The race is on now that the lady stuck her finger up my…

I considered titling this post “The home birth we won’t have” because I still am 100 per cent pro home birth and would love to encourage women to consider it as a choice. I really do think it is the best place to have your baby in so many respects. But it won’t be where our baby is born and I’m accepting that that’s OK.

The itching started three nights ago, first on my bump and boobs and then all over my body. Soon I was breaking skin, finding it hard to sleep and driving Laurence mad. I was slapping myself and begging the baby to come out because I knew whatever this was, it was some kind of pregnant thing. But wait a minute, hadn’t I read somewhere that that was a thing? You know – a thing you’re not supposed to ignore?

So I rang up the doctor yesterday, totally expecting her to say: “It’s just your preggers hormones.” But she didn’t. She asked me to come in straight away for a blood test. By the time I’d left her office, though, I believed her when she said that it was most likely nothing. Though she was upbeat about it all, she gave me a leaflet on “obstetric cholestasis” – a pregnancy thing we shouldn’t ignore.

I went to bed, willing myself not to scratch, but really not thinking about it. Then today my community midwife rang me. My results had come back with abnormality and I needed to go to hospital. She’s a bit of an alarmist, I’ve always felt, but she was very firm with me that I most likely would have to be induced and even if not, this was a hospital birth we were looking at. I gently reminded her that it was my choice where we’d have the baby and she rephrased that they would strongly advise me to have the baby in the hospital.

A quick look through the facts and I knew that they were right. The risk of stillbirth was unquantifiable and we have to do what’s safest for the creature. It would now be considered high risk for us to have her at home. My midwife told me she was sorry, knowing that I had had my heart set on having a home birth. I thanked her, put the phone down and cried.

Laurence got a taxi home and we drove together to the hospital for monitoring, more tests and a consultation with a doctor. Again the results were abnormal. I definitely have contracted obstetric cholestasis, later than most pregnant women do. It basically means something’s up with my liver and there are bile salts in my blood, which can cross over to the placenta and affect the baby.

We chatted through all the options with a midwife there who was very understanding. She too had tried for a home birth and hadn’t achieved it. Would we be able to have a water birth in hospital? Not if I was induced. And if I went into labour naturally? Most likely not because they need to monitor the baby. Would I be able to move around? Not much. It was the opposite of everything I’d sort of imagined. So I began crying again.

Eventually I got a grip. I know this birth is just one day and it’s not about me. It’s about my baby coming into the world safely and once she’s here, I won’t really care about the rest.

It’s just all been so sudden. I’ve always expected I’d have a home birth, from since I was old enough to understand that women gave birth. I’ve had my arguments planned to defend myself against NHS workers who might want to induce me if I went postdates or transfer me for reasons which were unnecessary.

It’s a bit like a woman planning her wedding and then realising that it just can’t happen that way. She knows the bigger picture is that she and her husband will make their commitment but still needs a moment to put aside her girlish disappointment.

Now, I’ve had to accept that my body has just gone and done something random and that’s just how it goes sometimes. And I’m OK with it. The birth pool is folded up on the dining table where I’m writing this and I’ve accepted that we won’t be using it. The NHS is not the enemy and isn’t making us do anything. We’ve weighed up the information we were given and know that we’re making the right decision for our family.

So, now the race is on. I’ve had a ‘stretch and sweep’ – not fun I tell ye – in hopes that I’ll go into labour naturally otherwise I’ll be induced on Monday at 38 weeks and 1 day. The baby is unusually low and my cervix unusually open for this early in my pregnancy, especially since this is a first child. The doctor who did the sweep was surprised. So, hopefully, the creature will surprise all of us and respond to the call.

Either way, we’re rethinking our birth plan, re-imagining labour positions, have packed the hospital bags and bought our snacks, magazines and isotonic drinks. After the initial shock and disappointment, we’re both excited that we’ll be meeting our baby soon. Just need to actually set up her room and sort out the mess I showed you in the post about buying stuff for her.

Incidentally, I happened to sit next to a woman in church on Sunday who had been induced for waters breaking and labour not starting and she was telling me about her very positive birth experience. Looking back on that conversation, I thank God.

So come on, creature, it’s OK to come on out. Mummy wants to meet you. And she wants to stop this bloody itching.


17 Comments

  1. May 12, 2011 / 10:25 pm

    Aw, that’s so tough. Hugs for the tears, and I hope all goes smoothly from here. And youch on the stretch and sweep. Not fun.

    • May 12, 2011 / 10:48 pm

      Thanks, hon. At least the sweep gave the me chance to practice my breathing!

