I’d been having on and off contractions for about 4 weeks. I’d gotten to the point where I didn’t even pay attention to them, because they never turned into anything. On my due date, a Friday, I started having steady contractions that were more intense than earlier ones. It was a full moon, and I thought it would be a perfect day to have my baby. But I went to bed that night, and they stopped, as usual. Nothing else happened until the following Tuesday. Scott, Fi and I were in Morrison’s doing some shopping when I felt my waters break. It was just a trickle, but it kept coming every few minutes. (I think it was my hind-waters, judging by what happened later during labour.) I called Allison, who was to be my birth companion, and she agreed that it sounded like my waters had gone. Still I had trouble believing it after all the false alarms previously. I called the hospital and though they wanted me to come in right away, I decided to wait until the following morning to see if my labour would start up on its own. That evening, Fifi went over to Granny’s, and Scott and I went out to a restaurant for Scott’s birthday (which was the next day). During dinner, my contractions started up and were about ten to fifteen minutes apart. It was great! We went home and throughout the evening, the contractions got closer and closer together and somewhat more intense, though still completely bearable. At around midnight they’d come to about three minutes apart and lasting about a minute each, so we headed off to the hospital.
When we got there, they assessed me. I had to lie on my back to be monitored and that slowed my labour a lot. Contractions were now about six minutes apart and not lasting nearly as long. After two hours, the midwife decided I wasn’t in active labour and sent me home. This was disappointing, and by the time I got home, the contractions had mostly stopped. I was devastated. They wanted me in the next morning to assess me again.
The next morning I woke with only a few mild contractions. I called the hospital and said I was going to stay home longer and hope for labour to start back up. I agreed to come in at 2.00, which would be a full 24 hours after my waters broke. Scott and I wandered around the town for hours hoping to start things up, but nothing happened. At the hospital, I spoke to one of the obstetricians, and he agreed to let me go another night before starting me off on Syntocinon. We agreed that if labour didn’t start on its own, we’d try a small dose to get me started and if it didn’t work, we’d have an elective caesarean. I was gutted but glad he was giving me one more night to start on my own.
Scott and I stayed in town and went to the cinema (we saw High School Musical 3!), then went back to the hospital for me to stay overnight. Over night, the contractions started again but stayed about ten minutes apart. The next morning there was no option but to be induced.
The midwives who were attending me were wonderful. I had a senior midwife and a student midwife. We all got along great. They started the drip at 9.45, and for about an hour, we all just sat around chatting and laughing and having a good time. I started then having some cramps and before I knew it, the contractions were coming on pretty steadily. I was able to laugh and talk in between them, but I had to really concentrate during them. Then they got stronger and stronger, and suddenly they felt like they were coming one directly after the other. I was finding it harder now but continued to decline gas and air until later. Scott went away for lunch. At that point, the contractions were really hard to manage, but I kept using my HypnoBirthing breathing, and it helped a lot.
While Scott was away, I had one huge contraction, and in the middle of it, the baby kicked extremely hard and my fore-waters burst. The pain was, to be perfectly honest, excruciating. The waters breaking kept my contraction going for a long time at its peak, and I lost it completely. I began crying and shouting and writhing around and saying, ‘I can’t do this! I can’t do this!’ I felt like the contraction was never going to end. I tried to get positive by saying through my sobbing, ‘I CAN do this, I CAN do this!’, but I was screaming and still writhing around. The midwife started saying, ‘Lori. Lori. Look at me. Look at me. NO ONE can do this. TAKE THE GAS AND AIR.’ I’d forgotten about gas and air! So I took it. That ended the contraction, but after that point, they came one on top of the other. And then Scott returned. He felt terrible for having been away!
I sucked on the gas and air for I don’t know how long, but it just wasn’t doing the trick. I couldn’t believe how intense the contractions became after my waters broke. I just didn’t think I could do it anymore. Scott kept telling me, ‘Just one more. Can you do just one more?’ I kept agreeing I could do one more. Then I told the midwife that I really needed her to check me to see how far along I was, because if I wasn’t progressing, then I really couldn’t go on like this. She checked me.
