As we drove to the hospital I kept thinking about all the last times I’d do something alone. That was the last time I’d leave the house not being a Mum, this was the last time I would be in a car not being a Mum, it was all very surreal. We arrived at the hospital and I said to Michael to just come and get the bags later as we didn’t know where we were going and I’ve heard this part is a bit of a waiting game so he’d probably appreciate the journey back to the car. The amount of stuff in that car was a joke. It was honestly like we were going on a 2 week vacay. My case was a rather sizeable cabin bag full of several change of clothes, nighties, breast pads, loads of toiletries and hairdryer, straighteners and make up which I DID use. Then there was the changing bag full of the baby’s bits, clothes, bottles etc, Michael had his own rucksack with a change of clothes, pillow headphones etc. Then there was our mammoth bag of snacks! We walked in and told the receptionist I was here for my induction. I was ushered to a lovely private room overlooking the fields, comfy bed, TV, birthing ball and a huge bathroom! I got on the bed and soon after my blood pressure was taken and I was given a menu and to choose what I’d like for lunch. As it was a Sunday I went for the chicken roast. Michael wasn’t allowed any free food so he headed down to the canteen and had a jacket potato. My chicken was actually OK. Like, it was never gonna blow my socks off but some people will have you believe the NHS provide you with gruel and a glass of tap water but it honestly was pretty nice.
That day was the Russian Grand Prix and Chelsea were also playing Everton around an hour later. Michael made me a nice little set up of the F1 on the tele and Chelsea on the iPad before he disappeared for lunch. My lunch arrived and life was close to perfect. I had food, I had a drink (albeit soft), the F1 was on and Chelsea soon went 1-0 up. All of this would have been much more pleasant had I not had to increase the volume to drown out the woman screaming in pain up the corridor. How dramatic was she being! It can’t hurt that much – can it?
Michael returned, my plate was taken away and at around 2pm it was time for my induction. The midwife had a little rummage and popped a really cold gel on the inside of my vag. That was it. Game over. No issues here – so far, so good. She explained what the gel was doing and that my contractions could start as quickly as in 15 minutes time but anything up to 8 hours! The first hour went by – nothing. So did the second and so did the third. At around 6pm I felt what I could only describe as a mild period pain. Within 10 minutes it was a strong period pain and within 15 minutes I was on the floor, in the foetal position, requesting that Michael fetch a midwife as this pain was now obscene. FYI – it wasn’t obscene. Had I known what was to come I’d have happily had that pain from now until the end of time but like I say, naivety innit. The midwife came in, looked at me like ‘get up you absolute helmet, you ain’t seen nothing yet, I’ll get you some paracetamol’. I pride myself on not making a fuss about stuff but Christ, did this hurt. She popped on the blue/pink tummy band thingy’s that were monitoring the baby’s heartbeat and as that was as regular as ever she left me to dilate and contract some more at my leisure. After another 30 minutes or so I was in agony. I pressed the button for one of the midwifes to come back and a new midwife came in, she looked at the heartbeat monitoring screen and immediately pushed some emergency red button above my bed! The next 5 minutes are an actual blur. To Michael and I. All I recall is at least 8 (Michael thinks there may have been more but we lost count) doctors, nurses, midwifes, cleaners, chefs, I don’t know, rushed in and were all over me and my bump. All talking very loudly, very technically and worst of all they were rushing. I didn’t know what was happening, nor did I ask but then as quick as the chaos started, it ended. One of my straps had come loose and it was no longer on the baby’s heartbeat. Once they’d re-secured it was clear that the heartbeat was fine and I do believe the midwife that pressed the emergency button got quite the telling off. Nether the less, although she put me in the absolute depths of fear for 30 seconds, she actually done me a favour. Because of what had happened and the OTT noises coming from me along with the ‘emergency’ situation I was examined and told I was at 7cm. Err… yeah I am bitch. I haven’t even had any gas and air yet – I AM A LEGEND AMONGST THE BIRTHING COMMUNITY! They decided to take me through to the delivery suite because I’d gone from 0cm to 7cm in just over 2 hours so they assumed I was going to give birth pretty livo. I was fine with that but wait – where’s all my stuff! They wheeled me off to the delivery suite and Michael ran to the car. No lie, he was back in seconds it was quite impressive.
