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Our Names: Deborah Caroline Fisher & Brendan John Fisher
Baby: Morwenna Bethany Fisher
Birth: 7lb 1.5oz (3.22kg), born at 14:39
D.O.B. 1st June 2001
Place: Leicester Royal Infirmary, Leicester

Since this was my first baby I did not expect the birth to be easy, or on time. So at ten days past my due date I had a Membrane Sweep and I was told that I was 2cm dilated. That thrilled me but still I did not expect the procedure to be a success because it was so simple (I could probably have done it myself)! By the twelfth day past my due date and my experimenting with every trick in the book for bringing labour on I could not sleep for contractions. They were really only like period pains but at ten minutes apart I just could not sleep. These sorts of pains went on for eleven hours so after lots of 'am I, aren't I?' deliberations I accepted that it must be early labour but they were only ever like my (bad) period pains. I called the evening shift midwife after twelve hours of pains to let her know that she would not be getting any sleep that night. She decided to come round to our house to examine me. I was very upset to find that after twelve hours (albeit, mild) I was still only 2-3cm. Contractions were starting to steady me up though so it is from there that they counted my labour as having officially begun.

I lasted another six hours at home before we arranged to meet the midwife at the hospital. I had had two baths at home to deal with the pain and they had been great, helped by Brendan feeding me strawberries and ice-cream I am sure! The midwife had recommended the baths with Brendan poring water on my bump during each contraction. When we arrived at the hospital I was booked into a lovely Home From Home room while I waited for the birthing pool to become free. Entonox made a huge difference at that stage although it took me a while to overcome the initial sickly feelings and intensely dry throat that it caused. I drank a lot of water to counteract it. At 4am (almost three hours after arriving at the hospital) I got into the pool, which was heaven. I could only have Entonox in the birthing pool though and by about 6am I knew it would probably not be enough. I had to get out of the pool for an examination and was horrified when I was told that I was only 3cm dilated. Both of the midwives who had examined me had struggled to decide on the position of the baby - her back was lying down my right side. They explained that contractions start from the top of your uterus but in my case they were not pushing on anything because Morwenna was down my side. My cervix just wasn't dilating because she was not putting pressure on it. They broke my waters to try and help, which did make contractions a little more severe.

At 7am the next midwife came on duty and she re-examined me. I was still only 3-4cm and in absolute agony. Brendan now tells me that I was green and looked very ill! I felt like I was having out of body experiences - everything being said was incoherent and I was very much on another planet. It was not so much the pain as how long it had been going on. We had had dinner at 6pm the night before and that lack of recent food combined with no sleep was really wearing me out. I begged for an epidural having wanted nothing more than the pool and Entonox.

By 9am I had the epidural in place and to my amazement there was absolutely no pain having it put in and yet that had caused my fear of them. The worst bit was having the drip put in as my arm bled a lot. I also had to be monitored with straps around my middle because of the possible effects of the epidural on a foetus. By that point I did not care because I was feeling nothing whereas in planning a reasonably active labour I know I could not afford to be 'strapped down'.

Things were good for a while but by midday I was still only 5-6cm which was hard to deal with. My notes are littered with 'slow progress' comments, which has all been blamed on Morwenna's lie. At this point they saw meconium in my waters and everyone got nervous. They then assume that the baby has inhaled it so a paediatrician has to be present at delivery to resuscitate the baby and suck out any other fluids around the nose and ears. My contractions started to get weaker and Morwenna's heart baserate increased. Oxytocin was added to my drip which was meant to effectively induce me - another 'no no' in my birth plan! Amazingly this actually slowed things down!!! My contractions were much weaker and further apart. Morwenna began to decline, not recovering properly from the few contractions I was having so numerous members of staff of all levels were called in for their opinion. The two obstetricians wanted to take some of her blood to check on her oxygen levels. They could only do that by holding my (dead) leg in the air, prizing me open with a speculum and cutting her scalp to take a sample. I was mortified. They did that at 1.05pm and I could have cried for her. I was still only 6cm. Twenty minutes later the senior obstetrician was explaining that he would take another blood sample from her in ten minutes. From the graphs that the monitor was producing he thought she was deteriorating even more and expected her oxygen levels to have been reduced. If that was shown to be the case after another blood sample was taken then he wanted to do a caesarean section. I had not minded the thought of that in the last couple of weeks when desperate for the pregnancy to be over and to meet our baby, but faced with that prospect and just half an hour to deal with it I began to cry… for her. Ten minutes later my leg was in the air again when it was announced that I was 10cm!!! Nobody could believe it. I told the senior obstetrician to eat his words since he had just called my induced contractions pathetic after looking at the graph! This meant that they could get the head through my cervix but there was not time to do it naturally because of her state. They brought the stirrups and forceps in and I started to whinge about the necessary episiotomy. My birth plan had requested I be left to tear rather than be cut!

At 2.39pm she was born after two contractions, but my god, he looked like he was dragging in a trawler net! Brendan felt bad with the way they were pulling at her so he had to edge a little closer to my head end! When her head was out they found another problem - the cord was round her neck. They tried to lift it over her head but to no avail. It was clamped and cut there and then though we had hoped that Brendan would be able to cut it. She emerged with another half a contraction and was whisked to the paediatrician for resuscitation after we had been shown 'what' she was! They spent a couple of minutes 'bringing her back' which had me in tears, not least because it seemed like an eternity. I was stitched up (but new nothing of it) and she was given to us. I fed her about half and hour later and she got the hang of it instantly. Something was finally going right!

I had to stay in hospital for 24 hours because of the meconium that she had inhaled. They were checking her temperature, heart rate and breathing every four hours but she was fine from the beginning. We both slept really well, although I did not get enough for worrying about her! She went eleven hours without a feed which terrified me but I was rightly told that she had probably been through more than me and was at least as exhausted as I was.

My labour was hell. Everything I did not want, I ended up with! I was not disappointed because in the end I felt none of the later contractions because the epidural was so fantastic. The episiotomy was only skin deep and 2-3 cm so that had not caused too much trouble either. The only complaint I had for a few days afterwards was tiredness and period-type pains, mostly due to the contractions caused by breast feeding. Through the labour I went twenty-four hours without food since nobody had told me that you cannot eat on an epidural. I was sick a few times when the Entonox got too much and with the Syntocinon that helps to deliver the placenta quickly. That did not help my stomach's state.

Morwenna is lovely but I felt so guilty about her bruising and cuts from the blood samples and forceps. She was very small although 7lb 1.5oz does not sound small. She has enormous fingers so will hopefully be following in her musician mother's footsteps! She really perked up after she had slept a bit and was feeding well and regularly.

I am surprised that I am not bitter about not having a waterbirth but at the same time I know I would never have coped with what I went through without the epidural. I do feel a little cheated by not feeling her delivery - it is slightly harder to accept that I gave birth to her but I adored her from the onset so it cannot be detrimental! I strongly advise people to keep an open mind about their birth plans, and I thoroughly recommend epidurals if you have had something to eat!

Daddy's Comments:

A very long and hard labour indeed. I didn't think it would ever end. And when the baby was finally delivered it brought a surprise of its own - a little girl; nobody expected that! We felt sure we had seen evidence to the contrary at a twenty-two week scan!

Life is turned upside-down in the first few weeks. Your body clock might as well be running backwards so you just have to grab sleep when you can. Morwenna acts as the committee that we have to go through before making any decisions. We might have an idea of what time we want to do something of go somewhere, but if she decides she is hungry just before then we have half-an-hour of feeding, half-an-hour of burping and a nappy change to negotiate before we stand a chance of leaving. EVERYTHING becomes baby-centred!


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