[Read Part I]
So we slept. And just before 3am, I woke up to use the loo, just like I always did. I stumbled into the ensuite in darkness (the only way I could afterwards ensure I'd get back to sleep), and sat on the loo. Something felt weird. Something wasn't right. This was way too much wee. And it didn't seem to be coming out of the right place either. I sat there wondering what to do - darkness and semi-conscious state not helping. I'd worn a maternity pad the night before because of the bleeding, which came in useful. I decided there's no way this could be my waters, so I got back up and tried to get back to bed.
I barely made it to the bathroom door and my pj trousers were drenched. I think I may have stood there, light now on, wondering what to do for a few moments. I stared at myself in the mirror, confused. I'd mentioned it several times before to friends - I didn't think there was any chance of my waters breaking early this time. Despite the "Hollywood Gush" we so often see in movies, it's actually a very small percentage of pregnancies where labour starts off with waters breaking. It had already happened to me with Emily. There was no way it would happen again.
This time, at least, David wasn't two hours away and unreachable.
I shouted his name and he was awake. "I think my waters have broken." (Stupid statement of the year right there.) "I don't know what to do, should I call the midwife?"
No, I called my mother. I couldn't bring myself to wake a relative stranger up at 3am. My mother encouraged me to call her, and the midwife, Anna, knew it was me right away. She asked me to head to hospital just to monitor baby and ensure all was well, as I wasn't yet contracting although I could feel that the cramps had gotten slightly worse. The plan of action was to meet her there after my mother arrived to take care of Emily
Emily. Oh God. I couldn't leave her, I couldn't do this. Adrenaline pumping through my body, I began shaking uncontrollably (I remembered this well from last time) and couldn't think straight. I decided it was the right time to bring some more of Emily's books out of the storage bags they'd been in for weeks. Yes, that irrational.
I then dressed up and ate an apple. I went into Emily's room to say bye and whisper an explanation to her sleeping self, trying not to cry. And I waited for my mother to get here.
The first contraction hit around 4am as I got into the car, but there were no others after it, just cramps. We got to the hospital and all I could think of was the amazing smell of baking bread coming from the bakers' in the pjazza.
At around 5am, Anna checked me and I was 2cm dilated. Good start, considering it was on the back of just one proper contraction. We considered going back home to wait until the contractions really kicked in, but with rush hour looming and my instincts telling me I should stay put (they haven't failed me once recently), we decided to stay.
I wanted an active birth this time so I stood back up and that was when the contractions began in earnest. We never got round to timing them this time, not properly anyway. There was a point where we acknowledged that, hmm they were coming quicker now, but I was coping well, many times carrying on the conversation through contractions, and tweeting in between. If I laid down or sat down, the contractions stopped. Once I stood back up, they came back with a vengeance. Not your typical labour, but it was certainly happening.
By 6am I was at about 5.5cm and still coping very well. My TENS machine wasn't even out of it's bag yet. I wasn't quite talking through contractions any longer though. I randomly mentioned to David that I had a feeling we would be done by 9am.
By 8am I was at 8cm, but getting very tired and annoyed at myself for going to bed so late. The Lucozade was what kept me going, and I finally asked for the TENS. I know I was also aware that Emily would now be awake and I suspect this put me on edge slightly.
And then transition. At this point, things changed. I started saying (daft) things I have no recollection of, and I began to lose confidence. Anna had explained that although he was engaged, Adam wasn't low enough. This is possibly what made Emily's second stage last so long too. So she had to help him out a little bit with every contraction. I was in no mood to cooperate, especially because this hurt more than the contractions themselves.
I started feeling the need to push, but I was stuck at 9.5cm, so more help. For most of third stage, I was squatting, leaning against David. As had happened with Emily, my contractions weren't strong enough so I was given a Syntometrine injection to help things along (as well as to ensure my placenta delivered this time), and another one soon after as the first wasn't doing enough. I asked David to get the TENS off me, damn wire kept getting tangled in my arm.
Soon I was too tired to stay on my feet any longer. All I wanted to do was curl up and sleep. I know the thought crossed my mind to ask everyone to leave at one point. I just wanted to be done with it, I was bored of being in pain, fed up, and just so very tired.
Suddenly I noticed everyone getting excited. He was coming. What? We hadn't been at this for hours yet! Somewhere deep inside, something woke up and helped me through that last bit. Within a few pushes, his head was out, then his body, then suddenly - what seemed to be out of nowhere - I was holding my beautiful, vernixy, wailing baby. And I fell in love all over again. Madly.
I asked David what time it was. He checked his watch. "What time did you say he'd be here by?" "Nine," I replied. "It's 8:58!" I had been pushing for all of about 25 minutes.
My placenta delivered within minutes - a moment full of relief after over two hours of waiting last time! We had asked Anna earlier for the cord to be left to pulsate before it was cut, and when it did stop, David again wasn't keen to cut it, so I did instead (and quite pleased about it too!)
Adam was still screaming away, we managed some skin to skin but he wasn't pinking up fast enough so he was transferred to an incubator for a while until he warmed up enough. In the meantime I was given the happy news that I needed no stitches and tried to relax, but the contractions kept going and were getting worse again. About an hour later, several very large blood clots were delivered (!) and then it all thankfully calmed down.
We had a room ready for me and Adam next door, and were eager to be transferred there, but I needed a shower first. I looked like I was part of a murder investigation. I felt fine so Anna helped me up and into the shower and suddenly, everything almost went black. So quickly back to bed it was and I had a quick flannel wash and then really quickly moved next door (near black out again). Some lunch solved the problem but I was unable to get back out of bed on my own until very late that evening, simply due to being too achey!
I am told that one of the things I kept going on about during transition was the lack of perfection. I wasn't doing it well, it wasn't as perfect as it should have been, I should be doing this, I should be doing that. I don't even recall saying these things so I can't possibly begin to understand what I was on about, but looking back, if there was anything this birth was, it was perfect. I am so pleased to have fought for this and to have been given the chance to do it all over again. And more than anything, I am grateful to the people who supported me in getting a natural birth, safely, and for delivering my beautiful son to my arms.
Born 21st March 2013 at 8:58am
Weighing 3.4kg / 7lbs 5oz
With special thanks to the team at St James Hospital, Zabbar,
my parents and in-laws for taking care of Emily while we were "checking Mummy's tummy",
and of course, my super, amazing husband for being a rock and never leaving my side.