Ever since my DD's birth I've really struggled to come to terms with what I went through, and I thought sharing my story might help to put it behind me and move on.
At about 3:30pm on Friday June 29, two days before my due date, I started spotting and getting what felt like mild period pain. It would come and go and was mainly in my back. I thought maybe it was the start of something but I should wait and see. By about 8pm that evening the pain was coming and going at regular intervals, about 8-10 minutes apart. It wasn't very strong and was mainly in my back. I still had the spotting. I rang the hospital and the midwife said to come in and get checked, just in case my membranes had started to rupture. Off we went to the hospital and after being hooked up to the monitor for 30 mins and an internal inspection, the midwives said my cervix was still closed and what I was experiencing was 'pre-labour'. They said they expected to see me back in a couple of days with a baby on the way.
The 'contractions' continued all day Saturday, 8-10 minutes apart, and I was still spotting. I thought I'd just wait and see what happened...by Sunday, my due date, they were still going and I was still spotting. I called the hospital that morning and the midwife on duty said I was still experiencing pre-labour or the 'latent phase', they weren't actual contractions, just my body getting ready, but I should still come in as she was concerned about that bleeding. She told me to take in the pad I'd been wearing so she could see what the spotting looked like. I didn't think that was a very good indication, as with most pads, the blood is absorbed and fades and you can't really see it...but I took it anyway. Another 30 mins on the machine and another internal inspection determined I was still not dilating, still in false labour, but the midwife was concerned about the spotting. When she looked at the pad, she said, "That's not blood". By that time it had turned a brownish colour, as old blood soaked into a pad tends to do! I asked her what she thought it was, thinking she must know best, and she said it looked like the fluid from around the baby. I was sent home and told to take it easy and monitor my temperature regularly, and if I was still having the spotting at 7pm that night, to go back in. Sure enough it was still there at 7pm so back we went, another pad in tow. The midwife on duty at that time was incredibly rude and acted like I was wasting her time. I saw a doctor who could barely speak English and didn't seem to understand a word I said. He looked at the blood on the pad (which once again was OLD and had turned brownish) and told me it was wee. We gave up and went home. The 'contractions' by this point were still regular and getting more and more painful. I couldn't sleep that night they were so bad. The pain was all in my lower back and would then spread down my thighs.
On Monday, July 2, we rang the hospital again as the pain was so bad I couldn't talk or breathe through it. They said to come back in, so off we went. Hooked up to that damn monitor again...lying down while it was attached to me was excruciating and I got really light headed. I hadn't been lying on my back my entire pregnancy. Still nothing was happening, no dilation. They said I could either go back home or be given some pain relief and a sleeping tablet and maybe by morning things would have progressed. I chose to stay as I was in so much pain and sick of all the to-ing and fro-ing. I chose the lightest form of pain relief which was Panadeine Forte as I've never taken anything stronger than Panadol. They wanted to give me morpheine straight up but I didn't want it, I was reluctant enough to have the Panadeine and the sleeping tablet as I'd heard they can affect the baby too and slow labour down. My Mum was really unhappy about it but she didn't want to see me in pain anymore. She and DH took shifts looking after me the whole night - one would help me through each contraction while the other would sleep on the couch. My sister came for a while and she helped out too. The most comfortable position for me to be in was kneeling with my arms over the back of the bed. The contractions would come every 5-15 mins, still starting in my lower back and spreading down my upper thighs - it was burning like crazy. The sleeping tablets made me sooooooooo woozy but I couldn't get any sleep. The Panadeine only mildly dulled the pain. It was horrible. I needed help just to go to the toilet.
