Every pregnant woman will tell you that the last few weeks of pregnancy drag- especially if you are overdue! I can add especially if you are waiting for a NICU cot to become available and you are waiting to embark on what will be the scariest time of your life!
I was due to be induced in Bristol on the 20th November at 38 weeks. However, our cardiac nurse did warn us we were likely to be bumped a day or 2 depending on space in the delivery suite or NICU. Of course- no sleep was had the night before we were due to go in. And then the phone call came that it wouldn’t be today- and repeat Thursday repeat Friday until finally on the 23rd it was all systems go!! The waiting was honestly horrendous. Just a weird no-man’s land. Luckily my brother, mum and dad were around to lighten the mood and play with Ezzie.
We arrived at St.Michaels and were given a tour around the maternity ward and induction rooms- it was very slick and we were so well looked after (the common theme for us it must be said). I’m not going to lie but I was feeling pretty cocky! I’d been induced before with Ezzie (leaking waters at 40 weeks) and it went super smoothly. I just had the pessary and my waters broken and that was enough. I expected it would be the same again… I was wrong!!
So many a pessary over the next 36 hours and not a sign of contractions but finally a junior doctor thought my waters were ready to be broken so then was the long wait for the delivery suite! We were warned it could be over 24 hours 😬😬😬 but actually for me it was the following morning. So Monday (25th) mid morning we headed down to the delivery suite- baby Etta was well on her way!
After a freak out that she might actually be breech (I was adamant she was head down) we had our 1000th ultrasound to check her position and we were good to go. Until the lovely midwife actually took a good look inside and basically said she couldn’t break my waters. My cervix was not a labouring cervix! The junior doctor should have gone for an extra pessary as it turns out but instead of returning to the maternity ward I was like nope- do what you’ve got to do and break these waters! The poor midwife had such a tricky job- she said it was the hardest ARM (artificial rupture of membranes) she’s ever had to do and that I was what they would call very ‘tolerant’. She really had to rummage that knitting needle. But for the sake of any squeamish people reading we’ll move on. My waters were broken at 12 pm and we waited.
I was so so hoping that would be enough to get stuff moving. I’d done a hypnobirthing course- I was chilled watching First Dates, I was bouncing on the ball, I had my aromatherapy on the go, I was dancing to a lot of Lizzo. Really what more could I do to get that oxytocin working? But alas- nothing. So the artificial oxytocin drip went in (this meant no more food 😭) and I was then attached to a stupid pole. My hand swelled up because the cannula was huge and not quite in the right place (a student paramedic put it in and I’m not sure it was the best job 😬) I did not enjoy the drip. But I really shouldn’t complain because Etta had countless drips and lines and was a trooper. She was much braver than me.
Anyway the contractions started- it was all manageable with some deep breathing. I was determined I didn’t want too much pain relief because I didn’t want to increase the chance of intervention and therefore a longer recovery. I wanted to be fully in control of my pushing for the same reason. Basically I was trying all that was possible to make sure it was the safest birth for Etta and would allow me to be up and walking about as soon as possible so I could go visit Etta on NICU and go see Ezzie (staying at an Air B n B nearby with my Mum and Dad).
With that in mind I waited until I was 5 cm to get on the gas and air. I needed to make that stuff last! But THE CONTRACTIONS WERE SO MUCH WORSE THAN WITH EZRA! I imagine it was probably the drip- I was on the highest dose so they were coming thick and fast. I think about 11 pm my pulse was too high so they put me on fluids as well- although she thought it was probably just the pain. And about 11.30- I was incontrollably shaking. That’s when my midwife told me to take some oramorph and I asked for a vaginal examination. I’m not sure what would have happened if I was only 6cm… I was 8 cm and she thought the shakes were probably part of the ‘transition’ – getting ready to push. She was right because about 15 mins later I was pushing. The oramorph didn’t even touch the sides!
NICU were called and Etta’s NICU nurse and doctor came into the room just in case she was poorly on delivery. I really wanted to be mobile for delivery or upright but I was shaking so much the only thing I could do was lie on a bed. Luckily, it was still OK. It was very close to midnight and we were hoping she would be born on my brother’s birthday (25th) In fact Sam was counting down the minutes while I pushed… always helpful! But 16 minutes of pushing later and she was here- 7 lb 8 oz of perfection at 1 minute past midnight on the 26th. I just remember holding her to my chest and saying “Hello beautiful girl!” over and over again. She was here and she was safe and the first hurdle was over!
We got lots of snuggles and pictures and then she was taken up to NICU to get her settled in her incubator. That gave me chance to have a bath and be milked by the midwife for a bit of colostrum. And of course tea and toast. (I didn’t get toast after giving birth to Ezzie and I feel robbed). I feel like the lack of epidural paid off because no tears or stitches- hooray! And I really did recover very quickly.
I then got wheeled up to see Etta in NICU and she was gorgeous! After that I went up to the maternity ward for some sleep- but sleep never happens after you’ve had a baby. I was sharing a room with a mum who was evidently part warthog and I was too excited about Etta finally being here!
It’s sometimes easy to forget her birth because it feels overshadowed by her death. And sometimes it’s nice to talk about her birth story like I’m just another mum with a newborn who is still here. I feel very grateful that I’ve had 2 stress- free natural births. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t painful but I got the birth I wanted: Etta was happy and healthy throughout and I recovered quickly so I could spend all the time with my children. What more could I have asked for? ❤️