  2. May 12, 2011 / 10:27 pm

    Right – you may not want to go down this route but you can differentiate between protocol and what actually needs to happen, eg monitoring – there is no evidence continual monitoring is better than regular monitoring and if they do need to do continual monitoring ask for a wire free one or one with a long wire so you can be active

    There will be a consultant midwife for normality at the hospital – get hold of her & discuss your birth plan & where there are areas you can have informed choices (more than you’d think)

    I faced a high risk hospital birth with Littler & you can push back against protocol

    Best tip though. Do not get on the bed – they can monitor as you lean against it – have your hubby sit on it. Once you get on it’s hard to get of and get active

    And my lovely best of best of luck to all three of you

    • May 12, 2011 / 10:48 pm

      They did admit that they can only “strongly advise” me to be continually monitored but thanks, that’s definitely something I’m thinking about as I rewrite the birth plan. Unfortunately they only have a monitor that will let me move around the bed, so that’s better than nothing. Will have the birth ball in there. Will definitely consider regular monitoring though as I’d much prefer it.

      All in all I was quite pleased with the manner of the midwife and doctor we spoke to – they were both very understanding and honest about what I could challenge.

      Hubby’s already been talking about how to prevent me from getting into bed!

      Thanks for all the advice and kind wishes! 🙂

  3. May 12, 2011 / 10:27 pm

    Right – you may not want to go down this route but you can differentiate between protocol and what actually needs to happen, eg monitoring – there is no evidence continual monitoring is better than regular monitoring and if they do need to do continual monitoring ask for a wire free one or one with a long wire so you can be active

    There will be a consultant midwife for normality at the hospital – get hold of her & discuss your birth plan & where there are areas you can have informed choices (more than you’d think)

    I faced a high risk hospital birth with Littler & you can push back against protocol

    Best tip though. Do not get on the bed – they can monitor as you lean against it – have your hubby sit on it. Once you get on it’s hard to get of and get active

    And my lovely best of best of luck to all three of you

  4. Samera
    May 12, 2011 / 11:07 pm

    eesh! How are you feeling now? Bummer about not being able to have it at home but God willing the hospital birth will work out in that both you and baby will come out the other end safe and sound. Here’s praying for you x

    • May 13, 2011 / 7:33 am

      Yeah, I’m just focusing now on the most important thing – meeting our baby – and that’s very exciting! Lots to do. As usual, the house is a bit of a tip and there’s mountains of laundry that need to be done, so cracking through that and praying to go into labour but if induction’s where it’s at, so be it.

  5. Jodi
    May 12, 2011 / 11:59 pm

    Hey Adele. I feel for you. We had a similar story with both ours, I wasn’t wanting a home birth admittedly, not allowed as I’m high risk too, but wanted everything natural and there was pretty much nothing natural about either. I found tiger balm really helpful in my labour though. I think you can buy it now in the UK, I got Jim to rub it in my back during contractions and it did help work against the pain of all the drugs they were giving me to make it ‘happen’! A plus is that it smells great too and everyone will like coming in your room! 🙂 We’ll be praying for you and hope that your little girl comes soon and at her own prompting. Can’t wait to see pics and here the good news! I think you’re doing great! Lots of love, Jodi

    • May 13, 2011 / 7:29 am

      Thanks so much for this comment, Jodi. I know you’ve had such a hard time with your girls and you’ve been really positive in the face of everything. I will look for tiger balm today. No contractions yet so need to just prepare for a positive induced birth! Thanks also for your prayers. The good thing is that because she’s already so low, they reckon she’s ready to be out even if she has to be forced!

  6. Esther Alexander
    May 13, 2011 / 11:13 am

    Never forget – He is in charge, and even though things don’t always work out how we think is best, inevitably, there is a Master-plan at work here. Like you say, as soon as she is here, you will indeed forget all else…will be praying for you both – wait – make that all three!! And Martine of course!! 

    • May 13, 2011 / 10:47 pm

      Thanks, Esther. The induction’s been canceled but the whole experience has now prepared us to be open to everything! Let go and let God, eh? I think now Mum’s torn as to when to come up. Thanks for your prayers.

  7. Lucy
    May 13, 2011 / 2:06 pm

     Good luck – thinking and praying for you guys and so looking forward to hearing the good news! xxxx

  8. May 15, 2011 / 7:04 pm

    Ooh good luck, really hope it starts soon!

    • May 16, 2011 / 12:26 pm

      Thanks, we’re back on track for home birth so far and the time’s set once again to ‘whenever’ so we’ll see…

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