13th May 2012… We arrive at the hospital at 10:00 am for my induction and spend 3 hours waiting around as they sent us to the wrong ward and we had to wait for a room on the delivery suite. Once there, things got moving quickly, my obs were taken, I was examined as 2 cm dilated, I was strapped up with fetal heart monitors and at 13:25 my midwife broke my waters – which to my surprise, didnt hurt at all. I was expecting a gush and a flood like I had with Bunny, but instead, I got several HOURS of gushing! How much water is in there? And thats just Baby One’s sac! In the first two hours they gave me about a hundred of those duvets they call “maternity pads” but it wasnt enough, and two pairs of trousers, and 3 bed changes of amniotic fluid later, I was wearing scrubs.. which I should add, are delightfully comfortable!
They let me wander around and do what I wanted for 2 hours after breaking my waters, but absolutely nothing happened in that time. So after 3 attempts at getting a canula in my hand (OUCH to those bruises), I get hooked up to an Oxytocin hormone drip, which they start at a rate of 2 and keep whacking up every now and then until I’m on the full dose of 18 or something like that. The fetal heart rate monitors attached to me include a contraction tracer, which suddenly starts showing contractions. The midwife starts asking me about my contractions, but I haven’t felt a single one! After a little while of exciting, totally painless contractions, they suddenly hit me… HARD! They run painfully at 3 every 10 minutes for quite some time and I decide to give gas and air a go.
As expected, the midwives and an anesthetist come to chat to me about epidurals. Due to me finding anything to do with spines a massive cringe factor, I was dead set against having one. I had in my head that I’d done this before drug free, so I was going to do it again drug free… oh okay then… this time I was going to use gas and air! I asked about Diamorph but apparently they don’t give that anymore and Pethedine makes the babies too drowsy so I didnt want to go there either. But they were very persuasive and made me fear the epidural less and open my mind to it being a good option. Especially considering Tiny was still breach and there was a high chance that manipulation would be needed. My contractions had quickly gotten more intense than I remembered them being with my previous labour and I asked when would be appropriate to consider the epidural. I was told that the Oxytocin drip makes contractions stronger and more painful as they are artificially stimulated and that they were surprised I hadnt asked for the epidural already. So I agreed.
Whilst not too painful, It was certainly uncomfortable getting the epidural in. I had to sit sideways on the bed and lean forward. With four contractions every ten minutes, and them lasting quite a while, they had to keep stopping and I wasn’t in a good position for dealing with the pain. The first three attempts at the epidural were unsuccessful as I have quite a bony back, so it took over half an hour of fiddling with my spine and me sucking on the gas and air, before the epidural was in and it took a good 40 minutes before the first dose took effect. It was self-administered so when I started to feel the pain getting bad again, I pressed a red button and the machine would chuck another dose of pain releif down my epidural. I didnt want to abuse it though so I tried not to press it too often. When it was working though, I couldnt feel my contractions at all.
By this point, many hours have passed and I’m starving. I’ve been examined and I’m STILL only 2 cm dilated (WTF?). I ask hubby to get me some chocolate from my snack bag and then the midwives drop the bombshell… I wasn’t allowed to eat on epidural! I froze. I felt a tightening in my throat, I couldnt speak and I thought I was going to burst into tears (blame the hormones!). I’d barely eaten up to this point as I knew I had a whole bag of snacks to tide me over if my labour was long. I bit my tongue, swallowed hard and thought about something else.
My room on delivery suite was quite nice. Spacious, clean, comfy bed with remote, a massive bathroom with bath and shower, the two baby units set up awaiting babies, all the little present-like parcels containing the medical equipment lined up (two of each). I was really pleasantly surprised that I got my own midwife and student midwife who stayed with me 24/7 and never left the room – now a lot of people moan about the NHS, but I’m telling you - that’s good patient care!
Finally, at 3:00 am I was 10 cm dilated, my cervix had “gone” (I’m still not sure where it went?) and my body was ready to push. But for some reason I still don’t understand, they told me I had to wait 2 hours before I’d be allowed to push. But at least I knew at 5:00 am on 14th May I’d be pushing these babies out.
In very calm and slightly surreal manner, at 5:00 am as promised, I was told to start pushing. Despite being told to stop using the red button twenty minutes before, I couldnt really feel any of the muscles I was supposed to be pushing, so had no idea if I was even pushing at all. After a while of pushing, the midwife said it was time to get the “team” in. I was told to expect a full crew in the room due to having twins. At that exact moment, the door opened and in walked a medical team of 9 members. From my blurry memory I think they were: 2 paediatricians, 2 midwives, a student midwife, 2 anesthetists, a doctor and a consultant. They all positioned themselves neatly in their places and a male doctor (actually can’t remember if he was doc or consultant but for the sake of arguement, we’ll say doc!) took the midwives position between my legs! He repeatedly gave me internal examinations to check the babies progress down the birth canal. Despite my requests for him to either a) warn me before putting his hand up there, or b) put his hand in a little more slowly/gently, he ignored me and literally rammed his hand up on an uncomfortably frequent basis. Clearly being a man, he would tell me to push, whilst his hand was up there… how the hell is that possible for me to push one way when you are pushing the other way?! So with this scarring my memory, from now on he is to be known as “The Rough Doctor”!
After over an hour of pushing, the epidural had almost completely worn off and the pain was immense, in fact about a hundred times more painful than labouring Bunny. The doctors and midwives were starting to grow concerned as I had made virtually no progress with the pushing, they hadnt even seen a head yet. They told me they wanted to use forceps to help me because I was looking tired. Despite protesting that I wasnt tired, I knew that this was taking too long and despite my fears of forceps, I didnt want my babies to get distressed, so I accepted what they needed to do. They told me the babies were fine but if Baby One took too long, Baby Two could get distressed later.
