39 weeks – My nesting urge set in!
Like a maniac I was cleaning the house all day. Dusting, vacuuming, mopping; you name it, I did it. I paid special attention to the lounge area because that’s where we wanted to put up the pool. I even cleaned the whole couch with bicarb soda and vinegar. I remember that during the day I already thought that I don’t feel Sasha moving much but was too busy to sit down and pay more attention.
When Jordie came home after work I finally relaxed a bit and realised once more that I haven’t felt Sasha at all. Usually I’m not one to rush to the hospital too quickly but something made me go in basically straight away.
Again I was strapped to a CTG for a planned 25 minutes which turned into more than 3 hours. And it was completely superfluous (that’s what I felt like in that moment at least). Already on the way to the hospital I felt her move again, probably just due to the fact that I was listening to my body again and not running around like crazy. The CTG confirmed that everything was fine. Nevertheless the doctor on duty offered an induction because I came in twice within less than a week (if you don’t remember my last hospital visit, you can read up on it here). Of course I declined – why would I want an induction if everything is normal? We went home happily, feeling confirmed again that we can stick to our homebirth plan.
39+1 weeks – The call that changed everything
Like every Tuesday, I met all my vegan mum friends down the strand for our weekly vegan picnic. I even rode Mary’s bike down that she had left at our place. I felt so strong and powerful and like nothing could ever get me down. This should be changing quickly though. Already on my ride down I heard my phone ring but because it was a private number I couldn’t be bothered to answer it. A bit later I got a text from my midwife: I should call her back-up midwife because a specialist doctor reviewed last week’s ultrasound and wants to discuss it. When I called her, she didn’t have that much more information, only that I should call the hospital because they went over the old ultrasound again because we went in the night before and realised they missed something and now want an immediate induction.
I started to feel a bit anxious but at the same time was certain that it couldn’t be a big thing – otherwise they would have noticed it before. I was sure I wouldn’t consent to an induction. I called Jordie and made him talk to the doctor – I didn’t want to talk to anyone. He called me back with basically the same information again and said we should go in to talk to them in detail. He was happy that he got to leave work early, picked me up and we headed into the hospital.
We went up to the birth suite and waited for a doctor. It seemed to take ages before someone finally came and shed some light:
The night before, when we were about to get discharged, all the doctors were very busy and therefore just quickly looked over the old ultrasound and trusted the sonographer’s final statement that everything was fine. After we had left and it had quieted down, they went over the scan again and found something concerning: There are three main arteries that supply baby’s vital organs brain, heart and lungs. The one leading towards the brain was dilated though which indicated that her body went into survival mode. Apparently the placenta didn’t function properly anymore and couldn’t support all organs, therefore it was concentrating on the most important organ of all of them, the brain, which in turn means the rest of the body wouldn’t be adequately supplied anymore. The doctors reckoned that she would be safer outside of the womb because the whole system could collapse anytime and she couldn’t grow anymore anyway and would only get weaker and more prone to the stress during birth.
I didn’t want to believe it and still couldn’t believe that they would have overlooked something that was so concerning that an induction was necessary.
To make sure that all the information was correct and the artery really was dilated, we agreed to have another ultrasound. This alone made me feel bad because I didn’t even want to have another one of those. Fortunately this sonographer was very nice though. She was very gentle and reassuring and explained what she saw during the ultrasound. She mentioned how cute Sasha’s face looks and explained that the opening and closing of her mouth and her tongue sticking out is a very good sign because babies that are in distress don’t do this anymore because it takes too much energy. Everything she mentioned sounded good and she didn’t say anything about a dilated artery (although I didn’t ask her either because I was too scared to get a negative answer). Jordie just kept saying that he is sure everything is fine and the first scan just showed something that wasn’t actually there.
Unfortunately it wasn’t false alarm. The doctor we talked to after the scan said it looks just as bad if not worse than the first one. My midwife was busy with another birth so we called her back-up midwife and asked for her opinion. I was still hoping that she looked at it from a more natural approach and might say that we could still wait and see but she said that under the circumstances and with the information we have she would recommend an induction too.
I was devastated. I had been crying for hours on end and had a massive headache. I did not feel ready for an induction. I knew now it would be the right choice but I couldn’t see myself giving birth in the state I was in. I needed to sleep and calm down first. Jordie and I agreed on going home, getting a good night’s sleep and then going ahead with the induction the next day.
As you can imagine I couldn’t really relax or sleep much but I was very happy to be back at home and prepare mentally for the upcoming induction and to finally meet my baby.
39+2 weeks – Getting induced
We didn’t have an appointment to go back to the hospital until 2 pm so Jordie and I tried to have a “normal” morning – we went for brekkie in my favourite superfoods bar and I had a detox smoothie bowl. Afterwards we stopped by in a shop to get some LED tea lights to decorate the horrible looking hospital room at least a little bit. I had also packed a few nice sarongs and a pillow to make it a bit more homely.
