I keep seeing a lot of posts about birth stories and I’ve often thought about writing about my own birthing experiences, but I guess I didn’t want to scare people. But then I kept reading about how labour wasn’t as expected and that actually people would have quite liked to have read about experiences like mine, previous to going through labour themselves. So I figured I may as well share my stories too.
During both of my pregnancies I developed a condition called obstetric cholestasis, which is where the liver stops functioning as it should do and results in a build-up of bile salts. It is a very high risk condition and can result in stillbirth, so I have been induced early with both of my boys. The main symptom of obstetric cholestasis is severe itching.
During my pregnancy with Bearr I developed Polyhydramnios, which is excess water surrounding the baby. For this reason I was being monitored weekly at the hospital, as well as still having my normal appointments and was told I would be induced at 40 weeks regardless. I kept raising concerns that I was incredibly itchy all over my body, particularly my bump, so I had a blood test which showed normal results and I was sent on my way. I kept raising my concerns in the following weeks, but nobody listened. I kept getting told my salt levels had already been checked and I was fine, but after a few dismissals and being spoken to like an idiot “well it is a rare condition, it is unlikely you have it”, I was adamant they needed to test me again. Low and behold I had obstetric cholestasis. I was booked in to an induction within the week and a prescription for some tablets to help manage the salt levels until then.
The day I went in to start the induction process I was all bright eyed and eager to meet my little bundle, little did I know I would be waiting two days. The induction process was started by being given a pessary to help soften the cervix. I was then sat around waiting for something to happen. It didn’t. So six hours later I was given a second pessary, which seemed to do something and I even started getting very minor contractions. A young midwife without children told me that these were just tightenings, which don’t hurt that much and so should hold off on the paracetamol and save them for when I’m in ‘real labour’.
It got to 9pm and the labour ward was too busy to send us down, so Mr. C got sent home. I ended up talking to a woman opposite me who was also being induced. The young midwife without children came back into our room and told us to stop talking and go to sleep (apparently we had regressed and were actually at brownie camp instead of being about to give birth). Myself and the woman opposite me are actually still friends and still moan about that midwife… she was awful.
Anyway moving on… in the early hours of the morning I was taken down to labour ward and given a hormone drip. This made the contractions come thick and fast, but after the midwife’s previous comments I was adamant to go without any pain relief aside from gas and air for as long as possible. I got to a point where tears were streaming down my face during every contraction, but I wasn’t dilating and after a while, the consultant came in and told me if things didn’t progress soon I would be having a C – Section. So I gave in and had some diamorphine to get them off my back for a bit.
Well that stuff knocked me out. I fell straight to sleep and to be honest I couldn’t have been more grateful. When I woke up, I was examined and again I hadn’t progressed all that much. Time seemed to be standing still and so I asked for an epidural.
After nearly 24 hours of intense contractions, a few changes of midwife and a number of disputes between the midwives and the consultant about pushing me to have a C – Section, I was ready to push, except I couldn’t tell when I needed to push because of the epidural and my midwife was getting quite angry with me. Nothing was happening and the angrier she got, the more I kept tensing up during the contractions stopping the labour. It was so stressful and then Bear’s heart rate started dropping, so a consultant was called in to give a very rushed forcep delivery. It all happened very quickly after that and Bear was here… in the world. They had to take him to one side to put a tube down his throat to clear his airways (a standard procedure when the mother has polyhydramnios in pregnancy), but he was here safe and sound. It felt like the longest few minutes of my life while all of the doctors and nurses were surrounding Oliver, but eventually I was allowed to just lay there and cuddle my precious bundle while a team of midwives helped clear the room.
After labour I felt quite sick, so I asked one of the midwives to take Bear from me and pass me a sick bowl, but I was told I will need to actually look after my baby when I go up to ward and she walked off to the other side of the room. Luckily Mr. C took Bear from me just before I vomited everywhere, it was a shame I missed the midwife who had just been so rude.
The room cleared and there the three of us were, a little family after months of waiting. I was sat there looking at little Bear in awe when I noticed I was bleeding. Mr. C pushed the nurse button, and one of the midwives came in looking a bit sullen to be honest, which made me feel like I was just being stupid, but once she took a look, she pushed a buzzer and within minutes the room was filled again. I had a doctor pushing down on my stomach checking for hemorrhages, which was excruciatingly painful and I had a nurse telling me to stay calm, which obviously made me do the opposite. Thankfully I hadn’t hemorrhaged and I still have no idea what caused the blood loss to this day.
