The day of my induction I was filled with conflicting thoughts. I was excited to meet you although I would not be having the birth I had planned. But as much as I did not fear the actual process of birth, I had trouble believing that things would go right for us given all the road blocks that had been thrown in our way during the pregnancy.
We arrived at the labour ward at 5pm and Grandma, Daddy and I settled into the room armed with many bags of things to sustain us through the long night ahead – 12 hours with a foley bulb in if I was dilated enough or perhaps the same amount of time with cervadil. They examined me, ready to try and place the foley bulb and found I was already 3cm dilated! The midwives and Drs were happy and excited saying this never happens for a first time Mum at my gestation. They decided to send me home and have me come back in at 7am rather than break my waters and have me labour through the night. The Dr gave me a stretch and sweep and we went home and tried to relax – it felt like an anti-climax but I was also excited thinking that perhaps I wouldn’t need any interventions. My body could do this! Daddy and I retreated to the bedroom because Grandma and Great Grandma kept looking at me like I was a bomb about to go off everytime I made a noise. We watched some TV, cuddled and Daddy gave me a massage. Despite my best efforts that night, I didn’t go into labour and my waters remained intact. When I got up in the morning I had started to lose some of my mucous plug and became excited that perhaps I had dilated even more overnight.
Back at the labour ward and a check revealed I was still only 3cm. I was disappointed but determined. The midwife ruptured my waters with a great deal of effort and to my great disappointment there was meconium in them – you had pooped you little imp. This changed the whole birth plan right away - I was no longer allowed to labour without any augmentation – I would have to go straight onto the hormone drip. I asked if they could keep it on a very low level and they agreed. When my contractions began it was 10am and I handled them well, walking around the room and bouncing on the birth ball. I had to consent to monitoring because of the drip but had organized to have to wireless monitor – it was a struggle from the start. It was supposed to make it easier for me to move around but every time I moved it kept cutting out and finally I had to have the wired monitor on as I continued to bounce through contractions on the ball. I ate some grapes, drank some juice and picked at my lunch but after that I didn’t eat again. Every time I stood I was losing amniotic fluid in big gushes but my contractions which were coming every 2 minutes were ‘too short to be effective’ and they turned up the hormone drip. I began laboring on hands and knees on the bed which felt very good but in this position none of the monitoring would work and the Drs came in and told me I had two choices – lie still so the monitoring worked or consent to internal monitoring. I chose to labour on my back to spare you from having your head punctured. My relaxing music stopped and I didn’t notice and my oil burner stayed in my bag.
Lying still on my back was torture and made the contractions hugely intense. It was now 5pm and I had now been contracting every two minutes for 7 hours but a check showed I was only at 5cm. Having made so little progress made me really disheartened and I was starting to doubt that I could do it. I had clearly stated in my birth plan that the midwives and Drs were not to offer pain relief but Grandma and Daddy could see how exhausted I was getting and urged me to try some gas to take the edge off and I consented around 6pm. The gas relaxed me a lot – made me cheeky and stoned – and helped me focus on the task ahead and regain my confidence. I was a little bit rude, swearing about how hard things were and making comments about how fat some of the nurses were. This had an effect on the contractions which started to last longer and every second contraction my body began to push involuntarily which made me feel quite confident that I was making progress. 8pm found me at barely 7cm and the midwife made the decision to turn up the hormone drip making the contractions even more intense. I couldn’t stay still, the gas stopped working, you had turned so you were posterior and I couldn’t stop myself pushing during the contractions which was making the lip left on my cervix swell. The Drs came in and told me they were having trouble finding your heartbeat – my student midwife Tina told me later that they were pushing for a C-section at that point – and they convinced me to agree to internal monitoring.
By this stage I had lost control. I had told myself I would be calm and cool but I was screaming my lungs out. Daddy and Grandma took turns leaving the room for breathers because it was hard for them to see me like that. Nana (knitting) and Grandad had spent most of the day in the waiting room and Grandpa joined them once he finished work and they were all hanging out for updates. I was exhausted – I had now been contracting every two minutes on a high level of hormone for 12 hours – and, desperate not to have to have an epidural I consented to pethadine. I really regret this because it was useless, making me sleepy between contractions but doing nothing to help with my pain. Before the pethadine kicked in the midwife convinced me to try the shower, hoping I could stand up in there and get things moving but my legs would not support me, the pain was too intense. In the depths of my contractions I would forget who and where I was but tried to look up at Daddy and smile to reassure him I was still there and even when I couldn’t form words I would look up at your heart monitor when it changed rhythm and Grandma would tell me you were fine. Daddy and Grandma took turns trying to make me drink water. Nana, Grandad and Grandpa decided they needed to go home and sometime during this time Daddy managed to sleep on a bean bag through my moans.
At 12am I was checked again and was 8cm, still thick. The midwife told me that based on my progress so far she would estimate that it would take me three or four more hours to dilate fully. After 14 hours of contracting every two minutes I had a decision to make. I could see Daddy, Grandma and the midwives having worried discussions over in the corner, I had no more energy, and I had screamed so much my throat was raw. I felt broken and helpless and I knew that I didn’t have another 3-4 hours in me. Daddy and I started talking and he told me that he supported any decision I made, that it wasn’t failing, that I had endured so much and fought hard – especially considering my lack of stamina from all those months of bed rest. I felt like a fool, like I had failed. In my head I could see my birth plan with every second line crossed out. An epidural was always something I had been insistent I would never do but at this point I truly felt that even if I made it to 10cm without one I would have no energy to push and would end up with a C-section anyway.
At 1am, after 15 hours I got an epidural and cried the entire time. When the epidural kicked in the room visibly relaxed. I was no longer screaming and Daddy and Grandma were visibly relieved to see me not suffering any more. With the pain gone my midwife was able to help me maneuver into some different positions and I was able to get a couple of hours sleep while they raised the hormone drip to its maximum. At 3am they brought in an ultrasound to check where you were and found that you had moved out of the posterior position and were engaged and a check showed I was fully dilated. I dozed for a while longer and then asked for the epidural to be dialed back so that I could feel the contractions enough to push. At 4am I was ready to push.
I could feel the pressure when a contraction started and I began to push. I finally felt as though I had some control and could do something to bring you into the world. Exhaustion and my empty stomach caught up to me and I was sick and few times and the midwives joked I should keep going because it was pushing you down further. Grandma asked if I wanted a mirror and I said yes. It was great motivation to see you moving further down the longer I held the pushes and I even felt your head. Grandma remarked that you had dark hair! When your head was about to come out, the midwife helped Daddy put his hands around your head and I started to do little pushes. Daddy helped support and guide your head out and once it was out the rest of your body came in one quick push.
At 4.43am after almost 19 hours of active labour, you - our Ella Quinn - were born into your Daddy’s hands.