Pregnancy Stories - Labor Day Through the Eyes of a Dad
by Mr C, from The Expectant Father
I think it's fair to say that the last 48 hours of Mrs C's pregnancy were the longest, most tiring, horrendous, frightening and, in the end, wonderful 2 days I've ever had.
After the disappointment of the sweep, we were resigned to going to Burton for Mrs C to be induced. However, at our first puppy class for Bernard we happened to meet a midwife (with a Hungarian Vizsla). She told us (I'm having to paraphrase here as my sleep deprived brain can't remember properly) "Don't be induced; have another sweep!". So straight after the class we went to the Samuel Johnson and booked a sweep for the following morning.
At about 2:30 that night, however, things started to happen for Mrs C. She started to get cramps every 10 minutes but she had the decency to wait until 4:30 to wake me.
"Good. Wake me again at 7 were the reassuring words I managed to come up with.
The midwife came did the sweep and told us, "I'll put money on you not needing to be induced". That was the news we wanted to hear; after 9 and a half months of pregnancy the end was finally in sight.
Sadly, the end wasn't close enough for me not to have to go back to work....
By Monday evening Mrs C's cramps were definitely turning into contractions. So we hooked her up to her TENS machine. Sadly, it was 3 weeks since we'd been shown how to do it and the instruction book was rubbish (are they written by idiots?!). So we did the best we could from the pencil sketch in the accompanying booklet and switch on. Mrs C didn't suffer instant death nor did her hair stand on end. I counted that as a success.
As the evening progressed the pain got worse and the TENS became slightly less effective. By 8pm Mrs C said:
"This must be labor because I can't believe the pain can get any worse". How wrong she was going to be proven....
Off to Hospital
At 9 every contraction was accompanied by a yelp of pain. They were at 5 minutes and lasting up to 1 minute.
"that's it we're off to hospital." I decided.
The midwife examined Mrs C and said "You're not far enough along yet I suggest you go back home and come in later on". Bugger!
We made it to 2am before going back. Mrs C was becoming increasingly distressed, every contraction was doubling her over. She was hanging onto my neck, grabbing my shirt to help her get through each contraction but she needed more than a 9 volt battery and a shoulder rub to help her with the pain. She'd also been up since 2:30 the previous day and was getting more and more tired.
I Need Drugs and Lots of Them
On our return to hospital the midwife said, "I knew you'd be back tonight! How about some pethidine so you can get some sleep."
"Yes please and I think Mrs C will need something too."
The pethidine did the trick and took the edge of the contractions, she lay on the bed and squeezed my hand each time but no danger of my shirt being ripped from my body. Plus Mrs C could shut her eyes in between each torture session.
Another examination and, "You're getting closer! But you're only about 1cm dilated". 1cm? Oh God, this is going to be a long night!
The pethidine lasted until about 6:00 in the morning and gave us a chance to see the sun rise through only a thin veil of pain. But then it came back with a vengeance. You have to wait 4 hours between each pethidine injection but you're only allowed 2. This gave Mrs C a tough choice to make "Do I have the 2nd injection now and make this easier or do I save it for later when it's really bad?". She chose the 2nd option quickly followed by the choice of gas and air.
This definitely helped but she was suffering more than with the pethidine. She was back to hanging of my neck, rocking from foot to foot, and generally not loving her day out.
Then at 8am everything stopped. Mrs C stopped having contractions and the baby stopped kicking. Suddenly all I could think was something's gone terribly wrong. After all the waiting and then the stress of the last 24 hours, it's come to nothing... but obviously that's the reaction of a sleep-deprived first time father who's just spent the last 11 hours watching his wife in absolute agony knowing that he can't doing anything about it.
"Your body's just protecting itself. You're too tired to keep going. Have some food and a sleep and you'll get going again" The midwife reassured us.
This didn't go down too well with Mrs C though... "I don't want it to start again, I can't do this." She sobbed.
What can you say to that?
If I could have swapped places there and then, I would have done. But instead I gave her a hug, stroked her hair and told her she could do it and that we'd get through. Inside I was more worried about her than I thought I could possibly be...
After another hour Mrs C decided she'd had enough.
"It hurts too much. I need an epidural".
This isn't as straight forward as it sounds. Samuel Johnson don't offer epidurals so we'd have to be transferred to Burton. With an epidural there are other complications too. It can go wrong and you can be paralysed although there's only a 1:200000 chance of that happening. It can make it harder for a women to know when to push so there's a greater chance Mrs C would end up having a c-section.
But anything to make the pain stop.
Mrs C went by ambulance, I chased the ambulance in our car (no speeding tickets have arrived yet). I narrowly missed knocking down an old women in the hospital car park, grabbed our bags and ran to maternity unit (well I ran the first 20 metres then walked the rest of the way - I was really tired!).
After another examination Mrs C was still at 3-4cms just as she had been 4 hours earlier when her contractions stopped. Being told that you'd gone through all this and made no progress is really crushing. They hooked her up to some syntocinon to get Mrs C's contractions up to 3-4 in 10 minutes. But at least she's going to be free of pain soon.
But just when the epidural was in reach it was nearly taken away from us. Mrs C's blood pressure was high, so they had to do some blood tests before she could be pain free. That took just short of an hour until finally...
"Oh that's better! it's definitely working!"
Mrs C was suddenly a different person. The distress had gone and she was calm and relaxed, if not a little tired. It let me calm down too, and we both got some sleep.
Here He Comes
At 7pm they had examined Mrs C for what must have been the 10th time she was finally at 7cm.
"Only a few more hours to go now" I thought. I rang my parents and a few friends and took a short walk to clear my head.
When I got back to the room 10 minutes later, the midwives were starting to worry about the baby's heart rate. It was dropping very low with every contraction.
"It could be that your baby's in distress or you might be ready to push!"
Fortunately, she was ready to push. And an hour later Peter was born.
Obviously, that's a moment that will stay with me for a long long time. I wasn't keen on seeing what was going on down the business end but I saw his head come out and a wave of relief and joy went through my body. One more push and he was out, I felt tears well up in my eyes and bit my lip to hold them back.
He was born at 9.42, nearly 25 hours after we first went to hospital. Now that was a long day.
Visit Mr C's blog, The Expectant Father, to read all about life as a new dad!
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