The moment I heard the word ‘induced’ teamed up with ‘next week’ I must admit I felt a wave of excitement, and utter relief surround me.
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I was 36 weeks pregnant, the size of a small country and was willing to do anything to get this baby out. I had been diagnosed with a condition called obstetric cholestasis. It affects the way my liver functions and the only cure is the birth of my baby. Team this up with my repeat run ins with reduced fetal movement, being large for my dates and extra fluid and you have a recipe for, well an early induction!
So let's fast forward to the morning of my induction. The 24th June 2015, blue skies, and already hot by the time I got to the hospital. Make up on point, freshly cut hair, and the hospital bags I have had packed, re packed countless times over the past few weeks! It was finally time, I would soon meet my little baby boy and I was so excited.
The antenatal ward was nothing new to me, I’d done my time here before hand for various problems, I mainly spent my time filled with envy as I watched other women pant and groan before being whisked off to the labour ward! It seemed strange that it was now my turn.
The first couple of days plodded along really. I had the first pessary put in for 24 hours around midday on the Wednesday I started to feel some light cramping throughout the afternoon and by the evening I was even (to my joy) getting small contractions! A shot of pethidine to the thigh sorted the pain and I had a pretty good sleep! When examined 24 hours later (more hands up my chuff) I was told my cervix had thinned right out but not yet dilated! Not bad considering I was only just 37 weeks. 6 hours on and contractions were coming thick and fast, tens machine was stuck to my back, teeth were embedded in my pillow, and making some rather odd noises. Little did I know that this pain was nothing on what was yet to come.
8.30pm Thursday evening, change over time for the hospital staff, a new midwife pops her head through the pulled curtain. Surely there was progress, I had been getting regular pains for a good few hours now and was desperate for things to speed up! After yet another internal examination, to my joy, I was dilated enough for my waters to be broken! However, it turns out labour ward was far too busy for little old me to join them. So another shot of pethidine in the thigh and it was off to sleep until morning.
So here we go, Friday, labour day, it was all go, I was in the delivery room, my waters had been broken, after a few attempts I had a drip of fake hormones going into my hand, monitors strapped to my belly, and some sexy paper knickers on the go. I swear, you never see people on ‘One Born Every Minute’ in this get up! I felt so restricted, my delivery room had a massive bathroom with a corner bath yet I was so wired up simply getting out of bed was a challenge. Those first few hours were alright, we had a laugh! My “waters” flooded the room, on various occasions. The gas and air was making me high as a kite, and my mum kept sneaking me energy tablets (I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink)
But every half an hour the midwife came back into the room which meant she was increasing the rate the hormone solution entering my body. This intensified the contractions and before you knew it, I was screaming out in agony, begging for an epidural. It’s funny how throughout pregnancy an epidural seems the holy grail of pain relief and in the situation you don’t think twice, you want it, you need it, the fact someone is putting a massive needle into your spine means nothing. Suddenly, relief. It was bliss, I watched the monitor in disbelief as it showed a contraction, as I felt nothing! An epidural was a good choice, the best choice I have ever made in my life, I thought.
But all good things come to an end, and I was one of those unlucky few which make up the small percentage of women who experience an epidural failing. I’m not sure on the time frame, but I could feel my bump getting tighter, starting off, like the Braxton Hicks that plagued my pregnancy and getting stronger by the minute. It was unbearable, the pain was over powering everything and I felt I had lost control, I remember perching on the side of the bed being held still by various hospital staff and my mother. I was having another epidural put in. I understood the importance of being still I really did, but in that situation it was impossible, I was in agony. I just screamed, as loud as my lungs would let me, as there was nothing else I could do. Once in place, I was taken back to that happy place, that beautiful haven of contraction free euphoria. It was about this point where everything becomes a little bit hazy in my head, a time frame from about 11pm Friday night –9am Saturday morning. Little snippets from this lost time run round in my head, as if they never happened, like a dream. My guess? All the sodding drugs I had in my body. It was in this time that the first sign of infection had hit; pulse and temperature raised, queue the antibiotic drips and oxygen mask, as if I couldn’t look any classier. It was the same time my 2nd epidural had failed, I was quickly loosing hope. The sunrise was fast approaching and a blue wash of light was starting to fill this now depressing room. Another examination, 9cm dilated. I was so close, I was so tired. But I knew I was almost there. The doctor said I wasn’t dilating quickly enough and mentioned they may have to perform a C- section. I sobbed, I had got this far, I needed to do this by myself. I don’t know if it was my pitiful plea or their intention anyway, but they agreed on letting me have another hour. The contractions continued, and before you know it, I was there, fully dilated, finally after nearly 24 hours of my waters going! “Its time to start pushing” I felt like I was in a film. However, its not so glamorous when its you, is it? The hour I spent pushing was the last of the little energy I had in me. Unknowingly to anyone my appendix had inflamed during my last leg of pregnancy, and labour, so in between my contractions there was another pain, a worse pain, but no one believed me. I couldn’t carry on, I shut my legs together, I wept in pain and did my best to curl up, as small as I could. Nothing was stopping the pain and my baby wasn’t coming out. What was going so wrong? Still in tears, suddenly I was being whisked away down a corridor to theatre, it was all happening so quickly, I was terrified The room was so bright, and full of medical staff, 10, maybe 15, people? I have no idea. I was lifted on to the operating table and examined again. My baby boy was stuck in the birth canal, the idea or forceps was scrapped and they sat me up to give me a spinal block. I begged for gas and air, but no one paid any attention. Soon I was lying down and my midwife was one side of me, my mother the other side. But something was wrong, I still felt my whole body, they sprayed me with water, “yes I CAN FEEL IT” I sobbed, I used all my will to move my legs to prove to them I wasn’t numb before they started to cut me open. Thankfully they performed another spinal block, this one numbed me from the neck down. It was scary, I felt true terror, my chest had no feeling, I was convinced I couldn’t breathe. I started to panic, I thought I was going to die then and there. I remember my mum telling me to calm down, as they were talking about giving me a general anaesthetic. My next memory was my son’s cry. It was beautiful, the most surreal moment of my life. I couldn’t see him the only thing visible was the blue sheet in front of my face and the top of my oxygen mask. But I knew he was there.
