38 Week Scan

I wasn’t eagerly awaiting the scan today, I didn’t really think it would show us anything wrong or anything new – it hasn’t thus far so why would it now? I was wanting to see whether my ‘mature’ placenta was indeed anything to worry about or not, but what I was really looking forward to was seeing my consultant and getting a date booked in for induction.

We were called into the scan early – shock horror! She showed us his head and femur and abdomen with his tiny little tummy, she then measured his fluid and at our request checked the placenta, which she assured us was normal for this stage in pregnancy. The little white marks, though a sign of an ageing placenta shouldn’t affect it’s effectiveness. She also checked the blood flow through the cord which seemed very good. She tried to get a decent picture for us, but his head was so well engaged and facing the wrong way that she unfortunately didn’t manage to get one that was worth having. After she went away and plotted the measurements on my graph she reassured me that they were well within limits. His estimated weight is around 6lb 7 (or 9) oz.

After this we went back out to the waiting room to wait for the consultant who took forever, it must have been about an hour of just waiting! We were eventually called in by a lady I hadn’t met before, but she was quickly joined in the room by a maternal medicine consultant I had seen before. After they reassured me that they were happy with the scan measurements they quickly moved onto asking when I would like to be induced. Me and mum both at the same time, jokingly said tomorrow… Which both doctors jumped on, checked appointments and said it was possible. They reassured me that with my history and the complications it was perfectly acceptable to induce at 38 weeks, and asked if I would like an examination to help to make up my mind. I agreed that it was probably best to have all the facts so they proceeded with an internal examination and membrane sweep, in the hope that it would get the hormones started before I was induced. They didn’t warn me that a sweep hurt, she told me it would be a bit uncomfortable! I lay there feeling like she was jamming her whole hand into my womb, even Jackson didn’t seem to be enjoying himself (probably complaining he was being poked on the head) but it was soon over and she announced that I has a soft cervix and was about 1cm dilated which was perfect for induction sooner rather than later. I did specify that I don’t want to be in labour on my birthday (Wednesday) and they assured me that if I was induced tomorrow I will have had him by my birthday! This had us decided and we booked in, we are near enough ready, anything that isn’t ready can be and anything that can’t be isn’t needed straight away. Atleast this means I only have one night of getting excited/nervous/stressing instead of potentially 2 weeks!
They did mention pain relief and that with it being an induction which apparently hurts more? I will probably want an epidural – something I really don’t want so obviously being me I am going to try my hardest to avoid having it, I’m a strong person and the pain will be worth it! (Let’s see how that goes when I’m in labour!)
So after telling me to call the ward before I leave just to make sure they have a bed for me and to be at the hospital at 10am they sent me on my merry way with a massive grin plastered all over my face and a turmoil of emotions going on inside. I’m not sure if I feel guilty for forcing him to come out before he is ready himself, or guilty that I won’t get to experience getting to 40 weeks, but there is a definite niggle of guilt going on there somewhere, not that I regret deciding on tomorrow, once he is here, as I told my midwife, once he is in my arms I can breathe again. 9 months is a long time to hold your breath over an outcome so far out of your control.

Having read my notes since the appointment I have seen that my urine taken earlier in the day had traces of blood in – a trace of a show maybe? So maybe he wasn’t far off making his own way out.

Since the sweep I have noticed traces of blood when I wipe – according to a quick google search this isn’t unusual, and from the pain I experienced having it done, not surprising either! I’ve also been getting a dull lower back pain combined with slight pains at the base of my bump and my bump getting hard. I was having Braxton hicks at lunch time before my appointment. So maybe this is more of those, I suppose time will tell! Jackson is still wiggling away like crazy though so he is still ok, I just can’t wait to meet my little man now!

