So let me begin with a statement that will probably make you hate me; I had the most perfect pregnancy…no morning sickness, no pregnancy acne, no food aversions. I had that ‘special pregnancy glow’, my hair grew long and thick and I was still in my size 10’s 8 months in. Still reading? Want me to punch me in the face? Read on….
So I had read the parenting books, and especially liked the one which advocates ‘a routine from day one’, the nursery was ready and I had bleached everything that didn’t move quick enough – our poor cat didn’t know whether she was going to be cleaned and took to bolting down her food in record time. I had said goodbye to work colleagues, much to their relief as I was a week to my expected due date, and was ready to, as I casually remarked to a friend “get this all over and done with” – what a fool.
My darling daughter decided, like many women before her, that she would take her damn time and would be ready in ‘5 minutes’. So after countless sleepless nights and those crazy pregnancy dreams, I got to a week past my due date and ventured into the world of ‘sweeps’ (see, I told you to read on…) Now the only Sweep that I had been aware of was of the Sooty variety but trust me, this was no children’s show. I had TWO of these bad boys – the first one was so bad that I actually thought I was already in labour and squeezed Husband’s hand so hard that he thought I had broken his fingers. The second one, a mere 48 hours after the first as Peachy was still not coming out, I sauntered in alone, chatted away to the midwife like it was a first date and drove home howling/singing along to the radio.
Nada, nothing, not a twinge, not even the teeniest of cramps. The most painful bit about sweep number 2 was burning my mouth on the incredibly hot pasty I was stuffing in my face as I left the hospital. And then the daily texts started from friends and family of ‘is she here yet?’ and Husband had to put up with a lot of muttering from behind the Malteasers bag of ‘ffs! Of course she isn’t here yet, do you think I would be texting if I were in labour?! Leave me alone so I can bleach the stairs, windowsills and the cat, oh and whilst I’m at it, the bleach bottle is looking a bit grubby too’ whilst replying ‘no, we will let you know as soon as LOL!’ Oh and Husband telling me that it’s only because people care and I would be upset if no-one contacted me, which is true but at this point you don’t want to hear it; what you do want to hear is ‘Of course you can have a large stuffed crust pizza at 3am darling, I’ll get it for you!’
Nearly a week after my due date, and to mutterings of ‘inducement’ Peachy decided to give up her woman cave and in the most thoughtful way, the contractions began at 2am on a Friday morning. I calmly shook Husband who muttered something about contractions being so many minutes apart as he fell back to sleep. So here I am, pacing round and round my lounge (with the cat in tow looking ever hopeful for an early morning snack) lunging and ‘opening my pelvis like a flower in bloom’ as the classes had said – let me tell you something, if this is what flowers go through, I have a new found respect for them.
ooooohhhhh…… contraction……breathe…..breathe…..breathe……ahhhh! quickly enter time onto my exceedingly clever (and free) iPhone app and continue pacing
ooooohhhhh…… contraction……breathe…..breathe…..breathe……ahhhh! app, pacing
ooooohhhhh…… contraction……breathe…..breathe…..breathe……ahhhh! app, more pacing
I kid you not but I remember at this stage, feeling a bit bored so whilst looking for a book, came across the Sainsbury’s magazine and started to do their crossword….
ooooohhhhh…… contraction……breathe…..breathe…..breathe……ahhhh! app, ooohhh 12 down, 5 letters, starting with R…
Shoot! The app says the contractions are only 3 minutes apart and they have been coming closer, I haven’t even finished the crossword yet! Time to call the maternity unit who advise I come in for an assessment.
Wake Husband, who of course insists that he wasn’t sleeping but ‘resting’ and he, having read his ‘daddy parenting book’ insisting that I must have something to eat. So I munch Weetabix, through the contractions that are getting closer and closer and more and more painful.
Into the car, much excitement, a lot of deep breathing and Husband driving like he is an F1 race against Lewis Hamilton screeches up to the unit where are shown into the assessment room. Lots of questions about painfulness on scale of 1-10 and timings (thank goodness for the app!) and midwife cheerfully snaps on the rubber gloves and says ‘righto! lets see how dilated you are then!’
Now I don’t know if you know this, but a ‘helpful’ friend sent me a picture of what dilation looks like in real terms i.e. a slice of banana is x cms, a can of coke is x cms and a bagel is fully dilated, so at this stage of my labour, all I can think of is ‘well I have got to be at least an apple’ and midwife says ‘well you have a while to go yet dearie, you are about two and a half centimeters’
TWO AND A HALF? TWO AND AN F-ING HALF?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!! It’s going to get worse than this? Stop the train, I want to get off….
