The day after my due date, my contractions started at about 8pm while we were relaxing for the evening. Fast forward 5 hours and they were coming fast – every 3-4 minutes – but were still perfectly manageable and I could just breathe through them. We decided then, at 3am, to take the half hour journey to the maternity unit to get checked out. The midwife confirmed that labour was starting, but that I had to wait until the contractions were more intense, and I was maybe 1cm dilated (having to get to 10cm, I figured we’d be in for the long haul). In any case we went home, too excited to sleep, and we set up Series 1 of 24 on the DVD player. The episodes came and went, an hour long each, and I continued to time the contractions while bouncing on the birthing ball.
As the intensity rose, I had my husband rub my lower back to ease the pain and I had to concentrate more during each contraction. It was heavenly when each finished and I felt back to normal, knowing I had about 3 minutes before the next would hit. I had an appointment booked at the hospital (for discussing options if labour hadn’t started), so decided to wait it out at home until 2pm. I was still moderately happy through each contraction and when we got to hospital the midwife said she would check for dilation but if I hadn’t progressed I was to go back home. Much to her surprise (and ours) she declared that I was 7cm and needed to get up to the labour ward ASAP.
I really wanted to have a natural water birth in the midwife led unit (home-from-home as they call it) but there are only limited rooms available. Luckily there was a room coming available at 3pm, so we sat in the reception for the best part of an hour, just walking around and breathing through the contractions. I figured by 3pm I’d be almost fully dilated and ready to push, and wondered what all the fuss was about! I got settled in to our lovely room with a private bathroom and birthing pool, and a pull out sofa for hubby. I got into my comfy clothes and had the midwife help put on the TENS machine as at that point I needed a little help with the back pain during contractions. After a few hours of keeping active, I was examined at 6pm, but to my dismay – still 7cm, I was so disheartened! We agreed to have my waters broken artificially and immediately the contractions were a good 100x worse!
Cue gas & air (and a giggling fit from taking too much the first time)! They then ran the birthing pool to help with the pain and it was a relief to get in to the water! As things progressed I just floated around and said ‘GAS’ to my husband (who was patiently sitting at the edge on gas & air duty) when I felt the next contraction coming on! Although I didn’t actually use a lot of the stuff and didn’t take any other medication, I don’t really remember much about that stage – I had no awareness of time. Towards the end I declared to the midwife that ‘he is never going to come out’, and she told me I was doing well.
Saving all the gory details, it was such a relief when his head finally came out – and he was born on the next push at 23:06. My 7lb 9oz bundle of perfection was lifted out of the water and into my arms and let out a little cry so we knew he was OK! His heart rate was checked between every contraction when I was in the water and he was perfect the whole time. I had a few hairy moments with a haemorrhage after he was born, and a long recovery from a bad tear, but it was all worth it. It’s so surreal holding your baby for the first time!