On Sunday, 6th June, we went to a BBQ and I ate FAR too much. I had the most horrible tummy ache. A couple of people joked that it was Peanut making a move, but it was JUST indigestion. I think.

Anywho, I barely slept at all night until about 4:30am, when I managed an hour before I needed to get up (again) for the loo. I drifted off again just after DH went to work and I was dead to the world until he phoned at 10:30am. I had to cut him short though, because I could feel something going and had to lurch/waddle to the bathroom. My first thought was, “Yes! My water’s have broken!” and my second thought was: “YES! They are clear!” (No hospy for me!)

I phoned him back to let him know and he decided he’d head home fairly soon, even though I wasn’t feeling any contractions yet, so he could get some last minute stuff.

DS (3yo) had been playing in his room (THANK YOU) so I went through and told him that Peanut was fed up of being in my tummy now, and wanted to come out…. might even come today! He asked “Will it be a girl?” I said “I don’t know. We will have to wait and see.” 🙂

I also called Mum to let her know. She was still in Pembrokeshire (she’d gone away for the weekend), but expected to be home by mid-afternoon. Things were going slowly, I still couldn’t feel any contractions, so I wasn’t worried.

I texted my sister to tell her not to buy the pool liner she was looking at for me. She worked it out (no surprises there) but I didn’t tell anyone else yet.

I really wanted to go for a walk to get things moving, because if I went more than 24hrs before contractions started I might be pressured to go to hospital. But every time I moved there was another gush, and the pads weren’t really helping that much. Since I was house bound, I undressed again and just wore my dressing gown, to save getting through 20 sets of clothes. I had to settle for going up and down the stairs. I WISH I had invested in a birth ball to bounce on.

I started getting really mild and irregular contractions, so faint that I wasn’t sure if it was just wishful thinking. I waited for them to get a bit more definite before I called the midwife unit. This was about 2pm or so. They told me to call back when they got to about 7 minutes apart. I borrowed DH’s iPhone so I could use the contraction timer on it. They got stronger and stronger but I was still comfortable. I felt them as pressure in my back and my bump.

DH kept himself busy packing away the dog kennel and dining table to make room in the kitchen for the pool. He set it up and inflated it and then we spent most of the day relaxing. I kept DS home from nursery so we could all be together, just the 3 of us, for the last time. DH had bought him some mega blocks on his way home, when he was in Toys R Us buying a digital thermometer for the pool.  (It was frog shaped.)  We told his mum I was in labour and she popped round with a cottage pie for our tea and a Moses basket. (Oh we were so organised!!)

At around 9ish in the evening, a while after DS was tucked up in bed and asleep, the last of my water went. I could tell, because straight away I had another contractions and I could feel it grinding the baby’s head down on my cervix. The pressure in my back and bump got a lot stronger as well, but it was the pressing on my cervix which was uncomfortable. It was hard to relax through, and when I tensed up it made the contractions themselves hurt as well… fierce pains through my belly and back. I experimented with different ways of managing, groaning, swearing, pacing, rocking…. I found that breathing them away and leaning over helped the most.

Around 11ish, I called mum to let her know to make her way over soon. Poor mum had only just gone to bed. Sorry Ma, no sleep for you tonight!

I also called the midwives again and described where I was at. I’d lost track of how far apart they were, but it was pretty obvious (to me) that I was in established labour by now. They said they would send someone out straight away. There was some water left in the bath and I got in there and that felt pretty good. It made me start thinking of the birthing pool. Next time: buy a pool cover to keep it warm, and fill the thing when labour starts!  DH started filling it and I let him know that I had called the midwife unit and someone was on the way.

I was pacing back and forward, going up to the bathroom, down to kitchen, back to the bathroom…I was basically shitting myself at this point. I went to get some paracetemol, but then decided that it had probably gone a bit far for paracetemol to be any help, so I went back to the bathroom to get back in that water while I waited for the pool to be ready but DH had pulled the plug. I sort of lost it at this point.  I sat on the loo and turned the air blue through my next contraction. That one HURT. A LOT! I pulled myself together just as DH let the midwife in.