After the delivery I was fitted with a catheter, which was so uncomfortable it became quite painful. I was so glad when that was removed. My time on the ward wasn’t exactly pleasant and the level of care was quite frankly atrocious. In fact I would go as far to say it was a huge contribution to me developing post-natal depression. Mr. C was sent home once I had reached the ward because it was outside visiting hours, so I was left on my own with my beautiful little boy. By this point, I hadn’t slept for nearly 48 hour and had just gone through a rather strenuous labour, so all I wanted to do was sleep. I had a midwife come in and tell me I needed to wake Oliver up and feed him every three hours, but he wasn’t feeding and it took me two hours to get him to feed, only to have a midwife come around again an hour later and tell me to start the process again. It was exhausting.
My labour with Bear had caused some nerve damage, which meant I couldn’t control my bladder. Maybe I was naïve, but it didn’t even cross my mind that this would happen to me. It was so deeply distressing that I felt like breaking down, but I then felt so guilty at being worried and sad because I felt like I should have been washed over with happiness at finally meeting my son. I eventually drifted off to sleep, but was woken by a midwife a short while later to feed Bear. It only took me a minute to realise that my bed was covered in a pool of blood and wee. I was absolutely mortified and wanted to change but the midwife kept telling me to feed him and ignored me when I told her repeatedly that I needed to change my clothes. I took Bear and lay him on a dry patch of the bed, while I stood in front of him so I could move some of the wet sheets so I could feed him without laying in blood and wee. This is when the midwife started having a go at me and told me I irresponsible for laying him on the bed as that can cause infection. I was on my own, I was so exhausted and emotional, I just broke down into a flood of tears. Thankfully a different midwife came to my rescue, shooed this other one out of the cubicle, helped me get sorted and then sat with me for while. At that specific point, I really felt like she was some sort of guardian angel and I will always remember how kind she was.
After what seemed like hours, it was finally visiting hours and eventually Mr. C arrived. Once I had told him what had happened, he was livid. In fact to this day I don’t think I have ever seen him so angry. By this point the midwives had changed over, so he complained to a different midwife who wasn’t entirely sure who was working the previous shift.
My bladder control got slightly better by the end of that day and as long as I went to the toilet every 3 – 4 hours (queue more alarms set on my phone), I didn’t have any accidents. I kept asking to see a physio, but was told that there was no point, it was normal and I should just get on it. It is safe to say I was thankful to get out of that hospital and get home.
It took months before someone listened to me and I was finally referred to a physio. It was amazing to have someone finally listen to me about my concerns. The physio was amazing and very quickly realised that my labour with Bear had caused some major damage to my pelvic floor. She showed me some simple exercises which changed my life and meant I regained control over my bladder again. I know is sounds trivial, but ladies, please do your pelvic floor exercises.
Looking back I’m not sure my antenatal classes prepared me for labour. There was a lot of talk about batch cooking in the lead up to my due date and baking flapjacks in the early stages of labour. There was also a great demonstration of a doll being pushed through a plastic pelvis, but nobody mentioned what would happen in the circumstances of an induction (despite me asking), what would happen if a baby’s heartbeat started dropping during labour and there was certainly no mention of any damage or risk of haemorrhaging. Looking back I’m not even sure they touched on C – Sections, which is always a possibility when it comes to childbirth. I think in hindsight I would like to have known a lot more, perhaps that way I would have been more informed on what was about to happen and maybe it would have made me feel a lot more prepared for it.
Every day I am thankful to have both of my boys here safely, because I know how very different the situation could have been. So despite the poor bedside manner from a number of the staff during and after my labour with Bear, as well as the stress and upset it resulted in for a number of months afterwards, I would still like to say thank you. Thank you for helping me deliver my beautiful baby boy. Without you, the outcome may not have been such a joyous one.
What was your first labour experience like? Do you feel like your antenatal classes prepared you for it? Let me know in the comments, on Twitter and on Facebook. You can also let me know on Instagram and on Pinterest.