Monday 8 September 2008

37 weeks, 4 days (6 days old)

Stomach size: 102cm waist; 33cm pelvic bone to bra

Erm...well, quite a lot has happened since the last post. As you see from my stomach size I have shrunk. Let me start from the beginning.

WARNING: Do not read if you are squeamish about labour details!

On Friday, 5 September, Stuart's brother Steven and his Fiancee Victoria came to stay for the weekend. Victoria is also pregnant - 27 weeks. On the Friday, I just cooked us all dinner and we had a quiet night in as we all had busy days the next day. Steve and Victoria were going to an REM concert and Stuart and I were going to our first NCT antenatal class.

So, the antenatal class was great. Everyone we met was really nice and I needn't had feared (as I did) that there wouldn't be anyone there we could see being friends with. We either worked in small groups or in plenary. First we were asked to separate into groups by location - Godalming and then everyone else - to introduce ourselves, where we live and what we wanted to cover in the two antenatal classes. Later, we were separated by gender. The boys had to look in a bag of items that are commonly found in a hospital bag and discuss what they thought we would want to help us through possible stages of labour where as the girls had to do the latter and see if they matched up with the boys. We also watched two videos of deliveries. One water birth and one active birth. Never going to be pleasant!! As a group, we also looked at massage and different tools for massage. There were other bits and discussions too but these were the main things. After the class, most of us went to the pub for a quick drink which was a really nice opportunity to relax and chat.

After that, Stuart and I went to another pub for dinner and to enjoy the last sunny day of summer a little bit longer.

On the Sunday, the weather was awful so the four of us went to play pool in Guildford for a couple of hours. We then went out for dinner in the evening.

For the Monday, Stuart had the day off and, as Victoria had never been to London before, everyone wanted to go and do the touristy bit. I was a little hesitant about whether I would be able to manage a day walking around London but, on the promise I could have lots of opportunities to sit down, agreed. It would have been such a shame for Victoria to not make the most of them being so close to London and to not go.

So, we took the train to Waterloo and walked to the London Eye. Went round the London Eye with Stuart and I pointing out the various sites. After we had a pizza on South Bank (a spicy pizza, by the way). Following the pizza we walked all the way to Holborn. I thought we were going via Covent Garden so we could have a break on the way but Stuart had decided to go straight to his work to show Steven. After this, we walked to Covent Garden and watched a couple of street entertainers before heading towards Leicester Square to get some ice cream. Had a lovely ice-cream in the Hagan Daaz cafe. After ice-cream we walked to Regent Street to go to Hamleys. We wondered around every floor of Hamleys and then on route to Oxford Circus tube stopped off in Mama's and Papa's. By the time we had got to M&Ps, I was well and truly knackered. I found a place to sit and stayed there. Feet were swollen, legs and back ached...!!! We finally got the tube back to Waterloo Station to make our way home. We got back quite late and decided to get Chinese for dinner. I was sooo knackered but, because Stuart had had a couple of beers I had to drive to the Chinese to pick up dinner (annoyingly, the only good one in the area, doesn't deliver!). We didn't eat until about 9.30pm. After dinner, we headed up to bed - it was about 11.40pm. I said to Stuart as I got into bed that I had done too much.

Shortly after getting into bed, I felt a feeling like I had started my period. I went to the toilet in fear that I had lost control of my bladder :-o and noticed a very small wet patch in my pyjama bottoms. I went to the toilet and stood up and felt another 'period' movement and managed to sit down on the loo again as I 'leaked'. Sorry if this is getting a bit graphic but just telling you how it was! Stuart asked if I was OK and I explained what had happened. He told me to go and look it up on the laptop and he was going to try to get some sleep, just in case it was anything (looking back at this comment, it sounds charming doesn't it!!!). I got downstairs and opened up the laptop then had to run back up to the loo as I had leaked again. I decided to ring the antenatal ward at the hospital to see what they said while Stuart got up to check out the laptop. I started leaking more and more and was sitting on a towel. As I got through to the hospital and explained the situation, I had to wait for the midwife to come to the phone. I started to feel very nervous at this point and had to fight back the emotion and tears. Just as the midwife came to the phone, the phone died!!! Ahhhhh. I had to ring back but thankfully the midwife picked up. She asked me a number of questions regarding how much liquid there was, what it looked like, how far gone in my pregnancy I was etc etc. She said, as I was only 36 weeks and 4 days, I should come into the hospital to get checked out to see if it was my waters that had broke. I said I could be there in 15-20 minutes and she said to bring an overnight bag. Stuart had come in after finding stuff on the laptop but, not having read anything positive, I think he wished he hadn't gone looking. I explained what had happened and then asked for a cuddle and cried as the shock of what could be happening hit me. We grabbed my pre-prepared hospital bags with me making a few adjustments between the bags so one was more just an overnight bag for me and the others were to leave in the car but to bring in if there were developments.

