As you know my 10 month pregnancy involved lots of waiting and waiting and waiting for baby to arrive (due mainly to my mathematical incompetence and lack of medical guidance throughout pregnancy).
Here I am at our little holiday cottgae where most of the waiting took place.
I woke up at 3:50am and felt a gentle contraction. I was reluctant to wake hubby because I had had many contractions during the preceding weeks, which had turned out to be nothing. Instead I thought I would just wait and see if another one would come along. I started counting in my head and after 7 minutes I had another one. I tapped hubby on the shoulder and said, "I think she's coming" to which he immediately sat bolt upright and then jumped out of bed. He was taking it so seriously but in the back of my mind I kept thinking that the contractions would probably stop - I'm not sure why I was in such denial?
I immediately stuck my TENS machine electrodes onto my back. For those that don't know this is basically an electric shock machine that electrocutes you to take your mind off the labour pains. Of course the packaging describes it as a way of stimulating the body's own pain relief mechanisms etc etc but basically it's simple electrocution which does actually take your mind off the pain of your cervix and replace it with the pain in your back from the shocks.
Then, another contraction came and I decided to time them - they were now 4 minutes apart. It was only my 4th or 5th contraction but they were starting to hurt. The pain was enough to convince me that something was actually going to happen so I rang the Birth Centre to tell them I was coming as well as my sister to ask her to come over (to be my birthing partner along with hubby). However, the main hospital answered and said that the Birth Centre had been closed down due to staff shortages overnight!!! So that meant no water birth!!! I was furious. I rang another birth centre in a different town only to be told that I couldn’t just turn up because the local authority was different so they would not accept me as low risk. Aggghhh! I was so upset. The whole point in returning to England was to have a water birth at the low risk birth centre; if I had wanted a 'normal' hospital birth I could have stayed in France.
In the meantime my sister had arrived and she convinced me that I really ought to get to hospital as my contractions were now about 2 minutes apart and it was only 4.30am.
I got in the car with hubby and my sister followed behind us. Mattias later confessed that there was no diesel in the car - he even took a photograph to save for prosperity. Thank goodness he didn't tell me about it as I was still in a bad mood after the news of the closed birth centre.
I was taken into the delivery suite and the midwife examined me and concluded that I was 7 or 8 cm dilated. "It won't be long,” she said.
I tried my best to find a comfortable position that ended up being kneeling on the bed whilst holding onto the raised backrest. I had to stop the midwife from continuously draping a sheet over my back to protect my modesty - it made me feel like she was laying a tablecloth out for dinner - funy the things that annoy you when you are in labour..
Labour continued at full throttle without any rest between contractions and I was given gas and air for the pain. Gas and air is another one of those 'pain management' techniques which basically just takes your mind off the pain without actually reducing it. You have to breath in the gas really deeply to have any kind of feeling from it (a slight feeling of being drunk if you manage to get a good lung full) and so in reality the benefit is that it controls your breathing somewhat and stops the kind of rapid and shallow breaths which often accompany stress and panic.
This continued until just before 5.50an at which time I had an urge to push. This is the moment I enjoy - its was a wonderful feeling knowing that she would soon be here and it was the first moment that I had to actually think about anything for a split second. As I pushed gently I could feel her moving down, I felt completely in control and didn’t need anyone. With the next contraction seconds later I felt her head crown and then with the next one I gently pushed her whole body out.
Amélie was born at 6:01am just 2 hours from start to finish. She was perfect in every way and immediately began nursing. She had a brilliant latch and we both seemed to be completely at ease and in sync with each other.
So what do you think was the first thing that the midwife said after she was born? "Would you like a cup of tea?” Such a small thing but greatly appreciated!!! I couldn't help but find it amusing that health and safety regulations mean that you are not allowed to walk and hold a baby at the same time and yet its perfectly acceptable to hold a minute old baby with one hand and a hot cup of tea in the other.
I had had no time at all to talk to the midwife about delayed cord clamping, no vitamin k, natural placenta delivery etc but luckily I had a midwife who appreciated that I had wanted a natural birth and even pretended to not be shocked when I asked to keep the placenta.
Ah yes, the placenta.... delivering the placenta was almost harder than delivering the baby. It was so painful that I had to use the gas and air again and I just could not get comfortable enough to relax. Finally it came after about another hour but not without a fight. I even wondered if I had actually been pregnant with twins and this was the second one coming out.
A few minutes after birthing the placenta something strange happened. My whole body went into shock, which is apparently quite common if the birth is really quick. With a quick birth everything happens so fast that the body cannot adjust and compensate for what is going on. I began shaking so much that I couldn't hold my (second) cup of tea or even the baby. My temperature increased rapidly and then plummeted and I felt dizzy and sick. This lasted for hours afterwards.
And that is pretty much it. Amélie is an amazing little girl and is already quite settled into our family. I'm really looking forward to learning all about her and Freddy and Henry are proving to be the best big brothers ever with lots of kisses and cuddles lavished upon her.
Freddy did make me laugh though when he asked why I still have a big tummy after she had come out - some things are just so black and white in children's minds!
Here she is with her cousin.