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According to my doctors up at a central London hospital (NHS), I have three days to go until my fourth baby is born. They calculated my 'due' date by asking me some cyclical questions and coming up with answers on a cardboard speed dial date calculator thingy and by giving me a scan at twenty weeks. Neither of these fact detectors strike me as exact science, particularly since, in the past, I've known darned well exactly when I fell pregnant and my date did not tally with theirs by three days. Nonetheless I was subjected to an agonising twenty-four hour induction sans an epidural (too freaky to be paralysed when giving birth) followed by a graphic aftermath that I will protect my male readers from visualising.
On that, first occasion, the consultants at the Royal Free, who just happened to be trialling a new induction procedure, told me that they would not be responsible for the outcome based on my decision. This sounds reasonable, but they made it clear to me what they wanted me to understand that outcome was to be. Meantime, the midwife urged me not to let the consultants 'bully me' into being induced. The thing is, given that it was my first child, they did scare me. The three-step procedure, (again I will spare you the details) was pretty brutal because my son was just not quite ready to come. On two occasions, things became quite dangerous for him and for me. Afterwards my son and me fell into an exhausted twelve-hour sleep. What newborn sleeps for twelve hours? It took me a very long time to heal from that one and I remain convinced that if they had just let me go another couple of days, my son would have been born naturally.
Of course I am grateful that the outcome was a beautiful, healthy child, but the point is, I felt I was denied the natural, beautiful experience birth can be, because I was so highly interfered with. At the UCL with baby two and three I was also induced, though with my second, my daughter, I managed to have the serene, quiet, calm experience I had wanted before despite the twelve hour induction that I was again pressed to have. My last experience - nineteen months ago, was horrendous. My second son was on his back and not ready to come. I had a manipulative, bullying midwife who kept insisting that I have an epidural. She kept telling me that an epidural was the only way forward for me. She kept threatening that unless I saw the anaesthetist straight away, he would be in theatre and I would not be able to have an epidural that I did not want. The implication was that things were going to get worse and then I would be without help.
Twelve hours hooked up to a drip at a forty-five degree angle when you prefer to move around when you are in extreme pain is torturous, but in the end I was frightened enough to agree to the epidural, though even as I was having it, (which was not straightforward) I was thinking, that even though the pain of a back to back labour was extraordinary, I had done induced (artificially induced, and therefore more painful contractions) for hours on end (twelve before, more previously) on two other occasions and if only I had been able to talk to a doctor first, to find out whether I had other pain relief options, I could have persevered. Afterwards she said that perhaps she should not have pushed me into having it. I was flabbergasted. And bloody annoyed frankly. Again, the incompetent aftermath left me with a legacy that I am still suffering with.
Anyway, I have been told at my third London hospital (nameless for now!) that they will want to induce me on Sunday - my 'due' date. I meet with the doctors today and intend to ask for a reprieve of at least a few days in the hopes that I may, just this once, have a natural birth. So far the staff have been lovely. Obviously if they convince me that the baby or me are in mortal danger, I will probably succumb. Meantime, if you are reading this, please pray new little chap arrives without interference! Also, please let me know what you have experienced regarding the forty weeks and induction, I do love hearing back from people.