip to induce me and if that didn't work, then it would be a c section.
My lovely midwife told me she wouldn't put me on the drip until I could have the epidural as the pain would start up quickly. Unfortunately for me the anaesthesiologist was busy dealing with a c section so I had to wait...and that's when the contractions finally started properly. OH MY GOD. I never knew I could experience such pain without dying! Yes I am rubbish with pain but it actually blows my mind that some women choose to go through that with nothing but gas and air - how on earth cam you put up with hours of that?! In a weird way I'm glad I know what it feels like but I'll be very happy to never do it again!
The lovely man with all the drugs eventually arrived and put me out of my misery - ah bliss! I stopped cursing my husband and actually felt human again. So the drip was then started - four hours later and I was excited to find out how much I'd progressed...and there was precisely bugger all movement down there, I was still just 3 to 4 cm dilated. I was so disappointed and fed up...five days in hospital, a pessary, gel and the drip plus four hours of contractions all for nothing. It was time for the c section.
Off we went to surgery. My first clue that it wasn't all going well was when I had a second cannula put in so I could be on two drips at once. I also remembering hearing the anaesthesiologist rebuffing attempts at banter with another member of staff by saying "let me deal with the systolic drop of 50". This still doesn't mean much to me but it didn't sound good! Then I could hear the doctors talking about the baby's head being stuck. It turns out that all those attempts at induction meant no.1 son's giant head was getting more and more wedged in my pelvis. They needed industrial size forceps to pull him out. Again I had to listen to the doctor getting very stressed that she didn't have the strength to pull him out and more people eventually came in to help. I was worrying about a lack of oxygen for the baby was he'd been stuck for so long and there were no cries at first, making me even more scared. Our son needed to be resuscitated and we had to wait several long minutes before hearing the lovely sound of him crying.
During all of this I felt very removed and distant from what was happening. I barely got to see my son's face before he and my husband left while I was stitched up - and at the time, I didn't even care. What I didn't know then was that I'd lost more than a litre of blood and my vitals had been dropping so badly during the surgery that they actually turned off the beeps as my poor husband was freaking out at the sound of everything plummeting.
Back on the labour ward I was in and out of it for a while so still didn't actually hold the baby before being moved to the postnatal ward. Then, thanks to visiting hours that mean new mums are alone from 8.30pm until 10am, I was left with this crying baby that I could barely pick up thanks to my swollen hands and recently sliced open stomach. I ended that night crying along with my son until a midwife came and rescued us. She tucked him under her arm and he stopped immediately!
Two days later I was finally home. It was such a relief to be back in my environment with the constant support of my husband and other family members. For the first week, every time I thought about the labour, I cried. I never blamed my son obviously but I couldn't help but associate him with the trauma I'd been through. I felt I didn't bond with him properly until week 3.
To sum it up, all the staff I met were lovely and supportive, k have nothing but praise for these overworked people. But I feel that perhaps I should have been given a section earlier due to the fact that they knew the baby was measuring big...it felt like once the induction was started, that we had to carry on to the bitter end, rather than admit defeat. My local hospital also has a severe shortage of midwives which I think is a national problem that needs to be addressed.
As for me, the consultant told my husband that any future pregnancies must end in a section to prevent future 'trauma'. I'm pleased they recognised this wasn't an ideal experience and knowing that I won't have to go through the whole process again means I can face having a second baby. My son meanwhile makes me laugh every day and I'm so in love with him. It may have taken awhile but the bond between us is so strong now. He is worth every second of pain...but I'm not rushing into pregnancy number 2 just yet!