Still now, I look back on the events of nearly 3 weeks ago and think, "You fucking idiot, Syntocinon, with previous Caesarean scar tissue, what were you thinking?!"
But the truth is, I trusted the Doctors. I trusted that they wouldn't let it go too far. I trusted that they would give me really tiny amounts just to get things going.
Unfortunately I'm not sure the midwife looking after me that day got the memo....
I will prefix all of what I'm about to say with a real disclaimer that at the minute we have yet to have our debrief. We have yet to find out the real ins and outs of what really happened on the 17th December and the sequence of events is REALLY sketchy.
I don't know if they were being cautious. I don't know if the midwife knew I was a VBAC case. I don't know if she was giving me the drug at the rate usual for a 'normal' labour or a reduced amount given my scar tissue.
But what follows is what I can remember from that afternoon and evening. A lot of it is still a bit hazy if I'm honest.
I remember them having trouble getting a line in (I will talk about IV lines another time, as I had such a funny feeling about them before this, little did I know my veins really are a lot crapper than even I realised...) Eventually an anaesthetist managed to get one into my right hand, which I wasn't pleased about given that I do everything with my right hand... I remember going to the loo and being devastated at not being ambidextrous...!
Once the drip was in place obviously the monitors had to be in place. So I think I pretty much just lay there and took the contractions, breathing through them. We were listening to Air's 'Moon Safari' a lot and The Beatles, of course, which was helping to take my mind off things. This all seemed to work for a good few hours. The Doctors were checking on my progress every few hours and seemed pleased. The contractions were coming at a good rate and the baby seem to be coping with everything too. I still felt confident and relatively in control at this point.
Eventually breathing through the contractions wasn't working but I think that was after about 3-4 hours on the drip. The Doctors and Midwives were all really surprised that I had done so well as I hadn't had any pain relief at that point, not even any Entonox. They kept telling me I should really think about having an Epidrual before it all really got too much. I think it was about 5 minutes after a visit from the Doctors that I suddenly decided enough was enough and I needed some gas and air and the call to be put out for the Epidural! The gas and air was quite nice and was taking the edge off whilst we waited for the anaesthetist. I tried to be sparing with it and not like the women on One Born Every Minute who just chug on it constantly though I can see how that temptation would arise just to keep the pain permanently at bay!
The anaesthetist arrived surprisingly quickly. She was apparently a locum and therefore not used to procedure etc. at the hospital. Great... I was surprised how quickly everything was in place and I remember at that point chugging on the gas and air constantly as I remember them saying how imperative it was that I stay still during the procedure. Unfortunately I also remember the bloody midwife going into a meltdown because the monitor by this point was totally unable to find the baby as I was hunched over having it done. I remember that annoying me, I just wanted to anaesthetist to be able to do her job and do it properly but the midwife flapping was putting EVERYONE off!! I remember chatting such utter nonsense during the Epidural, I remember telling the anaesthetist that she was doing a really good job and I remember telling the midwife to stop worrying; that we'd sort the baby once I was comfortable again.
That was about the last time I remember actually being comfortable.
Once the epidural had been sited I remember them arguing about signing the procedure off and that the anaesthetist had signed in the wrong place or something which was off-putting. I remember still having to have the gas and air for a while but I also seem to remember the Epidural kicking in. The Epidural had been done shortly before handover time at 7:30pm and I remember being left in a really weird position and asking to be cleaned up and moved so I was more comfortable but the midwife just kept telling me she had to do her handover and that I'd have to wait. I think that was a massive mistake as I think being left in a weird position possible ruined the epidural line. At least, that's how I feel.
Once handover had taken place I was eventually helped to move and get comfortable again but unfortunately the epidural just wasn't enough. I felt like it was constantly wearing off. The anaesthetist had to keep coming back and giving me a strong dose of drugs because the usual top up wasn't working. She was annoyed that the midwife wasn't giving me the top up every 30 minutes despite her telling them a couple of times this had to be done every 30 minutes to avoid the risk of it wearing off and her then having to give the strong dose. She told me that the more of the strong stuff she had to give, it was increasing the likelihood of me needing to go under a general anaesthetic should I have to go to theatre for some reason. I think she tempted fate...!!
The doctors came back in at around 9ish and were pleased with my progress. They agreed to keep the Syntocinon going and increase it slightly. For the next 2 hours or so I don't really remember a lot. I think there was music. At some point I remember Andy massaging my feet (I remember being so grateful because I could do with a major pedicure but it felt SO good and was taking my mind off everything else).
By 11pm the Doctors returned and decided the drip needed to be turned down, my contractions were too strong and fast and they said I was nearly there and there was no reason to continue to keep it going at that rate. I think it was at that point they decided to put a clip onto the baby's head. I'm not sure whether she was a newly qualified Doctor and with hindsight I think she may have been the Doctor who ultimately delivered Woody, but she struggled and so my Consultant in the end attached the clip to his head.
Thank God they did because shortly after their visit, it all went a bit wrong...