A labour of love (and pain)

Carrying on from the last post, I arrived in the induction suite at Birmingham Women’s Hospital ready to get going! Despite the harsh reality of my diagnosis earlier that day, and the fact I was desperately trying to avoid being induced, we started to get excited that our bundle of joy would soon be with us. Little did I know how long an induction can take!

Sparing you all the boring details, I ended up being in slow labour for 1.5 days until Saturday morning (12th Aug) when eventually my waters broke and I was walked to the delivery suite. Never having had a baby, I thought by this point I’d be in agony and unable to talk or walk, but actually I felt good, and maybe a little smug that I was dealing with the contractions like a trooper! Little did I know what was lurking round the corner…

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(The pic above was taken in my smug phase)

So, having arrived at my room in the delivery suite, the first conversation with the midwife went something like this:

Midwife: Hi, I’ll be looking after you until 8am. Is this your first baby?

Me: Hi, yes it is.

Midwife: Right ok. You’re being induced aren’t you?

Me: Yes that’s right. I don’t really know what that involves though?

Midwife: Ok that’s fine. Just so you know, an induced labour is usually a lot more painful than a natural labour.

WTF.

Firstly, she had already established this was my first baby so this extra titbit of information was irrelevant. Secondly, why say that just as I’m going into the throws of active labour?! I had no benchmark how painful labour was anyway but I’d already told myself it was going to be the worst pain imaginable. Now, it was the worst pain imaginable PLUS a bit more because I was being induced. Not what I needed to hear!! Cheers for that Miss Midwife. I’m sure she just wanted to impart her medical knowledge onto me, but please, know your audience, love.

The idea of a water birth in a boutique-style birth unit, with a harpist playing a medley of relaxing classical symphonies whilst being fanned by a tanned Adonis (this is accurate isn’t it?!) had long since been forgotten, but I didn’t realise just how clinical it would feel in the delivery suite. I was strapped up to a monitoring machine with bloody big straps wrapped round my bump, pulse monitor on my finger, and hooked up to an IV drip… Add my TENS machine into the mix and there were wires everywhere! Don’t get me wrong, I knew why this was all in place and necessary but it just wasn’t the birth I’d planned for.

The next ‘change of plan’ came with the anaesthetist. Now, throughout my 2 days in the hospital, my lymphoma had been discussed to death. Every shift change started with an introduction of a new consultant and midwife so the same acknowledgment of my ‘other condition’ had to be mentioned. I think I was starting to become numb to the word Lymphoma! When the anaesthetist came to talk to me (she was amazing), she explained that she had concerns about putting me under general anaesthetic in the event of an emergency because of the impact of the lump on my airway. That meant she was strongly advising an epidural so they knew for sure they could block my lower half incase they had to open me up – Miss Anaesthetist didn’t put it quite like that. This made me cry. In hindsight, I don’t know why I cried because it actually spared me a hell of a lot of pain, but I think I felt like everything I had a choice about was being taken away from me.

It turned out that the first epidural didn’t work. The guy who was doing it actually said ‘I’m having a bit of trouble getting it in because you’ve got a slight curvature of the spine’. Cheeky bugger! My response to that (considering I was then having contractions every couple of minutes and having to stay still so he could get a giant needle in my back) was ‘Add it to the list!’ He sure knew how to kick a girl when she was down! Anyway, it didn’t work, I got to 10cm dilated with gas and air (thinking I was actually going to die) and then another anaesthetist successfully managed to put one in just in time for me to push. I’d done a lot of the hard work without it so it was quite frustrating.

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The next bit saw 2 emergency buttons pushed, medical staff flood long thevroom, Ivy’s heart rate dropping dangerously low, a sample of blood taken from Ivy’s head to measure distress, and then the piece de resistance… the forceps! They are MASSIVE. If I could have moved my lower body, I would have ran for the hills but there was no chance. I was at their mercy! A few pushes and pulls, cuts and bruises later, Ivy was born. The midwife put her on my chest and I announced to everyone that she was a boy! I was delirious and tired so I think I can be forgiven… I was quickly corrected by the guy who was rubbing furiously at Ivy’s little body.

At this point, I should really give some credit to Andrew for being amazing throughout the whole thing (I did accuse him of farting at one point… he quickly said ‘I don’t think that’s me…’ Dignity had been well and truly lost). My mum was fab too; ‘Nana Jen’ arrived in time for the ‘pushing’ and held my hand until Ivy was born. They kept me calm and strong and encouraged me to push like hell, so thank you both for that!

Ivy Evelyn Aldridge was born at 13:45 on Saturday 12th August, fit and healthy, weighing 7lb 6oz. I did announce to everyone she was 7lb 11oz for some reason… again, delirious!

 

After the birth I was whisked away to theatre to be ‘tidied up’. Funnily enough, the same anaesthetist who had failed to correctly put my epidural in the first time round was overseeing my anaesthesia. He actually apologised to me for the failed attempt and I replied ‘oh well, blame it on my curved spine!’ It was only when I smiled at him that he realised I was joking.

The staff were amazing from beginning to end, and I was well and truly looked after. We were discharged the following day and the 3 of us made our way home. It was definitely the most emotional / horrific / wonderful thing that has ever happened to me and Ivy was worth every minute of it.

(I do have to say as a side note, it’s bloody daunting going home with a new little life who is completely dependant on you… what the hell do I do now? What does she wear to bed? Do we have everything we need? What if the cat tries to sleep on her head? What if she doesn’t stop crying? What if she doesn’t like me? What if I don’t like her? Irrational thoughts I know, and to be fair they soon vanished but it’s still an overwhelming experience. I am happy to report though that Ivy is still intact and well at 4 weeks old so we must be doing something right! The emotions can sometimes override logical thinking!)

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