I got dressed and grabbed my towel. You will remember that Stuart had had a couple of drinks. Now, he had literally only had a couple over the space of a number of hours (since London) so was unlikely to be over limit but it was still a worrying drive to hospital. I could hardly drive myself though. By the time we had got to the hospital, I had well and truly looked like I had wet myself and was waddling through the entrance with a towel between my legs. Stuart had dropped me at the entrance while he went and parked. We then made our way to the antenatal ward.

After a short wait, I was shown into a day assessment room where I was checked out. While I was waiting, I could hear someone else in the room (we were curtained off) in labour. It wasn't particularly pleasant hearing it, though the noises she made did sound mildly erotic. I couldn't imagine making those kind of noises while in labour - I was perhaps expecting clearer groans of pain rather than these strange noises.

The doctor attached a couple of devices to my bump which monitored the baby's heart rate and I was told to click a button every time the baby moved - which, thankfully, it did quite a bit. I was told reassuringly that baby was very happy and had a good heart beat.

They took a urine sample to check for protein and swabs of my cervix to check for infection. They also took some blood tests. Can't remember what they were for.

After my examination, they midwife and doctor couldn't tell whether it was in fact my waters which had broken or not but they judged by the wetness of my trousers that it probably was. They told me I had to stay in overnight and then they would decide whether to induce me in the morning. Stuart had to go home but could come back at 9am the next day.

I was then put on the antenatal ward. After the tour of the maternity unit, I had said that I really didn't want to stay on the antenatal ward hearing women in labour come and go. But, here I was! I didn't sleep a wink. The ward was too light so it felt like dawn, someone was yawning and sighing very loudly, someone was snoring, and two women in labour came and went - making sighing/groaning noises similar to the first woman I heard. Did everyone have orgasmic labours????

In addition, I noticed that I had started to get mild back ache on and off. I couldn't tell if there was a pattern to them or how regular the pain was because I didn't think I had a watch on me - however, I later found Stuart's watch. I wasn't sure whether these were contractions or just the result of me marching round half of London the previous day.

In the morning at 9am, the midwife came to see me and said they were moving me to the delivery suite. Stuart arrived just as they were about to call him to come in. They checked my blood pressure which was very very high. I think it was 148/100. I had to give another urine sample too which was still clear of protein. I had started measuring the back pain with Stuart and was pretty sure that I was having contractions 4-5 minutes apart and lasting 45 seconds to a minute long. I mentioned these to the midwife who attached me to the baby heart rate monitor again which also measured the contractions.

The midwife explained that they would monitor me for the next couple of hours to check baby was ok and to see whether the contractions progressed and would then decide about 12 noon whether to induce me or not. At about 11am, the midwife examined me internally and said she 'thought' she could see some waters so believed only my hind waters had broke. She then got out this long needle which she explained had a small blade attached to the end of it which she was going to use to try to break the waters. I wish she hadn't explained about the blade - it is hard to stay relaxed knowing someone is putting a blade up your watsit!!! The whole experience was very unpleasant and painful. She couldn't break the waters but did a quick sweep of the area. This seem to halt the contractions for a while and made me bleed. When the midwife saw the blood she said, ooh, looks like you have had a 'show' that could be good news. Was she surprised there was blood after what she had done!!!!

At this stage I was 1 cm dilated and my cervix was about 1/2 cm thick but that my cervix was still facing the back - apparently it gradually moves forward. She said she would check me again at 12 but, as I had found it so painful, they would give me gas and air next time. She gave me some medication for the blood pressure. They kept monitoring my blood pressure throughout the day.