She wanted to do an internal, and I’d originally thought I didn’t want any, partly because I didn’t want to feel like I was on a stop watch (they like you to dilate at 0.5cm per hour, or go to hospital) and partly because now my waters had gone there was increased risk of infection. But I was sort of curious, so I decided I’d have this one but I wouldn’t have any more. I said “I’d better be 9cms or I will cry!” I lay on the sofa so she could examine me and another contractions hit. Oh lordy, that was probably the worst one! Nikki (the MW) held my hand and helped me breathe through it before she examined me. Looking back, I’d have probably been made up if I had known that that was it – the most painful bit was over. I’d got scared, worked through it, the rest would be fine.

Mum arrived just as the midwife was doing the exam – nice timing! I was a very thin and stretchy 4-5cms, so around halfway there, and “far enough along to use the pool”. (Ha, midwife lady, just you try and stop me!) I was aware of people setting stuff up and making drinks but only vaguely. I think Mum made some cups of tea about now. I remember no one offered me one, typical.

I was concentrating hard on breathing away the contractions – they were getting stronger and stronger and I didn’t want to lose it like I had in the bathroom because that just made it a lot worse. I also didn’t want to lie down again, any pressure on my back was bloody agony. Leaning over the back of the sofa helped a lot.

The pool wasn’t *quite* ready and the midwife suggested I use the loo first. I thought that wasn’t a bad idea, but then another contraction came and I said “sod it, I can do that later! I’m getting in now!” That was a mistake… I really SHOULD have gone to the loo then, because it turned out that was my last chance. Next time: go to the toilet at every opportunity.

This was about 00.20am. Labour really picked up from here, the contractions were very close together and very strong. The warm water felt delicious – I’d have spent that money many times over for that relief! I experimented with different positions and discovered that I could NOT sit down in the water. The pressure on my tailbone made contractions unbearable. Pain = MOVE. I felt most comfy on my knees, leaning over the side of the pool, so that’s how I stayed pretty much the whole time after that, kneeling upright whenever a midwife wanted to check Peanut’s heart rate.

I remember saying I was going to be sick. I normally hate being sick, I’m a real wimp about it, but I was really glad about it this time, because all I could think was how much it would help me dilate, and bring Peanut to me all the quicker. I think it was DH that brought the bucket for me. That’s true love that is. Then he went to wash it out and Milton it so it would be ready if he needed to top the pool up with hot water. Then another contraction started so I made him leave the bucket for mum cos I wanted to hold his hand (awwww).

I got into a rhythm. I’d breathe through a contraction, imagining that I was filling up big red balloons and they were floating away in a clear blue sky. When it was over, I’d have a drink of water and relax my whole body, visualising everything opening, or thinking of a flower opening. I’d rest, waiting calmly for the next wave, and then breathe again.

Time went a bit squiffy… It was like being in a bubble and there was nothing except me, my breath, the tightenings and DH’s hand. I have no idea how long it was before I asked for gas and air but DH said afterwards it was about an hour or so.

To me, it felt as if it was very soon after getting in the pool that I started feeling pushy, and that had been not long after finding out I was 4-5cm… “You can only push at 10cm” = the biggest pile of bollocks in the world. I remember wondering vaguely if I should ask for another internal but I didn’t bother. I needed to push, so I pushed. It felt GREAT! It wasn’t ARGH pushing either, it wasn’t forced, there was no straining.  I just breathed down with just enough pressure to satisfy the urge.  It was like the birth breathing (from Hypnobirthing). It felt just right so I kept doing it with each contraction.

The second midwife arrived and at one point they had both gone into the living room leaving me alone with Mum and DH. The difference in my next contraction was huge, I’d only been vaguely aware that there was anyone with me at all, but the moment they left the room, my urge to push trebled. It wasn’t an urge, even…. my body was just pushing and my brain was not invited to the party. I managed to gasp out “Midwife!”, having the vague thought that someone should be there as my baby came out. They came back, and it eased off again, not so intense. Looking back, I am wondering if I’d have experienced the fetal ejection reflex if I’d just kept my mouth shut and let go…. I wonder if I’ll keep quiet next time and just deliver her into my hands, with no one else in the room except me & DH.  Tempting.

At one point the pain got a lot worse. My legs re-arranged themselves to get me in a squatting position and I could FEEL my baby shifting down. The pain eased. One of the midwives said “that’s great, that will really help your baby move down!” I remember thinking “well, duh!” Pain = move.

