This is going to sound completely crazy I know but the week before my due date, which was to be Sunday 9th August, I told the husband that I was going to have this baby on Thursday, three days early but I had had enough – I could barely eat or sleep any more this tiny baby was taking up so much space, my ribs felt ready to crack open and my body about to burst. Well that Thursday morning dawned and I woke up like a woman on a mission – we had spent the day before filling the freezer with home cooked meals and finalising hospital bags and that morning I started working; I prepared and scheduled two more blog posts and answered almost every email in my inbox and I was ready, like really, really ready.
I read that not everyone’s waters break in a whoosh so when I noticed some trickles we called the midwife unit to let them know things might be starting. They wanted me to come in for a check and things started to feel real. Making that drive I was smiling and kept saying that I knew we’d probably get sent right home again but maybe just maybe this was it. This was not it. The midwife was super lovely and did all my checks but this was just the show and she said it was a good sign that we were on the track towards birth which could be anytime… over the next week. So we drove home and went for a dog walk and invited the in-laws out for dinner.
At 7pm when I stood up from the couch to leave for dinner I felt something different and thought, ‘I need to check that‘ – fast forward to the bathroom and this for sure was no trickle, this was IT. The husband was on a video call getting a quote from a removal company (yeah, more on that another day) so I stayed in there that twenty minutes and made sure he knew that the bathroom was absolutely out of bounds… By the time he joined me my waters had been consistently ‘breaking’ for a half hour and were showing no signs of slowing down. What shocked me most was just how much fluid there is, truly so, so much. We called the midwife again and again she wanted us in for a check. I asked if we could go out for dinner first but of course that was completely absurd so the in-laws were unceremoniously stood up (sorry). I got up from the loo to leave and whoosh… even more, like it actually splashed on the bathroom floor, down my legs and inside my shoes, it was special and I’m so glad the husband was there to see that happen because we laughed together and he set about drying the floor. Let this be known as No.1 in the series of completely undignified moments we would share that will bind us together forever in that experience and for those moments, husband, I love you more than you could know.
Back at the hospital again and it was confirmed this time that my waters had indeed broken. Now started for me the phase of excitement and worry as a timeline was in place… 48 hours to go into labour naturally or I could be facing induction. Now I didn’t prep a whole lot for the birth, in fact I spent the first 8 months dreading it, convinced it was destined to be the most horrendous experience of my life (people really do relish in telling their horror stories don’t they?). Then a kind friend sent me Ina May’s ‘Guide to Childbirth’ and everything changed for me. Why was I so scared of something so natural that so many women the world over accomplish naturally and without incident? For this reason I chose to birth at the Community Midwife Unit (CMU) at the RAH in Paisley as I knew they were all for natural, calm births with as little intervention as possible, just letting your body do what it does (but with the labour ward only one floor away just in case). My plan was not set in stone but after reading ‘Hypnobirthing’ by Marie Mongan I was even more convinced I wanted to try to do this… and induction was something I badly wanted to avoid. I remember the midwife feeling my belly and telling me she could feel contractions and asking if I couldn’t feel them. I couldn’t. She asked if I had a high pain threshold and for some blissful minutes I actually wondered if I might be one of those women who don’t feel a thing. (If you’ve ever had a child you’ll almost certainly be laughing right now… yeah, I know… amateur). We drove home again under instruction to eat a good dinner and try to get some sleep.
By the time we sat down to carbonara at 9.30pm the ‘waves’, as I had decided to call them, began and my concerns of induction gone. I managed about three forkfuls of spaghetti before moving to the bouncy ball and trying to settle into a rhythm of breathing through each one. We did not time anything for quite a while but almost right from the beginning I remember those waves were no more than a few minutes apart. I concentrated on deep breathing and visualising our babymoon; the waves on the beach in Portinatx rushing in over the sand and then disappearing back out. At some point I felt a bath might help or at least be worth a try so I hopped (hmmm) in the tub and stayed there for a good couple of hours with the husband by my side. I won’t lie to you, things started to get pretty powerful in there as my body really got into the swing of things but the husband played his relaxing playlist and kept reminding me to picture that beach. When the waves were one minute long and only two minutes apart we spoke to the midwife and agreed it was time to come in. I dragged myself out of the tub and promptly threw up in the toilet. The husband asked if my waters were still breaking – no, no they were not – I was peeing on the floor with every heave. This would be No.2 in the series of undignified moments.
I remember that car journey only in waves – I knew with my timings that the twenty minute journey would be about seven waves and I spent them all with my eyes clamped shut. Suffice to say by this point I did not have great chat. Nil in fact. We arrived at the CMU at 2.30am and I was admitted at 5cm dilated – such a relief as I really did not want to be sent home this time. There was no time for the carefully packed hospital bags to be brought in with us from the car. I got straight into the birthing pool where I would stay for the next five hours, sucking on the gas and air and turning into a giant pregnant prune. I don’t honestly know how to describe that time other than to say it was intense. My body was on its own journey and I was just along for the ride. I remember the wonderful midwife encouraging me not to be scared now and again and the husband, speaker of Ibizan waves, giver of back rubs and caretaker of the gas and air, tells me he got a leg cramp from sitting in the same position so long. Poor guy. And if you were wondering what No.3 in the series of undignified moments was then let’s just say that it involved a sieve and the husband playing ‘pool boy’. I don’t think the water took any of the pain away but the comfort and ease of being able to float from one position to the next was incredible and I genuinely don’t know if I could have done that bit on dry land. Twice I asked what the pain relief options were and upon discovering they all involved me getting out of that pool, I shut up and stayed put.
Around 6.30am I had to push. And we all thought this baby was going to be born at 7am on 07.07.17. We were wrong. My body got tired and the waves started spacing out… I was spaced out, my head bobbing under the water between times. The midwives said I had to get out of the tub and stop the gas and air. Was this some cruel joke? Excuse me mam, you would like me to go up and down stairs right now with a baby emerging from my body? You cannot be serious. They were.
Then began a solid hour of pushing. My dreams of breathing the baby out were clearly absurb, my body had other ideas. I pushed and pushed with absolutely ALL my might. And then I pushed way harder. The midwife took my hand and I felt his tiny head and in that moment, of the most complete exhaustion I have ever experienced in my life, I found the strength to keep going and finally, at 9.11am, he was here. His tiny little purple body on my chest, calm and quiet. And the feelings you get in that moment are almost indescribable. Love like no other. This small and perfect baby you’ve spent nine months growing, finally right there with you both, forever.
By this point I was almost entirely distracted as my body started haemorrhaging and wouldn’t stop. Midwives doubled in numbers, injections were given and we were whisked down to the labour ward. I remember seeing a single tear rolling down the husband’s cheek and I thought I might be dying. I wasn’t. What followed was a drip and stitches (which FYI don’t even register on the pain scale after childbirth) and the husband catching me as I passed out on the bathroom floor. And toast. It took me forty minutes to eat half a slice of that buttered toast but, oh boy, it was the best toast I had ever tasted. We stayed two nights on the labour ward and if we could have brought those midwives home with us we would have.
And this baby, Hunter born 9.11am on 07.07.17 weighing 8lb 1oz, is the most beautiful and wonderful thing we have achieved in our lives. These first few weeks have been a rollercoaster and through it all he has been perfect, growing and keeping us all smiling. I really believe life has a grand plan and it is not always easy but Hunter came to us at exactly the time he was meant to and he is so very loved.
I leave you with these photos, 6, 7, 8 and 9 months pregnant and 1 month old – I will forever be in awe of women’s bodies, that some of us are lucky enough to grow babies and get them out…