I really want a baby: Part 2
Have you read Part 1? From Belly to bump.
I vividly remember starting with contractions one Friday morning. I convinced myself that the would probably stop. So I sent my boyfriend off to work. I hoped I would need to call him back with news of progression. All my contractions continued, frequent and regular. I had a bath or 3! I had paracetamol. I used a birthing ball to encourage a good fetal position. It got harder and harder to cope but I stayed at home until my boyfriend got home from work. I had this crazy idea that I would be one of those first time mums who walked into the labour ward at 8cm! How wrong could I be.
After arriving at the maternity unit I had a 2 1/2 hr wait to be seen. Ridiculous I know. By this point if I could climb walls I would. I was in tears. I was in so much pain. At last I was invited into a room, popped on a fetal heart monitor and examined. Then the midwife uttered those words that no woman in labour wants to hear…’you’re only 1 cm’. Her words echoed in my head, 1 cm. The disappointment written all over my face. ‘If the CTG is ok, it’s best if you go home’ she said. I panicked, I was in so much pain how could I cope at home?
Thankfully, I think they could see how much pain I was in and allowed me to have a shot of pethidine. I got an hours sleep before awaking to contractions that had slowed to 2:10 from 3-4:10. This would be my last sleep for a while. I got home in the small hours of the morning, bereft of the hope I had. I got into bed, knowing I wouldn’t sleep but just wanted to rest a while. Then it happened, my waters went. It actually felt like I was having a wee that I couldn’t stop! It’s clear, no meconium or blood I thought. I phoned the maternity unit to hear yet more words that no pregnant woman wants to hear, ‘I’m afraid we’ve had to close the unit to admissions as we are full’. They named another hospital and luckily my boyfriend had an idea which way to go.
Once we got to the hospital, we struggled to find the entrance. You can imagine the words coming out of my mouth. At 3am on a cold Saturday morning, there was no body around to ask. We got back in the car and drove around to the next car park. At last people, lights and a reception. But wait, wrong entrance again! We were directed to yet another car park. At last, we could see signs for maternity.
We were greeted and seen fairly quickly. I must have progressed, I longed for her to tell me I was at least 5cm. (Don’t ask me why 5cm, I don’t know why. I just wanted to be progressing). I could tell by the look on her face. She didn’t need to say a word. She uttered ‘you’re only 1-2cm, it would probably be best for you to go home’. We were 20 miles from home and I actually think I did climb the wall at this point. I was really beginning to loose it. I couldn’t cope with the pain any more. I was already shattered. I had to beg for more pain relief. I was ushered into a bath. My 4th bath. The baths that inflicted more hassle getting in and out of that it offered relief. So much for waiting until I was well established before having any drugs! They gave in and let me have another shot of Pethidine. I think I slept for about an hour. I awoke still contracting regularly and the pain was getting stronger. I recalled the many labours of women I had attended. This was not good. I knew where this was going.
Another examination and finally words I was glad to hear ‘you’re 3cm’. Although disappointed at the extremely slow progress. I knew this meant that the epidural was in sight. This is purely because textbooks say that established labour is from about 3-4cm with regular painful contractions! This is the earliest time an epidural is recommended. Before this it has the potential to slow down progress. It’s always driven me crazy as a midwife that pain is rarely acknowledged as being significant until you are in established labour! Now I know the reasons for discouraging pain relief until established in labour. But psychologically it is so upsetting when your pain is not acknowledged as being painful enough until a certain dilatation is reached. I honestly thought at this point I had an obstructed labour. My thoughts kept swaying from I don’t want pain relief but I NEED IT!
There was a wait for a room on the delivery unit so the midwife brought me a TENS machine to use. This was great for a couple of hours.
At about 11am on the Saturday morning into the delivery room I went. This was it. This was the room I might get to meet my daughter. Extremely tired and scared, a smile swept across my face. I can still see the room clearly in my mind. I was so excited to meet my daughter. That moment seemed so close yet so far away. I had the epidural. It was pretty straightforward and rather magnificent. Oh my the relief that followed. Within minutes the pain melted away. I was then hooked up to the hormone drip to help strengthen my contractions. My epidural, I think had become dislodged. I had a window of pain that wouldn’t go despite changes in position. This was agony. Things were taking far too long. To put it into perspective, according to the textbooks most women make what is deemed normal progress at 1cm per hour. It took me 22 hrs to progress 4cm.
At about 9am on the Sunday morning I was 7cm dilated. I was on my second bag of syntocinon (the hormone drip) and my baby’s heart beat was persistently fast. Enough was enough and I certainly didn’t need time to consider my consent to a cesarean.
Read Part 3: The birth of a new chapter