Before my third baby, I was convinced that my body was incapable of spontaneous labour, having gone to 42 weeks with my first two and experiencing protracted inductions lasting 3 days each.
So when I sailed past my due date I was pretty unfazed. I attended a midwife appointment at 40+4 where she offered to do a sweep. I almost declined as my 2-year old and I were on our way to his football class and I honestly didn't think it would work. But she persuaded me it was worth a try, so whilst he sat and happily ate his banana next to me (at the head-end!) the midwife got to work. "Your cervix is high and posterior so I've walked it forward" she announced. That didn’t sound promising...
Imagine my surprise when, 4 hours later, I felt my waters break. My husband drove me to the PRUH where a midwife checked the baby's heart beat and my pad to make sure that my waters had definitely broken. I was advised to go home and to come back when I was in active labour.
By the time we arrived home the “tightenings” (as the midwives like to call them!) had got stronger so I had a bath followed by a small dinner to keep my energy up. My husband then rolled out the birthing ball and I bounced my way through The Great British Bake-off final. An hour later my contractions were 3 minutes apart, so back we went to hospital.
At triage, I quickly realised the currency of having 2 previous births under my belt as the midwife seemed convinced that I would progress quickly. I was offered the choice of the midwife-led unit (Oasis) or the labour ward and the midwife tried to encourage me into the Oasis, given my low risk. However, I already knew that I wanted an epidural so I stuck to my guns and was allocated a room on the labour ward. I lay on the bed ready to meet the anaesthetist and get the epidural up and running, but was then delivered the bad news that, at just 4 cm, I wasn’t in active labour yet so it was too early for one. I did my best to hide my disappointment and as instructed set off on a walk of the corridors to get things moving. On doing one lap of the stairwell I began to feel nauseous and legged it back to the ward, just in time to vomit into the bin outside the ward door (apologies to any mums-to-be who arrived that night!) Once back in my room I tried some gas and air which induced more vomiting but took the edge off at least.
By then it was 1 am, 11 hours after my waters had broken. My husband and I tried to doze, not easy when contracting every few minutes, and we carried on like this until 7am when a new midwife assessed me as being 6cm and ready for the epidural, oh joy! This was probably the scariest part for my husband who had to hold my hands across the bed whilst the anaesthetist placed the medication into my spine. Once the epidural is in, you get a special button to press when you need a top up; it took about 45 minutes to completely numb me (bliss!) and then I topped up every couple of hours.
At 2.30pm, the midwife reassessed me and announced that my cervix had gone. At first I panicked as I didn’t know where it could have disappeared to, then I realised that this was good and meant that I could start pushing. So, push I did… for 1.5 hours, but baby refused to make an appearance. The obstetrician came to talk us through a forceps delivery which we quickly agreed to. I had never had an assisted delivery before so was surprised by the size of the forceps which were slid in around the baby’s head. By that point there were five medical staff in the room and I think the whole thing had caused my anxiety to spike so my body suddenly stopped contracting.
The doctor sat at the business-end for the longest 10 minutes of my life, waiting patiently for the next contraction to come. When it did, the doctor made a small cut and Barney quickly slid out with two big pushes from me. Obviously, there was some stitching to do and the placenta to deliver but as I still had the epidural in it was pretty undramatic and we were then free to enjoy our gorgeous baby boy.