Sorry it has been so long since I’ve posted. We have just spent a lovely first Christmas as a family of three, and I’ve been so busy in the run up, I just haven’t had time to post. I’m being a bit OCD about the order of my posts, so I haven’t been able to post all my Christmas fun when you don’t even know when the baby was born! So finally, here is my birth story – it’s a long one, so it’s in two parts!
So, it turns out, I had one stubborn little baby on my hands! My due date, 29th June 2015, came….and went….
I had a feeling I was going to go overdue, but tried to stay chilled about it. I kept myself busy for the first two weeks of my maternity leave, finishing off the nursery (I wouldn’t recommend making curtains at 8 and a half months pregnant!), seeing friends and sorting out my hospital bag. I tried not to think too much about my ever approaching due date, and also tried to rest. I had terrible swelling in my feet and legs, so had to spend as much time as possible with my feet up (not that I was complaining!) to minimise the swelling as it was quite painful after a while.
I had a midwife appointment at 39 weeks, and they booked me in for a stretch and sweep for 5 days later on the Friday. I went to the hospital for the procedure, and to have the usual checks done and everything was fine. I’d heard good things about having a sweep, and its ability to get things moving – I knew people who went into labour a few hours after having one, so I kept my fingers crossed! The midwife who did it was lovely, and she was on the night shift that night, so I would have been really happy to have her deliver my baby! So I went home, had a curry for dinner, followed by some pineapple and yoghurt, and then went for an hour’s walk! I had everything crossed that something on this list would bring on labour that night. But, alas, I went to bed and woke up in the morning with no change – no twinges, no show, not even a Braxton Hick! I tried really hard not to be disappointed, and knowing I was booked in for a second sweep on Tuesday kept me going.
Craig and I decided to venture to Lakeside, our local shopping centre, for lunch and a wonder round the shops. Being the size of a house, it took a lot longer for me to walk anywhere, but everyone told me I needed to keep moving to get that baby to budge! We bought a few more baby bits and then went to GBK for lunch – probably our last lunch just the two of us for a while! It was great to get out of the house, but I was exhausted by the time we got home, and my legs and feet had swelled up again, so we spent Sunday chilling out on the sofa.
Tuesday morning came around, and I drove myself to the hospital for my second sweep. I gave in my urine sample as usual, and the midwife sat me on the bed to do the usual checks – listening to baby’s heartbeat, feeling my bump to make sure all felt ok, and doing my blood pressure. All checked out ok, however, the urine test came back with very high levels of protein, which can be a sign of pre-eclampsia. I also had the swelling in my feet and legs, another symptom of pre-eclampsia, although I’d had this for most of my pregnancy so they weren’t overly concerned. The midwife said she wanted to put me on the monitor to check the baby was ok and then send me for a blood test. I don’t know what the technical terms for the monitor is, but basically there were two straps put round me, each keeping a monitor in position on my belly – one checking the baby’s heartbeat, and one checking my contractions. According to the monitor I was having very mild contractions, but I couldn’t feel a thing! I was left on here for 30 minutes (the kind midwife bought me a cup of tea which was much appreciated!), then she did the sweep for me, to try and get things moving. I was then asked to do another urine sample and sent for my blood test.
After waiting an hour and a half (yes, really!!) for my blood test, I returned to the midwife to see what would happen next. Apparently they were concerned what had happened to me as I had taken so long having my bloods done!! They hooked me up to the monitor for another 30 minutes, and then told me the results of my urine test. My protein levels were at +4… there shouldn’t be more than a trace otherwise this could indicate there is something wrong. Fortunately my blood pressure was still fine, but the midwife was concerned enough to send me to the Day Assessment Unit at the main hospital for further checks.
Four hours after arriving for my appointment, I was finally able to leave, albeit only to go to another hospital! I phoned my husband who was at work, and said it might be a good idea for him to come to the hospital with me, as we only had one car and there was a possibility I might need to stay in. I didn’t think I would, but I also didn’t want to be on my own if I had to stay in hospital for another few hours! I stopped off and got myself some lunch, and snacks to take the hospital, and then picked my husband up. He drove us to the hospital and we checked into the Maternity Day Assessment Unit.