During the night the midwives would come and go, I felt like it was a new one every time. First thing in the morning a doctor came in to see me, a young guy who sounded like he was reading from a script - totally insincere. He checked me out and after everything I'd been through that night, I was only barely 1cm dilated. I got a big speech given to me about how I'm not considered to be in labour until I'm 3cm, and they won't intervene or induce before then as it increases the risk of a forceps / ventouse delivery or a caesarean delivery. I was just unfortunately having a long 'latent' phase, or 'pre-labour'. I was best to go home until my waters broke or 'something happened'. It was devastating after such a long night. The midwife on duty came and checked me out and she was actually helpful - she felt for DD's head and said she was facing up instead of down, which is why I was having such bad back pain. She still needed to turn a bit before my labour would begin. No one else had told me that. Everyone who checked me had said different things about DD's position. So, we packed up and I went back to my Mum's while DH went home to get some sleep. He was like a zombie. This was Tuesday July 3. I spent the entire day the exact same way I did at the hospital. On my hands and knees or kneeling on the couch, trying my best to get through each excruciating contraction with either my Mum or my brother holding a heat pack against me and rubbing my lower back to try and ease the pain. DH came and picked me up that afternoon and all night it was the same. Neither of us slept. I was trying to breathe through each one and remain calm but I would be screaming and crying at times too. Everyone kept telling me how amazingly I was doing but I didn't feel like it. Mum came up first thing on Wednesday July 4 and took me back to her place again while DH got some more rest. That day things started to change a bit. The contractions started to change - they became more regular. Instead of going from 5 mins apart to 15 mins apart and back again, they were spot on five minutes. I started to feel it a little more in the front, and when Mum felt my tummy during each one she could actually feel it tightening. Instead of just straight up excruciating pain, it started to come on a bit slower, then build and peak and die down. I could actually move around quite freely between them. Mum rang the hospital and off we went once again. When I got there, the same thing happened - monitored for half an hour and checked to see how dilated I was...still only 1cm. Once again I stayed overnight and once again Mum and DH took turns in looking after me - this was the 3rd night none of us had had any sleep, and basically my 6th day of these contractions. They gave me morpheine this time but it did nothing. In the morning the same doctor I'd seen before came back in to check my progress. He examined me and then sat down as if he had bad news. He said that I was now only 2cm, which meant that I was still not in labour. DH and I both just burst into tears. We were so exhausted and I'd been in so much pain for so long. It was killing him just having to sit there and watch. The doctor left us alone while we decided whether to stay or go back home. I didn't know what to do. I decided to just go home as they obviously weren't going to do anything for me there. Mum had gone home a while earlier and at that point was on her way back in. DH rang her and as soon as he told her we were going home again she just broke down and started screaming saying I can't go home, they have to help me, they have to do something. But they weren't going to, so what was the point. She arrived soon after and we went back to my place, and at that point I just gave up. I didn't even try to make it through the contractions anymore, I just screamed and howled through each one. It was only maybe an hour later Mum decided enough was enough and she rang the hospital again and blasted them over what I was going through and what they'd put me through over the last week. So once again, back to the hospital we went. I just cried and cried in the car on the way there, in the car park, in the wheelchair, in the lift, I didn't care who saw me. People were stopping and asking if we needed help.
This was Thursday morning, July 5. When I got back to the hospital, things actually started happening. They said they would actually admit me as a patient, put me in my own room and get me some pain relief. Luckily it was a nice midwife on duty and she suggested I have a bath. The water would help soothe the contractions and maybe push things along. She ran it for me and instructed me on the best way to sit etc, and told DH how he could best help me. She was really attentive and actually stayed with us, as opposed to every other time when random people would just pop their head in every few hours. The bath really helped. I was much more relaxed, and while I was in there my waters broke. Not in a huge gush, but I felt something pop and a bit leak out. We were so relieved, as that truly meant something was happening. After the bath started to go cold I got out and went to my room in the labour ward (previously I'd just been kept in the observation room). It was nice to be in my own space and know that this was where I'd be staying, where I'd be having the baby. The next bit is a little bit blurry in my memory. I must have reached 3cm dilated, because they offered to induce me finally. I was scared because of the pain - I knew inducing meant the contractions would be harder and stronger, and I just didn't think I could handle any more pain. They said I could have an epidural and that scared me too...the thought of the big needle and being numb and just having to lie there for so long. But I knew things couldn't keep going on like this, so sure enough I agreed to it. It was so scary. Mum and DH just kept saying how proud they were of me and how they couldn't believe how well I was doing. I didn't feel like I was doing well, I felt a bit hopeless. I made sure they didn't hook the drip up to me until I'd had the epidural - I wanted to be numb before they started inducing me. I also had to have a catheter inserted, which scared me too but I didn't feel it. I felt the epidural take affect pretty much straight away and finally I had some relief. My contractions were coming hard and fast according to the machine but I couldn't feel them. Everyone encouraged me to get some sleep and I tried but I wasn't very successful.
Continued in Part 2...