What happened next was something I wish upon no one. Sensation in my body was returning, the numbed tugs and pulls I felt were now producing pains; throbbing, stinging, burning, every type of pain imaginable. To my horror the spinal block had worn off and I could feel the surgeons putting my internal organs back in the correct place then stitching me back together. My voice was shallow and croaky but I tried my hardest to tell them I could feel it. It was dismissed and I was simply told I “couldn’t feel pain” due to the spinal block. They were wrong, I knew what I was feeling, how could they possibly know?!
My next memory is being in the recovery room, covered in wires and having a screaming baby placed upon my chest. I can’t say it was the magical first moments I had dreamt about for the last nine months. “He has to feed” a midwife told me, trying to help him latch on. I felt useless, I was so tired, still traumatised and in agony That was my life for the next couple of days. Life on the ward. Tired, traumatised and in agony. I couldn’t even sit up, never mind care for a newborn. It was the hottest week of the year so far, and the postnatal ward was a hard place to be. I had no idea how much pain I was meant to still be in, but I knew something wasn’t right. Now you would think after having 2 epidurals, and 2 spinal blocks fail on me I’d be entitled to some pretty hefty pain relief afterwards. Well, that’s what I thought anyway, I swear if I had any energy I would have slapped the poor midwife who gave me paracetamol. As you can imagine this did nothing. The weekend was over, and I was sick of watching new mothers taking their babies home. My poor baby was in and out of special care being treated for an infection, the one I had during my labour. He also had jaundice so was under a phototherapy lamp 90% of the time. I didn’t feel like a new mother yet and I spent my time wondering when the feeling would hit me.
It was the Monday evening when my second run in with bad luck occurred. My tummy was yet again in pain, this time it was coming in waves, a burning sensation along my right hand side. The next day I was sent for a CAT scan and X rays, surgeons surrounded my bed prodding my tender belly. I was told there was a collection of blood that had built up inside of me, it was next to my bowel which was causing that not to work (I literally didn’t poo for 10 days) okay, good I thought, at least they know what is wrong and they can now make me better. It was agreed that action would be taken the following day. Feeling slightly more optimistic I tried to be as normal as possible. I was given codeine which was working to numb out the waves of pain, the midwives cared for and fed the baby for me, who was now temporarily on bottles and I was moved to my own room so I could be closely monitored. 11pm Tuesday night. These next few hours are scared into my memory. I don’t know how to explain the pain to you. I could feel the codine fading, which didn’t bother me to begin with, as I knew I was due some more. However, half an hour after taking the tablets, the pain was getting worse. It wasn’t like contractions, as it wasn’t going away. This pain took over my whole body and all of my senses. It was worse than anything I felt during my labour, and worse than my c section. All I could do was scream, and I did. 3 hours I screamed for. Countless doctors, surgeons, midwives were in and out of my tiny side room. They wanted to operate, re open my section wound and drain this blood. But it was 2am, and as my blood pressure was stable they didn’t see it as an emergency. I was injected with a high dose of pethidine and still screaming; was taken back to the labour ward so I could receive a one to one care. My baby boy couldn’t come with me, not that I could have done anything for him. But for the next 10 hours, I didn’t even feel human. I had a constant flow of morphine into my body and yet again covered in wires. I was lying on the bed lifeless, sedated, not knowing what was going to happen next.
I can’t fault the morphine. Finally I had found pain relief which worked for me! Not only that but I had a button which controlled when I got some. But it did confuse things for me, I don’t know when I was awake and when I was asleep for some parts! When the time came for my operation my body had turned septic and the anaesthetist couldn’t even find a vein to put, yet another, drip into my arm. Anxiety was sinking in, what if the general failed on me? But luckily everything went to plan. Wheeled down to theatre for the 2nd time in a few days, I wondered if I’d ever know what the outside world would look like! Surrounded by medical staff again, asking me to repeat my name and date of birth, bright lights pounded down, then suddenly, nothing. My section wound was reopened and extended in this operation but what they found was not what they were expecting. The collection of blood was in fact, a collection of “infection” so gooey pus and all things disgusting, and under all the infection was my appendix, which was inflamed and on the verge of rupturing. They removed it then and there. But the infection plagued me long after. The intense pain I felt on my right hand side during my third trimester? Turns out it wasn’t round ligament pain after all. I don’t feel I can relate to a normal labour, as I don’t know what was labour pains, and what was pain caused by the appendicitis. I spent another week in hospital after the surgery and I then discharged myself. I was going crazy in that side room, filled with memories of me screaming the place down. I had five days of being an outpatient at a local community hospital where I had to visit for IV antibiotics but after that I was in the clear. The infection finally cleared, I was finally home and on the mend. As for my baby? Gruffydd Rhys Parry born 8lb 1ounce at 10.55am Saturday 27th June. We didn’t have the best start together, but trust me, we couldn’t be closer now. I finally got that magical feeling, that motherly love, the euphoria. It took a little longer than expected but I couldn’t be happier. Coming home was the best medicine.
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