I had an amazing pregnancy, the only symptom I had was swollen feet for the last 2 months and the obvious bump. The babies head never engaged but my midwife told me that it could happen very quickly so not to think about it. I went 10 days over when my water broke at 1.30am. I phoned the hospital and they told me to come in to be checked.
By 1.45 my contractions had started and by 3 I was on my way home from the hospital having been assessed and was told to take paracetamol as I was only at 1cm. I was to go back when my contractions were every 2mins and lasting 1 min. This was at 10am. Again I was assessed and I was only at 1cm. I asked to be kept in stating that my body obviously wasn't doing what it should be, I was scared that I would get home and that it would suddenly speed up and I wouldn't make it back in time.
I was admitted and given my own room, thankfully. My contractions continued regularly but would vary in intensity. As I was not in the labour was they would only give me paracetamol despite being in agony. I spent 6 hours in the bath as this helped somewhat. A number of times I told the nurses that I could not urinate and I was in excruciating pain when I tried. I finally convinced them to catheterise me at 3am after which they agreed that it was necessary.
During this time I had to ask them twice to monitor my baby's heart and contractions. I was told that they only need to do it every 4 hours but it had been 8. I also had to wait hours after asking them for my paracetamol. Nobody came to check on me without me requesting it. At 3am I had to ask to see the doctor in order to discuss what was happening or not in my case.
When she arrived at 6am she examined me and I was still at 1cm so she agreed to send me to the labour ward to put me on the hormone drip. At 8am I was put on the drip, was given gas and air, and was catheterised with a bag this time. The midwife I got at this point was amazing and never left my side without explaining it to me and getting me someone else. The baby's heart rate started to drop with every contraction and took time to recover. I was emotionally and physically exhausted by this point. At around 2pm I said to my midwife that I couldn't go on and that I needed a section. She told me that I would need to convince the Dr to do it but that I would need to say that it's because of my fear for the baby due to its heart rate and not my exhaustion. At 3pm the Dr came, I explained this and during our whole conversation she turned the monitor alarm off every time the heart rate dropped and she continually rolled her eyes at me. She said she would examine me and that would prove that I was only a couple of hours away and that I could manage it. She examined me and again I was 1-2 cm. I broke down and she finally agreed after I pleaded that I would have to have a section because it would be in an emergency if I wait any longer. At 4pm I went into theatre. I had 2 spinals and 1 epidural before I was numb. The theatre staff were lovely but they were behind my back instructing each other on where to put the needle this time. I was so relieved when the third one worked.
At 5.11pm my daughter was finally born healthy but with the cord wrapped round her neck.
So basically I had 39 hours of being ignored and scared. My mum had 3 emergency sections and her spinals never worked either so at the back of my mind I was prepared for it to be challenging. But I wasn't prepared to be left on my own without support, and pain management because the gas never worked either, and to have to convince them to section me. I know that if they had left me that my baby would have began to struggle more and I would have needed an emergency section with they would have needed to have given me a general anesthetic or she would have been dead. At the back of my mind all the way through was the thought that she could die at any moment given my friends experiences which I told the nurses about but only my last midwife listened and did everything she could to help me, including giving me cuddles when I needed them. I had a debrief with a surgeon before I was discharged and he supported his colleagues' decisions but told me that it's every woman's right to have a section but nobody ever tells you this. When I saw my midwife at home she told me that she knew I would never be able to deliver her naturally because she had never engaged, and yet she never told me or the hospital this. My husband was encouraging throughout but he is very much of the belief that the staff are the experts and they'll do what's best so I felt like I was fighting on my own, he'll definitely not do that again if we ever have a next time but what's for sure is I'll have an elective.
I think one of the biggest issues that lead to my experience was lack of staff and experienced nurses. Until my last midwife, all of the others had only just qualified. The lack of staff continued into the post natal ward making this also a very negative experience.
In regards to the nurses, if they had checked in on me at regular intervals, provided the pain killers as necessary, carried out the checks on time and just listened to me. If the doctor had checked in on me previous to me asking to be seen, given how long I had been there, and respected my requests rather than making me feel like I was giving up and overreacting. Despite the problems in theatre, and feeling scared, I felt supported there because everyone kept me informed and continually checked how I was feeling. They even managed to get me to laugh and relax. Again my midwife was great at this time and ensured that I was cleaned and treated well. I think what I needed was to be listened to, respected and involved which is what my final midwife gave me.
I also think that given the length of time I was in labour and that nothing was working that the doctor should have been discussing options with me rather than it being up to me to convince them. If this had happened to someone else and they hadn't felt strong enough to fight the doctor then they could have had a very different outcome. Nobody should be left for that length of time without any progression.