Claire and baby Oliver

It was Wednesday morning and 5 days before due date when I made a call to Wexham triage unit. I knew that women can experience a little leakage shall we say in latter stages of pregnancy – but this was worrying me. I asked if I should bring my hospital bag with me for the check up required – and it was a good job I ignored the advice not to!!

I was examined and strapped to monitor baby for an hour or so before I was informed that my waters had in fact broken – and I would not be going home!!

Sadly, due to potential meconium, this also meant that I would not be going to the birth centre I had hoped for – but instead straight to the labour ward. This was disappointing – but at this stage I was just trying to keep calm and come to terms with the fact I was going to have this baby there and then – an overwhelming feeling of being unprepared and annoyance that I had not had a chance to eat anything before going in – meant I was already way off the ‘plan’.

Settled into one of the labour rooms, and the rest of my waters broken for me; I embraced true contractions. I wanted to hold off the pain relief as long as possible – so got to grips with the waves of pain. My husband and midwife were great in encouraging me – as the monitor trace proved to me I was in fact getting through contractions well and progressing nicely.

The next few hours were manageable. Yes the pain was real, and yes it does hurt – but there are breaks and you can mentally tackle it bit by bit. I managed on gas and air to 9cms before I initiated the conversation about something a little stronger! As I had been strapped to the monitor the whole time – it was difficult to move around and so I had been lying on the bed – which I knew was not the best position – however little option to change.

My husband knew I was coping still and he and the midwife between them convinced me I didn’t need anything more – so I carried on to full dilation without further pain relief.

This stage is one which I greeted with excitement – as the midwife started preparing the baby trolley in the room. I was told to listen to my body now and push as and when necessary.

I did push, and hard as I was determined to get to the end goal quickly now – albeit very aware that I was nervous at finally reaching this stage I had so often thought about over the last 9 months.

It was after a good hour and a half of pushing that things took a different turn – and I sensed a mood of concern in the room. Baby was fine according to the monitor – however there was no progress with the pushing. Several doctors then came in to offer opinion and to see what was happening.

I had been given a drip to speed up and strengthen the contractions to help with the pushing – but baby was still not moving down as expected.

It was established that in order to get the baby out safely – some intervention was likely. Therefore I was informed that the best place to move to was theatre – where forceps could be tried and if necessary caesarean section.

At this point I remember so clearly being concerned, in a lot of pain trying to deal with contractions with just gas and air – but also looking to my husband to reassure me everything was going to be ok.

The theatre experience was chaotic, scary, horrific and the most painful I have ever endured. There is no ‘nice’ way to dress what happened from here on in. Pain relief was slow in coming – meaning forceps were attempted twice with still just gas and air and a little local anaesthetic. The consultant was convinced baby would move and be delivered immediately with a little help. Sadly baby had other ideas!

I remember feeling so much pain, so much fear and seeing blood dripping onto the floor. I noticed a single tear slide down the cheek of my husband’s face as he looked on helplessly.

Baby’s head had moved 90 degrees during the contractions which meant that he was effectively stuck. The only safe option remaining was an emergency c section.

The immense relief once the spinal block was inserted I cannot put into words. I suddenly became calm, rational and at last focused on what was about to happen. I once again held my husband’s hand and breathed normally. The description I had heard on ‘One Born’ of some tugging was good – no pain at all just a strange feeling of movement in my tummy.

The anaesthetist asked my husband if he wanted to stand to see baby come out – which he did without second thought. Afterwards he told me that after seeing me endure such pain and suffering the very least he could do was be brave and watch the procedure come to an end and our baby born.

Oliver William was born at 1.04am, approximately 11 hours after me arriving at triage that previous afternoon – fully expecting to be sent home again!

He screamed immediately and weighed in at a healthy 4.3kg or 9lb7oz!! We were eventually taken back to the labour room to spend precious time together as a new family and I could experience skin to skin and feed for the first time.

We spent one further night in hospital and then went home to start our new lives together.

I still feel emotional when recounting this event in my life – it was painful, scary, overwhelming and some images are etched in my brain forever. However I look at my son now and there isn’t a single day that goes by where I think I wouldn’t go through it again in a heartbeat if the end result is the same. Birth is perhaps the most truly amazing experience I will ever encounter and becoming a parent has been every bit as exciting and rewarding as I had hoped it would be.

I recovered well and quickly from the c section – so am not put off by this. I would opt for another attempt at natural birth next time round as I really believe I could cope with that well based on my progress before the theatre intervention.

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