Ah I just loved reading birth stories when I was pregnant, especially in the final weeks. I was getting very excited at the prospect of meeting my little yin so soon! The only problem was that I couldn’t seem to find many full stories of labour induction on any blogs, so I thought I might bridge that gap for anyone else who is in the boots that I was in 5 months ago.

Enjoy the birth story of my baby girl, Lonjexo.

Some Background

To start us off properly, I must firstly explain why we were induced. Lonje was being monitored closely at hospital appointments from week 32 onwards as she was measured very small (on the 5th centile to be exact, which is pretty darn small) for her gestational age. Through the appointments, we found that everything seemed to be okay medically. When a baby measures small Doctors need to see that the baby is surrounded by enough amniotic fluid, that their heart beat is of a steady pace and that there is enough movement from the baby. The hospital appointments involved a scan (growth scan every 2nd week and an amniotic fluid check every other week) as well as a heartbeat tracing each Tuesday and a heartbeat tracing as well as a consultant appointment on a Friday. It was pretty intense but it offered us a fair bit of relief every week as we knew her heart beat was strong and that things were fine. We never really concluded why she was so small for her gestational age but we are firm believers in the anecdote that everything good comes in small packages and that is reason enough!

Many hospital appointments later, at week 37, it was decided that we were going to be induced on Monday 16th July due to her size making her a “high risk” birth. She had not grown over the past few weeks and while everything looked fine on the scans and tracings, they were all keen on her being born a wee bit early to ensure she was able to get any medical help if needed.

I had a weekend to prepare for the biggest event of my life so far. Sure, you can say that we have 9 months to prepare for this moment, but to be honest, are we every really able to get ready for something to change so drastically?

I was truly in nesting mode over the weekend. I couldn’t sleep because I was so excited for her arrival but so nervous about the fact that labour was actually going to be happening and it was going to be happening very soon. The great thing about being induced is that you get to make more solid plans for when she will arrive. You are more certain about things rather than the gruelling wait for her arrival naturally. I knew when I needed my hospital bag to be packed for. I knew that I had to organise dog sitters to look after our Obie when I was away in hospital and I was able to stock the house with freezer meals for the first week or so of her being here. The bad thing about being induced is that there are thousands… literally thousands of horror stories all over the internet. When I tried to do a bit of research into it on the internet, I was a bit shocked over how terrifying it seemed. Not only was labour going to be 10 times more painful, but being induced might not even work… meaning that it could all end in an emergency C-section (and my personal nightmare is surgery of any kind so this was SOOOO far off the birth plan, it wasn’t even funny). Safe to say, I was sh*tting it a fair bit but tried to remain calm.

We packed our hospital bags, prepared the house by steam cleaning the floors, sorted out her bedside crib, built up the rest of the Ikea furniture that we bought the week before and we were “ready” by definition.

The biggest journey of our lives

Thankfully, Tama’s brother and sister-in-law drove us to the hospital. My appointment was at 2pm and the plan was to be put onto a tracing machine to measure baby’s heart beat and any contractions that might have been happening. They took some blood from me, leaving me with an impressive bruise on my inner elbow. After about 40 minutes of being traced, they decided to move me to the labour suite and get me ready for the first pessary. For those of you who don’t know, being induced (for me anyway) involved having gel pessaries inserted into the cervix. In some cases, it takes action and starts contractions immediately, in other cases (especially with a first child) it can take up to 3 pessaries to start things happening. Following the beginning of contractions, waters would be broken and a hormone drip would then be inserted into the canula in your hand. This should then allow the baby to be born but surprise surprise, it has different effects on everyone, so making plans around being induced was a bit pointless.

And so it begins…

I was first examined vaginally to see how far along I was before the whole process started. I was a bit disheartened to hear that I wasn’t looking far along at all… my cervix wasn’t softened and the baby was still not engaged. So I was convinced that it would not be a quick induction and that I would probably need the 3 pessaries.