She said to me, ‘You’re not going to like what I have to tell you. You are only 1-2 centimetres dilated, but you are fully effaced.’ I glared at her. She then went on to say how good that was because frankly she didn’t think I’d progressed at all. She said to keep trying. I said I’d keep trying, but I was going to need diamorphine. The diamorphine helped just enough to take the edge off the pain, but it was still really painful. Scott continued to coach me through ‘just one more’, but my answers changed from ‘okay, one more’ to ‘maybe’ to ‘I don’t know’.
At some point, Allison arrived. She’d had several other visits that morning to attend to (as a proper midwife, so I felt those visits took precedence over being with me as just a companion). It was perfect timing, as in my head I was close to just asking for a c-section again. When she arrived, it gave me a new sense of energy, and I wanted to prove to myself and to everyone that I could do this.
I was all over the place, unable to get into a comfortable position for labouring. I was all over the bed, the birthing ball, standing up, leaning over the bed, everywhere. Since I was strapped to a continuous monitor, I couldn’t go very far, and all my moving was interrupting the trace on the baby’s heart beat. Because of this, they asked me to sit on the bed for awhile just to get a good twenty minute trace. I wanted to kill them, but I did it anyway. After not very long, I suddenly got the urge to push. It hadn’t been long since I had been checked, so I said very hesitantly, ‘I know this sounds stupid, but I’m just going to say it. I feel like I need to push.’ The midwife asked me to wait to push so she could check me, but with the next contraction, I couldn’t stop myself – I just pushed. She checked me and found I was 8 cm. I couldn’t stop pushing though, even though I tried my hardest. I kept trying not to, and then apologising through the whole contraction because I couldn’t help myself. It felt so good to push!
They must’ve checked me again, because they told me to go ahead and push. It felt amazing! Suddenly, labour was FUN. I was absolutely LOVING the pushing. I gave it my all with each contraction and enjoyed resting in between. I gave up the gas and air, so I could concentrate better on pushing. I don’t know how long I pushed, but it wasn’t long before the baby crowned. I reached down and felt her full head of hair. It was incredible. Before long, the baby’s head was out and with the next push, out whooshed her body. They placed her right on my tummy, and I was blown away. She didn’t breathe right away, so they took her to the resuscitation table while I delivered the placenta. Then they put her back on my tummy, and we all watched in amazement as she crawled up my chest and found the breast herself. From the start of the drip to delivery was about seven and a half hours. I was 40 weeks plus 6 days.
I had a second degree tear, and I was exhausted, so Scott spent a lot of time holding Lolly for me. I felt too wobbly from the drugs and the exhaustion to hold her myself too long. But I didn’t feel it interfered with our bonding. She and I stayed in the hospital for two days. It shouldn’t have been that long except that the very next day, when I was due to go home, the entire west of Scotland flooded, and we were stranded! Interestingly enough, my friend Carol, who was due the same day as me, gave birth the next morning, so we were both in the same ward, stranded together. That night, because no one could get into the hospital for work, our ward was shut down, and we were all moved to different wards, so Carol and I even ended up in the same room! So while we got no visitors, we at least had each other!
I was so happy. I really wanted a natural birth and really didn’t want to be induced. But more than anything, I didn’t want another c-section. I was so upset during the time between my waters breaking and being induced. I couldn’t’ understand why God was letting this happen, when He knew how important this was to me. I was certain I’d end up with another section. But as always, I realised when it was all over, that He did still have everything under control. It just wasn’t how I planned it. I still got my VBAC, and I can also say now that I went through induction without needing an epidural! I had to apologise to God afterwards for my lack of trust in Him. I was pretty mad at Him to be honest. But the birth was amazing, and I don’t regret any choices I made, even though I agreed to many things I’d normally refuse. It was an indescribably amazing experience, and only a week later I’m sure I could do it again.