When we arrived at the hospital, at least my midwife was available so we had some moral support and someone who we knew and trusted. They put me on the CTG, took my temperature and blood pressure (I don’t know how often they took my temperature; probably more often in those few days than during the rest of my life combined) and then talked us through the whole process again: The first step would be to check if I have already dilated at all. If this is the case, they would break my waters and hope that from there everything proceeds naturally. Of course the odds weren’t favourable and I had an unfavourable cervix – the most stupid expression for a cervix that isn’t dilated. The new plan was to insert a balloon into my vagina – a little device that gets pushed up behind the cervix, then filled with water behind and in front of the cervix (so it actually looks like two balloons on top of each other) and applies pressure so the cervix would thin and open.Then they could break the waters and hope that contractions would start.
The bad thing about an induction is that you never know how much “help” your body needs so by agreeing to an induction you basically agree to the whole chain of events all the way up to a c-section. I had no choice but to say yes to the balloon and everything that would follow. The only thing that I liked about the whole induction process was the fact that I would have my baby on 27/7, the date that I was thinking about for months. It seemed that I knew all along that this would be the day, although I had imagined the whole experience to be very different.
We went home again, packed the last few things we had forgotten, cooked up all the veggies that were still in the fridge because I knew I wouldn’t be cooking again for a while and, although I didn’t feel like it, tried the best natural stimulant to get the contractions going if you know what I mean 😉
Back at the hospital, Jordie and I got put in a room in the birth suite and waited for a doctor to put the balloon in. They wanted to put it in at 6 pm but by 7 pm there was still no doctor in sight. We were told that they were very busy with emergency cesareans again. Not the most reassuring thing when you are waiting to be induced. We tried to distract ourselves from the whole hospital atmosphere by playing yahtzee. We played about three whole matches and I won all of them!
At 9 pm a doctor finally came to put the balloon in. I was told that it could be a bit of an uncomfortable feeling but it was really ok. Jordie was joking, saying this is a balloon for Sasha’s birthday party.They send us down to the maternity ward where I would spend the night and Jordie went home because he wasn’t allowed to stay there. The night was uneventful – I woke up a couple of times due to light cramping, something they told me would happen. They offered me painkillers and sleeping pills but I didn’t take anything. If I couldn’t handle a bit of cramping, how was I supposed to give birth without pain relief? Someone also came in during the night to take my temperature and blood pressure and listen to Sasha’s heartbeat with a doppler. Everything was fine (as always). Jordie came back in the morning and at 9 am, 12 hours after putting it in, we went back upstairs to take the balloon out and check how much I had dilated.
39 + 3 weeks – the date I had envisaged for months
It was disappointing: not much had changed and although my cervix had opened a little bit more, they still couldn’t break my waters because Sasha’s head was still not engaged in the pelvis; she was still sitting too high. If they had broken my waters then, there had been the risk of an umbilical cord prolapse: the cord could have come out of the womb first and then could have been squashed by Sasha’s head, meaning the flow of blood and oxygen would have been cut off.
I had a pretty bad headache and asked the midwife to take me off the CTG so I could go outside for a bit and get some fresh air. Apparently there is not a single window in the whole hospital building that you can open so I had to go outside. The midwife said she couldn’t decide that and I would have to talk to a doctor. Of course the doctor said she couldn’t let me go although I didn’t have the slightest contractions or anything. After another hour of pain I said I don’t care what they recommend. I wanted to leave the stuffy room and see something different for a change. After long discussions I was “granted” 20 minutes. Of course I couldn’t really enjoy them because I constantly checked the time. Funnily enough, when we went back upstairs no one cared about the CTG anymore. There were lots of emergency cesareans again so we had to wait again. Finally a doctor came and the next step in the process would take place: I had the choice between a disk or a pessary. Both options do basically the same: ripen the cervix. The disk is covered in cervidil, a cream that contains prostaglandins to thin and widen the cervix. The other alternative that we decided for was the pessary with cervidil. The only difference is that the pessary can be taken out again quickly in case contractions would come on too quickly. The doctor thought this would be a better idea because she was worried that the disk would be too strong and would stress Sasha out too much.
They put the pessary in and we would wait again. I started to get light contractions and we played some more Yahtzee. Jordie was sitting on a chair, there was a table between us and I was standing opposite him, rolling my pelvis while rolling the dice.
It got later and later and now the one thing that had still gone according to plan until then, the fact that Sasha would get born on the 27th, also was not happening anymore. Around 6 pm I told Jordie he should go home and sleep because at least he should be rested for the big day! I was supposed to go down to the maternity ward again and spend the night there but the midwife on duty said she wants to keep me in the birth suite.
I slept for about 2 hours but woke up around 8 pm because I needed to pee. Suddenly my contractions were picking up and my waters broke naturally! The midwife said I should call Jordie again to tell him to come back in. I was so excited! It was finally happening! We were having a baby!