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Induction – Day 1

So following the surprise booking of “tomorrow” for my induction at my 38 week scan I spent an almost sleepless night ensuring things were ready for Jackson at home before going in to hospital this morning. I think I finally dozed off at about 3.15 and had my alarm set for 6.30 to ensure I was up and had everything packed and done before I was induced this morning.
I was told to be at the hospital by 10am, but to phone the hospital before I left to ensure they had a bed for me. I phoned at 8.15 and was told it was all in hand and to come in as arranged.
After bundling the cat off to my parents to be looked after by my dad while I was in hospital and fitting the car seat into my dad’s car so it was ready for the journey home we set off to the hospital.
My mum is my birthing partner, so she came in with me after dad dropped us off – avoiding the parking charges! I had my hospital bag that I had packed and mum had a bag of snacks to keep us going.
On arrival at the ward we were promptly shown into a private room and the lady told us that she would be with us in 5 minutes to go through paperwork and swabs. Half an hour or so later she finally turned up and swabbed me for MRSA and took my weight and blood pressure etc. and told us that visiting hours are 9-9 and that after this everyone has to leave unless labour is imminent. She then assured us that the midwife would be with us shortly to discuss induction. After about an hour the midwife turned up, turns out they’re understaffed and the ward has been split between two places making everything more difficult. Fantastic!
In the meantime I had been to the toilet and lost my mucus plug – I hadn’t even been induced yet, but I seemed far more excited by this than any of the midwife team!
The midwife discussed what would happen with induction and explained that they would monitor baby for about half an hour first to make sure everything is ok, and then do an internal exam and insert the pessary, but that she had to get the pessary prescribed so she had to find a doctor before she could proceed. She finally retuned with the prescription at about 2pm. She put me on the monitor and amazingly I was already having tightenings which she explained were Braxton hicks. One of these even reached 100% which I was quite excited about watching the screen! Jackson seemed to kick more and his heartrate increased with each contraction, but nothing out of the ordinary.


She then went on to perform the internal exam which hurt… A lot. She told me that she didn’t think I was 1cm dilated as they had told me yesterday, but not far off – she could fit the tip of her finger in my cervix but not the whole finger. She did say that it was quite behind baby’s head so may be more but she could feel it. After this she inserted the pessary which hurt even more than the exam. The pessary is on a string and will remain in there for 24 hours during which time I will not be examined. I then had to remain on the bed for another 30minutes to let the pessary start to work and not slip out during which time I was out back on the monitor to see how he reacted to being prodded about. The heartrate monitor was picking up his heartrate fine until he gave a massive shove and moved and suddenly the monitor detected no heartbeat. Having felt the large movement I knew he had just moved, but I could see my mum begin to panic so let her run and call the midwife who came in and got me to roll on my side so she was able to find his heartbeat again. This trace eventually came back fine with no issues and I was allowed out for a walk. It was such a lovely day that me and mum packed up some sweets and drinks and headed out into the sunshine. After a walk right round the perimeter of the hospital we sat in the shade and had a little picnic before heading back inside. While I was sitting there I noticed my tummy tightening a few times, and when I got back inside I took notice of the times this was happening. It turned out they were happening every 5 minutes. I wouldn’t say they hurt, but they were uncomfortable.
I told the midwife and she seemed pleased with the progress saying that some women don’t react at all within the 24 hours, but that regular contractions was a good sign.

Soon after this Jacksons dad came in to see how it was all going and spent a good few hours sitting watching me grimace every time I had a contraction. At about 7 my dad turned up to visit, this worked out well as he could then take mum home at 9, it was nice to while away a few hours chatting about nonsense all the while the contractions were coming every 5 minutes.
It is now 10pm and the contractions are still about every 5 minutes but don’t seem to be getting any stronger so hopefully I can get some sleep now before they do.

