TRIGGER WARNING FOR COMPLICATIONS DURING INDUCTION / EPIDURAL
During my second pregnancy I received a lot of comments about my refusal to be induced. “It’s no big deal”; “I had my kids with a bit of synto and an epidural – no worries”; “You don’t want your baby to be overcooked”. It was really hard to explain why I didn’t want an induction or an epidural without freaking out a little. Even now, almost 4 years later, writing out the next part of this story is proving very very difficult. I’ve never been able to talk about this next bit without crying my eyes out and because of that it often gets glossed over or skipped completely when I tell my story. But it's "no big deal".
My midwife left me at 10pm. Dreading everything that was to come. Terrified. I can’t really remember how long after she left the anaesthetist arrived. I don’t think it was long. I don’t remember a whole lot of the next little part of the journey. I know the anaesthetist went over the risks of epidural and I signed the consent form. The procedure of inserting the epidural was fairly straight forward. I think they must have turned the synto off for the procedure to make it easier. Anyway the epidural is inserted and I’m laid back and “made comfortable”. Then they run the medication through.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
All I remember is the alarms going off and wondering if my baby and I were dying. The last thing I saw before I blacked out was the anaesthetist literally pushing Dave out of the way to get to me. I thought that the best case scenario would be that I’d wake up to find they’d done an emergency caesarean on me.
I’m sure they told me that an epidural can cause blood pressure to go too low. They just never told me what that would mean. That it would affect bubs heartrate so significantly that the room would fill with people. That I’d be left wondering if I was dying.
I wish I could say that was the end of it. That they just took me for a caesarean and it was all over. But it wasn’t. They stabilised bub and I fairly quickly and I was left to get some sleep. Dave was again sent to the couch on the other side of the room and I was alone. Isolated. Helpless. Terrified. Somehow I managed to get a little sleep despite wondering if I’d even wake up from it.
At 1am the OB came back to do another VE. Prior to the examination he told me that if there was still no change I should have a caesarean. If I wasn’t in labour by now it was not going to happen. Yep – after everything that had happened I was told that I wasn’t in labour. Well that was a fucking kick in the guts that I didn’t need at that point.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
We argued a bit and I said that if bub and I are fine I’m not having a caesarean. Despite everything I was still too terrified of the thought of having a major operation, while awake. Anyway…the doctor said he’d do the VE and we’d discuss again. He does the exam and says to me “I can’t lie. You’re 4cms. You’re in labour.” The idea that he had to mention that lying to me was a possibility freaks me out a little. How many OBs DO lie about dilation?!
So we kept on keeping on. The epidural was starting to wear off so the midwife came over to top it up and I had a freak out about the prospect of blacking out again. I was assured that that would not happen again. Okay…go for it. Epidural topped up but pain increasing on the right side. So they started rolling me around to try and get coverage on the right side. My left side was completely dead. Nothing helped. So while I lay there practically screaming through contractions Dave rubbed my special massage oil into my feet and the midwife offered me a couple of panadol. Yes…My epidural failed so she offered me Panadol. But here’s the best bit – I wasn’t supposed to have any water. LOL. And I have trouble swallowing tablets at the best of times. So while I crunched through 2 panadol the midwife was constantly chastising me: “not too much water…that’s enough now.” This was about 3am.
The panadol didn’t do anything and I continued to scream my way through the pain. At 4am the OB came back for another VE. This one was the most excrutiating VE I have ever had. I had no idea why this one was so much worse than the others; or why it was taking so long; or why he wouldn’t stop when I screamed stop. Turns out bub was malpositioned and the OB was trying to manually turn her to a better position. But I was 8cms. Nearly there. After the VE the OB told me that the best I could hope for was that I’d get to 10cms and they’d do a forceps delivery. By this stage I was in such a constant state of pain and terror that this didn’t really phase me at all. Meh…whatever. Just do what you like to me. They also started to give me medication for the fever I had developed and my blood pressure that was continuing to climb.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
The midwife kept trying to move me around and top up the epidural but nothing worked. No-one suggested getting the anaesthetist back to check it out. The irony is not lost on me: they bullied me into an epidural that I didn’t want and now the fucking thing wouldn’t work. Turns out I was right to be terrified of the epidural. At some point the midwife asked me about the pain…was it constant or coming in waves? I think I said waves…but I honestly can’t remember. What seemed like a weird, but benign, question at the time now seems a little more sinister. Constant pain between contractions is a sign of uterine rupture. One of the risk factors for a rupture is induction.
6am or thereabouts the OB comes back. By this stage I have a fever and my blood pressure is getting too high. Baby’s heartrate is doing funny things and basically if bub isn’t ready to come out it will be a caesarean. Well...what do you know. Still 8 cms. As they prep me for surgery I completely lose it. The midwife tells me that this is exciting, that I’m going to meet my baby. But you know what? I don’t want to meet my baby! Look what it did to me! I’ve spent so much time in self preservation mode that I am ashamed to say the baby hadn’t really entered my thoughts for a while…days even. I had not been engaged in the act of giving birth to my baby – I had simply been subject to a range of medical procedures. None of which even remotely resembled what I thought “birth” would be like.
I am bawling my eyes out as they prep me and take me to theatre.
All my fears about induction, epidurals, hospitals and hospital staff have been validated.