At 2am on Monday 7th April I felt my waters trickle out of me whilst I lay in bed. I got up to go to the bathroom so I could confirm what I already knew -my baby girl was on her way! Once I’d ruled out the possibility that I’d just lost control of my bladder and was sure that my waters had indeed broken I woke Stephen up to let him know. We decided I should probably call the hospital to let them know as I hadn’t had any contractions at this point. As I sat downstairs on the phone to the Birthing Unit, unbeknownst to me, poor Stephen almost broke his neck slipping on the trail of fluid I’d left behind on the bedroom floor. Oops!
I was told to go into hospital so they could check on baby. Once there, we were greeted by a lovely midwife who confirmed my waters had broken (I was never in any doubt by this point) and then hooked me up to a monitor for 20 minutes. Whilst there I could feel a few contractions building up and watched the numbers rise on the machine. After a while they just petered out and there wasn’t much else happening. Because I’d had some contractions, although not any to write home about, the midwife decided to examine me. She told me I was 1 cm dilated (big whoop!) and that she could feel baby’s hair. She joked that she couldn’t tell what colour it was though as she wasn’t “that good!” I wondered how many times she’d made that joke before. She then told us we could go home. I was ordered to sleep well and eat well as I’d be needing the energy very soon. I was given until 7pm that day to go into established labour naturally or I’d have to be induced. I really didn’t want to be induced as I wanted to be as active as I could in labour — not strapped to a bed and hooked up to a machine!
I tried to get some sleep but I was far too excited. I kept thinking “My baby has hair!” It was all starting to seem very real now. The next morning I decided to stay in bed for a while so I would feel well rested later on. I stuffed my face with food and drink (brought to me by Stephen who was happy to wait on me hand and foot!) and watched Disney movies. I still wasn’t having any noticeable contractions, just felt a bit crampy. A hot water bottle and some paracetamol was enough to deal with it.
The moment I got up and started moving around the contractions started to build. I filled the bath up and had a long soak whilst listening to Ben Howard’s ‘Every Kingdom’ album. It was so relaxing. I even impressed myself by being able to shave my legs. Well, one side of each but beggars can’t be choosers. Once out of the bath I asked Stephen to put my TENs machine on for me. In all honestly I found the sensation a little odd and not sure if it actually helped or not but once it was on I daren’t take it off! I kept it on right up until after the birth so it must’ve been doing something, if only serving as a good distraction from everything else.
The contractions built up very quickly and in no time at all they were coming every 5 or so minutes, lasting about a minute long. We phoned the Birthing Unit to let them know and was told, in not quite these words, that ‘there’s no room at the inn!’ The birthing unit was extremely busy and overrun with ladies giving birth so they didn’t have a room for me! I was told to wait it out at home a little longer “maybe have a bath and take some paracetamol”. I was way beyond that now! We were assured that they were going to go and make some room for me and we’d be called back in 5 minutes and we’d then be told when to come in. My contractions were extremely intense by now and it was taking all of my concentration to breathe through them. Stephen looked extremely helpless by this point but I was in the zone. There was no screaming or shouting, no “I can’t believe you did this to me” or even any hand squeezing. I think he’d rather that there had of been, just to feel more useful. Instead, I gripped onto the end of the banister with one hand and the back of the sofa with the other and just swayed and breathed deeply, taking each contraction as it came. 50 minutes had passed and we’d still had no phone call back from the birthing unit so we rang again. This time we were told that they were still working on making space for me and to hold tight. I starting to think that this baby was going to be born right where I stood.
Just as Stephen’s phone rang, I collapsed onto all fours and finally made some noise. It must’ve sounded like a lion’s roar to our next door neighbour. I’d seen enough episodes of One Born Every Minute to know that I was in transition. I was starting to get the urge to push. We were finally told that we could go to the birthing unit and that there was a room waiting for me. By now though, I was completely frozen to the spot. I could not imagine being able to get up, walk to the car and travel to the hospital. It just didn’t seem possible! It took me a good few minutes and a lot of encouragement from Stephen but I finally made it into the car. I wasn’t able to put my shoes on and I couldn’t concentrate enough to put my seat belt on until the ‘ding, ding, ding, ding’ warning signal drove me so mad that I gave in and clipped it into the buckle. I grabbed onto the seatbelt with white knuckles and stuck my head out of the window like an enthusiastic dog. The air against my face seemed to help take my mind off everything else as I just continued to breathe through each contraction. I was still desperate to push.
We arrived at the hospital car park in record time and the moment I got out of the car and took a step I couldn’t move any further. I froze to the spot, barefooted and clinging to Stephen. My body was pushing, all by itself. “She’s coming now!” I shouted at Stephen. He looked around to see if he could see anyone in the car park who wasn’t old and decrepit (not easy) and spotted a young couple walking by. He shouted over to the guy to go and let someone know that I was about to have a baby in the car park and sure enough he ran off at lightning speed. A knight in shining armour! Seconds later, an angel appeared in the form of a lady wheeling a wheelchair towards me at 100 miles an hour, followed by several paramedics and two midwives. They got me into the wheelchair where I immediately proceeded to wet myself. Oh this childbirth lark sure is classy. One of the paramedics shouted “Do you want some Entonox, love?” to which I calmly replied “ummm (I was struggling to remember what Entonox was) yes please!” Don’t ever let it be said that I’m not polite! The paramedics fumbled around trying to get me this gas and air whilst dropping things all over the floor. Imagine Laurel and Hardy in green uniforms and you’re half way there.
I was rushed to A&E where a bed was waiting for me surrounded by doctors and nurses fully scrubbed up! It was only then that they realised I didn’t quite have a baby’s head coming out between my legs just yet and there was time to get me up to the Birthing Unit. On the way up I announced to everyone in the lift that my “Nips were lumb”. I, of course, meant to say that “my lips are numb!” The gas and air was clearly working a treat.
I was wheeled to my room, introduced to the midwife and then helped onto the bed. She was amazed that I was still so calm having reached the hospital fully dilated. I could finally start pushing. I was adamant all the way though my pregnancy that Stephen was in no way, shape or form going to be allowed down the business end while I was in labour. But when the midwife asked him if he wanted to see the baby’s head crowning and he looked at me, seeking permission, I just nodded defeatedly. I was so glad I let him watch. With every push I could see him become more animated and this assured me that the pushes were actually doing something. It was hard to tell how productive the pushes were as it feels like the baby goes right back to where they started after each one. This is not the case! I managed to get 3 good pushes in with most of the contractions and at 7.41pm, approximately 45 minutes after arriving at the hospital, Jasmine was born. She’s the most beautiful little thing I have ever seen.
Although I would never have planned to stay at home for quite as long as I did, I still feel amazingly positive about the birth. For weeks I had meticulously packed and re-packed my hospital bags which never even made it out of the boot of the car and I’m glad I never bothered writing a birth plan as when it came down to it, the midwife didn’t even have time to look at my maternity notes let alone read through a birth plan. It’s true that babies come when they jolly well want to and Jasmine was clearly no exception.
I honestly believe that the breathing techniques I learned at Daisy Birthing Classes got me through it all. As I said before, there was no screaming, shouting or wailing. I just breathed through each contraction, one at a time and focused on getting my baby here. I’m so glad that I never stuck my head in the sand in regards to childbirth. I educated myself about what was going to happen to my body and I think this made a huge difference. Deep down I knew that everything that was happening to me was supposed to be happening. I don’t often give myself a lot of credit for the things I do in life but this time I feel genuinely proud of myself and I can say that giving birth to my daughter has been my greatest achievement.