I’m going to try to keep this as concise as I can but at the same time I want to record the detail while I still remember it. So apologies, but this is going to be a long one!
So, toward the end of a fairly complicated pregnancy I developed itchy feet in the evening at 36+5 & told myself that if it was still bad in the morning I would call the triage number. The next morning the itching had gone & I forgot about it. That evening the itching returned (a sign of Obstetric Cholestasis (OC) is that it gets worse in the evenings). I called the triage number and they weren’t remotely concerned but said I could come in for the blood test to rule out OC & they would monitor the baby for an hour or so. I popped in, baby was fine & I went home & forgot about it. Enough had gone wrong with this pregnancy that I truely wasn’t expecting OC.
I remember every detail so vividly around this time. Twilight was so beautiful that evening that I took a (rubbish) photo on my phone. That was my last evening at home without my little lady.
The next morning (37 weeks) a doctor called me and asked me to come back down for a liver function test as my bile salts were “a little high”. Still feeling pretty positive at this point I popped back to the hospital with the clothes on my back & a magazine.
When I arrived it soon became apparent that I would not be leaving the hospital without my baby. My bile salt level was 44. Over 10 = OC. Over 40 = deliver immediately. OC increases the risk of a still born baby so the treatment is to induce labour at 37 weeks to negate that risk. By this point it was about 4pm on the Monday. I was due to be scanned at University College Hospital in London’s fetal medicine unit the next morning as baby G had shown “prominent bowel loops” on the most recent scan at my local hospital & they wanted her to be checked out in order to decide where, when & how she should be delivered. The doctor informed me that that was now irrelevant as they would be inducing me first thing in the morning at my local hospital & the baby doctors would check on her once she was born. (They call them baby doctors instead of paediatricians, is this for the sad reason that I think it is?).
I was admitted on to the ward & my husband had to pack a bag for me. I text him a list that included a nighty but instead he brought me a pair of PJ bottoms without the matching top. When I complained he got all huffy and defensive & asked how he was supposed to know what a nighty was. In retrospect I think he was in a panic!
I settled into life on the ward quite nicely. The food was pretty atrocious, but there was lots of it & I didn’t have to prepare it or clean up after it so I was happy. My mum & dad came down & brought a takeaway curry for my husband as he’d come straight from work. I wasn’t jealous at all!
Here’s a tasty pic of my dinner:
The visitors had to leave at 10pm. I was monitored often throughout the night & given drugs to help with the itching. I tried to read my magazine but it was mocking me!
The following morning my husband “worked from home” at the hospital. Visiting hours started at 8am & he was a little late as he came via MacDonalds. (He put on a lot of weight during my pregnancy!) Shortly after he arrived at around 9am the midwife inserted a pessary to ripen the cervix that would stay in place for 24hrs. She explained that at 37+1 she did not expect this to start my labour & once it was removed they would give me a 6hr break before trying another one. In the meantime I just had to stay active as much as possible so we spent the morning pacing the hospital grounds.
Around midday I started to get sporadic, strong period pains that meant I needed to pause while I walked. I can vividly remember being in the hospital shop & grabbing hold of a display of chocolates & heavy breathing like a mad lady!
My parents came to visit in the evening & by the time they left around 8pm my contractions were 3 mins apart & rather uncomfortable. The midwives let my husband sleep in the chair next to my bed on the ward. They gave me paracetamol & I had a long soak in the bath. The midwife even came into the bathroom to monitor me so that I didn’t have to get out! They gave me some temazepam to help me sleep. It didn’t help. I certainly rested but with contractions every 3 minutes all night there wasn’t much sleep to be had.
At 5am I gave up & asked if I could have another bath as I’d been contracting every 3 mins all night. The midwife wanted to monitor baby first so we shut ourselves in the TV room so as not to wake the others on my ward & she monitored baby’s heart rate… Which was a little high for her liking. Any plans for a bath went out the window & she decided to examine me & remove the pessary a couple of hours early. That internal examination was the most painful moment of my life thus far! My cervix was so high up & far back that she had to get elbow deep to feel it. Must be due to my retroverted uterus. They use a little pack of lube but the pessary had made things so incredibly dry that no amount of lube in the world could help me. The midwife thought I was 3-4cm but as it was so far back she wanted a colleague to examine me to confirm. Fun times. When she left to find a colleague I had a little cry. I hadn’t slept & I couldn’t handle an internal, how could I possibly give birth?! The colleague was lovely & used 2 packs of lube. She confirmed 3-4cm and they agreed that it was time I went down to the delivery suite!
To be continued…