I woke up on my due date with back pain, which I didn't think anything of as I'd been having various aches and pains for a couple of weeks by this point. A few hours later it occurred to me that the pains were coming and going, but I didn't think it was labour as all the pain was in my back and it was my due date, nobody ever goes into labour on their due date! I started to time the pains and they were coming every 7/8 minutes and then I knew I was in early labour. I made myself a hot water bottle for my back and started getting all my bags ready for the hospital. When I called them they asked if baby had been moving as normal, and I honestly hadn't taken much notice of his movements as I'd been focusing on myself, so I told them I wasn't sure and didn't think he'd been moving as much as usual. This meant I needed to go in for monitoring. On arriving at the hospital I was monitored and baby's movements were fine.
I consented to a VE at 4pm and was told I was 4cm dilated, but that baby's head was quite far back and the fluid was bulging in front of his head. They were concerned that if my waters broke naturally, his cord could prolapse and he could cut off his oxygen supply. I was then sent down to a delivery room where I was hooked up to continuous monitoring. My husband stuck some photos I'd printed off on the walls and we tucked into our snacks and read trashy magazines to pass the time. I was able to move about a little bit and use the Birthing ball, but whenever I wasn't on my back on the bed the monitors weren't picking up baby's heartbeat or my contractions, so I tried to stay put as much as I was comfortable with. The pain was so manageable at this point, I was breathing through contractions and using my wave comb, the midwives were so impressed with how I was coping.
At 1am I had another VE and was told I was only 5cm and the waters were still bulging in front of his head, the doctors wanted to break my waters in a controlled way so that there was less risk of the cord prolapsing, and so I could be taken into theatre for an emergency c section if anything were to go wrong. I hadn't wanted any intervention like this, but I also wanted the safest arrival for my baby and so consented to my waters being broken. After he had done this, my contractions soared and the pain was so unbelievably intense that I didn't feel that I could cope. My husband said I looked like I was in The Exorcist! I asked for an epidural and the midwife ran to get the anaesthetist immediately, by 2am I'd had an epidural and was much more comfortable. Again, I hadn't wanted an epidural, but in the moment I knew it was the best thing for me, and there's no prizes for getting through labour without pain relief right!?
3 hours later my midwife examined me and I was a full 10cm dilated and "if baby's head were any further down it would be out", it was time to start pushing. I found this stage really difficult as I couldn't properly feel my contractions and the monitors still weren't picking them up unless I was on my back. My midwife was fantastic though, and by having her hand on my bump she could tell me when to push.
Unfortunately, every time I pushed my baby's heart rate dropped and this happened for 30 minutes. I was advised that an assisted delivery was the safest way to bring my baby into the world to avoid him becoming distressed. By this point I was happy to consent to this as all I wanted was his safe arrival. I was given all of the information about what was going to happen and what the potential risks were. They took me to theatre and gave me an episiotomy and at 7.14am my little boy Reuben was delivered with the help of forceps.
My labour and birth were nothing like I had planned for, but I didn't mind that because I felt so calm throughout the whole process because I felt well informed about pain relief, intervention and my rights. My husband and I were able to ask questions of our health care providers to assess benefits and risks and properly understand the advice to be able to make the best decisions for us. I'm so glad that I invested the time and money to properly prepare for birth, it was 100% worth it. I'd relive the whole experience again in a heartbeat.