At 12, they didn't examine me again but she said that they had decided to induce me anyway because of my blood pressure and because my contractions hadn't really progressed on their own.

Then the midwife tried to find a vein to put the Syntocin drip (induction drip) into. The midwife struggled to find a good vein that she felt confident with. There was a possible one on my right arm but she wanted to get another midwife to check it or do it for her. She left the room and came back a short while later saying they had told her not to be such a wimp and to just get on with it (eeek! wish she hadn't told me that). It hurt quite a bit putting the needle in my arm but I could push the pain to the back of mind and could manage it ok. But it did sting and felt really uncomfortable. She was then not confident that she had put it in correctly so did go and get someone to check it. They said it looked fine but to start the drip and they would soon know if it had been put in wrong when my arm started swelling up like a balloon. None of this was filling me with reassurance!!! They then started the drip at 1ml an hour. Thankfully, there was no sign of my arm swelling like a balloon. However, it was still stinging a fair bit.

Thankfully, the midwives changed and I had someone different monitoring for the next part of the day (throughout the day, I think I saw about 6 midwives from beginning to end). After they had started the drip they had to check my BP several times in the space of about 45 minutes. The heart rate monitor continued to monitor baby and my contractions and every once in a while, when I hadn't gone into full labour, they upped the drip 1 mil and hour at a time.

What I was really fearful about being induced was the contractions coming on with full force with no let up (as I had heard this had happened to others). I therefore asked straight away, when could I get my epidural - I didn't want to be suffering any pain unnecessarily here! They told me that I would have the baby by midnight and that I would probably need the epidural about 10pm.

Thankfully, the contractions increased really gradually. This part of the labour was mostly quite boring. I found myself wishing I had packed cards and/or games or even a book to while away the time. I had to make do with completing a Sudoku puzzle in the paper with my left hand (it was difficult to move my right arm because of the drip).

I put on the TENS machine and started testing it out with the contractions. Not sure how much it actually helped through the labour. I also started on the gas and air. The midwife suggested trying it now to work out how many breaths I needed to take and when. I took about 6 deep breaths and thought not a lot was happening, and then a few seconds later, my head when light and I got the giggles. Stuart tried to have a go with a couple of breaths and nearly got caught by the midwife coming back into the room. It was difficult to time the gas and air with the contractions. I'm not sure if I ever did it effectively. Later, when the contractions were getting more painful and closer together, the gas and air made me very sick. I stopped using it then.

As I said, most of the labour was quite boring and, as the contractions started getting stronger, I found myself curled up in the fetal position on my side with my leg jigging through each pain and Stuart had nodded off in the chair. I woke him up and told him I was in quite a bit of pain and at that point the midwife came in. The time was 4.30pm and I was worried I had to go on with the pain getting worse until 10pm when the midwife said I would be able to have the epidural. Thankfully, the midwife suggested we think about the epidural now. She said it would take about 15 minutes to set up and 15 minutes to take effect so I told her I was happy to go ahead, worrying how I would make it through the next 30 minutes, and the midwife went to find the anesthetist.

I was lucky enough to get one of the top consultants at the hospital who decided to do this one more epidural before the end of his shift and actually stayed late to do it.

The contractions were coming really close together and I had to stay very still in between contractions while the anesthetist put in the needle. I'm glad I didn't see the needle. Stuart held my hand and informed the anesthetist when I was having a contraction so he could wait for it to pass. You have an injection first to numb the area and then they put in the epidural needle. The first injection was about as painful as a blood test needle. The epidural for most part didn't hurt until the end when it felt really weird, like it was touching a nerve but once it was in, it was fine. When the needle was in, he gradually started squeezing in the epidural through a syringe. He said I would start to notice the effect within 10 minutes. The contractions would appear to shorten and then would get less painful. I think this happened quicker than 10 minutes and before I know it I was relaxed and dancing my feet to the music (I had been listening to a couple of CD's I had bought in throughout the labour). Epidural truly is a wonder drug and I can't recommend it enough. I have full respect for anyone that goes through labour with no pain relief or with anything less than an epidural! It was a mobile epidural so I was able to move around, go to toilet etc etc. I could still feel my legs etc but the pain had eased to almost nothing. A side effect of the epidural though, which many but not all of women suffer, is that your skin gets really, really itchy.

