As my due date looms ever closer I am starting to reflect on my birth with my eldest child. As with my last pregnancy once again I am hypertensive and pregnant, which marks me as high risk. The main difference this time being that I won’t be sent for an induction as I was last time, mainly because my last labour ended in an emergency cesarean section
This time, there is also the added difference that I am in Dubai which means I am now under private healthcare, the land where c-sections rule. And I’m still fighting it, but I am not sure it’s a battle I’m going to win.
Last time pregnant, despite being high risk, I had a textbook pregnancy. The terror measured small, a common side effect of the labetelol I as taking, which meant extra monitoring and growth scans. Something which although worried me, I revelled in, I loved the extra chances to see the terror and marked how he was growing. And all the time my blood pressure was tickety boo.
I hit my 38 week consultant appointment and was booked in on my due date for an induction. Cue desperate natural methods to get this baby out. Lots of walking, a bit of the other, a bit of clary sage – none of it worked
A follow up routine appointment showed my blood pressure creeping up, the trek to the hospital (a 2 mile walk to try and get him to shift) every other day to be monitored and notes made that if my blood pressure hit 140/90 it was immediate induction. I wasn’t worried, it was only 4 days until my planned induction.
The weekend rolled round, I wrote my Asda shopping list and the husband drove me up to the hospital for my blood pressure check on the antenatal ward. I assumed it would be a quick in and out, just like every other day that week.
I was wrong.
My blood pressure had hit the immediate induction limit.
One minute I’m sat on a bed, the next the doctor is coming in and trying (and failing) to fit a cannula.
I still hadn’t really clicked that this was happening. All I could keep saying was “but we’ve no food in, we need to get to asda”. It wasn’t until the doctor leaned across and told me that this baby needs to come out now that I believed her. And so I was transferred to the Labour ward.
And my induction story began.
We had the car in the most hideously expensive pay and display in the middle of Chelsea, so the husband was dispatched home to collect the hospital bag and drop the car off. Leaving me alone in the room surrounded by doctors, with the PET (preeclampsia) trolley looming ominously in the corner.
A blood pressure cuff on with 15 minute monitoring. And blood pressure still creeping up.
Tablets given to me. Warnings over IV administration of drugs.
Blood pressure finally dropping when the husband arrived back panting with the hospital bag.
And then we waited
The next few hours were fairly boring, pessary in, fluid in monitored (fluid out monitored, who says labour isn’t dignified), mild contractions. Nothing exciting for the next 12 hours.
At 10pm my waters were broken and the drip started. And that was the start of my real labour. And my love affair with gas and air.
5 hours later, no break between contractions, I had only reached 4cm. At this point I went with the epidural. And that’s when our drama really started.
The idea behind my epidural was to get some sleep to keep energy up, I’d arrived in the hospital some 20 hours earlier and not slept. The husband got comfy on the floor
Then the midwife looked worried.
And our calm, darkened room filled with with light. And then with doctors
And the words that no one wants to hear were uttered, your baby is in distress. We will monitor for a minute and if it doesn’t come back up then we need to go to surgery
The time was 5:08am
The heartbeat didn’t recover.
The husband had scrubs thrown at him with the shouted instruction of theatre 2. And my bed was ran along the corridor. Apparently as I was being rushed to theatre the husband went very British and went and got changed in the toilet, with the door locked…. despite the room being empty
Now my memory is hazy, and I was pumped full of drugs. My epidural hadn’t really taken effect so I was able to transfer myself from the bed to the operating table. The room was a frenzy of activity with people shouting that it needs to be quicker. Then the husband arrived by my head
The spinal drugs were pumped in and the scratching of my tummy started
“Can you feel this?”
Second scratch; “Can you feel this?”
“Laura, if you can feel this we are going to have to put you under, do you understand? We need to get this baby out”
Tense moment passes
“I can’t feel I can’t feel, cut me, cut me, cut me”
The husband and the anaesthetist are by my head keeping me calm. The husband telling me baby will soon be here
The husband not realising I had felt him being lifted out of me
And I had not heard him cry
(I also still didn’t know it was a he)
He’d arrived. Blue and unresponsive, but he had arrived.
90 seconds later, he breathed. He turned pink.
And he screamed.
The husband went to collect him, burst into tears and presented me with our son. Our baby. Our firstborn. Our boy.
My response? “It’s a baby”
Completely out of it on drugs, but delighted to see this small, and he was small at 6lbs 7oz, mewling little creature that belonged to us.
Update: I first wrote this whilst pregnant with my second baby. And it turns out that my boys have a penchant for the dramatic emergency C-section mode of birth….