Juliet, 33, from Surrey, was two weeks overdue when she went into hospital to be induced - yet needed to be persuaded that her indigestion pains were, in fact, contractions...
Why did you have to be induced?
Freya was due on the 1st but decided she was comfy and wasn't coming out so on the 15th I booked into hospital to be induced. I went in at 8 o'clock in the morning and they gave me a hormone pessary to get things moving.
They said it was unlikely that anything would happen in the first 24 hours so I asked if I could walk around as the thought of staying in a bed didn't excite me. They told me to stay in the grounds of the hospital but I popped to Tesco's and bought a punnet of strawberries and a couple of magazines. It was June and it was a lovely, hot day. Paul had gone to work as there was no point him hanging around if nothing was happening.
When did your labour actually start?
Suddenly I got this mad indigestion, or so I thought. I left it as long as I could, as I thought it was Braxton Hicks. I had done a lot of exercise through my pregnancy and it meant that my uterus was contracted a lot and it felt like that. However, it started to get progressively worse. I was way overdue and had been induced but for some reason it didn't occur to me I was having actual contractions especially as I'd been told that it was unlikely for anything to happen for 24 hours.
Paul came back in the evening to say goodnight. I told him about the pains and they were worse than they had been in the last few weeks. We measured them and the contractions lasted for three minutes with next to no respite in between at all. They were constant. Paul left and I got ready for bed. I was getting in more and more pain but I didn't want to bother anyone with it.
Why didn't you want to bother anyone?
I was so matter of fact about the whole thing and had no expectations - the birth didn't worry me. I started counting the length of the contractions when they started and I was counting to 201-202. They would only get slightly less and they'd start again.
I felt like I was keeping everyone awake as I'd started mooing. I'd watched programmes of pregnant ladies mooing and thought it was quite ridiculous yet I'd started doing it! I tried to muffle my voice in the pillow as not to cause a fuss but eventually I waddled out to the station as sleep was impossible but I didn't want to be any trouble.
What did the midwife do?
The midwife was so lovely. She gave me some Temazepam and a hot malty drink - I was really struck by how kind she was. I tried to last an hour but 20 minutes was my limit. We went into another room and the midwife examined me and I'd only gone half a centimetre. She told me that I was in labour - I really needed it spelt out to me.
My body was just getting into the depths of the most painful experience and gone were my earlier hours of counting. I do regard myself as someone who can handle pain – being an ex-rugby player and kick-boxer - so I thought I could get into a good place to handle the pain.
The midwife assured me that induced labour was not like normal labour – it comes on quickly, heavily and it's not natural so your body can't cope with it as well. I thought I was hard as nails yet labour had turned me into a quivering wreck. The pain just wasn't relative to be half a centimetre dilated.
Did they call your partner, Paul?
They didn't have the right number for Paul - it was the hardest thing in the world to get his number off my phone. He came along and there was some conversation about an epidural. I'm not sure if Pethadin had happened as I was in a permanent state of agony.
A guy came in to give me an epidural and the midwife was trying to bend me round so he could get the needle in and he had to try twice. I kept apologising as I couldn't keep still. I had it and then there was no more pain. I was just lying there. The only way I knew anything was happening was that I had a little monitor on the side that showed whenever I was having a contraction.
When did you decide to have a caesarean?
The doctor came in and said that I wasn't even 4cms and it had been over 28 hours. The contractions were only happening artificially - it wasn't progressing at all. All the midwives said how comfortable and happy the baby was but we decided to have a caesarean as we didn't want to get to an emergency state. We rationalised that enough was enough.
If this is going to reassure anyone, going into the theatre was the most blasé experience ever. The radio was on, the anaesthetist was talking to me, and I was chatting away. My little girl came out and bellowed straight away. They brought her round to the front and Paul and I just stared at her. We both thought we would have a boy! She was 8 pounds 4 ounces. She had so much dark hair. It was amazing. We didn't cry - we just all stared at each other.
What happened next?
I was taken to the next ward. The midwives offered me toast which I thought was the kindest thing ever. I felt like I couldn't go to sleep at all. She was in a little box at the side of the bed and I thought if I took my eyes off her she would stop breathing.
It was an interesting three days in hospital. Nearly all the midwives came in on their next shift to see how I was. It was really touching, I felt really cared for. I don't let that happen so much in my usual life. I'm usually in control and don't need anyone to look after me, but I found it a lovely experience to be in their hands and so well cared for.
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