Ernest George A Birth Story2:08 pm
My bags had been packed for a hospital birth for some time, so once we had agreed with my doctor a date for baby boy's induction of labour we were already prepared.
We had decided at my 36 week appointment that 37 weeks would be a good time to induce labour. My doctor even suggested that we could induce right away, but that I would need to have steroid injections to give baby boy's lungs a little help if we did. I didn't want to do that, so we set a date for 15th July, with close monitoring until then.
A year previously I never thought I'd be discussing induction of labour, or even contemplating a hospital birth, but when you birth a baby and then that baby dies, and no one really knows why, a lot of things you never thought you'd be doing become reality.
My doctor held my hand as I sobbed “I just think every kick might be his last, and there are no guarantees, and I'm trying to be logical...”
15th July came around, India went off to school as usual,Woody and the younger children dropped me at the hospital at 8.30am, and then Woody took the children to school before coming back to the hospital to keep me company.
I was being induced on the delivery suite as I was considered “high risk”. When Woody arrived I was still in the waiting room. There was another woman waiting with her husband and friend. They were chatting excitedly, but she looked nearly as scared as me.
I was trying not to listen to their loud chatter, especially when the conversation turned to a relative whose baby was stillborn.
Eventually we were shown to a tiny room, with horrid dark blue painted walls,a shared bathroom and a view of a brick wall. This was my cell for the next two days!
I'd decided a week earlier that the only way to get through the induction and birth was to tuck Florence away in a cosy part of my brain for a while. She'd surface often, but was tucked away again before I could really start to think.
I had one dose of prostin gel on that first day, Woody and I half expected things to happen pretty quickly, and my midwife, Mary (who had gone on call for me) had warned all the delivery staff that I'm a slow burner, but when I go it's fast, so they were all on alert.
Woody and I walked around the hospital, we drank tea,I bounced on my ball, and I began knitting a cardigan for baby boy (in some gorgeous Noro I'd bought in a sale), hoping he'd arrive before I could finish it. (it's still unfinished)
When it was clear by tea time that nothing much was happening, Woody went home to check on the children who were being looked after by his father and step mother.
While he was gone, Mary kept me company, and told me that the doctors were reluctant to give me another dose of prostin to work overnight and thought a sweep might get things going, and if possible they might break my waters. She said she was going to go home for her tea, but a sweep might work fast, and she wanted to be ready to catch a baby.
Mary and her colleague waited for Woody to return before doing the sweep. Baby boy was too high to break the waters, so it was decided to let me rest. Woody went home, and I tried to settle down for the evening.
My yoga teacher had talked me through using Emotional Freedom Technique, and I found this invaluable that night, it really helped me to calm my nerves about impending labour.
The next morning Mary arrived early, she was popping off on her rounds of home visits, but was on call to come back to me any time. I was so reassured to know she was there for me.
My bereavement midwife also came to say hello and give me a hug.
I did feel very well taken care of, all of the staff on the delivery suite were great.
The second dose of prostin gel was inserted that morning, and that meant more walking, more bouncing on the ball, more knitting...but not much of anything else.
Actually I was having fairly strong contractions, but nothing I couldn't live with. Mary joked with me about how tough I am. She'd look at the monitor and say “Jeanette can you feel that one?”, and I'd reply “yes, but it's nothing.”
That afternoon I decided I'd better update a couple of close friends who I knew by now might be panicking, so texted to let them know all was well. Throughout the entire induction process baby boy's heartbeat was steady, he was obviously calm and happy.
I also took myself off to the beach. One of my favourite relaxations at yoga had been the beach meditations, and my yoga teacher had given me copies of the beach soundtrack, so I popped on my headphones and went off to the beach.
My beach is Christians beach, it's sunset, and I'm walking barefoot in the surf, in the distance I can see my Dad and he's holding Florence in his arms, showing her the sea and the sunset. I see they are happy together. I don't try to reach them, I know I can't. I sit down on the sand and feel the warmth of the sun and the breeze on my skin, and I listen to the waves.
Around tea time the doctors decide it's time to break my waters, it's painful and I'm surprised Mary had any hand left I squeezed it so hard.(I also used the golden thread breathing technique I'd learned at yoga to get through all the examinations I had.) The doctor thinks there is meconium in the waters, but Mary (my midwife) and I disagree, as I'd been having a show of similar consistency for a couple of days. He agrees but doesn't want to take any chances and wants me monitored throughout labour. Baby boy's heartbeat was still very stable, and the doctor did say he thought it might be old meconium if it was at all, but I guess my history meant he was being super careful.
We braced ourselves for action stations once my waters broke, but again nothing much happened, a few fairly erratic strong contractions that I was starting to need to breath through , but it was decided that the syntocinon drip was our next step.
Mary wrapped a blanket around me and we moved to the delivery room, a lovely light airy room with a view over the town and off in the peak district.
I remember saying that I felt a bit silly in my big pink knickers with my dress tucked into my bra, and the monitor strapped to my belly, and Mary telling me not to be so daft.
I parked myself on the birthing ball and waited for the drip to be set up. This was when I had a brief little cry, and wondered out loud how I'd ended up here, strapped to monitors and drips instead of safe at home, but then I knew exactly how.
As soon as the drip was in place things got pretty serious, I was quickly having very regular very intense contractions. I was coping with my yoga breathing, but Mary pointed out where the gas and air was if I decided I needed it.
I was alternating between the birthing ball and standing rocking my hips at this point.
I needn't have worried about staying mobile, Mary made sure I was mobile despite the monitor and drip. She had Woody hold the monitor in place throughout.
The contractions were very intense, and after a while I decided to try some gas and air. I'd forgotten just how bloomin lovely that stuff is! Although my yoga breathing was great at breathing out the pain, the gas and air just took that edge off and made everything a bit more comfortable. I was giggling to myself as I could hear my yoga teachers voice in my head “breath out to prepare for gas and air” !
I was getting tired standing, so asked Mary if we could pull the bed out and I could kneel on the bed leaning over the back, as I remembered that was how I laboured with Eden, my last hospital birth eleven years ago.
There was a bit of a muddle while furniture was rearranged, but it all worked out, and I could rest between contractions over the back of the bed.
More confusion followed when I decided I needed a wee, and trailed off to the loo with Mary and Woody in tow holding the drip and monitor.
I had two awful contractions in the loo without the lovely gas and air, and buried my face in Mary's shoulder breathing through them before heading back to the bed and my previous position.
I vaguely remember Mary joking with Woody about what a lightweight I was with the gas and air, and how she could tell I wasn't much of a drinker.
I also remember thinking I could feel baby boy moving down into my pelvis, and Woody panicking because he'd lost the heartbeat on the monitor, and Mary telling him she thought baby boy had moved down.
Then I could feel him crowning, and I knew this was it. I started shouting “Come on baby, come on baby!” Three contractions and he was out, pink and screaming.
Mary helped me turn around and pick him up. He was so tiny, and so pink, and so cross!
I think I said to Woody “he's alive, he's here, he's alive”. Woody was grinning and saying “yes yes yes”.
Ernest George was born at 9.10pm on 16th July 2010 after a I hour and 45 minute labour.
Woody helped take my dress off and I held our baby boy Ernest skin to skin.
Mary said we both looked shell shocked. We were, and probably still are to a certain extent.
After the placenta was delivered, Woody and I were left alone with Ernest for some bonding time, before being settled in on the maternity ward for the night.
Woody went home around 1am. I spent the night just staring at Ernest and watching the dawn break over the hills in the distance.