Induction – Day 2

Following the insertion of the pessary on the first day it was given 24 hours to work and I was told I wouldn’t be examined until 2.20pm the following day.
After a hot, uncomfortable night I woke up at about 6 and occupied myself for a couple of hours until the midwife came in and told me I was going to have to be moved out of my private room! I was quickly moved to the ward where I was placed opposite someone who was induced 3 hours after me. The race was on!
My mum came back to the hospital at 9am and we went for another walk to try to get things going. We have now worked out a nice little 30 minute route around the hospital, though it must look like I’ve escaped with my lovely pressure stockings and wristband!
We returned in time for lunch and after that I was put on the monitor again. It picked up some great tightenings and showed that Jackson kicked every time there was one with his heartrate increasing to 180bmpm at some points. He obviously doesn’t like being squeezed!
After I was monitored the doctor arrived to give me an examination and told me that because I was having some tightenings I may be in early labour so they cannot give me another pessary anyway, but she would examine me to see how things were going. She rootled around, somehow not hurting me half as much as all the others, and proceeded to tell me that my cervix was soft but closed… How could that be when it was definitely not yesterday! After a bit more poking around. She found it was very posterior but 2cm. Progress! She pulled it forward trying to stretch it which REALLY hurt (think stretching your lip over your nose) but told me that although at 2cm they could burst my waters I’d be better waiting a few hours and walking around to try and get it to move forwards or they’ll have to stretch it forwards to insert the hook as the hook doesn’t bend round corners so it’ll hurt more than normal.
So from then on it was a waiting game for a bed on delivery, for me and the lady opposite who was found to be at a similar stage to me, and we are still waiting! I have been for multiple walks, up and down stairs and sat on a birthing ball for hours at a time. My contractions seemed to get stronger but during the evening slowed down and weakened again. Apparently because this is the early stages of labour that is normal.


At 9pm my mum and Jacksons dad were told they could wait for a bit to see if a bed became available as delivery suite had said it should definitely be tonight sometime, but by 10 there had been no news so she suggested they go home and get some sleep and we would contact them if I got moved.
So now to get some sleep as hopefully by this time tomorrow I won’t be able to, either in too much pain or have a newborn to coo over!

Induction – Day 3

After being induced on Day 1 I had to wait 24 hours for the pessary to work and on Day 2 I was told I was dilated enough to go to delivery suite to have my waters broken and that all we were waiting for was a bed.
Day 3 started with there still being no beds on delivery so my mum came in at 9am to stay with me for the day. My contractions had as good as stopped over night. They were only coming about one an hour and they were so weak I could barely tell they were happening. I was reassured that the cervix would still be open as much as it had been so my waters could still be broken and hopefully that would give me the kick start I needed. We went walking around the hospital again hoping it would bring my contractions back, but no such luck.
Another induction was booked in for 9am that day, but as soon as she was examined it was determined she didn’t need the pessary and ever waters were already ruptured so when a bed became available on delivery suite she would be the first to go. This didn’t go down particularly well with me and the girl opposite who had both been waiting about 18hours by this point. Obviously this lady’s needs were greater than ours and had we have been her we would have wanted them to do the same, but sitting in a hospital bed drives you crazy after a while!
Eventually the other lady was taken off to delivery suite and I was next in the queue again, and only a couple of hours after that, at about 17.30 I was finally told they had a bed for me on delivery suite!

