My Birth Story - Archie

Friday, 18 November 2011  |  Admin

Thought I would share this as it has relavance for a post I'm going to do shortly.....
Sat 11.30 pm (39 weeks) – have a ‘show’, after having niggly period type cramps all evening on and off. These continue during the night, so I don’t get a great nights sleep – wondering if I’m actually at the start of labour etc.
Sunday morning, go for a long walk. Come back and my waters go as I’m having lunch.
Sunday afternoon – go to Brighton Hospital to be checked out as we've been visiting the in-laws, only to be told that my waters haven’t gone – I must have wet myself (which I denied strenuously – you just know the difference!)
Head back to Walthamstow, feeling quite grumpy by this stage – uncertain whether things have started or not and go to bed around 9.00pm.
Wake at 1.15am, definitely in labour. Contractions are coming every 5 minutes or so, so I take myself downstairs. Decide to waken Dave at 2am to help fit my Tens machine and the contractions continue, very bearable. Phone the hospital because that’s what I’d been told to do when contractions were coming regularly, spaced 5 mins apart. They tell me to come in. The journey to hospital is only 5 minutes, but the longest 5 minutes of my life - I felt every single bump in the road.
Get to hospital and the first mid-wife examines me – by this stage it’s 4.30am. I’m feeling quite comfortable, rocking back and forward on my chair and just getting on with it, in conjunction with the TENS machine and my breathing.
The good news is that I’m 5cm dilated. The bad news is that my waters have gone (I knew it!) and because there’s meconium in my waters, I’ll have to be strapped to a machine for continuous foetal monitoring and get up on the bed. This is where things start to go slowly downhill.
I decide to have some gas and air to take the edge of things, not because I really, really need it, but I just fancied trying it!
The very friendly mid-wife examines me before she goes off shift and says that things seem to have slowed down as I’ve only dilated another cm by 7.45 am.
The shift changes and my new mid-wife arrives. She’s obviously feeling under the weather and seems to be suffering from a head cold. She is very grumpy and doesn’t speak to me, just talks about me and at me, not to me. Thankfully she is accompanied by a student mid-wife who is lovely.
By 9am, I’m beginning to feel knackered and hungry as I didn’t sleep well on Saturday night and have missed my sleep on Sunday night too. I ask for something to eat and am told in no uncertain terms that I can’t have anything (even though the previous mid-wife had encouraged me to eat the cereal bars I’d brought). I’m offered a syntocin drip to speed things up, which I accept – after all I’m coping well with the contractions and the sooner I can meet my baby, the better.
Unfortunately the syntocin drip doesn’t have the desired effect and my contractions slow down further. In addition to this, they seem to be having problems with the foetal monitor and *think* that the baby’s heartrate is dropping however they aren’t sure. I’m literally forced to lie flat on my back and told by the grump mid-wife that if I don’t, I’ll end up in Theatre. To try to see if the baby is in distress, they try to attach a scalp monitor, but can’t get this to work. At this point, the room fills with people in scrubs as they discuss an emergency C Section – to the point of having Dave complete the form. Very scary for him.
I’m not worried about the baby – I can feel him moving around and I’m calm - I think it’s a problem with the monitor, rather than me or the baby, so I practise my natal hypnotherapy breathing and eventually the room clears of people as they also begin to accept that the baby is OK.
By 11-ish I feel like I’m almost there however the mid-wife informs me that there is an anterior lip which hasn’t dilated, so I can’t push yet. No wonder my cervix didn’t dilate evenly when I was forced to lie on my back, and fight against gravity!
Finally at midday, I’ve reached time to push. The consultant visits and tells me that because of the heart rate ‘problem’ I can only push for 2 hours and then I’ll need assistance. Unfortunately, my contractions slow down even further, coming every 10 minutes or so. Eventually, the head is almost there, but not quite. The consultant recommends that ventouse is used to extract the baby – at this stage I just want the baby out, so I agree. An episiotomy is done to help this along.
A student doctor handles the ventouse and it doesn’t work, so they move on to forceps. Eventually the student doctor manages to grab Archie in a head-lock and drag him out, but in the process they badly mangle his little face and head so that he has Bells Palsy when he’s born, along with a badly lop-sided head and bruised face. He looks as if he's gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson.
Luckily he’s a greedy wee blighter and he latches on to feed straight away.
The give me another jab to deliver the placenta, but it doesn’t work and the student doctor manually trails my placenta out (or part of it anyway, the rest was removed under anaesthetic three weeks later in Eastbourne, after I’d almost passed out passing clots of blood in Sainsburys). She also stitches me up, a process that takes an hour and during this time I’m not allowed to hold my baby – neither is my husband.
Although I’m delighted to have a healthy baby and obviously be healthy myself, this birth did leave me less than enamoured of the hospital birthing system which seems to view childbirth as a medical intervention, rather than a natural process.
Lessons Learned:
• My labour progressed much better before medical intervention
• My contractions were manageable with Tens and gas and air, no additional pain relief was necessary
• Next time, I’ll stay at home for as long as possible (or have birth at home)
• Continuous Foetal Monitoring is unnecessary and seems to have a negative impact in my case so I’d prefer intermittent monitoring in future (read that as I won't allow one of the bloody things near me!!)
• If there seems to be a conflict with the mid-wife I’ll request someone else
• Not to let student doctors anywhere near me (but student mid-wives are welcome!)

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