Here I am, the morning of my induction, at 41 + 3 weeks. It’s not the best photo but it was taken before 7am, so, you know…..
I wrote this post about preparing for an induction the night before. I didn’t get a huge amount of sleep, but that’s to be expected when you’re full term anyway. My sister drove up early to watch the boys, who, for once, didn’t wake up at 6am and were still sleeping when we left. I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t say goodbye to them but it was probably better that they didn’t see us leave. I made myself have breakfast because I knew inductions can take a while to get going and did my hair as securely as possible. Kind of felt like I was gearing up for battle, though I didn’t bother with war paint/makeup. Well okay, I did my eyebrows and whacked on some tinted lip balm. But that was it because I knew everything else would just get sweated off.
I brought one of my bags into the maternity ward – the labour + just-after-birth stuff, and left everything else in the car. They took me to a birth suite and hooked up the CTG for a trace.
I was still quite relaxed at this point, though the hospital setting was giving me a little bit of anxiety. Not a huge amount, but being in the birth suite, hooked up to the fetal monitor, with that hospital smell and the dingy sheets and weird crackly pillows….it all reminded me of the two previous occasions I had been in that situation, in the middle of labour. In pain. Yeah, I had kind of forgotten about that part….
We met our midwife, Sally, and talked through the induction process, which for me would just be rupturing the membranes (since I was already 3 centimetres dilated) and then waiting for a couple of hours before starting a syntocin drip, if necessary. The doctors had a meeting at 8am, and our midwives said they would come around after that to start things off. So we waited. Husband had his PSP to keep entertained (which didn’t bother me at all because I knew he’d put it away once things got going). I ate a bit, drank a lot, peed a lot, changed out of my jeans into a short skirt, tried to nap a little bit, and waited. And waited. Even the midwife said she was bored!
Eventually a very lovely doctor, Robyn, came by at 9:30am or so to put in a canula, which hurt like a b!tch – have you seen the size of those needles?! It ended up on the inside of my left wrist, which meant I couldn’t really do anything with that hand. (This was mostly put in as a precautionary measure, because they weren’t starting the Syntocin drip yet.)
They broke my waters at 10am and hooked me back up to the CTG for a while. I had a couple of strong contractions about five minutes apart, just painful enough that I had to close my eyes and count through them. That’s when I first started to get that ohhh…why am I doing this again? feeling. It’s funny how it only takes *one* painful contraction to bring it all back….
After 20 minutes or so they let me get up and walk around and suggested I try taking a shower. Husband was getting hungry so I told him to get something to eat, because I knew he wouldn’t get a chance later on. He asked if I wanted anything, and I told no, even though I was hungry, because I was already feeling a bit nauseated and I would just throw it up anyway.
Pretty much straight away I started having strong, regular contractions – I wasn’t sure of the time but would have guessed they were every couple of minutes. I used lavender oil in the base of the shower and leant over a chair during each contraction (which was harder than it sounds because I couldn’t grab anything with my left hand!) I think I was in there for an hour or so and by the end I wasn’t coping well with the pain level. I also started to feel sick and vomited so the midwife gave me an anti-nausea med through the cannula.
I left the shower after that and put on a hospital gown, because by that point I cbf with what I was wearing. My husband was back and there was a medical student in the room, too, who seemed quite nice but also a bit clueless – I suspect she hadn’t spent much time around labouring women, though that might have just been my inner cranky talking. She asked if everything was going well, and I said technically things were going well, but that meant a lot of pain for me. I hadn’t been in labour very long but I was already having trouble concentrating on conversation. I get a kind of tunnel vision during labour. Everything is very inward-focussed, and I block out the rest of the room.
Sally found me a fit ball, which was awesome because then I didn’t have to send husband out to get ours from the car. She hooked up the CTG again while I was on there, but couldn’t get a particularly good read because I was bending over so far, but she wasn’t too worried about the baby anyway. I threw up again despite the medication, and I overheard Sally telling the med student that there’s a particular valve in the stomach that reacts to rapid cervical dilation (or something to that effect) so she thought it was a good sign. I knew it was technically good because it meant things were progressing, but by this point I was in a huge amount of pain. These were still natural contractions – I wasn’t on the syntocin – but on a pain scale of 1 to 10, I would say 9.
My husband, midwife and med student sat there, in complete silence, while I tried to deal with things. I was kind of mad that they weren’t doing or saying anything and wished they would talk or play music or something, instead of just watching me, but they probably thought it would be unhelpful to just sit there chatting. I just felt very stuck. I didn’t know how to deal with things and wanted somebody to fix things for me. Or have the baby for me. Either one would have been welcome. I remember looking at the clock and it was about 11:30am, though typing that feels strange because I felt like I had been in labour for hours and hours, not 90 minutes.
I started using the gas + air after a while, which juuuust took the edge off. I used it during my second labour at 8 centimetres and it sent me off into a lovely vague lala land but didn’t have quite the same effect this time around. I was contracting 4 times in 10 minutes, but wasn’t getting much of a break in between – it felt like a low-level contraction in between each strong one, there was never an absence of pain – but I’d have to stop using the gas when I got too dizzy even if I was still uncomfortable. In hindsight I should have asked for an epidural then, as soon as the gas wasn’t working for me. My husband offered water in between using the nitrous oxide, though I vomited most of it up again.