Delivery Suite

As soon as I was introduced to my midwife, Trudie, I knew that this was actually happening! We were taken down and shown into my room on delivery suite which seemed like total luxury compared to the ward, I had a fan, a CD player and 2 guest chairs!! Mum pointed out the crib all ready for baby and that made everything seem quite real.
We talked to the midwife and I explained about my previous labour and how it hadn’t been the experience I had wanted. We discussed it at length and I discovered I was just on the boundary of gestation that would have been dealt with by a midwife, but instead I got put under the gynaecology department. She asked about Effy-Mae and was incredibly sympathetic. It felt nice that someone from the hospital seemed to care when before it seemed they didn’t.
She explained to me that she would attempt to break my waters, and once they had gone I would be encouraged to walk around for a couple of hours to see if that would kick start my labour. If after that it hadn’t worked I would be put on a hormone drip to start contractions, but she explained that this was painful and she would like to not have to use it.
She started by examining me and decided I was possibly 3cm dilated, though still fairly posterior. Atleast the contractions I had had had done something! She told us that her shift ended in half an hour, so she should have time to break my waters before her replacement turned up. It took ages for her to get everything set up and eventually she attempted to break my waters. This wasn’t at all painful, but I was worried about her scratching his head with what looked like a crochet hook as unfortunately the membranes were tight to his head and not bulging. She thought she might have managed to break them and pulled out to examine, but realised she hadn’t. She then offered that she try again or go and get someone else to have a go. I told her she was more than welcome to try again if she thought she could and this time she thought she had managed to nick it as a little liquid trickled out, but she wanted to find someone else to check. While she was out of the room another midwife, Fiona, came in and announced that she was taking over from Trudie and would be the midwife with me over night.
Fiona spent a while going through my notes – doing her own handover as she put it, questioning with me anything she didn’t understand and talking to me about what complications I had had, medications I had taken and was on and what I wanted. I told her that I didn’t want an epidural if at all possible and would like to try with just gas and air, but other than that I didn’t know how I’d cope or what I wanted so I’d leave it all to decide as and when.
Trudie eventually came back and explained to Fiona how far she had got. Fiona pointed out that unless I had had a massive gush of waters it was unlikely to start labour and that if Trudie hadn’t been able to break them she doubted she would be able to so she went to find a doctor who from what I gathered can do something different in terms of breaking the waters – all I know is whatever she did hurt a lot more than what the midwife was doing! The doctor was lovely and friendly and managed to break my waters fairly easily. (Yes it felt like I’d peed myself) after this she did another sweep – ‘just to stir those hormones up again’ – and then she left. Fiona explained that she was one of the top doctors and that if that hadn’t worked nothing would. Fiona also wanted to not have to use the hormone drip as she told me I would be unlikely to be able to cope with the pain with the pain relief I wanted to use.
She then suggested that I go for a walk, me and mum had planned to take my tea (which had arrived just before I was taken to delivery suite) on a walk round the hospital and have a picnic while I waited for things to happen. As soon as I got off the bed to attempt to walk I realised that there was no chance I was leaving the room, I was contracting already and I could definitely feel these! She suggested I walk around the room instead which I agreed to, and she went to get me a ball to sit on, neither really happened as as soon as I was off the bed I fell to my knees and the contractions started coming almost one after the other!

Birth Story

After having my waters broken and beginning contractions almost immediately I began to panic. I wasn’t ready. I had been told I’d have another 2 hours before anything like this. I had relied on having that time to prepare myself for what I knew was coming. The intense pain of that first contraction took me straight back to my last labour, birthing my sleeping baby with no guidance from a midwife, only a nurse coming in right at the end and telling me to push then taking her away from me, the unbearable pain that I didn’t understand, the panic, the fear and within that one contraction I had processed all of these thoughts and knew I had to make this experience a different one. After one contraction of panic and fear I knew I was strong enough for this, I knew I had to control my emotions because I knew I was strong enough to do this – I had done it before in worse conditions and survived and this was a totally different situation. Here I was having my rainbow baby who had defied every obstacle thrown at him and was still with us at 38 weeks, I wanted my healing birth. One that it would remember as a positive experience, one that would reassure me that pregnancy and birth could be alright, could have a happy ending.

I breathed through my contractions. Not deep breathing, in through the nose, out through the mouth type breathing, but I made sure I breathed sensibly and I concentrated very firmly on thinking “I am a strong independant woman” (which I ridiculously think I stole from an episode of friends) “and I will not panic” and every time the pain got bad I repeated the last section concentrating on the words and what having control over this birth meant to me.

I couldn’t talk or make any sound at all through my contractions, I think I physically could have, but if I stopped repeating those words and concentrating on my breathing I would have panicked and completely lost control like I did last time. During my last labour I didn’t know what the contractions were, I didn’t understand why I couldn’t get comfortable in any position and I threw myself around the room trying to. I had never been in a situation where nothing is right, nothing makes any difference, and it was terrifying. I was more prepared for this labour, I knew what to expect and I knew what it all meant so I refused to lose control.

Every two hours I was strapped to the monitor to check Jackson was coping ok, and the first time she did this fairly early on I was leaning forwards against the bed. She made some comment about the contractions not registering on the monitor, at which point I almost gave up! I told her that if these weren’t registering I would be giving up and having an epidural, but she reassured me that it was probably just the sensor not picking them up because of how I was sitting.

I was shattered by this point, a few nights of not sleeping very well in hospital, a lot of walking around to try to start labour and I was almost a zombie. Mum said she could see it in my eyes I was tired, and indeed I started falling asleep between contractions. The gap between contractions not being very long I’m not sure the falling asleep actually helped, but it made time pass incredibly fast. Each time she told me it had been another two hours and she needed to put the monitor back on me I felt like it had only been about 15minutes!