One pessary

First pessary inserted… HOLY COW. That was sore. The midwife was pushing the pessary up so high that I could practically taste her fingers (ouch). The first pessary was in and I immediately felt cramping which got me excited but nervous. Eventually the cramping subsided and I lost hope that this would be the pessary to get things going. As the birth was classed as “high risk”, they wanted to monitor me for 40 minutes (-/+) after each pessary was inserted to ensure the baby wasn’t reacting badly to it. The next pessary was due to be inserted at 6am the next morning so it was a night at the hospital for me and Tama.

Awakened at 6am the next day, although I didn’t sleep much at all anyways, the midwife examined my vagina again which was not the nicest wake up call ever. Her fingers went right up again and it was hugely uncomfortable but the news she delivered overtook the discomfort with joy- she could see that things were starting to progress now but she wanted to insert the second pessary to help things further before breaking waters.

Two pessary

Second pessary inserted- instant cramps again! They were there for most of the morning. Queue the monitoring session- no contractions and her heart beat was strong as ever.

An hour or two later, my wonderful midwife came back and examined me again. The words she said next were the best things ever!

“You look about 2-3cm dilated and your cervix has softened up a lot! The baby is starting to move downwards too now!” I could almost jump with joy, only I was being held in by the belly bands.

She said that she wanted to move us to the delivery suite to have my waters broken and to have this baby so we moved over and then unfortunately the midwife I had grown so fond of, had to leave as it was her end of shift. I was a little uncomfortable with the midwife handover as the midwife I had overnight was so comforting and really caring. The new midwife was different but I still felt very well taken care of.

We were getting used to our lovely delivery suite and Tama took a recliner chair next to my bed. I remember feeling another few cramps, wondering if they were contractions. (FLASH FORWARD TO NOW- I just laughed at myself for writing that, because I remember the exact conversation I had with Tama about if these were contractions or not- I was still perfectly upright, smiling, hair in tact and no inch of sweat. That picture of euphoria is not possible when contractions arrive. You will know when the contractions are there, believe me.)

I was told I would be examined again but would be able to do this with gas on air as they knew how uncomfortable it was for me. This was my first time trying gas on air so I was a bit excited to see what all the hubbub was about. I took in one gulp of the gas and of course, it was a bit of delayed reaction, but holy cow, when it kicked in I was on cloud 9. I remember I couldn’t stop giggling after for about 20 minutes and by the time the giggles ended, I was sobbing- talk about a roller coaster of emotion.

In comes my new midwife and she poked and prodded about in my vagina and then delivered some irritating news- she didn’t think I was as far along as 2-3cm dilated and that my cervix wasn’t as soft as it should be before they broke my waters. She went to get a second opinion from a doctor which meant that there was going to be another examination of my vagina. The gas on air wasn’t helping- it was painful. The Doctor confirmed that I wasn’t ready for waters to be broken, and they suggested the third pessary to be inserted. I almost cried from disappointment. Its the worst to think that you are making progress and that the pessaries are working but then be told that barely any progress has been made yet.

Three pessary

So they inserted the third pessary and it was pretty instant. The midwife suggested that I move back to the labour suite and stay there till things started moving along, but I knew that I wouldn’t be going back because I had an inkling that things were happening. Isn’t it weird that I have butterflies while writing this part and reliving it?

Let me have this baby now…

Please…

I asked the midwife when she returned if they were contractions and as she didn’t think the pessary would work so quickly she hooked me up to a monitor again and traced for what felt like forever. The pain got unbearable and then it went away for a few minutes before returning with what felt like a true punch to the uterus. There is no way I can beat around the bush when it comes to contractions- especially the later ones- they hurt like hell. Ladies, its hard but believe me, its SO worth it in the end when your little baby is in your arms for the first time.

Unfortunately we couldn’t get a dog sitter for the morning so Tama had to leave the hospital to feed and walk the dog. We live about 20 minutes away via taxi, but as nobody really knew how far along I was, we thought that he should be able to make it back way before anything happens. So with a wee kiss and tearful cuddle, Tama, my support system, had left the hospital. It sucked- but I knew that we had a responsibility to our dog at home.

Would he make it back in time?

