I wanted to share the story of my induction, labour and emergency cesarean section with you all. Whether you are expectant first time mothers like I was, or seasoned mums looking to relate, or neither! I would like to share my experiences with you all from this wonderful but extremely scary time of my life.
Sunday 24th November 2019
I woke up on my due date, extremely nervous, excited, and scared of what the day had in store for me. Today was the day agreed upon by my ObGyn Consultant that I was going to be induced due to multiple complications in pregnancy and my baby measuring above the 95th centile. I got up, got dressed, and looked at myself in the mirror. This was the last time I was going to stand in my mirror and admire this baby bump, as the next time I was home I would have said baby in my arms!
With mine and my baby's hospital bags packed, we got into the car and headed to the labour ward at the hospital. There, I was checked in by the lead midwife on duty, and hooked up to the tummy monitor, which I had only been on once before. As I lay there, listening to the baby's heart beat galloping away like little hooves, excitement grew and grew within me. I already was a mum at this point, but I was going to be a mum, for real!
Two days prior to this, I had had a sweep by my regular midwife to try and bring on labour. I had had a show of blood, and already lost my plug, but no other movement or signs of labour at this time. The community midwife told me she thought I was around 1cm at the time of the sweep, however. When the midwife in the induction suite examined me, she said that I absolutely wasn't 1cm dilated, in fact there had been no change to my cervix and it was impossible at this point to pass a foley catheter into my cervix to induce me as planned. This meant that I had to have the Propess pessary inserted instead as a form of induction. The midwife gave me another sweep and then inserted this.
The term 'sweep' refers to a membrane sweep, where the healthcare practitioner places a finger into or around your cervix to separate the membranes. This is thought to bring on labour, however, the sweep alone only has a 24% chance to bring on labour in 48 hours, and this increases to 48% chance over 2 weeks, where most women will begin spontaneous labour.
After this was inserted, I was shown to my bed on the ward and told to rest whilst they monitored my baby via the tummy monitor. After around 20 minutes, I started to feel tightenings in the top of my bump which radiated downwards and around to my back. I told the midwife and she said that they could see this happening on the monitor and it is a good sign that that pessary is working. Another 30 minutes passed and by this time, I was in agony. There was no time between the contractions as they were just rolling and crashing one on top of the other. My husband spoke to the midwife and she came to monitor me 1-1 for a while. She advised that this was a complication of the pessary, as it can make some women over-contract, which is bad for both mum and baby.
Video: Baby heart rate monitor showing baby's heart rate and my contractions.
The midwife made the decision at this point to remove the pessary to see if it would slow my contractions down. They then monitored me for a further 30 minutes, where I was still at the same level of contracting, and they then decided to administer an injection to stop labour all together, as the baby was becoming distressed due to the over-contracting. The relief was almost instantaneous, and after 10 minutes I stopped feeling the contractions all together. I was exhausted, and only had been in mild induced labour for around 2 hours! I felt deflated and a bit useless, but the midwifes assured me that this was all a part of inducing labour, and seeing what works best for different ladies. I was advised to rest for the rest of the day and they would try again in the morning. Whenever someone tells you that you must rest, it is the last thing that you are able to do! Therefore, a sleepless night ensued.
Monday 25th November 2019
At 5am the next morning, I spoke to my midwife about getting the balloon catheter inserted to try and induce labour again. She told me that she had just found a registrar to insert this for me and they were getting the room ready for me to have the procedure done as soon as possible. Not long after this, I was shown into the treatment room where the registrar was setting up the equipment. She gave me another sweep and told me that after yesterday, I had only progressed to 1cm dilated, but this was enough to fit the balloon catheter fortunately. She gave me a really thorough sweep and inserted the catheter, which was difficult for her, and the procedure took around 30 minutes, but it was eventually fitted successfully. It was extremely uncomfortable due to the weight of the balloon internally, but manageable. This had to stay in for 24 hours, to make sure that my cervix was dilated enough to have my waters broken and the hormone drip started on the delivery suite. After this was inserted, I went back to bed.
Throughout the day, the catheter kept leaking blood all over my bedding and my clothes which the midwives said was normal and this was just the rest of my bloody show coming through the tubing. I scared the life out of my sister who noticed the blood one of the times, and on her birthday no less! She was hoping that baby would come today as she wanted to share a birthday with him. It was our nephew's 1st birthday on the 27th and my mum's birthday on the 30th, so November is like birthday central in this family! As the day went on, the catheter got more and more bearable as my cervix began to soften and dilate further. Another sleepless night was on the cards!
Tuesday 26th November 2019
The same midwife who cared for me the night before was back on duty over Monday night into Tuesday morning. She had arranged for the same registrar to remove my catheter at 5-6am Tuesday morning. It was finally removed and what a relief! The registrar gave me one final sweep and informed me that I was now 2-3 cm dilated, which was enough for the doctor on delivery suite to break my waters and finally start my real labour! I was sent back to bed to rest and wait for breakfast. Instead, I took this opportunity to have a shower as I didn't know when the next time was I'd be able to get one!