Sally couldn’t get a proper read on the baby’s heart rate, so I moved to lying on my side on the bed, still using the gas. (It was even less effective if I cried into the mouthpiece instead of breathing in). Husband started rubbing my lower back during contractions and didn’t get much of a break from that because I didn’t like it when he stopped. Pain on a scale of 1 to 10: 11.
I think the doctors came back in to see how things were going and if the syntocin was needed. I say “I think” because I was so inwardly-focussed I wasn’t noticing who was in the room with me and kept my eyes shut most of the time anyway. They gave me an internal (7 centimetres) and tried to figure out which way the baby was facing (anterior or posterior). I had dilated 4 centimetres in 3 hours or so, which was pretty good progress, but I didn’t really care either way – the only thing I would have been happy to hear was hey you’re done now! The med student left, so I think it was 1pm or so because I remember Sally saying she would be with us until then. I wasn’t looking at the clock or anything at this point – I was in way too much pain to comprehend anything, and time doesn’t mean anything at that point of labour. If someone had told me I only had to do it for another hour, I wouldn’t have cared, because at that point I was screaming and crying into the gas mouthpiece and I couldn’t handle the thought of dealing with one more contraction. I asked Sally for an epidural then and she didn’t question me at all or say anything like “maybe you should just try a bit longer….” which I was grateful for. She had to move me into a delivery room instead of the birth suite, though I think the only difference is that the room was smaller and had a single instead of a double bed. She moved me in a wheelchair because there’s no way I was walking, then went in and out to get things ready, hooking an IV into the cannula and so on. I just kept telling myself that I’d get the epidural soon and then I wouldn’t have to feel anything (except an enormous amount of affection for the anaesthetist, according to the birth stories I’ve read…..)
I did some more screaming and started to push a little bit, so they moved me onto the bed – on my hands and knees, because I couldn’t take the thought of lying down – and I think they did an internal at some point to check if I was fully dilated. Although I wouldn’t have stopped pushing regardless of the result. I was kind of mad I wasn’t getting an epidural after all and kind of felt thirsty and kind of weirded out at my own brain for thinking I could really go for a drink right now in the middle of pushing a baby out.
My last baby took eight minutes of pushing so I felt a bit better because knew this was something I could actually do. Thus was something I’m good at! I wasn’t really filled with relief – more of a grim determination that involved screaming angrily into the pillows as though they were my worst enemy.
I’m not sure how long I was pushing for, but it felt quick – wasn’t long before I started to feel the stinging sensation as he crowned, followed by everyone telling me his head was out, which didn’t feel any different to me! (I later found out I pushed for eight minutes, same as last time). I could only see everything that landed on the bed, so it didn’t feel real that any part of him was out until his body followed. Time of birth: 2:24pm.
Seeing your baby for the first time is one of the most bizarre moments. For me it’s always a shock that an actual baby comes outta there at the end of it all. He looked a very dark purple as they passed him up to me, and I awkwardly picked him up and moved around so I could lie down. He turned pink as I held him and looked around with his eyes open. My husband told me later that he had opened his eyes as soon as he was born and looked around as if to say, what the heck is going on here?
Not the best photo, but I wanted to get one with his eyes open. These were all taken about 20 minutes after he was born. He had APGAR scores of 9 and 10, too – and I was told that NOBODY gives out a 10 ;p
The doctors had to poke around first to remove the placenta, which actually took a fair amount of pushing to come out (with bonus contractions! Yay!) and then check for any tears and see if I needed stitches, which was so painful I used the gas + air again. Which didn’t really help much, if I’m honest. I was so disgusted with the gas at this point. I MEAN YOU ONLY HAD ONE JOB.
They said everything was intact, though I’m pretty sure there are a few internal grazes (just going by the stinging feeling when they were poking around).had a look at the placenta once it came out because I was curious, even though I just complained about how gross the birth was, and Robyn showed us the membrane sack and so on. Placentas are kind of fascinating, I guess because it’s probably the only time I’ll see an organ that actually came out of me. It basically looked like a giant piece of New York cut steak. Though it hasn’t turned me off eating steak on the slightest ;p
My husband asked if I was okay a few times because I was just staring off into space and looked very pale. I shook uncontrollably for about an hour afterwards, partly due to the sudden drop in body temperature and partly out of shock. It’s such a change going from being focussed completely on intense pain and then suddenly having it all over and someone handing you a new child. With my second child, it took me a while to bond with him because of that feeling of shock, but this time I just felt a sense of comfort looking at baby Seb. Like yeah, you’re going to fit in well, kiddo.
And he has. He’s a champion sleeper, regularly going 5+ hours overnight, and sleeps through all his brothers’ racket and even their poking and occasionally when they try to jump up and down on him. Champion feeder, right from the beginning, and a pretty good burper too. I can’t believe the things that make us feel proud of our children ☺️
• Sebastian Reefe Brighton •
Total length of labour: 4 hours 30 minutes | Birth weight: 3.58 kilograms / 7 pounds 14 ounces | Length: 50 centimetres | Birth date: 18th February | Time of delivery: 2:25pm |