Storm In A B-Cup

The Birth Story of Baby G, part 1: The Labour

on November 18, 2014

When I was around 36 weeks pregnant, I started experiencing what I now know to have been pre labour symptoms. I was having period like cramping, a lot of pain in my lower back, losing what I know to have been my mucus plug (and had been since 29 weeks, despite what the midwives told me), and having fairly regular braxton hicks contractions. I spent a long, LONG week and a half dealing with these symptoms between the couch, bed, floor, bouncing on my exercise ball, and perhaps most commonly, draped over the top of my exercise ball on the floor. I was certainly not sleeping for more than about half an hour at a time, between the SPD pain, back pain, needing to pee constantly and just general discomfort.

By the time 37 weeks and 4 days came around, I felt like I really could not endure any more.  The morning I was 37+4 (a Thursday), I was lying in bed around 7am and felt a distinctly different feeling. I sprung out of bed and to the bathroom, leaving an unmistakable trail behind me. I was one of the 10% of women whose water breaks before any sign of true labour beginning. I remember feeling oddly calm. The air felt different. Today was probably going to be the day that I met my precious baby girl, and all I could think was that I had ruined a pair of trackpants and possibly some bedsheets.

Within a few minutes I had phoned the birthing suite at my hospital (an hour and a half’s drive away, disregarding any traffic). The midwives were reluctant to believe that my membranes had spontaneously ruptured this early but when I told them exactly what had happened, told me to come in, but not to rush. So T and I each took a shower, and we stopped at good old McDonald’s for breakfast on our way to the hospital.

Two hours later, we were arriving at the hospital, and I was being hooked up to a CTG machine for some monitoring to see how baby was doing. Within a fairly short amount of time I was taken to a labour room (where some of the midwives were very unhappy to see me – I was taking up valuable space which may be needed for someone who “actually needed” it). The midwives asked for a urine sample and to see a pad as they still didn’t really believe my water had broken, however when I handed them a cup overflowing with liquid that was CLEARLY more amniotic fluid than urine, they declined to do the swab to test if my water had broken or not. The hospital was ready to send me home through early labour – I wasn’t happy about this as I live so far away from the hospital and had no idea how fast or slow labour would be – when someone thought to check my group B strep status, which had only been tested about a week ago, and I had never been notified of any results. I suppose I would have been at my next antenatal appointment, scheduled for a few days’ time. When they discovered that the swab had come back positive for group B strep, I knew I was officially in for the long haul as I had to be administered IV antibiotics every 4 hours until baby was born.

So once the hospital finally found someone who could place my cannula – apparently I was particularly difficult, with deep veins plus the edema that I was now experiencing in my whole body, I settled in to wait for an induction of labour as the hospital didn’t want my waters to remain broken with no baby for too long and a positive GBS swab. At 11am, the midwife came in to tell me that in a few minutes someone would be in to start the syntocinon drip (pitocin to all those in the US). A few minutes turned into a few hours, and by 5pm with no drip yet, my contractions had definitely started all on their own. Meanwhile it had taken me all day to even get a hold of a pillow for myself (can you tell why I might have ended up with such a traumatic birth?). labour1

Early labour went pretty much as I had expected, and with the support of my wonderful husband, I thought everything was going very smoothly, but by 11pm or so I was requesting an epidural with some degree of insistence. I had been checked around 7 or 8pm, and been found to be at about 4cm dilated, so I was of the belief that the staff would be OK with me getting an epidural, however they continued to try to stall me. The doctor who performed my internal to determine that I was about 4cm was very brusque, rough and caused me a lot of pain, and he is the one who kept telling the midwives I couldn’t have an epidural yet. I was VERY firm in not wanting to see him again.

First I was given some type of tablet for pain relief and another to “help me rest”. This only really took off the edge, and I most certainly wasn’t sleeping. By perhaps 2am (the details are already becoming so fuzzy), I was vomiting and shaking and seriously not coping with the pain again, so I again started asking for an epidural and again being told it was “Still too early” because it was my first baby, so I couldn’t possibly have progressed very far. So I was given a morphine injection, the only result of which for me was some dizziness and next to no pain relief.

By the time 5am rolled around, I was very much not coping with the pain and my contractions were only around a minute apart, and lasting for close to that whole minute. I was getting one strong one, a longer gap and then two weaker ones right on top of one another in a repeating pattern, a pattern which I was later told is common in women labouring with posterior babies. The midwives FINALLY agreed to getting the anaesthetist to administer my epidural and in the meantime offered me nitrous oxide gas. The nitrous oxide, while not providing much pain relief, gave me a much needed focal point, allowing me to get through a bit more. It did take off an edge, but made me very uncomfortably dizzy and my voice very manly and deep, which made my husband laugh to no end.

At 6 am, 13 hours after I was considered officially in labour, I finally got my epidural. It took five attempts to place correctly, as the anaesthetist had to try to place it in between contractions – and there was not much time at all – and he said my epidural space was very deep, almost too deep to reach. He told me that the needle to place the epidural is 8cm long and my epidural space was 8cm in, so it was quite difficult to place, the most difficult he had placed in a long time, he says. While placing the epidural, he got quite frustrated with my midwife for not listening to me sooner about wanting an epidural as he suspected I may be at least 8cm dilated. labour2

In my case, it was lucky that my progress had not been checked before the epidural was placed, since if I had been checked, I would not have been allowed the epidural. As the anaethetist had suspected, I was dilated to 8cm and was transitional. Luckily, within two contractions of the epidural being placed, I was blessedly no longer feeling anything to do with the contractions but could still move my legs and feet around pretty well. I had a catheter placed, and settled in to wait. No sleep was to be had, but at least I was able to rest.

I had written out the entire birth story in one post, but it was simply too long, so I think that here might be a good place to break – part 2 will be coming very soon!

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