GEMMA & ERIN
I was about 8 days into mat leave (I’d given myself 2 weeks) and half way through a day of total cliche nesting. I even cleaned out the herb cupboard, when I started to feel the first signs of early labour. As much as we had done the NCT course, and talked to various people about how it felt, I still wasn’t convinced. I hadn’t been scared about labour, I was so curious to go through it, and family members had been very positive, which was, now looking back, a real help subconsciously.
At the start it was a low period crampy type feeling, and quite intermittent. I carried on vacuuming the flat until the aching became a bit more uncomfortable. I called my partner Tom, and we decided that it might be best for him not to go to the pub after work, but could he grab me some paracetamol en route home.
So this early part lasted a good few hours, and came on pretty slowly. I remember calling my best friend who was also pregnant with her first and we chatted about whether this could be labour. I was still unconvinced, but every now and then the pain would take my breath away a bit. I paused on the phone...she said, "um that isn’t normal, this is definitely happening".
When Tom got home we had called the midwife, run a bath and took 1 paracetamol (I wish I had known to take 2!!) After that things progressed quite a bit and we used one of those phone apps to time the contractions. It gets drilled into you so much about waiting and waiting as long as possible before going to hospital, I really thought I should be screaming in agony before thinking about going. You see so many images on TV of women like this, you assume that’s what it’s like. For me it was painful but I was just going into myself, breathing and breathing and thinking this is only going to get worse. Even the midwife was quite relaxed on the phone, as I was talking and able to explain the pain. But in reality I was waaaay further along than we all thought.
Just as we called a taxi, my waters broke. I remember feeling the baby move in a wave like motion and that pop of the waters. My legs were shaking as I got into the cab and knelt on the floor grabbing the maternity sheets just in case...we were so lucky we had such a chilled driver!
We met the our midwife at St Thomas’s and she examined me... 9 cms. Holy crap. She managed to get us a birthing pool run and I got on the gas and air ASAP.
All inhibitions are gone and instinct takes over, getting naked, poo’ing in the pool, getting high on gas and air and telling your midwife that the colour of her scrubs really suited her (they were maroon). The rest was pretty text book, she was very hands off, but encouraging which I loved, Tom was brilliant, and we both got to do cool stuff like touch the babies head as she crowned. We didn’t know what we were having, so when she was born it felt strange, exciting and scary.
After delivering the placenta out of the pool, we were able to lay it out and have a good look. It was massive - I think that stage isn’t something you think about or gets talked about as much. I was so lucky that there wasn’t internal tearing, just a couple of external small tears, but my God doing a wee on those afterwards was almost worse than labour! So Erin was born around 1am and the real journey was about to begin, where all your expectations about yourself, your partner and that baby are smashed apart and you literally have to take each day as it comes. Even nearly 6 years later, another baby born, and another due imminently, that’s still the case... these kids are full of surprises and I still feel like a novice!