Grayson’s Birth Story: A (Mostly) Positive Induction Experience

Grayson is four months old now, and I’ve been reminiscing about his birth with surprisingly fond memories. It’s about time I wrote them down so I don’t forget them, but I thought you might enjoy reading about our (mostly) positive induction experience.

Let’s start from our 36 week scan. All had been well beforehand and we had even been discussing the possibility of a home birth, because Phoebe’s birth had been quite speedy and we’re a fair drive away from the hospital. Additionally, it would mean we wouldn’t have to worry too much about getting Phoebe somewhere right away. However, when we got to the scan we were told that baby was in the 97th centile so is classed as a big baby, which meant we would need to go and see a consultant about the birth plan.

I also had to take home a Gestational Diabetes testing kit and test my blood sugar four times a day for five days. I had already done the glucose test around 24 weeks because my sister had gestational diabetes and they like to check, but that came back with no problems, but because the baby was big they wanted me to test again.

Over the next five days, I had three spikes in blood sugar. I’m 99% sure these were human error. On one occasion I tested too soon, another I had eaten a banana between meals. But because I had recorded three spikes, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. This meant no home birth and meant we would need to stay in hospital for 24 hours after the baby was born. I also had to test my blood sugar four times a day for the remainder of the pregnancy. I don’t think I actually had gestational diabetes though because I didn’t change my diet and none of the recordings for the final few weeks came back high, but never mind! Best to be cautious.

We went to see the consultant the following week, but it wasn’t the most reassuring of experiences. The consultant actually said he didn’t know why we were there, and when I told him it was due to the big baby, he gave us a textbook plan rather than considering the fact that Phoebe was big too (8lbs 9) but I had a natural delivery with no stitches. He told us we’d need an induction at around 38 weeks, and sent us on our way.

I spoke to my midwife and considered whether this is what we wanted, and to begin with I thought we would say no. However, the more I thought about it the more I realised it could work in our favour, which I know sounds terrible because I was thinking of practical reasons rather than medical ones, but it would mean we would have the baby before Christmas and we would know when Phoebe needed childcare. The medical reasons stated were shoulder dystocia but my research into this (including on the NHS website) suggested there was a low chance of this happening.

Monday 11 December

We were booked in for the induction on Monday 11 December, and I made the decision about whether or not to go ahead with it on the morning itself – we were going ahead. We arrived pretty early, about 9am, and there was only one other person on the ward so I chose a good corner spot near the loo and made myself at home.

Parking was terrible so the doctor came by to talk through the procedure and options before Ryan even came in, and I’m glad she did because Ryan would have been terrified. Thank goodness I’d read up about inductions and shoulder dystocia beforehand because it was like she was reading the T&Cs and listed all of the worst case scenarios. Once she was gone I spoke to the midwife about it a bit more and she was a lot more reassuring, so we were good to go.

I was booked in to start the procedure with Dilapan-S Rods, which are inserted into the cervix and expand over the space of 12 hours. They’re a bit like a mini tampon, and you can have up to five inserted. If you’ve had a baby before your cervix is likely to be slightly open which mine was, so they managed to insert all five. It was a bit invasive, with legs up in stirrups, but it didn’t hurt. This happened quite late in the afternoon, I think around 4pm, before which I’d had blood taken and some monitoring but otherwise just sat and chilled. A student took my blood and she was so nervous, but it was lovely and I wanted to give her a hug afterwards! It must take so much courage to do those sorts of things for the first time.

Despite the long wait, Ryan and I had quite a nice day. We read books and chatted and ate lunch in peace. We played Mario Kart and a few puzzles – Ryan managed to master Sudoku and got a bit addicted. I also found it so interesting to hear what was going on in other bays. The curtains were drawn by this point and the ward was filling up, but you really could hear every word. There were people there for various reasons, some for inductions, some for monitoring after extreme sickness, some for early waters breaking.

Visitors were kicked out at 8pm then they turned off the lights around 10. I didn’t get much sleep that first night because one person on a drip kept knocking it and the alarm would go off for ages at a time. Plus, they come round and monitor everyone quite regularly which is pretty noisy even if it’s not you being monitored. You hear the heartbeats of each baby through the night.

Tuesday 12th December

My 12 hours were up at 4am so a midwife came to remove the rods. She just pulled them out like tampons right there on the bed, using the torch on her phone as a light! Ha. Unfortunately, nothing much had happened so it was onto the next step of the induction – a pessary. This one stays in for 24 hours, and was inserted right there in the ward pretty easily at around 6am. This one is like a tampon too and has a string that hangs down.

