My pregnancy with Rowan was complicated.
I ticked so many risk factors from my booking in appointment that I was given a consultant’s appointment to discuss things very quickly. Previous c-section, previous pre-eclampsia, a high BMI, postnatal depression after having my eldest and hyperemesis which started fairly early on.
At 16 weeks I went for my glucose tolerance test for gestational diabetes and received a phone call later that day to go in to have a chat. That’s when the regular scans, blood testing, regular consultants appointments and being extra vigilant about what I was eating began. Within a couple of months it had progressed to the point where I needed insulin each morning, which in turn meant that an induction or planned section at 38 weeks was recommended.
After the induction experience that I had with my eldest I was scared of repeating that process again (definitely a story for another time ). Until I was 37 weeks I was adamant that I wanted a planned section because it was predictable, easier to control and wouldn’t mean a lengthy induction process taking me away from Oliver.
I had a chat with my consultant and decided with a week to go, and his assurance that I could call time on the induction and go for a section at any point, that I would give it a go. This was going to be my last baby and my last shot at labour – I wanted to give it a go rather than wondering forever if it would have worked.
On the day that I was booked in for my induction, I was the only person in the ward. We had a leisurely wait around whilst the midwives did blood tests, checked in on my care plan and waited for a consultant to do an examination and apply the gel to start the induction.
It took until early afternoon, but they came round, applied the gel and left us to wait. Between blood pressure and blood sugar checks I bounced on a birthing ball, did laps around the hospital, walked up and down stairs all afternoon to try and get things moving, and started getting small contractions every few minutes. I had another examination in the early evening and was told that they’d see how I got on overnight then decide what to do the next morning.
As the ward was empty and we lived in the next town, the midwives made up a bed for John so that he could stay the night with me, which was really reassuring. John slept for a while, whilst I paced up and down between contractions, then at about 2am we went for a wander round the hospital and up and down as many stairs as we could find to get things moving.
We went back to the ward and I nodded off for a few hours. I was disappointed that the contractions had gone when I woke up in the morning, but delighted to find that I’d lost my plug – something was obviously working. We had more waiting and more discussions with midwives and consultants and it was decided that I would be moved to the labour ward to have my waters broken and to finally be put on the hormone drip.
We had had a midwife in the room with us and a very enthusiastic student midwife. They explained the induction process, chatted to me about my birth preferences and I also told them what I wanted to happen if I had to go into theatre. I felt as though we were were in safe hands and that my wishes would be respected.
As I hadn’t been able to eat or sleep properly, I had a few irregular blood sugar readings, so I had to be put on on a sliding scale of medication to help my blood sugar, in addition to the drip for the induction, the blood pressure cuff and the monitors for Rowan’s heartbeat and my contractions. I was fairly wired up and very concerned about my mobility.
All the same, my waters were broken, the hormone drip switched on and my contractions went from nothing to full on contractions very quickly. I tolerated lying down so they could monitor Rowan for about three contractions then told the student midwife that somehow I needed to move. She rearranged wires and drips, moved the bed, got a birthing ball and helped me up. John stood with me, breathed with me, and told me that I could do it. I believed him. I stayed calm and found a comfortable position leaning on the ball, then continued to breathe through contractions that were already very intense and arriving every couple of minutes, whilst John massaged my back and and I chatted to to the midwives between contractions.
I eventually asked for gas and air when I started getting tired, as the afternoon progressed. I felt a bit ripped off because it didn’t help with the pain, but it gave me something to concentrate on which was enough for me to be able to carry on.
After a few hours the midwives did an did an exam to see how far I’d progressed, given the intensity and timing of the contractions, to find that I was still at 4 cm. No one could believe it, but on I went. We repeated more of the same until I’d been labouring intensely for nine hours, to discover that I was still at 4cm and getting pain around my the scar from my previous section.
After speaking to the Consultant, we decided that it was time time for a c-section.
I went into theatre (Operating room for US family) at 1 am. It was cold and and I very suddenly became aware of how tired I was and how John wasn’t with me any more. I was introduced to the theatre team, I told them that I wanted skin to skin and and that I wanted to try and feed Rowan as soon as I could to help with regulating his blood sugar.
The spinal was put in place between contractions, everyone got very busy and John finally walked into theatre. He sat with me and we carried on chatting to the team. There is no feeling quite as strange as being awake whilst you’re having major surgery, no one prepares you for just how weird that feeling is! The team were very good at reassuring us and letting me know what was going on, until the point that they started saying things like “he’s stuck”. I panicked for Rowan. They had to fetch someone else into theatre to help, who managed to get him out. I waited for the cry and breathed a huge sigh of relief when I heard it. We’d done it. After a difficult pregnancy that seemed endless and very scary at times, he was here safely.
He was born at 1.59 am and was just perfect.
They brought him over to me for skin to skin and I got to to see him for about ten minutes before they asked John to leave the theatre and suggested that Rowan should go with him to have the colostrum that I had frozen to help with any blood sugar issues he might have for his first feed, instead of feeding with me.
I became aware that the team were seeming a bit less chilled out and and that there seemed to be a call going on in the background to the blood bank in the next town, so I agreed and found myself alone and cold again. I started shivering and was told that it was probably a reaction to the anesthetic. The issue with my labour progressing, Rowan getting stuck in theatre and my blood loss had all been caused by a band of scar tissue that had formed when I was healing from my previous section. I had to laugh when they told me – it’s a running joke that I heal like wolverine, but that was was over the the top even for me!
It took another hour, but they managed to patch me up and wheel me into recovery to see John and Rowan. I was exhausted but so happy to be out of theatre, I was still shivering so they put a huge inflatable heated blanket on me to warm me up whilst I chatted with the staff, fed Rowan and was fully debriefed.
I know this isn’t a typical empowering birth, but for me it was a positive experience from start to finish. I was able to experience labour even though my body wasn’t entirely impressed with the idea, John was (once again) the best birth partner I could have wished for, the team at all points heard me and respected my wishes, and the communication was excellent. Most importantly, Rowan was out, we were both okay and we got to introduce Oliver to his little brother.
We’d made it.
*Editor’s Note – This is the latest labor in our Punky Moms Birth Story Series and we are grateful to be sharing these stories with readers like you. Care to share your birth story? We would be honored if you would consider sharing yours with us. Send us an email and say hello.