I started having tightening/ surges during the early hours of Saturday morning – my due date. I don’t know what time; they weren’t strong enough to wake me fully and I certainly wasn't getting out of my nice warm bed unnecessarily! When you’ve had several weeks of having to get up repeatedly in the night to do micro-wees you really value your sleep ;-)
So when L asked me whether I wanted to go to Greenwich market for the day I thought I ought to tell him about it (he was being very obedient and had made plans
for my due date as instructed – I didn’t want to be sitting at home twiddling my thumbs!!) We discussed it, and decided that we would still go. I was pretty confident that the ‘surges’ would subside and come back in the evening for baby to arrive in the early hours, since that is what happened with my previous labours. WRONG!!!
Then we spent half an hour taking photos of my bump. I wanted to make sure to have pictures this time, as we plan for this to be our last baby. I was still getting tightening every 10 minutes or so. We set off for Greenwich at about 11.30 and pretty much straight away hit heavy traffic. It should be about a 20 minute drive, but there were delays at every set of traffic lights. We therefore decided that it would be foolish to go all the way to Greenwich, but to have lunch in Blackheath instead.
We found somewhere to park and then walked around the central triangle looking for a restaurant. We eventually settled on a little Italian place. Their service was RUBBISH, and once we’d ordered I took M to the loo. Went to the loo myself, and had a show!! I was very pleased as I didn’t have one before and it looked exactly as I’d read it would. A clear indication that things were progressing in the cervix department!! Anyway, during the slowest Italian meal in history I continued to have tightening every 6-7 minutes. Nothing unmanageable, I was able to talk through them, though not helped by M being really clingy and wanting to climb on my bump and in my face. I still managed to eat my meal though lol! During the meal, L covertly downloaded a contraction counter app (after 9 years of teaching I’m pretty good at spotting when someone is using their mobile phone underneath the table!) so I started using that.
Before we left, I went to the loo again and had more show, plus now when I moved around it started a contraction coming... We left Blackheath at about 2.45 and went home via Eltham to see if the Turkish bakery was open because L fancied one of their buns (you can sense how relaxed we were feeling at this stage!) We did however start to discuss in the car on the way home what we were going to do with M. We had had a 4 tiered plan for what we were going to do with her when I went into labour: A) Leave her sleeping in her bed, which would have been perfect if the labour had followed the same pattern as the previous ones B) Go with her big sister to her dad and stepmum’s for a sleepover C) Go next door to our lovely neighbours’ D) Stay with her childminder for a sleepover E) Call Grandma to come and look after both girls.
Unfortunately, it was still only 3 o’clock, so there was no way M was going to go to bed, so that meant plan A was a no-go. Plans B-D were also scuppered because F’s dad and stepmum were busy with their son’s christening plans and F’s stepmum didn’t answer her phone, our neighbours were in Plymouth with Charlton playing away and the childminder wasn’t answering her phone (of course, this would all happen on a Saturday!!). Plan E (Grandma) was meant for if my blood pressure had gone up and I’d had to go into hospital; I was pretty sure we didn’t have enough time for her to get to ours from Dorset!
When we got home at about 3 o’clock, I went to try to have a nap and we tried to get M to go down for a sleep too (I had an *interesting* time trying to read her a story whilst having contractions every 6 minutes or so!). Neither of us managed to sleep unsurprisingly!!! I got up again at about 4, by which point to contractions had speeded up and intensified – about every 3-4 minutes and lasting a minute or so.
I came downstairs and told L. We decided that it was about time we found someone to look after M! So, in between putting pressure on my coccyx to help me cope with the contractions and dealing with M, L managed to get hold of my best friend’s husband (my (at that time, childless) best friend was at the hairdresser and had left her phone at school) He left instructions for her to call the minute she got back. I called the midwives’ pager at 4.30, and when they hadn’t called back by 4.45, called the delivery suite. I was concerned that they would tell me to wait because the home birth booklet said to call when you’ve been having contractions every 2-3 minutes for 2 hours, but since I had 2 contractions that I couldn’t talk through whilst I was on the phone to the midwife she must have taken me seriously and said she’d contact the on call community midwife. Once that was sorted, I went up to go in the bath, leaving L to sort out M’s supper.
Whilst I was in the bath, I had to manage the pain of my contractions by myself, as L wasn’t around to press on my back. I braced myself on the sides of the bath to press my back down on the bottom of the bath which helped a bit, and tried to breathe through the contractions and visualise my cervix opening up. L came up intermittently to check on me.
At about 5.15 the contractions changed, and when L came up, I had to tell him that I had started getting the urge to push! Eeek – the midwife hadn’t arrived yet!!!
Luckily, Dawn the midwife arrived at about 5.20. L sent her straight upstairs to me. She wanted to assess how I was progressing, and in order to do that I would need to turn around in the bath. Unfortunately every time I moved it triggered another contraction and they were coming one on top of the other. Since I didn’t want to actually give birth in the bath I decided to move through to the bedroom. L had removed the duvet and pillows and laid the maternity pads over the mattress, so I dropped the towel on top and clambered on. Dawn examined me at 5.30 (ouch!) and found that I was fully dilated and ready to push!!
By this point my best friend and her husband had arrived to look after M, so L was able to come upstairs and concentrate on the impending birth.) Dawn also tried to contact the second midwife, who turned out to be in Gravesend, 40 minutes’ drive away, so she had to call an ambulance to be on ‘stand by’ just in case we had to transfer to hospital. I got on my hands and knees at the head of the bed, the position in which I had birthed M, and which enabled L to press on my back again – phew!
The second stage lasted about 45 minutes. Dawn was very encouraging telling me ‘you’re doing fantastic!’ (the urge to correct her grammar –suppressed thankfully- distracted me a little from the pain!!). She also kept saying that I had to get the head to go ‘past the U-bend’; now the U-bend is part of a toilet, so I wasn’t too keen on that comparison either!!!
Anyway, I kept on with the pushing. I wasn’t allowed any more gas and air at that point because apparently it takes away the focus from the pushing. I definitely felt that it took longer than with M, but at least I didn’t have the urge to bite L this time! He was being brilliant actually, really encouraging. When I eventually got the ‘ring of fire’ indicating that the baby’s head is crowning I was so relieved, and then it was only 2 more big pushes for the rest of the head and a slippery little body to come out. L shouted, ‘It’s a boy!!’ and I remember thinking I’d better have a check just in case he’d got muddled up with the umbilical cord. But, no, he was right – there was indeed a little willy and two perfect little balls – I was, and am, soooo happy to have my little boy!! I wanted to cuddle him straight away, but he was a bit slippery (various fluids:-s) so Dawn and L helped me turn over so he could lie on my tummy and we could try for a first feed.
L then cut the cord with the bluntest pair of safety I’ve ever seen, and Dawn gave me an injection to help me deliver the placenta and give X his vitamin K injection. It took 25 minutes for the placenta to arrive after which Dawn and the second midwife, Pip, helped me get cleaned up and they cleared up the bed and changed the sheets. Then finally M was allowed to come up and meet her new baby brother. She was the proudest little girl in the world!