Oh god I was tired. Tired, tired, tired. I distinctly remember taking the gas and air out of my mouth and saying “Remind me to have a caesarean next time.” God, I’m *such* a card.

I could feel my baby move gently and gradually down. Nikki asked me to lift up out of the water every so often so she could check how I was progressing.  I didn’t mind this and I actually felt kind of reassured by it.  I remember her saying that the head was sitting right there, waiting to be born and I was thinking, “I know, I can feel it, I can feel just where it is!”

I was breathing down with more pressure and could feel everything stretching and opening to let Peanut out. I could feel a little burning, stinging sensation which was stronger when I lifted up out of the water. I could feel a bit more burning, and I could feel that the head was on its way out, so I put my hand down there. That helped so much!  I could feel so much of the head had been born and I knew I was nearly there! I could feel lots of hair.  I stroked the hair and felt the top half of my baby’s face, a squishy little nose… I remember thinking “dear Christ that feels weird!” I grabbed DH’s hand again and pulled it under the water. I was trying to tell him that the head was nearly out, there was loads of hair, it was REALLY COOL, he just HAD to feel it…. but in my excitement I’d forgotten to take the gas and air out of my mouth.

I got really excited then, and it was all I could do to not push down hard, not because I felt like I “needed” to, but just because I was so close and kind of impatient. I kept breathing down with the contractions and very soon (not sure exactly how long, time had gone very strange) I felt an enormous slithery sensation and I heard someone say “pick your baby up!” I lifted it up to my chest and told it that it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. This moment is burned into my brain forEVER. I’ll never, ever forget it. Awesome is a fairly over-used word at the moment, but that’s exactly what it was.

It made such a difference that I’d DONE IT. She hadn’t been pulled out of me, no one had told me what to do, no one had told me to push or breathe or anything, no one had interfered, no one else had even touched her as she arrived (except her dear ole Mum & Dad).

I was thinking, “I hope mum has got her camera out.” I looked up and Mum was there, but no camera. So I reminded her about what she was meant to be doing and looked back at my baby. It was all sort of lilac with lots of black hair, and very obviously perfect. I was rubbing its back and telling it how beautiful it was. I couldn’t believe my baby was finally HERE and had actually come OUT OF ME.  I was even a tiny bit sad that it was over, a bit like when you get to the end of a REALLY good book or a lovely holiday….. I’d really enjoyed her being in my tummy, and I’d really enjoyed her journey out and now that part was over.

A midwife leaned over and squeezed its foot to get it to cry and breathe. I didn’t like this.  It worked – there was a little whimper and then the colour started changing straight away. Someone said, “aren’t you going to look and see what you’ve got?” I had been looking forward to that moment – finding out the sex myself – throughout my whole pregnancy and when it came down to it, I’d forgotten! Wot a ditz :-/ I was very glad they reminded me though, because the contractions had been so intense when the midwife arrived that I had forgotten to tell them that was what I really wanted to do. So I looked, and said “We have a girl!”

We waited a little before clamping the cord, but in the end I decided to let them do it, I thought it would be easier to get out of the pool and move around if it was cut. I would definitely wait longer next time if possible. She was born at 2.34am, she weighed 8lb 7oz, her head circumference was 36cm and her apgars were 8 and 10.

The placenta was very stubborn and didn’t want to come out at all, even after a second jab and lots of cuddles and feeding, so they called for an ambulance (two actually, mum and baby get one each 🙂 ) and I transferred to hospital. (Next time: try for a physiological third stage!) My temperature rocketed and I’d gone all woozy just as the ambulances arrived. I remember thinking, “wow, my first ever trip in a nee nar! I’m glad they’ve got the sirens on, how exciting.” They did manage to get the placenta out by pulling on the cord (this part was rougher than the birth of my baby – THANK YOU ENTONOX!!) Next time: refuse internals if waters have gone.) Then DD had some problems with her breathing and had a short stay in special care…. (Next time: wait longer before cord clamping.) But even with the problems we had afterwards, I am still (2 years later!) thrilled about the actual delivery and I can’t wait to do it again 🙂 I hope DH agrees to one more…


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