Due to complications during my pregnancy with Obstetric Cholestasis, I had to be induced at 36 weeks and 4 days, as it was the safest option for our baby.
At 36 weeks and 3 days we had a routine scan. The scan revealed that there was reduced amniotic fluid around the baby, and because I had reported reduced movements two days prior to the scan, we were told that our induction date had to be brought forward. After calling the labour ward, my induction was brought forward to the next day. That’s right, THE NEXT DAY!
I’d had eight whole months (because my pregnancy was cut short) to psyche myself up for the trauma of childbirth, but I STILL wasn’t ready! It hit me like a train that THIS WAS HAPPENING… TOMORROW. Although I knew I’d miss my bump, I was excited to be able to reach my toes again, and not be so itchy that every night was like performing an exorcism.
Induction Attempt Number One
So, tomorrow came and we arrived at the hospital bang on 11 o’clock ready to be induced. We were taken to the maternity ward, where I was given a little private room of my own. The room was small and cramped, but at least nobody had to hear me squeal like a newborn pig when I had my stretch and sweep!
Speaking of uncomfortable vaginal intrusions, let’s get down to ‘juicy’ details. (I’m sorry that pun was awful). Ciaran and I waited in the little room for about an hour until one of the midwives came to chat with us. She explained the induction process, which I had researched repeatedly over the past 10 weeks. She started by examining my cervix, which was posterior and fully closed but starting to ripen. (I know that makes my cervix sound like an apple, sorry again.) She then inserted a prostin behind my cervix to try and soften it. The pain was so intense that I squeezed Ciaran’s hand so hard his knuckles turned white, and I shot up the bed like someone had shoved a firework up my vagina.
About two hours after the first prostin, I started having very mild contractions. They were uncomfortable but manageable at this stage, and felt like really intense period pains. A second midwife came to check how I was doing, and said “you look like you’re labouring love, let me put you on the monitor”. I was hooked up to the CTG, which monitored how often I was contracting and how intense the contractions were. They were about 7-8 minutes apart and getting stronger, so after about three hours she decided it was time to examine my cervix again.
She popped on her latex gloves and lubed up herself up. She used that much of the stuff I thought she was going to attempt to put an entire arm up there. “OOOO YOU BITCH”, I was past the point of giving a sh*t and just wanted to be told, “you’re 4cm dilated”. But ohhh no, I was just 1cm. One TINY cm. All that contracting for sweet FA! Gutted.
The contractions had come to a stand still by about 11pm, and Ciaran was sent home to get some rest. I was also told to rest, but I thought no chance. I pinched a birthing ball from the maternity ward, and watched Our Girl on BBC iPlayer whilst gyrating my hips like a kiwi girl, trying to work baby down.
Induction Attempt Number Two
At 8am next morning, I was given another prostin, as clearly the first one hadn’t worked. The pain was just as intense as the first time, as my cervix was still posterior. The midwife described the feel of it as “like my top lip”, which I found extremely disturbing. I lived in hope that the second prostin would work, and I would go into labour naturally. But it didn’t… I had however dilated to 2cm. Another day of contractions, thrusting on a birthing ball, pacing up and down the corridors and going out of my mind with boredom for absolutely NOTHING. Contractions died down yet again and my patience was wearing thin!
At around 6pm, the consultant came in to try and speed things up. He performed a stretch and sweep which resulted in me losing my plug (also known as a show). I was technically still 2cm dilated because he could fit two fingers in my cervix, but he informed me that he had measured the width of his two fingers and it turns out they’re 3cm across. (I know, who on earth measures their fingers… Weirdo!)
Breaking My Waters
The next morning I was taken to the labour ward to have my waters broken. As I was still only 2cm dilated, I was told to get “nice and high” on the gas and air, because this sh*t was going to hurt. And it did! The midwife used her two fingers to open up my cervix and extra centimeter, and I balled my eyes out in pain, even though I was off my face on gas and air I could still feel it.
I can only describe the feeling of my waters breaking, as p*ssing myself uncontrollably. SO MUCH WATER!! Who knew there would be so much fluid around one tiny human. My mind was blown. I was coming down from the gas and air, and I can’t remember what the midwife said, but I was in fits of giggles. The only issue was, I was flooding the bed with my leaking lady garden. Everytime I laughed, I gushed a little harder. The midwife was soaked and had to change her clothes. Anyway, after my waters were broken I was hooked up to an oxytocin drip. Oxytocin, also known as the love hormone (hubba hubba), was to make my uterus contract.
When Labour Kicked In
WELL….The contractions just came out of nowhere, and before I knew it I was sucking on the gas and air like my life depended on it! The midwife said she would increase the drip until I was either contracting every two minutes, or 4cm dilated – by which point I would be classed as in active labour. After just one hour, the contractions came thick and fast. With barely any breathing time inbetween and screaming into the gas and air tube, the midwife examined my cervix yet again and I was FINALLY 4cm. Ciaran was a great support through the contractions, and did his best to keep me calm. Although I was furious when he pulled a chicken wrap out of his bag, knowing fine well I wasn’t allowed to eat.