So then it was onto the long wait to see whether that does anything. Again, it was a day of chilling, reading, playing games. We joked that it was a bit like a child free holiday – it was the longest we’d spent alone together in years! I was getting some twinges, and they were showing on the monitor, but they were manageable. Laying down for monitoring did make them feel a lot more uncomfortable so I really didn’t enjoy that part, but they were manageable with paracetamol which I asked for every time I was offered.

A lady came in for an induction that morning in the next bay and was so anxious about it. I thought we might make friends as I expected we might both be there for a while. I’d already been 24 hours so I thought she’d be the same, but nope, she was moved to delivery the very same evening! Lucky her!

That night I slept better because the drip lady had been discharged and the pessary wasn’t due to be removed until 6am. But still, don’t expect a good night in a ward. At one point I was in a deep sleep and the midwife scared the crap out of me when she woke me for monitoring! I nearly fell out of the bed.

Chins, stretch marks, bags under the eyes. It wasn’t glamorous, especially with the shower out of action! I was stinky.

Wednesday 13th December

At 6am, another midwife came to remove the pessary. This time when she was checking my cervix I found it incredibly uncomfortable, and that’s because it was still far back and only 1cm dilated, basically the same as it had been when I arrived on Monday.

Now it was onto the next step, gel. This can be done twice, and works over six hours each time. Predictably by this point, the first gel did absolutely nothing so at around 1pm I had a second dose of the gel. This time I started to feel some more contractions and they were more regular, and finally I lost my mucus plug. I felt like things were progressing and I was actually excited for them to check my cervix, thinking it would be a few more cms. I spent lots of time on the ball as that’s how I felt most comfortable, and we managed to set up the monitor sitting on the ball too as I’d started to hate laying down to be monitored.

By the end of the stay I knew the menu off by heart. I had toast for breakfast, jacket potato for lunch and pasta for dinner most days. Normally with a yoghurt!

At 6pm when she came to check and it was still painful and far back, I was quite disheartened. It hadn’t been a bad experience at all, but it was long and I didn’t really know what was next. They needed to be able to break my waters for things to progress, but with my cervix still so far back and barely open, that seemed really unlikely. My contractions were definitely getting there though, although still totally manageable with the paracetamol and breathing.

The problem now was that Ryan was about to get kicked out and I felt like things would definitely happen that evening. It’s quite a long drive and I was terrified he’d miss the birth. I think the midwives felt the same way so they decided to move us onto delivery anyway, to attempt to break the waters there. We were walked over and had a lovely room and a lovely midwife, so I felt quite positive. The midwife was wearing elf tights and was no nonsense, which I loved. I needed that firm voice to help me believe in myself and I trusted that she would tell us the total truth about anything going on.

There she talked us through next steps which would be to try breaking the waters, but she did say that it was looking like we might be heading towards a c-section. She put me on a monitor for a while to check that baby was doing ok, and she inserted a cannular which was honestly the worst part of the entire experience for me. I hadn’t had one before and I watched her do it and was totally traumatised by it, although I don’t really know why.

Thursday 14th December

When she was happy that baby was fine, she tried to break the waters. It was past midnight by now and we were all pretty exhausted. This part was the only moment I considered that I had made a mistake choosing the induction. I had gas and air which worked wonders so it wasn’t painful, but she really had to reach in there and she couldn’t break them. At this point the baby’s heart rate dropped completely and Ryan had to press the buzzer to get two more midwives in to find the heartrate again. It was a scary minute, but I was honestly quite high on the gas and air so didn’t feel scared. I could hear it in the midwife’s voice though that she was panicked about it, whilst another midwife was trying to reassure her. They made me turn on my side then try the other, and they sort of shook my belly trying to ‘wake’ him back up.

Afterwards she told me they try to get a baby’s heartrate back for up to six minutes before they would call it an emergency, and that it wouldn’t affect the baby long term. He just really didn’t enjoy what was going on, I guess.

It wasn’t a success, but she did definitely manage something. We had a small trickle of waters and my contractions suddenly got a lot stronger, manageable with gas and air. The midwife asked me to walk around to see if the waters would go, and whilst walking I couldn’t have the gas and air as I wasn’t on the monitor.

Annoyingly it didn’t work, and the midwife went on her lunch break. It was still early morning, around 1am. Another midwife came to replace her and at that point the doctor came to try breaking the waters for a second time. She said if she couldn’t do it then they would leave us for a while longer.

