On Wednesday morning, Jon left the house at about 6 to go to the gym before work. As we were saying our au revoirs, I said to him, “you’ll probably be getting a call later, because I told this baby to come today!” He said he would make sure he kept his phone on in the gym, but I said that no, it probably wouldn’t be before 9. And off he went.
At around 8, I woke up to use the toilet and noticed some bright red blood as I was there. Now, I didn’t really know what this meant, but figured bright red is never good in pregnancy. I called up triage at the hospital, and the midwife on duty there said I should come in to be checked out. This was possibly the worst part of the whole day. I had no idea what this could be, and although the midwife didn’t sound urgently concerned, it definitely wasn’t normal. Gus (as he is now known), often didn’t squirm around too much in the mornings, so I felt a few small movements, but no reassuring big sessions like I desperately wanted. I had to pack a bag to prepare for a possible labour in hospital, which I really didn’t want, but I didn’t even know at the time whether it could just be a natural labour, or if we would end up needing lots of interventions to expedite the delivery. And I really didn’t think that Jon would be okay with a home birth even if we were given the all-clear from the hospital. So the sum of it was, I felt that all my hopes for the day were crashing down around me and I didn’t even know if my baby was safe at the start of the day. And Jon was an hour’s journey away in London.
So I called Jon, trying to reassure him for his journey while (unsuccessfully) holding back my own tears, called a taxi, and was off to the hospital.
I arrived at triage to be assessed. There were two couples in front of me in line, and the midwife asked if I could wait, which I found encouraging, since she didn’t think it was an urgent situation. Plus, Jon hadn’t arrived yet. When it was our turn to be assessed, she explained that, generally, the cervix initially opens with the mucus plug, which has both blood and mucus. Since I had just seen liquidy blood, she would have to do an exam to see if she could see any mucus, which would confirm that it was just this mucus plug and the blood wasn’t coming from anywhere else. First she listened to baby’s heart rate with the doppler, though, which was strong and regular--yay! But, no mucus upon examination, so I would have to go up to labour ward to be assessed and possibly be seen by a doctor.
First she wanted to get a CTG trace of baby’s heart rate to send up to labour ward with me. This was 20 minutes monitoring baby’s heart rate compared to any uterine activity, as it was being called at the time, since I wasn’t in established labour. The first 10 minutes looked really good—several uterine tightenings and baby’s heart rate responding accordingly. Second half wasn’t quite so promising—we think our little man decided to take a nap!
Up to the labour ward we went. We were put in a home-from-home room, which is one of the hospital’s less medicalised rooms and included an en suite bathroom with a big tub. The midwife asked if she could do a vaginal exam to get an idea of what was going on. The result: I was almost four centimetres dilated, a shock to us all since I had hardly even noticed any contractions! It was not that I was completely oblivious to the contractions, it was just that I felt the tightenings with hardly any discomfort. I had been noticing Braxton-Hicks contractions for several weeks (after one of my midwife friends pointed one out to me as it was occurring!), and I just didn’t realise that they had transitioned into “the real thing”. Anyway, the midwife explained that the bleeding may have just been from a relatively quick initial dilation, causing trauma to the cervix. After discussing it with the supervisor, the midwife said that they were happy for me to go back home for labour and delivery, if that was what we wanted, as long as I could assure them that I knew when the contractions were occurring and would be able to call the homebirth midwife at the appropriate time. They just wanted to double-check that Gus was doing well first, since he had fallen asleep during the previous CTG, and monitor the contractions, so they hooked me back up to the monitor for a while. Jon and I hung out, ate a bit of snack / lunch (since it was about noon by this time) and played a fun game whereby I would think I was having a contraction and get Jon to look at the monitor to see if I was right. (I got pretty good at it!) And we tried to decide whether we should stay at the hospital or go back home. Surprisingly to me, Jon was leaning toward home and I was leaning toward stay in hospital! I felt I had been thrown for a loop and somehow didn’t trust the labour to progress normally, since it had started the way it had. And I didn’t want to end up at home with no midwife. Plus, the room we had was fairly cosy. I just kept thinking, people don’t leave the hospital at four cm dilation, they go to the hospital at that point! But I had planned and hoped for a home birth.
Finally I decided that we would ask for another VE after the monitoring was finished (I ended up being on there for almost an hour), and if there was normal progression, I would head home. If I had progressed more than expected, I would stay, so as to not get caught out at home. VE was done, and dilation was about 4.5 to 5 cm—I was headed back home!