The epidural lasted about 1.5 hours before it started to wear off and the contractions were getting more painful again so they examined me (I was now 4cms and on track for their 1cm an hour target, yay!) and then topped up the epidural. Unfortunately, the pain had moved from my back to the front left of my pelvis. It felt like I needed to go to the loo desperately and that my bladder was going to explode if I didn't, despite not long having gone. After 10-15 minutes, this pain hadn't subsided at all and I was still having contractions one on top of the other. At this point, they informed me that, due to staff shortages, they had to close the ward (turning new people away) and so I had to move rooms to keep everyone closer together. I said about feeling like I needed the toilet. They said it was probably just the contraction feeling like that but let me try to go to the toilet and at the same time they would move me to the new room. I didn't succeed - not a drop, just lots of pain. They wondered whether there was in fact some urine trapped in my bladder and explained that this sometimes stopped the epidural being effective. In addition, they said the top up wasn't directed to where the pain now was but instead to my back where it was before so they decided to give me another top up directed to the front and they were going to try to drain my bladder with a catheter. I'm not sure if this is how they do it but it felt like they put a needle up my wee hole - it was very very painful. Stuart said it was a straw. There was indeed a bit of urine which could have been why I was still in pain. Having had the second top up and urine drained, the pain of the contractions eased ever so slightly but I was still in lots of pain. I was now starting to feel pressure in my bottom like I was constipated.

Finally, at 9pm they said that, if I wanted, I could try pushing or I could have another epidural and try waiting another hour. By this stage, I just wanted it to be over so I opted to try pushing.

If you have ever heard that it is like pushing the biggest poo of your life out your bum then that is absolutely true!!! It felt exactly like this. There was the slight fear in the back of my mind that this was in fact what I was doing (especially as I hadn't been for over 24 hours) but by this point, I didn't really care if I did! Thankfully, as far as I know, this didn't happen. Anyway, to miss out on the gory details, I pushed, I moved position, I pushed some more, I roared but was advised not to do this as I would end up with a sore throat, so I stopped the roaring, I nearly cried with the pain and I did say I couldn't do it anymore, I wanted them to find another way for them to get this baby out - Stuart and the midwife either intentionally ignored me or misunderstood what I was saying but they didn't let me find another way and told me to just move position again and push some more. Then the head started to come and I was told to pant or breath and to stop pushing - were they crazy??? I wanted this thing out not to stop. However, breath and pant I did. Then give a little push, breath and pant some more, then another little push and hoorah, the head was out. I was so relieved as that meant the worst was over. I then had to give one more push that I didn't think was in me for the rest of the body. He came out screaming and pink.

The midwife informed me I had a baby boy and tried to put him on my chest/stomach. I'm ashamed to say, I did try to push them and him away from me. I found it hard at that point to find love for something that hurt me so much. Thankfully, they perseveered and didn't let me push him away so I eventually looked down and saw our son. I cuddled him exhausted while they said they were giving me the injection for the placenta. I then had to give a couple of coughs to get the placenta out.

I tried to breastfeed but they said, because he was effectively premature, it was normal for him not to suck at this point and to keep trying later if we didn't succeed now. We were then left to bond with out new son for a few minutes. The midwife eventually weighed him (5lb, 15oz) and wrapped him on a towel.

I asked her what he was on the apgar scale and she said well 10 and 10 - because he was very vocal and pink from the start.

Wow! That was quite an epic - will write another post in a day or two to tell you what happened next and bring you up to date to today.

I love our little son Callum, he is so cute :o)

ETA - I forgot to say, one strange side effect of labour, my scalp became really sensitive. All my hair folicles stood on end whenever I ran my fingers through my hair. It still hasn't really gone away. I thought it might have been the blood pressure tablets (which I guess it could still be as I am still getting it now) but it could also be the hormones running through my body - either way very odd! I wonder if anyone else has had this.

Me on Tuesday morning with monitors attached
The monitor - the line on the left is the baby's heartrate and the line far right is my contractions
probably about 10 minutes after being born

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