It might be 1.21am as I write these very words, but I feel like nothing could complete a more poetic story for us on our experience with IVF and infertility & I had to share it.

I don't know where to start with the latter stages of our pregnancy. It seemed to fly by in an instant as well contain a high level of stress and worry.

We experienced some reduced movements of our little bundle which resulted in some heart monitoring in our local delivery suite late at night. Of course as soon as the baby was hooked up and being watched, he danced a merry jig for everyone to see making me feel like the most paranoid person on earth taking up valuable NHS time.

As a precautionary measure, I was booked in for a growth scan the following day to check up on baby's measurements and ensure he was tip top. It was at this scan that they started to become concerned about his abdomen circumference measurement compared with the rest of his body. It was suggesting that he may not be getting the right amount of nutrients from my placenta so I was booked in for a repeat scan 2 weeks later. The second scan showed a more even result but they continued to track him again for another 2 weeks and it was on Wednesday 10th February that I was told by the consultant that they would like to induce me for the safety of the baby and they even wanted to book in for the next day. Panic stations!

Their diagnosis was "tailing growth" which suggested the placenta's efficiency was slowing down and at 37 weeks + 2 days, they said the remainder of the pregnancy would be unpredictable and too risky to "see what happens" to the placenta. At 37 weeks, it's considered safe for the baby to enter the world so they wanted to bring him to planet earth sooner to monitor him outside of my body.

Our pregnancy had been pretty text book up until this point and I had been feeling really good. Excited even about the birth. But this sent me West. I felt insecure, worried, had very little information about what an induction actually involved and felt negative connotations about induced pregnancies and the high risk of emergency c section being the end result. Personally, I really wanted to birth vaginally!

I managed to convince the consultant to book me in for Friday 12th February instead to give me a day to get my head around it all, as well as be able to let work know. Friday 12th was supposed to be my last day and now I was potentially having my baby that day!

Tom was always having to wait in the car for these appointments and scans so to say he was a little shocked when I came out and confirmed we'd be having a baby this weekend was very much an understatement!

We spent the whole of Thursday working, closing things down, getting emotional, packing the hospital bags, calling family and friends and I spent a lot of time grieving the 2 weeks of maternity leave I had originally planned before our due date to get things ready. I had wanted to start filling in the baby's book and printing some photos to go inside. I had wanted to 'nest' properly, take some nice walks, clean the house, do a nice food shop so I could prep some meals and generally 'get ready' for our baby. Now I had less than 24 hours!

The plan as we knew is was that we would wake up Friday morning, receive a phone call from St Michael's hospital as soon as a room was available on the ward in order for us to go in and start our induction treatment. We were due to receive a call between 8-10am with a time to attend. 8am came and went, followed by 9am and my phone finally ringing at 9.50am with an update. Our induction was delayed as they were far too busy with unplanned admissions.

🥴🥴🥴🥴 I felt so tired and emotional and disappointed. I had really worked myself up to get into the zone and feel ready for our brand new birthing experience. But what could we do? Instead they asked if I could come into the day unit for some heart monitoring just so they could feel confident that baby was OK if they were going to ask me to wait an extra day to be induced. They told us we were on standby for a room so being the organised couple that we are, we took our hospital bags along with us anyway, just in case.

When I arrived there was quite a long wait, everything went as it was supposed to except I had a slightly high temperature which I put down to the stress of the morning so far but because of this high temperature, I was monitored for a little bit longer. In total, I was sat in the department for 3.5 hours 🙄

They were happy to send me home but casually as I was about to leave and once again relieve Tom from his unnecessary car park waiting, they said they would call the ward just to check that no beds had become available while I'd been in. To everyone's immense surprise, there was a bed available... So this was it after all. I had half an hour to go and tell Tom, bring in our bags and essentially get prepped to have a bloody baby!!!

It was the most surreal feeling! I cried a lot out of sheer panic and had it not been for Tom's extremely cool head, I may have lost my shit. Tom was so calm, kept reminding me it was a great thing because we were about to meet our baby and generally doing all the things he said he would do to ensure I experienced the most positive birth possible.

(View from our private room at St Michael's)

Upon entering the ward, we were shown to a pretty decent room where I'd be expected to experience the early part of labour. After about an hour of being there and making ourselves comfortable, a midwife came in called Rachel who explained briefly what the process would be for the weekend:

- Covid tests (if Tom tested positive, he'd have to leave

- Cervical examination

- Prostaglandin pessary

- Prostaglandin gel

- Having my waters broken (if the above had worked and got me to at least 2-3cm dilated.

- Delivery suite

- Baby time!

This is probably one of the more longer blogs I'll ever write. My induction experience (although mostly positive) is long winded as well as what happened at the birth and I want to be sure I cover everything. Not just for anyone reading, but like all my blogs for the benefit of myself and being able to "debrief" what's happened to me. It's been therapeutic already to have written it down but given my extreme tiredness due to lack of sleep, breast feeding our brand new baby and generally not having a clue what's going on any more, I've decided to split the blog in 2 parts. Stay tuned for part 2 where I'll cover the induction and birth in detail that got us our baby boy... Fredrick Francis Barber (Freddie).

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