Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Ross and I arrived back at North Manchester General Hospital (still known locally as Crumpsall) at around 4:30PM, 24 hours after my waters had broken. We made our way to the Antenatal Ward to check in and get assessed. They walked us into a large room that contained four curtained cubicles, each containing a hospital bed, nightstand and chair. The curtains between bays were open at the time and I remember a woman across the way was moaning loudly through her contractions. A midwife pulled our curtain closed and check me out. I was not quite 3cm and mostly effaced. My contractions were still slightly irregular so they encouraged us to do some walking to see if we could speed things along.
And walk we did. We roamed the halls and walked up and down stairs. Any time I had a contraction, I stopped and breathed through it. I was still coping pretty well, but was starting to get anxious that things weren't further along. I remember laughing and joking with Ross during this period which was a great way to keep my cool and manage the pain. My contractions were getting closer together and stronger, so we knew things were going in the right direction. We headed back to the Antenatal Ward and the midwife checked me out again. I was now completely effaced and a good 3cm. At this point, Ross got on his phone and googled some ways to speed up labor. I snacked on some fruit and cheese that we'd brought with us and Ross used pressure points on my hand and foot to try and move things along even more. I think it actually worked because before long we were off to the Birth Centre.
(Tangent: Now, I didn't blog about it, but I raised a pretty big stink about being allowed on the Birth Centre. My pre-pregnancy BMI was ever-so-slightly too high for me to be officially allowed. I wasn't told this until about halfway through my 3rd trimester. I was really upset given that I had been told all along that my health was "perfect" and that I was an excellent candidate for the Birth Centre. I used the fact that I hadn't really gained any weight during the pregnancy and a sternly worded letter to get my way. From the moment I got approval, it became my fear that I would end up not being able to hack it on the Birth Centre and would be begging for an epidural.)
We got to the Birth Centre at around 8PM and were shown into one of the mack-daddy birthing rooms with the giant birthing tub and twinkly ceiling.
Mid-contraction in the Birth Centre
Twinkly ceiling and tub on the left
The midwife on duty talked to us a bit and told me that I wouldn't be able to go in the birth tub due to risk of infection since my waters broke more than 24 hours previously. It was at this point that I remember snapping at Ross to stop rubbing a spot on my lower back because it felt like he was rubbing it raw. (In the days after the birth, I had a huge patch of really dry skin in that same spot, so I guess I was right!) I'm glad to say that it was the only slightly unpleasant moment in our interactions. I certainly never experienced any animosity or movie-style "You did this to me!" anger. I mostly remember thinking how awesome he was and how much I love him. I do remember getting irritated that the midwives would stop talking to me when I went into my zen place for contractions. I told Ross to tell them to keep talking to me through them if they had something to say, as I found it distracting to have them awkwardly waiting for my contraction to stop before resuming the conversation.
The midwife examined me and said, with regret, that I was still just around 3cm and that I really needed to be on the Labour Ward. Given the fact that I wasn't going to be able to labour in the water anyway, I wasn't too distressed by this. The midwives were really great and tried so hard to give us the birth experience that we really wanted, but it just wasn't to be.
I had prepared going into the birth to be flexible. I knew that if I was rigid and uptight about how things "had to go" I would only be in for disappointment. After all, the process of giving birth isn't one that we can control. I figured that I could certainly have a Plan A, but that if need be I was prepared to abandon it and go with whatever needed to happen. To that end, I never developed a formal birth plan. I'd discussed with Ross that my plan was: "I want to have zero interventions that the baby and I do not need and any interventions that we do", but that was it. Nothing formal or written, just an understanding between me and my husband. This is one of the most important preparations I think that I made. Once it became clear that I wasn't progressing quickly enough, I was ready to change course. I didn't spend my time regretting that things weren't going as planned or fretting about the loss of control. I knew that I could trust Ross to help me advocate for as little intervention as possible and that we'd do whatever we needed to to get our baby out safely. In fact, as the labour went on, I found that the midwives were still apologizing that things weren't going as I planned, when I had totally moved on and was over it.
And with that, we gathered our things and they put me in a wheelchair to ferry me to the Labour Ward. I was still coping well, but it clear that we weren't getting our baby any time soon and that our Leap Day baby was unlikely.