My feet were put in stirrups, the bed was raised and The Rough Doctor looked like he was preparing to climb in with the babies! I winced as the rough doctor put huge instruments resembling kitchen utensils, inside me. I commented on the size and got told these were the smallest and softest forceps they had, and were designed for premature babies… God help anyone having a big baby is all I can say! He told me to take a deep breath and next time I pushed he was going to pull. A whole bunch of expletives are all I can use to describe the pain that followed. I’d gone from my almost silent and tolerable pain level birth with Bunny, to this; where my body was clearly NOT ready to deliver a baby and I fear there may have been some shouting and groaning of audible volume (not quite as loud as the people on One Born Every Minute though!).
As I felt Baby One leaving my body in slow motion, I felt as though The Rough Doctor was literally ripping me apart and pulling out all my internal organs in one go. I cannot begin to describe it. This was nothing like a normal birth, all my stretching happened in one go, the pain was unbelievable and Baby One was born in one go. Fluffy was born at 6:22 am. She felt absolutely enormous on the way out, so I was utterly stunned, when they put her straight on my belly and I saw how tiny she was. I couldnt touch her, she was so little. She was wiggling and let out a cry so I knew she was alive but I had not been expecting her to be that small. It frightened me. I let them take her to the Paediatricians in the corner so they could get her warm and clean and do all their checks. Over all the hustle and bustle I vaguely hear somebody say 4 lb 12 oz and I panic. They were supposed to be about 6 lbs each based on their weights at 32 weeks and the growth line they’d been following. They’d been on the 65th percentile. How could they possibly be 4 lb something? They must have made a mistake, maybe I misheard them?!
There was no rest for me. It was straight on with the next one. My hormone drip, which had been reduced, was whacked back up again. I was vaguely aware of hubby holding Fluffy somewhere in the background over my left shoulder. I could mildly hear him talking to her and I knew I couldnt think about her until I had safely delivered her twin.
I was warned that theatre was on standby as Baby Two was not just coming breach, she was now coming feet first! The Rough Doctor by now was shoving his huge man hands up me every few seconds and doing what can only be described as stirring! I was in agony! He told me he had hold of a foot and he got the midwives to push down hard on my tummy to stop Tiny from doing somersaults. After some more pushing, The Rough Doctor’s eyes suddenly widened and a shocked expression crossed his face. In a matter of seconds he said “It’s not a foot, I’ve got her hand!” He swiftly moved the two midwives hands and firmly instructed “Push here”, instantly followed by almost shouting at me; ”She’s coming head first, now push!” In a matter of 5 seconds I’d gone from pushing a feet first baby, to having a sideways baby, to pushing a head first baby. Now that is more than a little daunting and quite a shock to the brain!
He stopped for a moment, looked me straight in the eyes and said “Would you like to do this on your own, or would you like me to help you?”. I instantly knew what he was talking about and it seemed like the kindest and most sincere thing he had said to me. Despite the agony of delivering Fluffy with forceps, and the pain of The Rough Doctors’ watermelon sized knuckles, I knew I couldnt do this anymore, The pain was unbearable. I needed his help. I agreed and he quickly lined up a new set of forceps and tools. After a bit more shouting and a lot more pain, Tiny was born at 6:57 am. She was put straight on my tummy and this time, already knowing she’d be tiny, I put my hand on her to hold her. She was wiggling, but not crying and then she went limp. I knew this was normal and not to panic and that the paediatricians would get her breathing and take good care of her so I passed her straight over to them.
I remember after giving birth to Bunny, the pain just disappeared and I was overcome by an overwhelming sense of happiness and calm. There was a huge sense of releif and I instantly knew it was all over… but not this time…
I became aware of this chronic pain in my ribs that I’d had all through my third trimester of pregnancy; but this time it was much much worse. The Rough Doctor was still between my legs, talking about blood loss and my placentas. With Bunny I’d had to have a “manual retrieval” of placenta in theatre as I was losing blood and not contracting. We were all pre-prepared for it to happen again which was why I’d had such an intrepid fear of bleeding to death in the lead up to labour. I then noticed he was just pulling the placentas out by the cords – both at once. That was quite a relief for me as it was quick and I didnt have to do anything. I asked to have a look at them and was shocked by how big, heavy and ugly they were! He gave me a quick demo of what went where, which I found fascinating. To my relief The Rough Doctor then told me I only had a minor tear and wouldnt even need any stitches! I was quite impressed by that.
I found out that Fluffy (aka Baby One) weighed 4 lb 12 oz and Tiny (aka Baby Two) weighed just 4 lb 1 oz and was very lucky to have fractionally missed automatic admission by weight to neonatal. Both babies scored 9 and 10 on all their Apgar scores and both were completely healthy and alert, which was fantastic considering their size.
But I couldnt really concentrate on anything that was happening around me. It was at this point that time just stopped. The pain in my ribs was as bad as labour itself and I started vomitting. With every wretch, I heard and felt blood pouring out of me. Thinking it probably felt like more than it really was, I looked down and was horrified to see that I was sitting in an actual pool of blood. There was so much of it that I went into major panic mode. I couldnt help but continue vomitting but with every single wretch I literally pooled the bed with blood and I knew this wasnt right. I’d never seen so much blood in my life. Quite frankly, it was terrifying!
I’ve very little memory of anything after that. I don’t even remember holding my babies or if I did at all. I remember thinking I didnt want to form an attachment if I was about to die. I thought of Bunny too. I couldnt explain very well to the doctors what was wrong with me but I just knew that all was not well. I knew that something was very very wrong with me…
What should have been the end to a traumatic birth, was only the beginning of the even more traumatic time that followed…