As promised in P’s birth announcement, I said I would give more detail about her birth, including my experience with a second induction and C-section this time around.
I am in the quite fortunate position that I have gone through the same birth process twice and this means I can quite accurately compare the two. While they are the same process and there were some similarities, there were actually some completely different experiences making the second induction this time around a lot more positive.
Starting at the beginning… of the end of my pregnancy.
I was overdue at 41 weeks and given an Induction day for the 31st July. However, on the 28th I started having “reduced movements” which, for all non-mummies, it means my baby was moving less or at an unusual frequency. One thing I will say here is that, only you know your body and your baby, you have felt them for the last 9 months, so you will know when there is a difference, and this is what the hospital and midwives rely on!
Anyway, because of this they brought my induction forward and decided to start it that night so I was told to be at the hospital at 8pm. Which I was, only to be told that it wouldn’t be started at 8pm because I was too “high risk” to start overnight and they wanted to wait until the morning. So the husband went home and my baby and I monitored throughout the night.
The 6am wake-up call was not fun and when they attempted to start my induction process with a pessary (google it, it’s not fun) they found that I was having small contractions by myself and this meant I couldn’t have one. I spent the whole day walking around trying to kickstart my labour properly and all I had to show for it was some measly contractions that never got closer together or stronger so they were a dud.
By the evening it was very reminiscent of the first time around, plenty of waiting and not a lot happening. However at around 8pm that night they decided to give me the pessary anyway to get things going and I was moved to the induction ward. The husband and I decided to get some shut eye until 3am where I started having stronger contractions.
I got up and moved around as it was more comfortable as well as bouncing up and down on the giant birthing balls. We were chatting throughout and although they didn’t get much closer they were quite strong. However, by about 6am they had eased off and were getting weaker again so they decided to break my waters themselves to keep up the momentum.
That’s When It Really Began…
I was wheeled around to the birthing unit where I met my midwife (and student midwife) who were lovely!! (I definitely hit the jackpot here) and it turns out we have very similar attitudes about the body and she encouraged me to have an “active induction.” This basically means you stay up and moving throughout the rest of the process to help manage the pain and deal with it better (and she was right.)
I was put on the drip which helps to regulate and force contractions. The dose was raised every half an hour to induce stronger and more regular contractions in an attempt to simulate real labour. After 6 hours (which flew by this time round) of chatting, walking, standing and bouncing on the birthing ball I was handling the contractions quite well and was feeling very positive about the situation, unlike the first time when it was a bit miserable and we were left by ourselves for most of it.
They decided to check my progress but found I had barely made it to 2cm dilated (for reference, you need to be 10cm for birth.) Here is where I had a decision to make…
Let’s Go Round Again
Because of my previous C-section, it makes me a higher risk and limits the length of time I can be on the drip because it can put more pressure on the previous scar tissue. At 6 hours and with my limited progress, they asked me if I wanted to go in for a C-section there and then or if I wanted to try another 2 hours on the highest setting and see if I can go for a natural labour.
I wanted to try for a natural labour as I had missed the experience the first time, so we ramped up the medication, and as it turns out, the pain! and got to it for another two hours.
Having A Good Time
This was my pain limit and I asked for gas and air and then the real fun began. I couldn’t walk around as much at this point so it became more of a “look at me lean against this object” and some “deep philosophical” conversations (read: drug fueled crap speaking.) After the two hours I was a lot more optimistic and when they checked me again, I was a whopping 2cm!
During this time the baby had a few dips in heart rate as the forced contractions can be quite intense and it turns out her oxygen was declining (something we found out after the surgery) so they decided that my body wasn’t playing ball (again!) and it was time for another cesarean.
I have to admit, this time around I was a lot more sad about having to have a C-section, primarily because I hoped for something more natural and was optimistic that it would happen. The first time it was an emergency and I didn’t get much say in the matter before it was happening but this time everything was a lot more relaxed so I felt like a bit of a failure at the time.
Once the theatre was free it was time for the C-section and unlike last time I didn’t have an epidural so I was able to walk down there (probably with my bum hanging out the back of my gown – I don’t remember covering it up!). I remember thinking how independent I felt walking down the corridor and how in control I was, even though I wasn’t really, but in comparison to last time, it was very surreal.
The bit I remember the most was how cold it was in the theatre. The air conditioning was on but most of the surfaces were metal as well and it was as if they were radiating cold as well. I hopped (as much as a 41-week pregnant woman hops) up on the theatre table and hunched forward for a spinal injection that slowly numbed my extremities. I was helped to lie back as everyone prepared around me. Being half deaf I remember how peaceful I was as the anaesthetist was writing in his charts, the nurses were arranging trays and the midwives were prepping the “baby station” and lamp. It must have been about 10 minutes before the doctor arrived, we tested my numbness to ensure we were ready and things began.
I knew what to expect this time around and I didn’t panic, taking deep breaths if I felt the anxiety rise up. We had decided that husband would not come in for this bit, he wasn’t there for big brother’s C-section either and I think it gave me more strength not seeing the fear or panic in his face. That is not to say he wouldn’t have been supportive, but I tend to act more like a wuss if someone starts to treat me as if I am delicate!
It’s funny what goes through your head when you are in a situation like that, I remember trying to think of something else so I wouldn’t focus on the jiggling inside my body and I remember thinking, “I wish I had shaved my legs” and “Did I remember to pack everything I needed in my bag” it was really trivial things that came to mind.
After a few minutes I heard the cries, and the very big lungs of my little girl and she was presented to me, all cleaned up and cuddly on my chest where we sat for about 15 minutes. There is something about the moment you meet your child for the first time and I remember instantly crying as soon as I saw her. There was nothing I could do to stop it, they were just pure tears of joy (and I am not a public crier, but I made an exception this time around!) I took in her face and she was content to sit on me and snuggle, almost falling asleep as well as smooshing me in the face a little before they took her back, ready for the last parts of the surgery.
Time To Meet Daddy
After stitching me back up, a few photo opportunities and saying goodbye and thank you to the surgical team I was handed Penelope and wheeled around to recovery to see daddy standing there waiting for us.
I don’t remember being in recovery last time but this time around it was really special to spend some time, just the three of us where we got her dressed and ready before being taken to the ward. We happened to be on our own so we got one-on-one care from the nurses who helped me feed her for the first time and answer any questions I had and then it was time to meet the world…
Overall, I felt a lot more in control this time which I think is the most important part of this uncontrollable process and everything was a bit more relaxed! Because of this, the experience was far more positive and I genuinely believe it helped me recover faster and meant that the surgery went a lot smoother. Also, this time around I remember the whole process and can reflect on it, unlike last time where I was very drugged up and suffering from blood loss post surgery!
You can read more about what to expect about a first or second induction on the NHS Inducing Labour page.