She discovered that I was 4cm and she managed to break the waters easily at this point, and oh my goodness the relief! It was SO MUCH water I couldn’t believe it. I think it must have released some hormones immediately because my eyes just started streaming with some kind of huge wave of emotion. This is when things went from 0-100. From that moment the contractions were very intense, so I used that gas and air and it worked wonders. I could literally feel the baby moving down with every contraction and I was already pushing, there was no stopping me.

The midwife kept having to move the monitor down to keep up with where the baby was moving to. The original midwife came back from her lunch break to a very different scene to the one she left! I was pushing and the baby was definitely about to arrive. This part I found really intense, and I was saying “I need this baby out!” the midwives were super encouraging telling me when to push and when to stop. Whenever I panicked they’d remind me to channel that panic into a push and I really listened to them and it worked.

What I didn’t realise was that the baby’s heartrate had been dipping during contractions, so they’d called in an army of people and were talking about an instrumental delivery. I had my eyes closed for most of the labour and just concentrated on my body, so it was quite a surprise to open them and see so many people in the room.

As I realised that I managed to find some inner strength and I pushed with everything I had – his head was out and the cord was wrapped around it, but the midwife was able to remove it easily. It’s probably what was causing the dip in heartrate. This felt like the longest moment, the break in contractions here before I pushed his body out. It probably wasn’t long at all but it was bizarre! All those people in the room waiting for me to push him out, legs up in stirrups, eyes streaming, eery silence apart from the monitor. I think there were at least three midwives, two doctors and two paediatricians all staring at my bits haha.

With the next push he was out – they showed us him quickly and Ryan told me the baby was a boy, then they cut the cord and immediately took him to the paediatricians for checking. He cried within seconds though and was totally fine, so everyone that had rushed in rushed back out again and we were left with the midwives. The midwife had to go and get changed because apparently the cord was super springy and when they rushed to pull it away from Grayson’s neck blood and other fluids went everywhere (grim, sorry). When they were cleaning up they were wiping over the cupboards and everything! She said it was the first and probably last time she was going to be wearing those elf tights as they were now covered in blood, oops!

Exhausted but happy!

All of that, from the waters breaking to him being born, was 49 minutes. He was born at around 2am on 14th December. There were a few moments throughout that they pricked my finger to test my blood sugars again, but I don’t really remember when or why, it was a blur and that was the least of my worries. I had the injection to deliver the (huge) placenta, and I held him for skin-to-skin to give him his first feed. Ryan left to get the baby bag because we hadn’t even brought that in yet! I also had an oxytocin drip through that horrid cannula at this point, I think to retract the uterus to prevent too much bleeding if I’m remembering that correctly.

They weighed him, and at 39 weeks + 2 days he was 8lbs 11, which I really didn’t think was that big considering everything. I had stiches for some grazes as a precaution but otherwise everything was fine.

We were allowed to stay in the room until about 5am, during which time I had a really cold, rubbish shower (the first one all week as they had no hot water) and got changed. Then they wheeled me over the a very quiet ward (everyone was attempting to sleep, but all of the bays were full so about 8 babies in total) and Ryan had to leave. He just sat in the car until visiting time at 8am.

Grayson fed for ages when he was first born, but then he slept the whole time until Ryan arrived. I tried to sleep but kept having flashbacks about the cannular and people putting their hands in me! So I didn’t really sleep.

Ryan arrived with coffee at 8 and we called our family and friends to tell them the news. Throughout the day, I had my blood checked and I think Grayson did too (this part’s still a blur) for the diabetes. Most of the people on the ward were recovering from caesareans. Ryan went home to attempt to get a bit of sleep and then pick up Phoebe, so I spent most of the day alone with Grayson, sleeping and feeding and tbh being nosey listening to all the other people on the ward!

Friday 15 December

Because he was born at 2am, I had to stay until 2am Friday and so that meant another night on the ward. We were discharged about 9am but Ryan had to do the school run so was a bit late, so we left at around 11am. It was a long time in hospital, and I reallllly couldn’t wait to have a shower! That first shower was truly blissful.

Overall, I’m glad we had the induction. It was what the consultant had advised and I’d have worried a lot about going against that. Despite the length of our stay and the invasive checks, it was mostly calm and painless until the very end. It meant a nice birthday for Grayson, no uncertainty around childcare for Phoebe and no accidental home birth. I’d have liked a home birth or a water birth (or both) but with the diabetes that was out anyway.

If you are expecting to have an induction, I hope this helped ease your mind and answer some of your questions. Feel free to reach out if you want to chat about anything, I’d be more than happy to help.

What a different experience this was to my first birth with Phoebe. We were in and out of hospital within 16 hours with her! You can read Phoebe’s birth story here.

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