Our third baby was due to make her appearance on February 13th, 2012. We had lots of comments from people about ‘Valentine’s babies’ but with our last two having both been very overdue (Lilly 11 days over, Isla 12), we weren’t holding out much hope of that!
Sure enough, the due date came and went without any hint of baby wanting out – and this carried on as the days ticked past and despite a sweep at 8 days over.
With Isla, the 10 days after her due date were filled with plenty of false starts and promising contractions which started in the evenings and disappeared as soon as I went to bed. But this time, being overdue was most undramatic. There were no positive signs, no contractions, no particularly hopeful aches and pains. We were pretty resigned to the fact that it would end in induction and we were just keen to get on with things!
I was booked in for induction on Friday, 24th Feb, at 3.30pm, but I was told to ring in the morning to see if they could fit me in any earlier. The consultant who examined me at 8 days over confirmed that they would be able to skip out the pessary stage and go straight to breaking my waters, which I was pleased about.
On Thursday, we knew it was going to be our last day as a family of four, and we had a really lovely trip to the zoo in the glorious sunshine – it was so warm we were even sitting outside eating ice creams! It was one of those days when everything goes right and we put the girls to bed thinking what a brilliant day we’d had and how much we were looking forward to the next chapter in our lives.
The next morning we took the girls round to Tony’s mum and dad’s house. It felt so emotional leaving them, knowing how much their lives were going to change too by the next time we saw them – especially Isla who couldn’t really have any concept of what was going on.
We called the hospital to see if we could go in any earlier – they told us to call back again at 11am. I went back to bed to get some extra sleep and Tony relaxed playing football on the computer. We called at 11am and were told it was busy on labour ward and to call again at 1pm. We started to worry that things might not happen at all that day - with Isla we were in the hospital at 8am waiting to be induced and it was so busy that we didn’t get to go up to labour ward until 1am!
We went for our lunch at McDonalds and then called again at 1pm. Great news – they told us to come in at 2.3opm! We went back home and gathered all our stuff together – suddenly the adrenaline was going and we both felt that strange blend of excitement and anxiety.
We arrived at the hospital at 2.30pm and were shown straight into a delivery room on the labour ward. It felt so strange looking around that room and thinking about everything that was going to unfold in the next few hours. I was worried about how long we might be there for – with Isla, although I was induced, by the time they got around to breaking my waters I was contracting pretty regularly on my own, but this time I hadn’t had a single contraction yet!
We got ourselves comfy and the very nice midwife said she would break the waters then give me an hour to see if the contractions started themselves. But when she tried to do it, she found she couldn’t, and had to ask a consultant to come and try. A female consultant, who also seemed very nice, came and did the job at 4.50pm. She told the midwife to give me two hours to see if things started up on their own, which I was pleased about. Then I was hooked up to the monitor (because of previous c-section I needed continous monitoring) but I was allowed to sit on a birthing ball. (I was so chuffed about this – in both my previous pregnancies I had imagined labour would involve bouncing away on a ball, it seemed such an idyllic vision, and I had never managed to achieve it in either of the previous two labours!)
In a bid to help relax me and therefore make me more likely to go into labour on my own, the midwife mixed me up a blend of essential oils in a footbath for me to try. This too felt extremely strange – essential oils and footbaths certainly weren’t ever on the agenda the last two times!!
After two hours absolutely nothing had happened – except my feet felt nice I asked the midwife for one more hour to see if that might make a difference and she agreed. I sat and bounced on my ball watching TV (until the midwife had to break the news to me that the bouncing was making the monitor lose contact with the baby and then I was told I could stay on the ball as long as I stayed totally still – easier said than done!)
After an hour still nothing had happened, not so much as a twinge. I was a bit fed up by this and just wanted to get on with things, so I agreed to the dreaded drip being hooked up to help speed things along.
A nurse arrived to put in a canula – three painful attempts later, it was in… and at 7.45pm the drip began its evil work!
By about 9pm the contractions had begun. They were painfully sharp from the start – not like the last two times when they began on their own so built gradually in intensity before the drip was introduced to really ratchet things up. Although I was pleased that things were finally happening I started to feel negative about things and was telling Tony that I didn’t think I could do this. Because the contractions had only just started and they were already pretty painful, and because I knew I was only about 2cm dilated at this point, I felt like I had such a long way to go with the pain inevitably only getting worse. I was already on the gas and air, which I seemed to like a bit better this time, although I was still worried about it making me feel sick, as it had done on the last couple of occasions.
Soon afterwards I was examined, and yes, I was still only 2-3cm. The contractions were about every 3 minutes and pretty unpleasant. I started to get the shakes. The lovely midwife was swapped over for a much more business-like one who immediately came in and doubled the dosage in my drip!
At this point it became clear that the monitoring was an issue again. Firstly, the monitor on my belly kept slipping and losing contact with the baby. Also, it was starting to show those all too familar decelerations in heartrate whenever I had a contraction. The midwife tells me she is going to put a clip on the baby’s head so they can monitor her better. At this point Tony and I both start to feel this is heading down a slippery slope… I am thinking that I still have so far to go, the pain is already quite a lot, and we are now on borrowed time trying to deliver the baby before the distress gets worse.
