I have often wanted to write this down, having told it, possibly hundreds of times to friends, family, consultants, midwives, counsellors etc. I never quite knew where to put it – did I send it in to Clemmie’s blog – Gas and Air or did I put it on my other blog – This Demanding Life. The content being personal to me and once I started using this blog again, I just knew that this was the right place for it so here goes and bear with me, it was 7 years ago now!
Dylan’s pregnancy was completely unplanned and this meant that I didn’t really know much about different birth options, pregnancy conditions etc. Needless to say, I learnt fast! In the beginning of the pregnancy I thought I’d be fine with a home birth, birthing pool etc. Then morning sickness hit, followed by agonising SPD (now known as PGP). I knew with the pain of SPD and 28 weeks of morning sickness, that I wanted to be in hospital with all the drugs! At around 30 weeks pregnant I started to get other symptoms, including a persistent rash, which can be a symptom of a condition that causes stillbirth. One of my friend’s had a stillborn baby when I was 9 weeks pregnant and so I was extra worried and vigilant. After not being happy with my Doctor’s explanation for the rash, I went to see a consultant who had been highly recommended. He did some blood tests which said that the rash was not related to pregnancy and I had just become allergic to a product/something in my environment, however he was extremely concerned about how I was going to have this baby as, presenting at 33 weeks, the baby was very large and the consultant thought that I was going to have an exceptionally tough time trying to deliver him. He recommended a c-section and said I should go to my hospital allocated consultant to discuss it. Urgently as the baby was due in a few weeks. He also booked a scan to check the size of the baby who, at 34 weeks, was estimated to already weigh 5lbs 12oz.
I’d like to start this paragraph by saying that this was in 2009, where there was a lot of media coverage about the NHS having a huge drive to cut down on c-sections. I arranged to see the Consultant the hospital had allocated and met his Registrar who basically told me to stop wasting her time and get out of her office. I then booked an appointment to see the Consultant as a private patient to discuss my concerns with him. I explained that I had seen this other Consultant (whom my consultant had trained under) and his concerns and recommendations. My Consultant (sorry if this is confusing, I’m trying to leave out names!) said that he was sick of seeing young girls(! – I was 28!) coming into his office demanding c-sections when what we should be doing is be up on labour ward pushing our babies out. Charming. He then said that the baby was a ‘good size’ and to ‘hope for the best and prepare for the worst’.
Two weeks later at midnight, I went into labour. It started with period style pain 10 minutes apart quickly progressing to 3 minutes apart at 3am, where we phoned and then went into the hospital. This bit started to feel a bit chaotic – I woke Stu up who then insisted on ‘sprucing up’ enquiring if I’d packed things for him and had to phone a friend, who was going to drive me to hospital, as Stu doesn’t drive. We arrived at the hospital and it seemed to take an inordinately long time to check in but we eventually were allocated a room and left to get on with it.
The contractions were ramping up and eventually, an hour and a half after arriving at the hospital, a midwife came to check on us. She did an examination, declared me to be 5.5cm dilated and said that I could have an epidural but the anaesthetist was in theatre so I’d have to wait. In the meantime, I could have Gas and Air.
Just over 2 hours later the midwives changed shift (it was now 7am) and I had a midwife (who was roughly our age) and a student midwife who, all being well, would deliver the baby. The anaesthetist arrived a few minutes later to administer the epidural. The first one must have hit a nerve or something because my left leg suddenly shot forward. The epidural promptly fell out. The second one worked and there was instant relief.
The Midwife explained that they had a hospital policy to only examine women every 4 hours and as the previous Midwife had examined me just before 5am, I wouldn’t be examined again until 9am. I remember feeling very tired and wished everyone would just leave the room so I could get some sleep, as I had been up all of the day before and all night. The epidural had killed all pain and it would be great to get some rest. However the Midwife was chatting away and I didn’t have the confidence to say I wanted to be on my own.
I was examined at 9am and they found that the baby’s head was in completely the wrong position, he was facing the side, not backwards. They knew from the scans that his head was frikken large (turns out it was on the 99th centile!) and that this couldn’t end well. However as this would not be classed as an ’emergency’, they would not perform a c-section. Instead, even though I was fully dilated, they wanted to wait an extra hour to see if the contractions would turn the baby to the correct position.
An hour passed and not much had changed, they wanted to wait another hour….. they had to keep topping up the epidural as it wears off after approximately an hour. During one of the top ups, it stopped working on a patch and I had very intense pain in one spot (weird!)
An hour later the baby’s head had changed position slightly, it was now 11am and the Midwife felt that we couldn’t really wait any longer. I was guided on how to push and encouraged on with it. An hour and 40 minutes later the Midwife went to get the Ward Sister as apparently, you’re not allowed to push for over and hour and a half with it being undocumented. The student midwife came to do checks, tripped over my drip, ripping the whole thing out my arm and I had to have another one put in the other hand. This felt like adding insult to injury at this point.
At around 1:45pm I had an utter meltdown, snot, tears, the lot. I was telling Stu that it wasn’t happening, the baby wasn’t coming and I knew something was going to be seriously wrong. The Midwife assured me that everything would be ok, the baby was just in a very awkward position but to keep going.
Just after 2pm the alarms started to go off as the monitor could not locate the baby’s heartbeat. The Midwife went sheet white and the crash team arrived. Not knowing whether the baby was alive at this point, the team decided to use a ventouse to deliver him as quickly as possible, they gave me an epidural mixed with morphine, an episiotomy and said ‘you push, we pull’. Six minutes later he was born (at 2:11pm). He was stunned so didn’t move or make a sound, he was completely grey with white hands and feet. They had to cut the cord immediately as I had started to haemorrhage and my first memory of seeing him is him being held up with the cord cut and bright blue.
They put this silent, motionless, grey baby in my arms and I was crying saying ‘he’s dead, why have you given him to me?’ They said (not too insistently) that he’s not dead, just stunned, then they took him over to the bench to work on his colour etc (basically rubbing him down until he ‘pinks up’ and starts crying).
Their concern was I was haemorrhaging and they needed to find the bleed and stop it. My uterus wasn’t contracting and they had to do both, manual compressions on my uterus, as well as put me on a drip to try to get it to contract.
At 3:05pm, they finished working on me, gave me the baby and we had our first proper cuddle, followed by feed. I still couldn’t get out of bed or cleaned up because of the epidural so the Midwife gave me my phone and said as it would be a while, to start calling friends and family to let them know he had been born.
Two and a half hours later the same Midwife came to the room to help me stand up and walk to the bathroom (thankfully en-suite) to have a bath and get changed. She was very sweet, walking with her arms outstretched in case I fell. Finally, around 6:40pm they came to take me from the delivery room to a room on a ward as Dylan and I had to stay in hospital for observation. The photo above is the first photo we had taken together, when we were settled in the room and he was approximately 6 hours old.
Dylan’s now a healthy, happy 7 year old who, other than a blistered head from the ventouse (which healed after a couple of weeks), showed no signs of trauma from his delivery. I, on the other hand, wasn’t as lucky, with stitches that didn’t stop hurting for over 2 years, to waking up every night for 3 years convinced he had died. Luckily now, having had another baby, whose delivery was the polar opposite of Dylan’s and many years between that moment 7 years ago and now, all is finally well.