… my son!!!
If you’ve been reading my blog you’ll know I was very overdue, very uncomfortable and very grumpy… Then, 9 days after my due date, a ladybird landed on my belly and we wondered if it was a sign. Well, I’m delighted to tell you my waters broke at 4.30 the next morning (Monday 28th March) – I was over the moon when I realised the cramps were for real and I didn’t have to be induced after all!
I am also delighted to tell you that I had exactly the labour I planned. I stayed at home to work through the contractions until they were coming powerfully every five minutes, then we drove to the hospital where the midwife in maternity assessment told me I was 3cm dilated. I opted to wait in the ward, using some of the hypnobirthing techniques Steven Reid taught me, Paracetamol and a hot bath until I tearfully insisted the midwife examine me again. Sure enough I was 5cm, so she wheeled me down to Labour Ward.
It’s all brand new at the Southern General – a midwife called Kay was waiting for me in a lovely big room with the pool I’d requested. She quickly filled it, helped me in and then wheeled in the gas and air. I grabbed for it – but she laughed and said: “Let me tell you how to use it or I’ll take it off you!”, a threat that immediately made me behave! It’s fabulous stuff – not only for the painkilling but also for the fact it forces you to take deep, regular breaths – the one thing I found to be key throughout my whole labour.
Rod was by my side throughout (not in the bath as he’d threatened – he’d forgotten his goggles) and was wonderful for passing me water, mopping my head with wrapped-up ice and saying all the right words of encouragement. There was a point – when I was nearly 10cm – when I wasn’t sure I could do it. I gasped at Kay that I was really struggling – her solution was tea and digestive biscuits. If I hadn’t been seized by another powerful contraction I’m sure my reply would have been very rude indeed. But she was right! Rod put a straw in a teacup and it went like this: “Tea please!” – suck – “Biscuit please – dunked” – munch – “GAS!” – gasp, moan, gasp, moan, gasp, moan – “Tea please”…
After this it all becomes a bit hazy. There was a changeover of midwives and I think a few extra came in to observe. Kay was saying she was sorry she was going to miss it, that it wouldn’t be long. In some part of my consciousness I was encouraged. I had the impression the others were interested to see a proper water birth. It registered somewhere that my baby would be born in the water. I was happy about this. I was dimly aware of others in the room saying “no we’re just letting her get on with it”. This made me proud. They were trusting me to handle my own labour.
I must have been at the pushing stage for over two hours, though I had no concept of that at the time, I was on another planet. My eyes were mostly closed, I was gripping the mouthpiece for the gas and air and clinging on to the side of the bath. His arrival was pretty quick- one minute I was pushing like hell, the next there he was. Lesley (the new midwife) laid him on my chest and he took a few breaths and looked around. He was grey and his eyes were open, looking at me. Rod was in tears. I asked if he was ok, ten fingers, ten toes? She counted. Yes. I forgot the pain. I actually did. I went from the utter misery and overwhelming power of intense pain to complete euphoria in the instant he was laid on my chest.
I assumed I would need stitches, but was delighted when Lesley told me I was intact. They wheeled in the scales to weigh him. I said he would be over 9 pounds but no one believed me. He was 9 pounds 1.5 ounces! Sometimes a mama just knows best.