This is a much shorter story than the 3 part epic tale of her big sister’s birth!
As I wrote in the last instalment of my pregnancy diaries, I had a membrane sweep at 4 days overdue and started to get period-like and back pains later that afternoon. The pains continued the next day, they were constant and not contraction-like but gradually got worse. I couldn’t be sure that this was labour though, I’d had quite a few different aches and pains over the previous weeks. I rang Andy at about 3pm and asked him to come home and pick Seren up from childcare as I couldn’t face getting in the car with the back pain I had. He got home about 5pm and I’d gone to bed for a snooze. He gave me a back massage using the technique we had learnt at the Birthing Workshop we had been to and then he went to pick up Seren.
We played in the garden for a while though my tummy pains were getting worse and I couldn’t pick Seren up to put her in the swing. She seemed to sense that something was up as she got very upset by this even though Andy was on hand to play with her instead. I felt like I was possibly overreacting but something was telling me it would be a good idea if she stayed at her grandparents’ house for the night so we called them to come over. She happily toddled off down the driveway with grandad in her pyjamas to have her sleepover.
As soon as Seren left, at about 7pm, my contractions started. I used my TENS machine to manage the pain before getting in the bath for an hour or so and breathing through the contractions. By about 9pm they were averaging 5 minutes apart and lasting about 50 seconds. In between contractions I could happily be online on my phone but I noticed that when I did that the frequency dropped to every 6 minutes. When I focused on listening to my natal hypnotherapy CD the frequency increased to every 4 minutes!
At 10pm, I called maternity triage and had a completely different experience to my calls to the hospital when I was having Seren. The midwife was sympathetic and respectful and after listening to me breathe through a contraction, told me to get my stuff together and come to the hospital.
The 20 minute drive was peaceful, though I kept telling Andy to slow down. I noticed there was a beautiful full moon and someone told me later that there is supposed to be a spike in births across the animal kingdom at full moon as the bright light means there are less predators about!
We got to the hospital by about 11pm and the lovely midwife I’d spoken to on the phone examined me and declared that I was 5cm dilated. We all high fived! The contractions then started coming on top of each other and I was ready for some gas and air. There was a bit of delay in us being taken up to a birthing suite as the midwife took a long-ish phone call. Finally the student midwife took us upstairs and we we’re shown to the last available birthing suite with a pool. It took a while to fill the pool and during this time I was in cat position on the bed, deep breathing and having gas and air for the contractions.
I got in to the pool at around midnight and felt the urge to push soon after. As the pain intensified I started to crumble remembering the 3 hours it took me to push Seren out. The midwife said that the next thing that would happen would be my waters breaking and after that it would be easier. But after only a couple of pushes the head was out! It took another two contractions to push her body out too and she was still in her membrane sac – the waters never broke. The midwives got quite excited by this, there’s a superstition that a baby born in their sac (known as “in the caulk”) will never drown. Fishermen used to buy the sacs from midwives to put on their boats to protect them from drowning!
We delayed the cord being clamped this time, I didn’t have to ask, it’s their policy now. I was lucky again in that I had no tearing or stitches and the placenta came out easily (I opted for a managed 3rd stage after the clamping delay). We had 2 unhurried hours of lovely bonding skin to skin time before Imogen was weighed and had her vitamin K injection. I pretty much ticked off each item on my mini birth plan!
At about 3am we were shown to our postnatal room, I didn’t know what to expect but we had our own room with a double bed in it! So Andy got to stay too. He and Imogen both slept soundly whilst I stayed wide awake, too high on happiness, adrenalin and labour hormones to sleep.