So I didn’t manage much sleep that night, because I was woken up every four hours and given more tablets to try and get me into labour. Nothing at all happened except for the few twinges that I’d felt the day before, but at 6.30am I finally started to have contractions.
At first they were manageable and didn’t really cause me much discomfort. They were also quite spaced out, but by mid morning they started to get worse and lasted for a good minute or more each time, so I finally asked for some pain relief. I was started off with paracetamol and codeine, I got really drowsy and I think the codeine was the cause of that, but it did give me some relief and I was even able to sleep again a little in between having yet more tablets to try and get my labour going.
My husband was timing the contractions on his tablet via an app that he’d downloaded, and at lunchtime I had a visit from Rachel Carter, the Matron in charge of the midwifery department. I happened to have quite a strong contraction when she was there and asked me if I’d been shown ways to breathe that would help me.
I hadn’t, and as I hadn’t gotten around to putting a birth plan together as I thought I had until January to do it (and there was a question of whether I might have to have a caesarean section as my placenta was a bit low, but had moved since) ways to breathe hadn’t even entered my head. Rachel told me how to breathe through my mouth and nose, and doing that cut down the time of each contraction from a minute or over to around 20-30 seconds. She was an absolute star!
My Mum and Dad came back to the hospital at lunchtime and sat with us while the contractions became stronger and more frequent. I thought given how strong they were and that there were more of them that things were starting to happen.
I was wrong.
When the consultant came back to see me at 3.30pm she gave me a sweep (which was horrible) and said I was only 2-3 centimetres dilated. I asked for an epidural as I didn’t want the other methods of pain relief to make me sick or any more drowsy than I was, as I wanted to be as with it as possible so I didn’t miss anything when he was born. She said it was a bit “too early” for me to have an epidural, but that she would come back and check me again at about 7.00pm.
Through all this, and the next few hours as the contractions got even worse, my husband was amazing. He rubbed my back non-stop – and I mean non-stop – the entire time, he kept saying “nose, and mouth, nose and mouth” to remind me of how to breathe during each contraction, and he wouldn’t leave me alone for a second. He even had to take me to the toilet at one point when the contractions were really bad, as I was finding it hard to stand on two feet. I was warned that contractions would be much worse through an induced labour rather than it happening on its own, but as I have nothing to compare it with it seemed normal to me.
At 6.00pm one of the midwives came to take my blood pressure, pulse and temperature yet again. She suggested that I move into delivery room 9 ready to have Frankie, and that I try some gas and air for the pain while I was waiting for the consultant. I was a bit nervous about this as she said the gas and air might make me feel a bit sick, and I was so far gone with the contractions at this point that I couldn’t get a good grip on it when I put the nozzle in my mouth, so it wouldn’t have really worked anyway.
7.00pm came and went, and finally at nearly 8pm the consultant came in to have another look at me, full of apologies as she had been attending some emergencies. I was still only 2-3 centimetres dilated, so she said I would have to go onto a hormone drip to try and get things speeded up. I practically begged her for an epidural at that point, my parents were in the Fay Turner Suite and I didn’t want them to see me in so much pain, so she said she would go and see if she could get the anaesthetist but they were still busy with emergencies.
Another excruciating half an hour or so passed and finally they came to give me my epidural. The anaesthetist literally ran into the room and sprang into action straight away with getting everything ready. Getting the line into my arm was hell, the pain was unbearable but on top of the contractions it just seemed to wash off me, and a few minutes later the epidural was done and finally I started to feel some relief from the contractions.
My Mum and Dad were finally able to come and see me, and as they were now preparing to get me hooked up to the hormone drip we managed to persuade them to go home and get a bit of rest, and said that my husband would call them as soon as anything was happening so they could come back up. My Mum was going to be there when Frankie was born, and I know they didn’t want to leave, but I was glad when they said they would go home and spend some time with Curley until things were happening.
I’d had a few midwives look after me since I’d been in, but at 10.00pm another midwife took over and I clicked with her straight away. Her name was Samantha and although at first I thought her jolly and jovial approach would be a bit much, it turned out to be exactly what my husband and I needed. She started the hormone drip and I was really relaxed at that point from the epidural, she even said I might get a bit of sleep.
I expected to feel completely numb from the waist down, but I didn’t. While there is no way I could have stood on my feet I still had some feeling in my legs and feet, but only a bit. I couldn’t feel the contractions at all, but Samantha knew exactly when they were happening. We chatted away and ended up telling her how we were feeling about everything, and she said we were the third stillbirth that they had dealt with that week.
And just like she said, I closed my eyes, and managed to get a bit of sleep.