Shortly before midnight on the 23rd, I succumbed to the idea of using painkillers. Not that I was adverse to using pain relief, I just couldn’t estimate how painful my contractions were and ended up being. The only thing on offer at first was paracetamol. I was initially surprised at the offer of something I’d normally use if there was no ibuprofen in the house, you know as a last resort sort of thing. However, as it was the only relief they provided, I immediately took it.
Unsurprisingly, paracetamol did not work and within a few moments I was begging for something stronger.
The midwives consulted with each other and ended up prescribing codeine. A much more powerful painkiller. Yet on consumption, there was no real pain relief. Clearly my contraction pain was at it’s peak. My husband spoke with the nurses, concerned at how I had gone from zero to one hundred in the matter of minutes. A doctor was called to check my dilation and discovered I was 1 cm gone – not much at all but as my waters had broken the week before, I needed to be closely monitored. She decided it would be sensible to send me to the labour ward.
I packed up my belongings and slowly walked to the exit. I was met by a midwife named Amy. Little did I know then that Amy would be my salvation for the next five hours.
Once in the labour ward and into what would be my room for the following few hours, I couldn’t believe how the pain had increased. My husband, who had been my rock coaching me through each contraction, was now beginning to worry and panic. I suppose he knew what was approaching. My temper was wearing thin and I started to snap at him. The pain was not only excruciating but terrifying too. The right side of my back throbbed uncontrollably at each contraction and the cramping made my body spasm. I wanted to cry and scream but somehow I held it together knowing that it would only make me more anxious. Plus, I was incredibly worried any screaming would induce a panic attack which then in turn could inspire an Asthma attack. I absolutely did not want that to happen.
I told Amy that I was really struggling. At one in the morning, she gave me diamorphine. A drug that was injected into my thigh. She told me that it would make me very drowsy – a prospect I was very happy about (I hadn’t slept for over 24 hours). It did make me drowsy. However, the strength of the contractions by then were so forceful that I was waking every two minutes in unbearable pain, waking my sleeping husband each time as I let out a groan of despair. Both exhausted, the next two hours consisted of a combination of agitated sleep, mind-numbing pain and a strong urge to go to the toilet every so often. The third feeling was crucial to what was happening at that point in my labour.
Amy spent time coming in and out of the labour room, checking mine and baby’s stats. She could see the depths of my pain and as I complained that I needed the toilet for the seventeenth time, she decided to check on my dilation. In the space of three hours, I had gone from 1 cm to 6 cm dilated. I was now in full labour.
A baby doctor came into the room to discuss what would happen as soon as baby was born. In all honesty, my mind was on other things at that point. The doctor came at a really inappropriate time. I was still dosed up on diamorphine and that combined with the agonising pain made me just nod at her whilst she fired a list of things at me. Climbing back onto the bed having changed into a hospital gown, I questioned Amy on further pain relief. My labour had progressed rather quickly and although the pain was horrific, she was impressed by how well I had been handling it all.
The subject of an epidural arose.
Everybody I had spoken to in my pregnancy recommended it. I was never one to turn away pain relief, I hadn’t gone into the pregnancy hoping for a purely natural birth. Up until that point I had been terrified at pain. I wince at the dentists for crying out loud and that’s just on a routine check up! However, I was doing okay. Better than okay. Perhaps I didn’t need the epidural. Amy certainly thought so and practically refused to give me one! She positively told me I could do it without. She had the confidence in me. Pushed on by my encouraging and supportive midwife, I accepted that I could do it alone.
I don’t need to say how painful labour actually is. I’m sure all you mothers out there know already. I can say it is an amazing experience and although it seems like a blur and a dream, I can see myself doing it again. I would only hope that next time, my baby arrives on time and not so early 🙂
Ivy-Wren was born at five in the morning weighing five pounds.
The doctors took her away to the Neonatal Unit almost immediately after she was born. She wasn’t placed on my chest naked nor did I breastfeed her within moments. My baby was taken away from me. I did get one chance to hold her after demanding it. The doctor didn’t seem happy but I knew my baby needed it. All wrapped up, she was placed in my arms.
I held her tight and promised her it wouldn’t be long till we’d be all together. She was a fighter and I knew she’d prove that to everyone.
And that she did.