A much more sedate and somewhat morose drive home whist I text everyone to say ‘nope! false alarm, could be a while if not days yet LOL!’
Arriving home to my parents on the doorstep looking, quite frankly, disappointed that I don’t have their granddaughter in my arms but cheer up considerably at the mention of tea and a late brekkie. Decide to eat my breakfast pasty (seem to have a pasty theme….) whilst walking up and down the garden as the contractions seem to be subsiding, decide to have another go at the Sainsbury’s crossword (don’t laugh – it’s surprisingly challenging!) and HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, these mothers are absolutely Contractions with a capital ‘C’ – I can see now that the others were just a warm up
Breathe, breathe, breathe….
Maternity unit called, can’t speak, suggest I go in. Husband and mum bundle me in the car, sitting on a towel (it is a new car after all), back to the exam room, same midwife who looks wearily at me, usual routine and again, thank goodness for the app and midwife cheerfully snaps on the rubber gloves and says ‘righto! lets see how dilated you are then!’ At this point all I can think is ‘please god bagel, please god bagel’ and she cheerfully says ‘4 centimeters’ – at this point I really wanted to punch her in the face and say ‘Do your job woman, I have to be at least a can of coke!’
I’m told I can stay, and I’m given the birthing pool which I really wanted so I am placated for the time being. It was suggested that we go to Costa but then things take a turn…
I’m moaning, and swaying, and the contractions are coming too fast and I can’t breathe, and no I don’t want to lay down, and no I don’t want my back rubbed – take your hands off me Husband, and no I do want my back rubbed – thank you midwife. Ooohhh midwife, those are lovely shoes – where did you get them? I would like to add here that I was refusing pain relief….
It was, as Husband said, as if he couldn’t do right for wrong! Some of his favourites of my orders are, in no particular order:
Stop texting and help me
Get off me and why are you not telling our friends and family we are here
Can you please turn the vibrate off of your phone, it’s very fucking distracting
Ohhh, yes please, I do want some Lucozade…. I wanted water!
Husband was not too badly treated to be honest, the supporting midwife’s kept bringing him cups of tea and the odd biccy…
Then my waters break. And it is nothing like in the movies. It sends me into a blind panic and I am literally standing at the end of the bed, in wet trousers, dancing on the spot in panic. Husband is told by me to’get someone quickly…. where are you going? You can’t leave me alone!’ And then the lovely sound of the water, at last, being run in the birthing pool.
You may or may not know about water births. I decided to have one as I love baths and I find them relaxing, plus water births are meant to be a calmer way to birth. I was still eschewing drugs at this point.
The other thing I was not aware of, is you sweat like a pig whilst in labour. Now I’m no sweaty Betty, in fact, before pregnancy, I gymmed regularly but found it very hard to break into any kind of a sweat. But in labour, I was like Sponge Bob so was rather looking forward to getting into the water.
Climbing carefully up the steps, taking a moment to pause and catch my breathe, and sink in…. HOLY MOSES! It’s frigging scalding…. I was also not aware that the water has to be maintained at liquid lava temperature and you are basically like a lobster in a pot. So picture me, leaping around like a salmon swimming upstream, with the midwife barking at me to keep my hips in the water and I’m trying to not bite her… Oh, and I’m still not taking the drugs
So I’m now broiling, sweating, moaning, and screaming to no avail, so I try another tactic – bargaining. I say to the midwife, in the manner of a broker with a HUGE loss, “I can’t do this….please make it stop, I’ll give you anything.” And the Midwife grins at me and says “Oohhh, goodie, we are nearly there!” and then steps out of the room…
I grab Husband, declaring I have to push NOW and the supporting midwife comes in with new towels (and possibly another cuppa for Husband who is having a lovely time) and puts on her game face whilst calmly calling out to her colleague to come back in NOW . Midwife asks me if I’m ready to push, and I mournfully look at her declaring “I am pushing, I promise I am”
Push, breathe, stop
Push, Push, breathe, push, stop
Push, Push, Push, breathe, push, and then I yell
ARGH!!! No-one told me it burns!!!
ONE HUGE PUSH and Husband nearly losing his tea in the excitement……………
ahhhhh, Peachy has arrived, all ten tiny wrinkled fingers and ten tiny wrinkled toes, all scrunched up and squishy, squealing like a pig in mud
Ahhh, lovely Husband, texting all our family and friends with the joyous news.
Ahhh, midwife, you are just lovely.
Ahhh, other midwife, thanks so much and tell me, where did you get those shoes?
And there is Peachy, being weighed and cuddled, and screaming like a banshee.
And this is when Husband and I looked at each other, and the most perfect thing we had ever created in the whole wide world and both felt this rush of love and surge of protection so fierce we knew our lives would never be the same.