When she examined me I was 4cm dilated and finally in established labour. This unfortunately meant constant monitoring on the machine, which limited movement and positions for me. I think I spent most of labour kneeling on the floor leaning against the bed, it seemed most comfortable, even though there really is no comfortable position for contractions! When she told me I was 4cm I asked when I could have gas and air, not wanting to start too early before I really needed it, she told me I could have it whenever I liked, so I decided I would hold off, after all I had another 6cm to dilate!

Time went weird in the delivery room so I’m not sure how long it was but I don’t reckon any more than a couple of hours, if that, after she told me I was 4cm I felt an unignorable urge to push. I told her this and she told me to ignore it as I was unlikely to be ready as it hadn’t been that long since I was only 4cm. I tried to ignore it but as the next contraction came I realised I couldn’t. This is the only point in the labour that I completely lost control. I was terrified, not of pushing, not of the pain, but of messing up, of doing it wrong, of not being strong enough to not push when I shouldn’t be, scared of hurting Jackson. But the midwife was there in seconds reassuring me and calming me down. I didn’t even panic for the whole contraction. She told me I wouldn’t hurt him pushing too early and that she would check to see what was happening. This involved getting me on the bed, which, when contractions are one on top of the other and no complete loss of pain between them is easier said than done! I managed it and then needed to push again. I’m not sure if she examined me or not but somehow she estimated I was about 8-10cm and ok to push but that now she really needed the monitoring to be reliable for baby’s sake (it had been temperamental with me kneeling) so I’d have to stay on the bed. She suggested lying on my side as this apparently reduces tearing and I eventually managed to roll over and lie on my side.

The pushing was the hardest part of the whole labour. I have learnt since that the midwife controlled the head coming out, stopping it coming out too quickly and reducing tearing (I ended up with a tiny tear and 2 stitches that apparently are not necessary, only make it neater – a head circumference of 36cm is fairly large!) I didn’t have a strategy for the pushing part, just push as hard as I could and get him out safely. After what felt like hours both the midwife and my mum were telling me the head was nearly born and that he had a lot of hair (the lady who did my 34 week scan had told us this) I was told just one more push so many times I felt a little lied to but I could tell he was close. Then with a slight pain sensation (my little tear) his head was out. The midwife went to get another midwife at this point to oversee the birth as with my blood clotting issues complications could arise. The next contraction seemed to take ages to come, knowing my sons head was in this world and still hearing his heartbeat on the monitor, all I wanted to do was meet him, but come it did and with another couple of pushes he was out.

I looked down and absolutely ridiculously the first thought through my head was ‘oh my god it’s a baby. An actual baby.’ I suppose the mind games I had played on myself for 9 months had worked. I had totally tricked myself into believing that this would never happen to me, that it would be something that I would forever watch on TV but never get to experience, yet here he was, they placed a towel on my tummy and put him on it, rubbing him to get him to squeak, I had a heart in mouth moment when it was all silent, the midwives were both rubbing him, I was staring at his beautiful face with his mop of dark hair willing him to scream and then he did and I relaxed. I had done it. I had my rainbow baby and I’d had my healing birth. In one night I had proved to myself that I could do it. That 9 months of worry and fear and stress were worth it, has culminated in this, this moment, in him.

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Because not everything could be easy, my placenta decided it didn’t want to come out! I opted for the injection, but after half an hour it just wouldn’t come out! Another midwife came in and had a go and after a lot of wiggling and gentle encouragement and pushing from me it slithered out. Apparently it was rather large, but it’s still a mystery why it was so hard to get out! After this she set about doing my stitches and then I was all done, we were brought tea and toast and I marvelled in the fact this was the start of a whole new chapter of my life.

  • An 'Angel Baby' is a baby lost during pregnancy or early childhood, who sleeps in the clouds instead of our arms.

    A 'Rainbow Baby' is a baby born following the loss of an 'Angel Baby', a beacon of hope after a storm, while not denying the storm happened.

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