By now I am starting to go into my own world a bit – I feel a bit out of it even though I am only having gas and air – and trying not to use that too much for fear of being sick. I can’t be bothered talking to the midwife where before we’d been making small talk. I just want silence!
The midwife asks me if I’m ok for pain relief. I say I am for now, but I will want an epidural later. She asks me why I want to wait, and I say because I don’t want to have it too early because it can make a c-section more likely. She tells me that it won’t make any difference to how I progress, because I’m on the drip anyway, and that if I want one, I better get one now because later on they might be busy and I might have to wait a long time. In that case, I say yes… although I am slightly feeling like it is a bit early on and maybe I am a total cop out for wanting to get rid of the pain already.
The anaesthetist arrives quite quickly. Unbelievably, it is the same guy as the last two labours. We have mixed feelings about this. My first epidural was a disaster. It didn’t properly work and, when the labour ended in an emergency section, the epidural couldn’t be topped up, which meant I ended up with a general anaesthetic. The second time, this same man did me a brilliant epidural, which totally took away the pain but left me with just the sensation to push, which was wonderful.
Unfortunately, the brilliant experience wasn’t to be repeated. He puts in the epidural but immediately starts asking me lots of questions about whether or not I am feeling it working, and if so, is it working in both sides or just one side? I like to be positive and think that I can feel it starting to work, but it soon becomes clear that if it is working, it is definitely only working on my left side and not my right. It is about 10pm.
Next thing, the midwife says the baby’s heartrate is still dipping with each contraction, and calls in a doctor to look at the trace. He looks at it, looks a bit concerned but tries to be very reassuring to us and says they will give it a bit longer and have another look. We both feel a c-section is on the cards and I am a bit worried because the epidural is not the best. I do not want another general anaesthetic!
After this point, everything starts happening at once. I am in so much more pain, especially on my right hand side where the epidural obviously isn’t working at all. The midwife tells me to lie on my right to try and see if that moves the epidural over to that side, and if it doesn’t, she will ask the anaesthetist to come and top me up. I lie on my side and it makes things SO much worse, the pain becomes unbearable and it is at this point I start to lose it a little.
The midwife calls the doctor back because the dip in the baby’s heartrate is getting worse. She also calls back the anaesthetist to sort out my epidural. They arrive at the same time. The doctor examines me at 12.3oam and tells me I am 6cm dilated. At this point, the pain is unbelievable. I am lying on my side telling them over and over: “I don’t want to do this, it hurts so much, please help me!” The doctor and anaesthetist are still there and then it changes and I have this huge pressure in my bottom which is impossible not to push against. Now I am panicking because I’ve just been told I’m only 6cm dilated and I feel like the baby is coming! I am now shouting: “It’s in my bottom – I’m sorry! I can’t help it! It’s in my bottom!!”
At one point I hear Tony say something like “Do you want me to get somebody?” and I panic! What does he mean “get somebody?” I’d assumed they were already here! (I am totally in my own world – later on Tony told me that the doctor and anaesthetist were there, but the midwife had run out of the room (to get somebody, it turns out). The doctor and anaesthetist were basically just standing there looking at me not sure what to do!)
The midwife comes back and tells me “Ok, if you want to push, just go for it”, but I am still so scared because I’ve literally only just been told I’m only 6cm! I keep asking her: “What’s happening? Will it be ok?” but the urge to push is so strong there is no fighting it anyway. The next thing I know the baby’s head is coming. I can’t believe it!! The pain is enormous as I can feel something very hard trying to stretch it’s way out, I push and the head is out… the cord is wrapped round her neck tightly, twice (hence the heartrate decelerations). The midwife tells me to push a little then pant as she wrestles to untangle the cord. I do exactly what I’m told. A few pushes later, at 12.51am, I feel the rest of the baby scrabble out… the relief is enormous… She is put straight onto me, she looks fine but doesn’t cry, they take her and give her a rub and she starts up with a VERY loud piercing cry!! Oh-oh!
Daddy holds her while they deliver the placenta & check me over. I can’t believe it when I’m told there is no tear - I was terrified I was going to be ripped to shreds because of the sudden arrival – but no, it seems I had literally gone from 6cm to fully dilated in a matter of minutes. She is weighed (8lbs 2oz) - then given to me for skin to skin. She is hungry straight away but gets very upset and squeals when we don’t get the latch right (even though she is my third baby I am no breastfeeding expert, having only managed to feed the other two for a little while myself).
Eventually she sucks for over an hour but still wants more so Tony dresses her in her first outfit, which she doesn’t seem to mind, then she has a little formula from daddy. She is totally alert & awake, although she does close her eyes while drinking as if she’s tired but fighting it. Eventually we are taken down to a ward where a midwife swaddles her & she falls asleep in my arms.
The last couple of hours have been so dramatic that it is only really once we are on the ward, baby sleeping so peacefully, that I can really appreciate what has just happened! Eve Daisy has arrived, another totally perfect little being we have created to make our family totally complete.
Tony goes home, exhausted, but neither of us can actually sleep for hours, we’re both far too wired after the dramatic events of the last couple of hours. We send each other lots of text messages about our beautiful new daughter and I send him pictures of her.
I was discharged early the next afternoon, taking our beautiful third baby home to meet her sisters. Our lovely family complete.