Once I was in the delivery suite I actually though the world was going to end. I was handed the gas and air which I don’t think I released my grip on for hours and I do believe the mouth piece had to be replaced due to me biting through the first one. How pleasant. We arrived in the delivery suite at around 8:30pm and I was in pain like I never knew pain existed. My contractions (I was later told, I couldn’t count at this point, I could barely exist) were lasting 40 seconds and were every 2 minutes. They called it ‘5 in 10’. I assume 5 contractions in 10 minutes? Who knows, but these were fucking hard. I remember a conversation going on between the midwives at the foot of my bed. One of them said ‘5 in 10 is a lot for an induction’ and the other just nodded and looked at my clipboard. I didn’t even have the strength to comment as I knew I had about 90 seconds to be grateful of this semi-pain free time before the chaos would ensue again. It was the next contraction that I distinctly remember my body ‘pushing’. I wasn’t doing it. I had zero control and then Glenda, my midwife (the single greatest woman known to man – ever) said ‘do you feel like you need to push love?’ I nodded as I bit on my gas and air mouthpiece and it was at this point she called a doctor. The doctor came in and he went ‘in’. His arm came out redder than post box. Worst bit – he was the fit doctor I’d been chatting too earlier in reception. Fantastic. He confirmed I was only 8cm so couldn’t start pushing yet and the idea of an epidural to slow down my dilation and ease the contractions was suggested. If I could have jumped off that bed, found the anaesthetist and administered that drug myself, I would have done so there and then. I remember begging at this point to have the epidural right now. The midwife explained that there was no anaesthetist available but I was next in line. Michael then overheard a conversation near the door about getting me one as a matter of urgency so they really did have my best interest at heart. The next minute The Messiah/anaesthetist entered and he was carrying drugs. He explained how it would work and how it would hurt going into the spine and all I could think was ‘it can’t be any worse than what pain I’m in so you just pop that bad boy in and stop talking mate’. He then explained how I had to be 100% still for this to be administered correctly. Any slight movement from me could mean it would go in wrong and could cause further complications. By this point I was having 70 second gaps in-between contractions. He said it took about 45 seconds to administer fully so we had 25 seconds of time to play with. I sat on the side of the bed and hugged a pillow. Michael was holding me from the front and Glenda from the side. I had my gas and air still in my mouth and he waited for me to give him a thumbs up to say the contraction had past and I was ok for him to start. The contraction came. I think I chipped a tooth biting on the mouthpiece. Michael gripped me so hard I had finger marks on my arms. Then I gave the thumbs up. The needle went in and I felt this cold, sharp liquid just ooze down my spine. I had a couple more bad contraction’s and then the third was a little less severe, then the fourth was even better, the fifth was back to period pains and the sixth – was gone. I could not believe the pain had gone. I cried and cried and cried. I hadn’t cried once in this entire charade as I was trying to stay mind over matter and be strong but the relief of pain was so overwhelming I couldn’t stop. I properly introduced myself to Glenda and she got us a cup of tea. I apologised profusely to her and the anaesthetist for being such a drama queen and she said she’s had a lot worse people so all was OK. Thank god, how embarrassing! She examined me again and I was still 8cm. It was 10pm at night. I asked Michael to go and call my parents and friends as my phone was going mental but I didn’t have the energy to speak to anyone. By the time he returned to the room, I was asleep. I woke up about 1am Monday morning. Glenda was by my side and as soon as I woke she asked if I wanted a drink. She got my Lucozade from my bag and we shared my pack of fruit pastels whilst Michael slept in the chair the other side. We chatted about baby stuff and she examined me again. I was 7cm!! WHAT THE HELL!? I wasn’t even open for business yet and its closing up! What is up with my vag? She said it was common and not to worry. She said let’s give it another 2 hours and she’d check again. By this point Michael was shattered and kept waking trying to sleep in a tiny chair. I told him to go and get some kip in the car. Glenda took his number so if something happened and I was unable to call she could call him. I then went back to sleep. It was 3:30am when I next woke and she examined me again. I’d gone down to 6cm. I was furious with my cervix by this point. She kept telling me it’s a really common side effect of an epidural and that the baby’s heartbeat (and mine) were both fine. Michael came back about 5am. I was examined again. Still 6cm. This was a joke.
At 7am Glenda’s shift finished and I was panicking big time. She’d been there with me since I was brought into the delivery suite and now she was going home. I seriously considered offering her money to stay but she informed me that everything would be fine and that all the midwives were lovely. Around 10 minutes later my new midwife arrived and she honestly seemed just as lovely. They did a handover of my notes and current status across my bed for about 20 minutes and said for me to intervene at any time. A couple of times I corrected them on times, amounts etc… but all in all they had it sorted. Glenda bid me farewell and wished us both well and at 7:30am she was gone. My new midwife Anna was an incredible woman. We chatted for ages about her time being a midwife in the amazon and all the strange places she’d delivered babies around the world. It really took my mind off the fact that I’d lost 2cm of dilation over the past 12 hours and how angry I was at my cervix at that point. At 9am she checked again, still 6cm. She called a doctor in, Doctor Psy (pronounced Si). Obvs I’m expecting the gang nam style guy to bounce in but alas this was not to be. He asked politely if he’d mind him examining me. Why the hell not! Everyone else on the bleeding payroll has been up there mate, what’s one more arm between friends?
He then said something that for some reason made me breathe the biggest ‘psy’ of relief. Ahh again with the puns. He turned to Anna and said ‘give it another 2 hours, if she’s not gone any further, we’ll have to go to caesarean section’. He looked at me and said ‘is that ok with you?’ I said something along the lines of ‘you can do it now if you like, don’t wait the additional 2 hours on my part’. He confirmed it was best to wait and also there was no space in theatre at that moment. He removed said arm and went on his merry way. Michael then made all the necessary phone calls again to keep everyone in the know and the next 2 hours really dragged. More so than all of the other hours in this hospital put together. From the waist down I was completely numb. I was exhausted, tired, uncomfortable and now just willing it all to be over. Although I wasn’t in any pain as such I was just fed up. I had a catheter in, a clip on the baby’s head monitoring his heartbeat, the epidural in my spine, a saline drip in one hand, a hormone drip in the other, a blood pressure sleeve on and a clip on my left forefinger. I’d had enough. I looked like I was being experimented on and I just wanted to feel more like Steph. Doctor Psy came back at 11:30, arm went back in and I’d actually gone down to 5.5cm. This actually pleased me no end as I knew now they’d have to intervene. He came out, took his glove off and said ‘Right Stephanie. We’re going to go to theatre. We have a few forms for you to sign and we need to get you changed first. Any questions?’ I asked if I could keep my nightie on as I really didn’t want to wear a rank hospital gown and he laughed and said he didn’t see that to be a problem. I signed the forms which basically said ‘if we kill anyone, your ish babes, not ours’ which I kinda expected and within minutes I had my surgical socks on and we were ready to go and meet our son.