Later on in the morning after breakfast my husband joined me. Baby was wriggling and kicking away and showing no signs of going anywhere at this point. The midwife told us we could go for a walk and go for a coffee. It took us a long time to get from the ward to Costa due to having severe pelvic girdle pain I had to use crutches to walk. On the way down to Costa, I started to have contractions and had to stop several times in the corridor until they passed. I ran into my best friend unexpectedly in the coffee shop, we had a quick chat before I had to get back up to the ward as they were going to transfer me to the delivery suite!
Once on the delivery suite, my mum arrived to be my 2nd birth partner. After being admitted here, it was full steam ahead and all systems go after days of back and forth and waiting! The anaesthetist placed a cannula in my hand for the hormone drip which took a while due to my veins hiding, but eventually she was in. I then had to change into an extremely glamorous hospital gown before I had my waters broken. It was nothing like I ever expected! I was given gas and air to relax me for the procedure, and as soon as they had inserted the hook, I had water rushing out of me! I never paid much thought to this part of labour/delivery, but in reality it really is gross! My husband even went as far to describe it as "swamp water" running out of me! I asked the midwife if it was supposed to be bright green and she said that no, the baby had opened his bowels inside me (called meconium) which could be damaging to us both, but they were going to monitor the situation. I then had to have a tracing wire attached to the top of baby's head so they didn't lose the baby's vital signs as I moved around whilst labouring. The hormone drip was attached and I was ready to go!
From 2pm until around 10pm I laboured with just gas and air, which at the time I felt was adequate. The contractions were bad when I was having them, but the time in between I was fine. I also had my TENS machine attached to my back which was giving me some relief too. I was examined by the wonderful student midwife looking after me at around 10pm and the midwife told me that I was only 4cm dilated. When I heard this news I was devastated as all the hard work I'd done up to now was only for 1cm! Due to the level of fatigue and exhaustion I was feeling, I asked for an epidural at this point, which was placed within 10-15 mins as the anaesthetist was on the ward already. It took seconds for the pain to disappear, and I laid down and fell asleep for the first time in 3 days.
I awoke an hour later, feeling a sharp pain in my bottom. I told my midwife this and she said sometimes it's a sign that you need to push. She examined me again and told me that I was 5cm dilated, which was good progress from the time that I was last examined. However, I felt something was wrong. The pain kept getting worse and within ten minutes I was back to having full blown contractions. The midwife said that it is unusual for an epidural to fail, but it seems that this is what has happened, and she would call the anaesthetist back to re site the epidural.
Wednesday 27th November 2019
It took from 11pm until 4am for the anaesthetist to come back to re site the epidural. My memories from this time are hazy and honestly I can't remember all the details due to how utterly exhausted I was. I was re-examined after the 2nd epidural was placed and told that I was now 6cm dilated. It was progress, but it didn't feel like progress to me. They wanted to re-examine me after the morning shift came on and decide a plan from there. The second epidural failed too, with no relief from this I was constantly feeling contractions, and if I could go back and change anything from this time it would be to not ask for an epidural as I only ever had a working one for around an hour anyway.
When the morning shift started, the midwife in charge examined me and she informed me that due to my baby being back to back in the womb, he had tried to turn in the birth canal and got stuck. This meant that my cervix had swollen to 5cm and I was classed as "failure to progress" which was absolutely a kick in the guts after all I felt I had endured over the past days. The registrar came to speak with me and he told me that I needed an emergency cesarean section and they were prepping theatre as we spoke to get baby out of me ASAP. I signed the consent form and cried my eyes out to my husband, who was just as scared as I was.
I was wheeled down to theatre, where I saw a familiar face. It was the consultant anaesthetist that I saw in my antenatal checks, and she absolutely put my mind and body at ease. I told her about the failed epidurals and she assured me that she would be placing a new spinal anaesthetic before they did anything and she would personally see to it that I was in absolute comfort before proceeding. I remember it being an all-female team of doctors, surgeons and midwives in theatre with me, which I also found empowering being surrounded by other strong women. The spinal anaesthetic was placed and I went completely numb from the chest down and I remember feeling such relief over this.
Before I knew it, the operation had began. My husband was sat next to my head holding my hand. I felt some tugging, pulling and pushing, but no pain at all during the operation. I have absolutely no idea how much time elapsed between the start and end of the operation, but after some time, they told Steven to stand up and see his son being born. They then pulled the surgical screen down and presented me with my newborn baby son. He was purple, his fine hair, eyes and nails all stained green due to the meconium, but he was utterly the most beautiful sight I had ever set my eyes on. He was taken to be dried off and Steven cut his cord, and then he was placed straight on my chest where he remained until I was ready to be wheeled to the recovery room. In recovery, he was briefly placed with Steven whilst the baby was weighed and the midwife took my observations. I could hardly keep my eyes open, I was quite traumatised from the whole ordeal, in shock and utter disbelief that I finally had my baby here, as well as carrying the exhaustion from the past days events. But none of that mattered, because I finally held my darling baby boy that we had waited so long to hold.
The love of my life, Rory John Paul Thompson, born by emergency cesarean section on Wednesday 27th November at 9:14am weighing 9lb 11oz.