Saturday 10 October, Rosemary woke up at 6.30am and I went into her room, where I had to kneel on the floor and lean on her bed, because I was in a lot of pain. It was similar to the pains I’d been getting from the downward pressure on my pelvis for ages, but not quite the same. After a few moments, the pain passed and we headed downstairs where, as usual, we let the dog out the back. While outside, I had another wave of pain and had to lean on the wall, trying to talk to Rosemary about the moon and stars that were exciting me. When we went back inside, I had to immediately go and sit down, rather than making tea and getting Rosemary a cup of milk. After a while, I had another, and realised that these were definitely different to the pain I’d been having before, so I asked Rosemary to go and ‘Tell Daddy to get up now, because Mummy’s having different pains.’
There then followed another day of timing and waiting. These were definitely contractions, and strong ones, though they were all concentrated at the bottom of the bump, just above the pelvis, rather than being waves of pain travelling down the whole bump. But, the problem was that they weren’t regular. They varied from about 6 minutes to over 20 minutes in frequency, and from just under a minute to 2.5 minutes in length. They weren’t getting closer together, though did seem to be getting stronger.
The majority of the day I spent sat on my gym ball, timing the contractions. I put off phoning the maternity unit, because I was sure they’d just say ‘Wait until you get three in ten minutes’, but in the end Chris persuaded me to phone anyway, just for reassurance. I was pleased I did, because it was my midwife who answered the phone. She reassured me that it sounded like the real thing and that it was just a case of how long it would take. She also said we were welcome to come in whenever we wanted. I wanted to stay at home as long as possible, but it was wonderful to know that she would be there, because I trust her a lot.
My mum had come and taken Rosemary out for the day and offered to have her overnight, which Rosemary was keen on, so we were free to prepare without worrying about her. Chris made dinner and we ate at five. And I decided, after dinner, that it was time to get active and try to move the contractions on. I had known that that would help, but I had been avoiding it all day, because they hurt too much and I was suddenly rather keen to avoid the whole pain thing. But by 5.30, I felt it was time, so I started walking round and round the dining room table. Within minutes, the contractions had moved closer together, and it was hardly any time before I was getting them three minutes apart.
We called Eva, to get her round to dogsit, called my midwife to let her know it was time, and called Emma to come and get us. And off we went, with the ridiculous amount of stuff – labour bag, Eleanor bag, my bag, and an extra bag with food in it.
We got to Stroud Maternity at about 6.30pm, where we were welcomed by Sarah, who had got our room ready – darkened, calm music on, ball and mat on the floor. She settled us in and took my vitals and then left us to to it for a bit. I soon found that sitting down, whether on the ball or on a chair, caused the contractions to slow down again, so I was pacing up and down the room a lot, to keep them going forward.
At about 7.30, Sarah examined me and I was 3cm dilated. I was disappointed that it wasn’t further ahead, but also relieved because a little part of me still had the possibility of its being yet another false alarm in my head. At 9pm, Sarah popped home to have some food and we were being looked after by Sandy, the midwife who had been there during last week’s false alarm. She suggested I try a hip swinging, almost stationery motion instead of pacing, as it uses less energy and, at the same time, helps baby’s head to get even further down. It definitely seemed to work as, when I tried to sit down on the gym ball for a minute, it was too uncomfortable as I could feel the head. Sandy also got the bath filled up, as she thought it shouldn’t be too long.
At that point I moved to kneeling on the mat on the floor with my arms resting on a beanbag. I was also swivelling my hips between contractions, though by this point they weren’t really slowing down. I had started on the gas and air a fair while earlier, and was definitely needing it. At 11.30, Sarah (who was back again), examined me and I was 7cm dilated. So it was time to go through to the pool.
When I got in the pool I was very impressed – it felt wonderful. I (thought I) had two contractions and didn’t even need to use the gas and air. But then I had another one and, oh boy, did it hurt! The next contraction was very weird. I honestly thought the baby was coming, even hearing Sarah and Chris saying ‘There’s the head. Just keep pushing and you’ll have a baby.’ I kept pushing (seemingly) and screaming and really thought I’d pushed her out, only to ‘come to’ and hear Sarah saying ‘Wow, that was a really big contraction.’ Huh? But where’s the baby?
I was fairly out of it on the gas and air, as you will have seen from the after pictures, so most of it is blurry. I know I kept getting cramp. I know that I was shouting and swearing lots and not doing very well at breathing through the pain. I remember Sarah telling me at one point that some of my waters had gone and then a bit later saying ‘That’s the rest of your waters’. I remember getting to a point where I couldn’t carry on any longer and saying so, then shortly after that I heard someone say the head was out (and it was this time), then not long after that, she just sort of slipped out – or so it seemed – and then I was having to step over the cord, so she could be put on my chest.
Fairly quickly, I was rushed back to the delivery room, as I was losing too much blood to stay in the water (thought lost 200ml less than last time). Chris carried Eleanor through and she got put on my chest again. Tried offering the breast, but nothing doing. Placenta came out at some point and apparently the umbilical cord was huge. Then Sarah stitched me up – had a small tear, because she came out so quickly. I think I managed one sip of tea and didn’t eat any of the toast.
Then we got wheeled down to the ward and settled in there. Eleanor had a quick feed and then went to sleep in the attached cot, next to me. Chris went home to rest. I went to sleep. Eleanor stirred a few times during the night, but settled very quickly.
And we were home by about 4pm the same day.
[At some point I will write the epic tale of weight loss, feeding, expressing and so on that we were negotiating our way through at the moment. But probably not until it’s resolved.]