I was using gas on air like it was going out of fashion. I was breathing it more than I was breathing oxygen and it made my voice sound low and slow motion but my head was spinning (nicely). I decided to take this alone time with me and my midwife and I was asking her all about her life… if she had any kids, any pets… she did have two cats both who were born without tails oddly enough! Its crazy the memories that are coming back to me as I write this.

As time was going (not as fast as I thought and hoped for) my contractions were getting closer together and much more intense. Tama was still not back yet and it was beginning to dawn on me that things might be further along than anyone was letting on. My midwife was sitting next to me monitoring my tracing and wasn’t letting on that I was in labour. I suppose, I didn’t really need her to tell me for me to know, but still- I think I needed the confirmation. It must have been about an hour later and I was basically climbing the walls. The only morsel of medication in my system at this point was gas on air and everything was moving very quickly. I began hearing very daunting dips on the baby’s heart monitor. It was a bit like a movie; whenever a contraction came, everything was frozen around me,  I couldn’t hear or see anything but just feel every measure of pain going on within my body and I would await the absolute peak of the contraction in dread and revel in joy every time the contraction wheeled away. When I heard my baby’s heart beat drop to a complete stop at one point, everything in the contraction became nothing and I was very aware of what was going on in the room with me, listening very carefully to every conversation that my midwife was having with the Doctor and watching the heart rate monitor intently.

I was reassured when her heart beat returned to normal everytime after the worst point of a contraction and the midwife told me that it was quite normal for it to be like this but they wanted to move things further along so the Doctor examined me again and proceeded to break my waters- at this point, I was reeling in agony and didn’t feel anything down below. I heard the Doctor say that I hardly had any waters coming away and gave me news that I was about 4-5cm dilated. I could almost cry, it was a relief to know that the contractions were doing something but still, that was probably only less than half way there and I was already in extreme pain and discomfort during the contractions- I kept telling myself that it was normal and that the number of women before me to be having a baby have done it.

I waited another 20 minutes before basically begging for something stronger than the gas on air and they suggested the dreaded Epidural. Side note- throughout not only my pregnancy but my adult life, I always said that I would never choose to have an Epidural or a C-Section in labour. I am too much of a scaredy cat when it comes to surgery and needles and I was too alert of the problems that could occur in both options (there are positives too but lets be honest, who really remembers that pain can be subsided for a few hours, when we read that they could also be left with complications for years afterwards?). What I didn’t ever expect to hear myself say was “GIVE ME THE EPIDURAL!”, but it happened and they sent away for the anaesthetist.

They said that it would be 20 minutes for them to get here and be prepared for the procedure and then a further 20 minutes for it to take effect. That was 40 minutes! I grimaced and bared it and began dealing with another contraction. The Doctor was a bit concerned at the continuous dips in the baby heart beat so she was dropping the option of a the C-bomb around the room like it was nothing. By C-bomb I mean, the C-Section. I must say that at the time I was a bit excited at the suggestion as it would mean that my baby would perhaps have a safer delivery and have assistance if there were complications over stress, and it meant that labour would be over sooner for me.

It was then that I phoned Tama and dramatically begged for his return as well as tell him that it was a probability that I would be having a C-Section. He immediately returned home with the dog from their walk and called a taxi. It was intense, I wasn’t sure if he would make it back in time.

EPIDURAL ME UP, DOCTOR

In comes the anaesthetist and his team, they were discussing the potential side affects and what to look out for, but in all honesty, it went completely over my head- the contractions were deafening and I just nodded in agreement and hoped he didn’t just ask me to sell my soul.

Queue Tama entering the ward to complete organised and professional chaos. A wave of medical professionals in the room; me, sitting upright, receiving a very large needle to the spine while gasping in the gas; the midwives and a Doctor discussing things around the monitor while encouraging me through the contractions; the anaesthetist and his team circling my back and organising my IV fluid cable and hooking me up to the epidural tap. Poor Tama was very confused, thinking that a C-section was happening right then and there and he didn’t know if he could enter the room without scrubs so he waited outside until he caught a midwife’s attention and asked if he could come in.

