My waters broke as I was lying down watching TV during a practice surge on December 8th. I admit this instantly caused me some panic as I knew that this put time pressure on my labour. My husband Ben drove me to hospital, where I was examined a couple of hours later. I was told I was 1cm dilated (I had been having practice surges for couple of days and had lost the mucus plug a week before, so I was disappointed at this). I was told I had 24 hours from the time my waters broke for me to be in established labour, and if this did not happen, my labour would need to be augmented.
On the drive home I started to feel discomfort in my sitting bones (as though they were bruised and I was sitting on a hard floor). This discomfort was constant for the next 24 hours and was independent of my surges – which I actually found quite comfortable by comparison! It meant that I could not sit, lie down or stand still without severe discomfort – which of course meant no sleep!
The next morning (12 hours after my waters broke), I was really struggling with no sleep and the discomfort in my sitting bones. My surges had got close together, so we went back to hospital. I was examined and told that I was no further dilated than I had been the previous evening! The midwife gave me a stretch and sweep and a codeine tablet to help with the discomfort (it didn’t!), and sent us back home.
I spent much of the 24 hours at home either walking or kneeling on the floor resting against the bed. I decided to try my TENS machine, and I found it really helpful. I used the breathing techniques that I learnt through The Wise Hippo hypnobirthing classes, and they made the surges very manageable.
Ben and I watched the comedy DVD we had been saving, but honestly I couldn’t concentrate on anything other than breathing. 24 hours after my waters broke, my surges were one minute long and 3 minutes apart, so after a call to triage, we headed back to hospital.
During the drive to hospital my surges really slowed (I was worried about giving birth in the car!). When I was examined, my midwife told me that I was 5cm dilated, so could head to a delivery room and wouldn’t need augmentation. I had wanted to give birth on the MLU, but it was closed. However, there was a birthing pool available on the main ward, so my midwife said I would be able to use this. By this point I had been awake for around 40 hours, so I asked the midwife for diamorphine to help me sleep.
I rested over night, and once I felt that the TENS machine could not distract me from the surges, I asked for gas and air (which I thought was amazing and I was able to use it with my surge breathing).
My midwife examined me a few times in the night, and said that the labour was progressing well, so she got the pool ready. By breakfast time, she told me that I was 9.5cm, so was ready to get into the pool. I was really happy that I was going to get the water birth I wanted.
A little while after Ben and I got into the water, it was time for the midwives’ shift change. My new midwives realised that something was not right, and after some continuous monitoring, they informed me that my surges had slowed, and that I would need to get out of the pool to be examined. It turned out that I was actually only 6cm dilated – not enough progress in the 36 hours I had now been in labour – so I would not be getting back into the pool, and would need my labour augmented.
I was very upset but managed to stay calm. I was concerned that the discomfort would return once I was on the hormone drip, and I was so tired, so I requested an epidural – something I had been adamant that I didn’t want. Recently a midwife at my local breastfeeding support told me that this type of labour is exactly what epidurals are for – a long back labour in which you are exhausted before the ‘pushing’ has even started. This made me feel better about my decision. I remember very little from this point until I started pushing, but the epidural helped with the discomfort, and I could still feel when it was time for Iris to be born (although I was convinced I just needed a poo and kept asking for a bedpan!), and I could move about on the bed easily.
After quite a long time pushing (I tried breathing the baby down at first but my midwife took the gas and air from me as it was ‘a distraction’ apparently! From that point I just had the incredible urge to push).
Iris was born at 4:30pm on December 10th – 44 hours after my waters broke. She was quite pink and didn’t cry and when she was put onto my chest she looked me straight in the eye – that moment felt like being struck by lightning (in a good way!) and was incredible.