I always knew that the chances of being induced were very high due to the risks related to my age (I'm pretty ancient for the childbirth world – 42) my consultant wasn't happy to let me become overdue so the plan was always to be induced on or just before my due date. I didn't really mind, I had induced births for Milly, Tinker and Totsy and they had been quite straightforward. Induction has previously started labour quickly, Tinker and Totsy were both quick, calm and easy births, I just had a bit of gas and air and they were born after only a few contractions of pushing and I was expecting the same again. Luna however had slightly different ideas!
Monday 3rd July
At 6am I called labour ward as planned and was asked to go in at 10am. We had quite a relaxed morning, the girls drew pictures of what they thought their new sister would look like then Mr T took Tinker to school and Grandma and Grandad came to pick up Totsy while I packed a few last minute items in my hospital bag. We arrived at the hospital and I was soon hooked up to a monitor for half an hour.
I was examined and though I hoped they would be able to break my waters straight away, I was told I was only 1cm dilated and needed the pessary. It was a bit disappointing but I wasn't too worried. Once the pessary was in place I was told walking was a good idea so we did a lap of the hospital grounds and went for a coffee before returning to be monitored mid afternoon (I was monitored every 4 hours).
I was a bit disappointed that, unlike with my previous induced births, I wasn't feeling anything, no contractions, tightenings or anything to hint that progress was being made but I was still confident that things were about to start. During the day we did a few more laps of the entire hospital grounds (we definitely did our 10,000 steps that day!) and climbed up and down the stairs so many times, but still by the evening absolutely nothing. Nothing! Honestly I was having even less Braxton Hicks contractions than before the induction process began! Eventually Mr T went home about 10.30pm and I settled down for sleep. It wasn't exactly the best night's sleep ever, being woken every 4 hours to be monitored (and baby was quite sleepy so I was often on the monitor for over an hour to get a decent trace) but at least I had the induction ward all to myself (all the other lucky mummy's had been whisked off to delivery during the daytime).
Tuesday 4th July
Morning arrived with nothing to report, Mr T arrived around 8am, I was due to be examined around 11.30am, which was 24 hours after the pessary had been put in. With the lack of contractions I wasn't hopeful there would be any change and sure enough when examined I was still only 1cm. The pessary was left in for another 6 hours but then would be removed. I was feeling quite disheartened, I realised at this point that a caesarean was looking very likely, something I had desperately hoped to avoid. I was missing the kids so much and really wanted to just go home and let things happen naturally (which unfortunately wasn't an option).
After more laps of the hospital we returned to the ward at 5.30pm for the pessary to be removed and for me to be examined. I was pretty sure nothing had changed, I was having mild Braxton Hicks but nothing regular or painful. To my surprise though, when she examined me the midwife declared they would be able to break my waters. Hoo-bloody-ray!!! I could have kissed her! Or cried! (I narrowly avoided doing either – well ok, I probably welled up a bit, but didn't want to full on cry and set Mr T off, he's a bit of a crier at the best of times!)
So finally, we had good news! I needed to be moved to delivery suite before they could break my waters but delivery suite was crazily busy and they didn't have a room just yet. But, apparently we were next on the list to go (depending if anyone else came in with a more urgent need of course). To be honest at this point I didn't mind the wait too much, I was just so glad that there had been some kind of progress (and hugely relieved that it didn't involve a chat with the doctor about failed induction and a caesarean).
By 10pm there was still no room in delivery and it looked more likely that it would be morning before things happened so Mr T reluctantly headed home, we thought we would try to get a bit of sleep before what would hopefully be a very exciting day ahead.
Wednesday 5th July (due date)
I was still being monitored every 4 hours so was woken at 1.50am. Baby was very sleepy so every time they checked on me they decided to leave it for another twenty minutes, so it was after 3am when we had a good enough trace to take the monitor off. But two minutes after removing the monitor the midwife returned to say I could go to delivery! I was excited, called Mr T to say we were good to go and gathered up my things before heading into the bathroom to have a wash, straighten my hair and do my makeup (priorities and all that, didn't want baby to get a fright if the first thing she saw was my bare face, did I?!) While I was still in the bathroom Mr T arrived (bless him, we do live quite close to the hospital, but he had managed to get up, get dressed, drive to the hospital, park the car and get to the ward and I was still putting my mascara on!)
It was about 3.30am when we got to delivery, we met the midwives, got settled in and had a chat about what was going to happen. I had a canula put in as I would need a drip – though two very painful failed attempts by the very apologetic midwife meant the anaesthetist had to be called to do it (and thankfully it then went straight in, almost painlessly!)
I had agreed that the student midwife could try to break my waters even though she had never done it before (I just think everyone has to learn somehow). She tried but wasn't confident she could do it, so then the midwife tried but unfortunately she couldn't do it either. Because baby's head was freely moving up out of my pelvis whenever she attempted to break my waters this made me at very high risk of cord prolapse (which is incredibly dangerous). She went off to discuss with doctors the best course of action. It was eventually decided that the doctor would break my waters but that this would need to wait a few hours for the daytime staff (which means more staff are available than the night shift) as it could potentially end in an emergency situation and might have to take place in theatre.
So feeling more than a little anxious and quite disappointed with events, we were transferred back to the antenatal ward at around half 5. Here, I was given medicine to neutralise stomach acids and told I wasn't allowed to eat because of the now high risk of needing a caesarean (seriously, who tells a pregnant woman she can't eat??? They probably should get a bravery award or something!)