We had to wait about half an hour for a midwife to come and see us, and again I was hooked up to a monitor. I was asked for another urine sample (I had to drink 5 cups of water before I could even think about going, because of the amount of samples I’d had to give that day!) Again, the monitoring showed that I was having regular contractions, but I still couldn’t feel them, but baby’s heartbeat was fine and my blood pressure was fine. I was taken off the monitor, and told that I had to wait for the doctor to come in and see me.
We waited for about an hour and a half – emergency cases kept coming in so the doctor wasn’t available, but we couldn’t leave until he’d seen me and we’d been discharged. Then there was a shift change, so we had to wait even longer to be seen. Eventually the midwife came back with the doctor. He launched straight into talking to me about the induction process, and the risk of needing other intervention such as forceps or even a caesarean. At this point, I wasn’t really listening – I didn’t understand why he was talking about induction as I hadn’t agreed to it, neither had induction been mentioned to me at all. The doctor asked me if that was all ok, and I said yes because I didn’t know what else to say. They said I would be examined to see how dilated I was and if my cervix was ready for my waters to be broken. At this point it still hadn’t sunk in that I was going to be induced – I was just saying yes, yes, yes, because I wanted to go home! The doctor left and the midwife said she was going to check if there were any beds on the labour ward, and then she would come back and examine me. They were also still waiting for my blood results from earlier in the day.
About an hour went by, and no-one came in to see us, we were just left to ourselves. We hadn’t eaten, so eventually the midwife said we could go for a walk to get some food whilst we waited for the doctor to get back to us about space on the labour ward.
I’d started to get some twinges by this point – almost as if the baby knew we were in hospital, so it was ok to kick things off! They weren’t particularly painful, but it was just uncomfortable to walk. We had some food, and then went back to the bed to wait for the doctor. A different midwife came in and said that Craig should go and get my bag and she’d move me to another bed so I could get comfy for the night. I was completely shocked at this and asked why I couldn’t go home. The midwife was surprised that I hadn’t realised I had to stay in – I had assumed if there was no room in the labour ward and they didn’t break my waters, then I could go home. She explained that because of the high levels of protein in my urine, they suspected I had pre-eclampsia and it was too dangerous for me to go home – I had to stay in hospital to be monitored.
“Does this mean I won’t get my water birth in the midwife-led unit?” I asked. The midwife replied no. I burst into tears!
Now I look back, I feel really silly, but I was just so overwhelmed that everything seemed to happen so quickly. One minute I was going for a routine check-up and sweep, the next I had a potentially life-threatening condition and had to be induced as soon as possible! It was a big shock, and not how I had imagined the lead up to the birth of my baby. I had wanted a nice, relaxed lead up, to stay at home for as long as possible, then go to the midwife-led unit, get into the birthing pool and push my baby out with the minimum amount of pain relief that I could cope with. Now I felt like all that was taken away from me.
Craig went and spoke to the midwife and told her I was feeling a little upset about how quickly everything was happening and that I didn’t want to stay overnight in hospital, I just wanted to go home. Unfortunately, she wasn’t very sympathetic and told me that it wasn’t a prison and I wasn’t being forced to stay, it was just the doctor’s recommendation but if I did leave then I’d have to sign a disclaimer to say I’d discharged myself and if anything happened to me, they wouldn’t be liable. This didn’t do anything to make me feel better, in fact it made me more anxious about what was wrong with me. At no point did anyone tell me I had pre-eclampsia, but they were treating me like I did.
Looking back now, I know they were just trying to help and cover all bases – it was better for me to be kept in hospital where they could monitor me in case anything did happen.
Craig went and got my bag and I was moved to my bed for the night. Craig was allowed to stay until 10 o’clock, and then as there were no beds for me on the labour ward, I was told to get a good nights sleep and I would be examined in the morning. I said goodbye to Craig and was left on my own.
I got changed into my pyjamas, and it finally sank in…I was about to have my baby very soon!
As my labour turned into a bit of a drawn out process, this post is to be continued….