Ah immediate relief when I saw Tama bounding towards me- it almost made the contraction go away! He had no idea what to do, but just his presence was helping and he was trying his hardest to assist me with the pain- bless him.

Once the Epidural was hooked up, the midwife waited about 20 minutes before doing another examination. As soon as she checked, she realised that I was fully dilated and she shared a smile with the midwives and other Doctors as she realised that surprisingly, I was about to start pushing and it had only been about 4 hours of labour.

I felt like the epidural had still not made much of a difference to the contractions and I was bitterly disappointed. When she said that I was basically there, I freaked thinking that I was going to be feeling every bit of the pushing. I remember thinking that I found it surprising that she said I needed to push as I was told so many times by people that I would feel the need to push and I wasn’t feeling anything like that. I was in disbelief that I was about to have this baby until I realised that I actually couldn’t feel anything below my waist at all, thanks to the Epidural. However, I could still feel every single second of those goddamn contractions, which were beginning to lessen up a bit noticeably. It was happening, I was about to have my baby.

The midwives pulled together the little outfit that we brought with us to the Hospital for her, warming them up as they knew she was going to be a wee tiny baby so they were heating up a bed for her.

Its about to go down…

My midwife grabbed the leg stirrups and helped me to shift my legs up onto them before deciding that I should lie on my side to provide a better position. At this point I was exhausted, high out of my mind on gas on air and feeling very dry and dehydrated and I just flopped over to the side after they shoogled me about. It was all very graceful.

I was being told to begin pushing, and by George I tried but let me tell you this- when the epidural hits, you can literally feel nothing from your waist below. Nothing. Meaning if someone was to punch you in the leg, you wouldn’t feel it, and you certainly can’t feel if you are pushing. I felt like I was pushing but I honestly couldn’t tell so I tried to confirm it with a might grunt to make it feel more real. I had to keep asking if I was pushing and everyone was confirming that I was. Its a very odd feeling.

HEEVE HO HEEVE HO

4 pushes later and I heard the sweetest and most euphoric little cry I have ever heard in my life. It was honestly like an angel just cried in the room- so beautiful and I can attest to every Mother saying that the first time they see their baby is the greatest moment of their life. I can also attest to the fact that immediately as soon as she was here, I said that I would do it over a thousand times to hold her in my arms.

Our baby girl, Lonjexo Gigha was born at 3.12pm on 17/07/2018, weighing 4.89lbs after 4 hours of labour following an induction. 

We apologise in advance to her teachers, doctors and anyone who will have to say her name in a public place for the first time… just so you know how to pronounce her name its like this Lawn-Jay-Zo Gee-Ya. First name is in the main language of Malawi, Chichewa and it means “A promise”. Tama’s Mother had suggested it and we loved it straight away. I will make another blog post for you to meet my new little gal where you can learn about what makes her smile, what makes her cry and I will try my very best to describe the pleasure of softly holding her chubby little cheeks. All because I know exactly how important it is for me to share the excellence and adorable-ness of my baby girl, it would be ashame not to. And I know that you all really want to learn more about this little baby angel face.

For me, labour lasted all of 4 hours. It was frigging hard work but they don’t call it labour for nout. The medical team around me was perfect and professional- having such a high risk birth meant that the support and care I received was next to award winning and I will never be able to thank them enough. Gas on air is miraculous and quite a lot of fun in an otherwise very nerve wracking time. Tama made it back to the hospital in time for Lonjexo’s arrival. Tama saw her make her first glance at the outside world. A Mum and Dad were also born on 17th July 2018 in that room as we were both in shock at how perfect and amazing it was that she was here.

What a love to experience!

So, take this post as a positive experience of the induction process. As soon as I found out I was going to be induced, I stupidly took to Google to find out other’s experiences of it and found it to mostly be negative reviews of the process which made me extremely nervous for going into the hospital to have it happen. It might seem that there is a worse stigma surrounding labour induction, but just remember that every single birth is different for every single woman. Please do not panic, just go with every contraction and I wish you the best of luck!