About 8.30am we were sent back to delivery suite, settled back in and met our new midwives (Romy, the main midwife and Sam, the student midwife). It had been discussed that I might have to go to theatre to have my waters broken but in the end the doctor decided to do it in the delivery room. So about 9.30am she broke my waters, and in the end fortunately there was no drama, no cord prolapse and actually, practically no water, certainly not the dramatic waterfall I had with Totsy!
The next couple of hours were spent sitting on an inflatable birthing stool, hooked up to the monitor (not my choice as it's quite restrictive, but it was deemed necessary to monitor baby continuously throughout labour), with my waters continuously trickling (with the odd gush, yep this labour thing is all glamour!) whilst chatting with Romy and Sam. They were absolutely lovely (to be fair all the midwives and students that we came into contact with were so nice which definitely made our hospital stay easier).
By half eleven I was having only very mild contractions so I had the hormone drip started, to get things moving. It didn't take long for contractions to start properly and the drip dose was doubled every half an hour. I was able to just breathe through them for the next few hours and carry on chatting away with the midwives about Sam's midwifery studies and children and Romy's wedding plans.
By mid afternoon the drip was up to full strength, the contractions were much stronger (although I was still just breathing through them) but now baby's heartbeat started to significantly dip with each one. She was clearly not feeling particularly happy.
To try to ease things for baby I was encouraged to get on the bed and lie on my left side, but this made the contractions really painful. Lying down in labour is the absolute worst place to be, I cope so much better being mobile and upright. However I was obviously prepared to do whatever necessary for baby to be okay so stayed on my side on the bed but started to have some gas and air to help with the pain. The senior midwife was called in, she decided to turn the drip dosage down as baby was still not particularly happy but it was recommended I stay on my left side.
This is where it all got a bit crazy for me and the next few hours are very hazy! I think it's fair to say I was absolutely off my face on gas and air!! I was pretty much out of it, fairly noisy (Mr T later said I sounded like Sully from Monsters Inc which I think is a pretty fair description) and quite unaware of everything. I think the fact that I had not eaten a thing since the day before plus I'd had hardly any sleep really didn't help at this point. Eventually I felt lots of pressure but there was still a small rim of cervix, so with baby's heartbeat dipping with each contraction the doctor was called in about half past six. I was given a dose of Meptid and he was able to move the last bit of cervix out of the way – though I have to say I honestly can't really remember much about any of this!! It was probably for the best that the gas and air was wrestled off me, but it was a brave move, I would rather have had a limb chopped off than hand it over!
Finally I started pushing but was struggling, I was exhausted and couldn't focus, they tried to give me glucose tablets and I remember trying to eat them but my mouth was so dry, the contractions were coming thick and fast and I was quite disorientated and out of it. Despite trying as hard as I could to push baby out, she just wasn't moving. They got me to try different positions but it was difficult to move around (I remember saying at one point 'I can't move, I don't even know where I am, I can't even feel my feet!') and it was all just so bloody painful!
I tried pushing on all fours, on my back, on my side, but I just couldn't move her. It all felt frantic and I was still out of it, more with pain than drugs by now. There was a shift change, new midwives came in but I was barely aware of them!
As time ticked by I felt like I really needed assistance, forceps, c-section, anything!! I felt as though I was pushing as hard as I could but she was stuck and I just couldn't move her. But no-one was listening to me when I said that I couldn't do it. Panicking I tried to get my point across to Mr T saying desperately 'why don't you f*cking understand, I just can't get her out!' but he and the midwives just kept saying 'come on you can do it' which I honestly didn't think was true, it didn't feel like any of my previous labours, even with my first the pushing stage had lasted less than 40 minutes and we were way past that at this point. I remember thinking determinedly to myself that the only way for this to end was to push her out but I just couldn't move her enough.
Finally I was told the doctor was on his way and if I wanted to do this myself it was my last chance, I needed to beat the doctor. I think this was intended as motivation but I honestly just thought 'oh, thank god someone is finally going to help me' and I was way beyond caring what form of help it would be.
The senior midwife came in and as a last ditch attempt adjusted the bed and got my legs up in supports and amazingly, it suddenly felt very different. The next time I pushed I felt her move and knew I was going to be able to do it, she was coming out, the relief was immense. Another contraction, more pushing and a bit of panting as directed by the midwife and baby's head was out at 8.37pm literally just as the doctor walked into the room. I have honestly never, ever felt such relief in all my life. One more contraction and an almighty push and I'd done it, she was here – Luna, a brand new person, she was navy blue (the midwife called her a smurf!) very quiet but healthy and perfect in every way. And just like that I was totally in love all over again.
Despite the fact that she was very quiet and very blue she was declared absolutely fine and soon turned pink though she didn't cry at all. I was happy to discover she was under 9lb but only just, weighing in at a super healthy 8lb 15oz. Delivering the placenta took a while despite having the injection to speed it up. It was long enough to see concern on the midwives faces but thankfully it was fine in the end. For the first time I didn't need stitches, which I was ridiculously thrilled about it as I've never managed it before!
After tea and toast (food at last!!) and lots of quiet cuddles just the three of us, I had a shower and then we were taken to the postnatal ward about 11.30pm. We managed a few hours sleep and then in the morning after Luna's newborn checks were completed we were finally discharged and feeling a bit knackered but ecstatic we gratefully headed home with our precious little girl.