My third baby was due on Christmas Eve, so although I was excited, I was nervous too – afraid that the hospital would be under-staffed over the holidays, and anxious about being away from my two daughters for Christmas. I had resisted suggestions of induction during my first two pregnancies, and was not keen to go down this route for my third, though I did wonder if the risk of understaffing was enough to warrent looking for an induction. I checked with my sister who is a doctor and she looked into it for me – she came back to say that the maternity hospital wouldn’t be at all understaffed and in fact it could be a good time to go in, as there would be no planned C-sections or inductions scheduled for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
Much relieved about this, when my consultant asked if I’d like to be induced before my due date, I declined. He said he was happy with my choice and thought it was the right thing to do. In the end, my contractions started a week before my due date – I woke at 1am to feel the familiar wave of early contractions and was delighted – I knew it meant I’d be in and out before Christmas. At first everything seemed to be following the same path as my second birth – I had woken then at 1am (on my due date), and contractions had been like clockwork, becoming longer and closer together, textbook stuff. Four hours later I was in hospital and my second daughter was born not long after our arrival. I was delighted that my third might be as easy.
But my baby and my body had other ideas – the contractions were all over the place – sometimes very close together, then back to twenty minutes apart. Sometimes very intense, then very mild. I had no idea that this could happen and became more and more frustrated and upset as the night went on. At 8am my husband found me in tears on the couch, exhausted, confused and annoyed at myself for losing a night’s sleep and wasting energy that would be needed later.
We rang Holles Street and they said to come in – I was examined and found to be in the early stages of labour, but the midwife couldn’t say if the baby would arrive that day or not.
Again this wasn’t what I expected – I was still assuming I’d have a similar experience to my second birth, and if anything it should be quicker.
She asked if she could break my waters – I said yes, though in hindsight I wish I’d just let nature take it’s course. The pain intensified, and I was told to walk and walk and walk. I did so, for a three hours, up and down the corridor outside unit 3.
I was finding the contractions very, very tough, much more so than my first two labours – the midwife told me that my baby was in a posterior position, so what I was experiencing was “back-labour” which tends to be more painful. Again, I couldn’t believe this wasn’t simply following the pattern of my second birth! She explained that it meant that the back of the baby’s head was against my back and that that was why I was feeling more pain, but that it was nothing to worry about. I now know that this position can mean longer early stage of labour and stop/ start labour, so this explains why everything didn’t go as I had expected at home.
Finally at around 2 o’clock in the afternoon I was told that I was fully dilated and was being taken to the delivery room. I wasn’t handling the contractions well at all and asked for an epidural as soon as possible. I found it difficult to lie still for the epi in between contractions but finally, finalyl it kicked in and the pain subsided somewhat. Pushing was similar to my previous birth – around twenty minutes I think though some of this is a blur. My consultant carried out an episiotomy – as had been the case with the previous two babies. My little boy had a head cirucumferance greater than the 100th centile at his nine month check – I thought back to the birth and it made sense!