Birth story - Sophie and baby Oliver

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Well, you know how people always gently remind you to be open to all eventualities and that birth plans dont always go to plan? They sure are right. My birth experience was very different to what I had hoped it would be throughout my pregnancy, however, it's my birth experience all the same and despite it being challenging and testing, it was still a positive one. Here it is 😊

Approaching my due date, I remained as active as I could just like I had throughout pregnancy. Spent as much time as I could on my birthing ball at home, never staying in one position for too long, avoided being in a reclined position and tried to get out and go about normal daily activities like popping into town for shopping and meeting up with my mum and friends for coffee or walks. I believed that all of these things would really help to encourage labour to start naturally somewhere within the 2 week mark of my due date but I wasn't actively encouraging labour to begin. I knew that baby would come when he was ready but also believed a positive and healthy state of mind and keeping physically busy wouldn't hurt. Of course my due date came and went as I expected it to, as it does for most. I went for my 40+1 MW appointment and was examined. My cervix was very far back, completely closed and hadn't began to soften. This news didn't really bother me at all, it was only one day after my due date and I was confident that things would get going but in their own time. I was told to come back 4 days later for a further examination to see if there had been any changes and that if so, we would look at a potential sweep. We spent the next few days being positive and relaxed and excited about what was ahead. Every day we would say "today could be the day". 4 days later came around and it was time for my 40+5 day MW appointment. I was examined again and still no changes. I still wasn't too deflated and didn't like hearing things like "lazy baby" etc. As I just knew that he clearly wasn't ready to come yet, which I was OK with.

However, as much as the decisions we make are our own and I was in control of what was happening, we all know that a lot of it is working WITH the NHS and the midwives to come up with a plan that is suitable for everyone. Given I was 5 days over at this point, the conversation around induction began. The MW (who wasn't my usual MW) said that at this stage they will begin to plan ahead for induction. She said that induction will be booked in for around the 12 days over due mark and proceeded to phone the induction suite at my chosen hospital. She came back and said there was no available slots for induction on the 12 day mark but there was one for in 4 days time which would only make me 9 days overdue. I found it irritating that when she came in with this news she had a big smile on her face and appeared to think this was a positive thing. Almost as though I just wanted this baby out as soon as possible and wanted an induction immediately. She was almost egging me on to agree to it. I expressed that I didn't feel comfortable with an induction so early when there wasn't any medical need for one simply because there was a slot available, me and my baby deserved better than that and I wanted to give him as much time as I could to do this at his own pace.

She came back again and said unfortunately the only other slot would be taking me to the 15 days over due mark and although this wouldn't be impossible, would require daily monitoring by a consultant. I also understand that as much as babies should be given as much chance as possible to arrive when they're ready to, unfortunately there are some risks when it is left considerably late. I knew that if I was to go for an induction at 15 days overdue, labour still may not begin for another day, and could go on for a long time and by that point, risks of the placenta not doing it's best job are much higher. After weighing all of this up, I agreed to the induction at 40+9 but didn't feel comfortable with my decision. I also wasn't happy with the midwife who arranged it. She booked me in for an induction and sent me on my way with no leaflets and no real information despite me making it clear I was anxious about it.

As soon as we left the clinic, my partner looked at me puzzled and said "are you sure that's what you want to do" and I said no. It wasn't what I wanted, I felt wrong for agreeing to it but felt there was no other option but then I started thinking about all I had learned from the digital pack and realised that I did have other options. What was stopping me from ringing the induction suite and expressing my concerns and asking for them to help if they could? Initially I just had in mind that maybe they could have me down to take someone else's place on the induction suite who was booked in at a later date than me but happened to have baby sooner. The midwife on the phone said that isn’t something they do but to leave it with her and she would get back to me. I felt so relieved just from phoning, someone was at least trying to figure this out for me and I felt better for voicing that I wasn't ok with this decision.

She phoned back 20 minutes later and told me she had managed to book me in for the 16th which would make me 12 days overdue. She said there was slots for the following day as well but that they don’t allow outpatient inductions after 12 days and she knew I was keen to come home after induction to be in my natural environment. I felt so much better about this plan. 3 days isn’t a huge amount of time but its 3 more days my baby had to make an appearance and I felt comforted in the knowledge that even if he didn't...I had done all I reasonably could to make that happen.

Induction day came- we went into the hospital at 15.30, the pessary was inserted. We came home and nothing happened. We went back to the hospital the following evening after 24 hours had passed, this time with all our bags as we knew we wouldnt be returning without a baby this time. They removed the pessary, my cervix was still no different. They placed a prostin tablet inside and waited a few hours. Nothing happened. The obstetrician came to see us and explained we should get some sleep as they would be coming back at 3am to break my waters and start me on a hormone drip. We were given mats and bean bags to lie on (I didn't find the bed very comfortable) and we got 2 hours in. 3am came around and in came the obstetrician ready to break my waters, this wasn't a straight forward procedure. My cervix was still so far back and had only just began to soften ever so slightly. We really had to work together to get this done, if I couldnt have my waters broken I couldnt have the hormone drip and if I couldnt have the drip it would be c section and i really didn't want that to happen. All in all, it took around an hour to break my waters. I used lots of gas and air to get through this and was supported really well by my partner and the midwife.

The hormone drip began. Contractions started an hour or so later but were very manageable, I was bouncing on the ball and doing crosswords with my partner. I was examined after a few hours and even though contractions had started, I hadn't made much progress in terms of my cervix. They turned the hormone drip up slightly and shortly after I started over contracting as my uterus was over stimulated and wouldn't relax. At this point the gas and air wasn't enough to manage the pain and it was suggested the hormone drip was turned off and that I have an epidural and try the drip again later. The midwife said she had never seen a FTM react in such a way to the drip and that my body just responded almost too well to the hormone. I had an epidural and began the drip again, this time the contractions were powerful and I could feel everything but I could manage them. It became a much more enjoyable experience.

I was given until 6pm on Thursday before I was examined where I would either be given 6 further hours to progress if I had reached the 4cm mark or a c section would be planned if I hadn't. To everyone's amazement and my own, I was a full 10cm. I didn't push straight away, the midwife felt I would do much better if we waited a little longer and allowed baby to move down a little more. It helped to have this prep time, we were all counting down the minutes to when I could push. It was exciting.

Oliver was born at 19.24pm and placed on my chest, he smelt amazing and I loved him instantly. We couldnt stop laughing and crying and saying "oh my god" it was an incredible moment.

I had some tears and some clots after but nothing outside of normal midwife care. We were discharged 24 hours later and our bundle of joy is so loved.

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Despite it not being the drug free, pool birth I had in mind, it was my birth and we have our beautiful boy. I used up breathing throughout having my waters broken and all of the examinations which weren't very pleasent and if the digital pack did one thing for me, it was help me maintain a sense of control when everything seemed to be out of my control.

Thank you ❤

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