Anyway, I don’t know how long after the last examination this was, because the whole thing was a bit of a blur, but the gas and air just wasn’t taking the edge off anymore. I demanded a shot of pethidine, despite knowing it could make me feel sick. I couldn’t have cared any less about nausea at this point, I just NEEDED some stronger pain relief. I remember clentching onto Ciarans fist in desperation and telling him to “knock me out and tell me when it’s over”.
Well ladies, I don’t know about you but I thought the pethidine did absolutely F*CK ALL, apart from make me drowsy and a little bit drunk. The contractions got closer together, about a minute apart, and the pain was just too much to take. That was it, I’d had enough…
“CIARAN, GET ME AN EPIDURAL NOW!!!!!!!!!!”
“Erm, midwife… I think she needs an epidural!”
The anaesthetist was sent in to give me her spiel about the risks that can occur with an epidural. I didn’t listen to any of them, I just blocked her out. “I don’t care, stop talking and just do it!!!” Now I’m a wimp when it comes to needles and cry like a baby when getting a blood test, so you can imagine the intensity of pain I was in to completely dismiss the fact a six inch needle was about to be inserted into my spine.
Pain Free… For Now!
Twenty minutes later and the anaesthetic had kicked in. I went from being possessed by the devil to being able to hold a normal conversation again. My mouth was so dry from sucking on the gas and air, so I drank two litres of Lucozade Sport as it was all I was allowed to keep my energy levels up. Then I got some rest and slept for about two hours, whilst my extraordinary body continued to contract and dilate.
When I woke the midwife asked, “do you need a wee?” I thought, “erm I don’t know Joanne, why don’t you tell me since I’m numb from the tits down and have lost control of my natural bodily functions.” She then proceeded to insert a catheter into my wee hole and empty my bladder (sorry Dad, don’t say I didn’t warn you). I mean, there are some things your other half just don’t need to see, but I suppose this was part of childbirth – the single most undignified experience a human being will ever whiteness.
She then performed yet another cervical examination. To my amazement, I was 9cm dilated! The midwife then used her fingers to stretch my now very squishy cervix to 10cm!! Because I’d had an epidural, luckily I didn’t feel the pain of her opening me up like Christmas present.
Then she said something that was so horrific, I will never forget it as long as I live. “Your rectum is pretty packed, so you’ll need to have a poo before you have this baby”…. BRILLIANT. So not only has my boyfriend seen me piss myself, but I am going to do a poo right in front of his very eyes. I was past-caring, I just wanted to meet my baby. So yes, I am one of the many that sh*t myself during labour.
The final stages… TIME TO PUSH!
It was time to push my baby out!! The moment I had been waiting for for the best part of a year was finally here. We didn’t find out the gender of the baby whilst I was pregnant, so it was a complete surprise when he was finally born. My mum arrived just as I had started pushing, and the pain came back again. The epidural had taken away the pain of the contractions, but my vagina still felt like it was being burnt alive. To make matters even worse, I lost the button to release more anaesthetic into my system!
“PUSH BECCA, COME ON, PUSH THAT BABY DOWN… THE HEAD IS COMING”
The part where the head comes out is called “crowning”… Now let me tell you a little something about crowning… It is HORRIFIC! There are no words to describe the intense burning sensation as you squeeze the skull of another human being out of a hole the size of a twenty pence piece.
“GET IT OUT OF MEEEEEEE!!!!!!!”
The midwife was really encouraging, and told me the progress I was making as I bared down and gritted my teeth. “I can see baby’s eyes, lots of hair” etc.
I was too busy screaming and crying out in pain to realise that I had done it! My mum told me to look down and there he was, and Ciaran shouted “ITS A BOY”… But he wasn’t breathing. Ciaran quickly cut the cord and baby doctors flooded the room. The cord had been wrapped around his neck twice, so each time I pushed he was choked a little more! I was terrified and just prayed that he would be okay. After the longest eight minutes of our lives, he finally started breathing. The doctor called Ciaran over and to see his little boy, and he was greeted with – what he describes as a “fat off placenta” – on the table next to him. He nearly cried at the sight of it, which was absolutely hilarious.
The whole room was overwhelmed with emotion as he let out his first cry. He was wrapped in a towel and passed to me. I couldn’t believe that he was mine! I soon forgot about the two days of excruciating pain, and the fact I still had my legs in the air with my ruined front bum on display for everyone to see. The midwives encouraged Alfie latch on for a feed, and left me and my little family in peace for a bit before taking us back to the maternity ward. After FaceTiming our immediate family and close friends, I went for a shower with a catheter still jabbed in my vein and dragged my dead leg along with me, whilst the midwife showed my new baby daddy how to dress his son.
The whole experience was just magical, but when people say, “childbirth is beautiful”, do not believe them, it is f*cking disgusting. Nonetheless, it is amazing and extraordinary, and a memory that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
The human body is incredible, and I am completely in awe of what myself and other women just like me have accomplished. My body may never look the same again, and my inner thighs may be scarred with stretch marks, but when I look at my thriving little boy, all of those things seem completely insignificant. My body grew a human being, and that is something I will be forever proud of!