Monday 19th October 2015
I had planned a crazy day – we’d agreed to take my mother-in-law to the hospital to have her stitches removed from her knee replacement. Glamorous, I know. I remember sitting in the waiting room, reading a baby magazine telling me what ingredients in baby products to steer clear of and which were good for their skin. I took a picture to remember what to avoid and made a note to have a look online later for them.
Stitches were all out and we drove said mother-in-law home.
We nipped in for some tea and Rupert kept wriggling around inside my tum, making it rather uncomfortable to sit down (the little poo bag). From around 4pm onwards, I had Braxton Hicks and Sand (MIL) commented on how tight my tummy looked. I laughed it off and carried on as usual. We left their house and came home. I was 38 weeks pregnant at the time and had resigned myself to the fact I would be pregnant for at least another 4 weeks!
We had a calm and relaxing evening. We all (Tom, the dog and I) sat on the sofa watching unmemorable television, so I went for a bath. At some point before this, I really needed a wee and a teeny bit came out. I panicked, thinking my waters had broken. Nope, just pee. Braxton Hicks were still going! After my bath, I pottered back to the sofa (my resting ground at the size I was) and was blackmailed to let the dog out into the garden. Despite my resistance, I waddled to the back door to let her out and whilst I was waiting…
Yep, that was definitely my waters that time. (11:30pm)
“Just wait by the door she’ll go for a wee eventually!” (He thought I was about to complain that Honey was doing her business)
Now picture a meerkat-posed husband from the sofa, seeing what was gushing out from under my dressing gown, sprinting up and laying towels down to mop it up. I will never forget how amazed I was at the sheer amount of water – there were gallons of the stuff! I waddled over to the toilet and sat there waiting for it to stop (it didn’t, not for a while).
I got Tom to grab me my phone and midwife notes and called the Labour Line. I’d had my first contraction maybe a minute after my waters had broken, and oh my giddy aunt, it was not pleasant. The midwife on the phone asked the usual questions – how many weeks, first baby, how far apart were contractions etc etc. She told me to take a couple of paracetamol, stay at home, have another bath and booked me into the hospital for 9am the next morning. I did none of these things!
Tuesday 20th October 2015
Tom had already called my dad to collect the dog, gotten my hospital bag ready and some pants/leggings and a tshirt for me to wear. I managed the top and pants but the leggings were a no go. I clambered into the car, dawdling and insisting we didn’t need to go yet; there was plenty of time. Tom insisted.
From the get-go, my contractions were 4-5 minutes apart and getting intense. Luckily, the hospital is a 10 minute drive away and there was no traffic (hallelujah!). We arrived at the Princess Anne (the one from the first 2 series of One Born Every Minute) at, maybe, 12:15am. The midwife at the reception asked me to wait in the family waiting room so they could get somebody into the ward to help me. I had wanted to give birth in Broadlands, a midwife led ward in the hospital, all lovely and serene.
My fabulous midwife (whose name I can’t for the life of me remember) escorted us down and took me into the birthing pool room. I had two contractions on the way down there that stopped me in my tracks, but nothing too hideous. We got settled in the room and I removed my oh so glamourous dressing gown and got Tom on his knees to take the nail varnish off my toes.
She examined me at 1am. Honestly, I was expecting awful things from previous birth stories I’d heard, but it was almost lovely. Almost. Rupert was moving his head around so my midwife wasn’t 100% sure if he was back to back or not (helpful kid, really helpful). I was 4cm dilated, woohoo! She said that she would examine me again at 5am and helped me into the pool. I was given the canister of gas and air, took one puff, and instantly hated it. I did not touch the stuff again.
I honestly could not tell you how long I was in that pool for. It felt like both forever and no time at all. My contractions were getting more and more intense, and I was absolutely knackered. I remember Tom and the midwife talking to me about cats but not really responding to them (not in an ignorant way – not speaking was a good way to keep ‘control’ so to speak). I got to the end of my tether and said I needed drugs – preferably an epidural. I remember repeatedly apologising as I felt I’d wasted her time and all the water in the pool. She, of course, told me not to be so silly and it was fine. I had to be transferred up to the labour ward for the epidural. I don’t remember how I got there, just being in the room with the anaesthetist.
My god, that man could have been saying ANYTHING to me and I’d have gone along with it. He was just irritating me with his voice. Shut up and go get me the fucking drugs! The midwife was trying to keep me covered from the waist down (I was naked at this point, again, haven’t the foggiest when the rest of my clothes disappeared) but I was writhing around. Dignity? What’s that?
They put a cannula in my hand and left to sign the bag out (I think that’s what he said?!). After that, I just remember looking at the clock, 3:05am. Whenever my contractions started, I felt so out of control. The pain literally took over my body and all I could do was lay there until it washed over me. Every time it did, I would look at the clock and dread the second hand ticking round because I knew it would bring another agonising wave. Of course, in hindsight, it was bringing me closer to my baby but I couldn’t focus on that.
Tom sat on his phone, starting to text one of his work colleagues. At 3am in the fucking morning, I told him to get off it. He did, for a minute, then started texting again.
“GET OFF YOUR FUCKING PHONE!”
I’m proud that was my only outburst.
The anaesthetist was taking what felt like a goddamn age. The midwife was pottering around and I felt it. That overwhelming surge people tell you about but can’t describe. It’s exactly that, indescribable. She saw it. Damn.
“You want to push don’t you?”
She examined me. Fully dilated and could feel his head. No time for drugs, no time to compose myself and prepare. I cried. I was panicked and hadn’t expected for the time to push to come so soon. Everything from that point to the final pushes are a bit of a blur.
The clock said 3:27am. Another midwife came into the room. I recognised her face from One Born Every Minute. I half remember them saying his heartbeat was dropping, so I needed to really push to get him out safely and quickly. Talks of possible episiotomies helped me push harder! The relief whenever I pushed through the pain was fantastic. A few pushes later, the midwife said I could feel his head if I wanted. I did, it was so surreal. An actual human head half out of me. I’ll never forget the feeling, nor do I want to. Then, as soon as it seemed to have started, the pushing was over and he was here. 7lb 4oz of utter (slippery) perfection. I looked back at the clock, 3:42am. I never did get my 5am examination (thank goodness).
During all the commotion of pushing a human out of my vagina, I’d managed to pull the cannula out of my hand. I only realised when I turned to see Tom’s face, turning paler by the millisecond. There was blood literally spurting out of my hand like a low budget horror film. Bless him, he isn’t the greatest with blood. After they’d cleaned me up, he was hopping from one foot to the other whilst grasping my hand telling me to push (yeah okay I get it, you all want me to push).
I hope that I never ever forget the moment I saw my son for the first time. The midwife passing him up to me so I could snuggle him on my chest. Or the look on Tom’s face when he saw him. It makes me want to cry with pride right now.
We’ve been in our own little bubble of bliss ever since. Now I’ve had a lot of time to ponder over it, I’m so glad I had such a positive birth experience. My plan was to go without any drugs beforehand and that’s exactly what I got! Tell you what though, I think I would rather push another baby out of me than have stitches. That was the most horrific part of labour for me!
Natalie is a 26 year old mother to Rupert (human, 7 months) and Honey (Beagle, 2 years). She longs for the days when she can drink her coffee hot again.