In my new room on the MLU (see part one) I was hooked up to a cylinder of gas and air (and, incidentally, went through 3 of these before I was finished) because they had no wall supply and ditched the TENS… the batteries had died anyway. I was given another internal — 7cm dilated, dilating at 1cm an hour give or take — and offered more pain relief.
I was hoping to finish the labour on the gas and air alone, because up until everything had actually started I’d had visions of having a laid back labour with as much walking and squatting as possible to promote a faster and easier birth. Unfortunately, this was a tad naive and greatly underestimated the pain I’d be in. On reflection I am glad I felt so confident (for lack of a better word) because I think it helped relax me, and ultimately got me to 7cm dilated on just the gas and air. That said, I was under no illusions of being some kind of hippy Earth mother and gladly accepted a shot of pethidine at this point.
I’m not sure if it was the pethidine or having spent about 4 hours inhaling nitrous oxide, but I remember shortly after the shot I was kneeling on the bed with the head raised for me to lean on, and with each contraction I was having what can only be described as a “detached” experience… I was being talked through my breathing by the midwife who had a very odd accent, and I felt like I was no longer in my own head. Not an out of body experience because physically I felt “there”, it was just the weirdest mental trip ever.
I don’t recall much between that point, and a few hours later when the midwife finished her shift and a new midwife started, must have been approx. 6am by then and I’d been up since just after 7am the day before. I didn’t feel overly tired at the time, and 9(?) hours of labour had gone by in what felt more like 3-4 hours. Karl probably disagrees as I’d had him standing up giving me back rubs, as well as holding my hand, poor bugger.
It was another couple of hours before the midwife asked me if I’d had any urges to push (er, no). I had to change positions on the bed so that she could break my waters (didn’t hurt, didn’t feel anything, I was just suddenly lying in a big wet patch), and I had another shot of pethidine because the other had worn off. Breaking my waters did the trick because shortly afterwards I knew I needed to push.
It took half an hour of pushing to deliver Isabel, although the majority of that didn’t seem to be achieving anything. At one stage the midwife made me put down the gas and air because she thought I was concentrating more on that than pushing. I was actually just suffering from excruciating back pain — because I was lying down.. worst decision ever — made worse each time I tried to push. It felt like my spine was being torn out, and I screamed more swear words than I realised I knew. It got to the point where I was in so much agony I just lay there crying at the midwife that I couldn’t do it (not really sure what I expected her to do, it’s not like I could change my mind at that point!)
I made my biggest “mistake” right at the end, as Isabel was born. Because I was tired, and in pain, I gave one last huge push to finish off, which didn’t give the midwife time to “help” her out… Isabel turned too quickly and I ended up tearing. I had at least 6 labial stitches (TMI, yay) — I’d not even realised prior that you can tear that way — and lost 400ml of blood. I remember seeing some on the wall at the end of the bed! It sounds scarier than it was, though; and well worth it for such a lovely ‘prize’.