At my 36 week antenatal appointment with Dr K, we yet again discussed how on earth we'd get this baby out of me. A scan at 30 weeks showed the baby to be slightly above average and Dr K had made it clear from the outset that she was reluctant to allow me to go to term, given the fuzziness of why I failed to progress during labour with Matthew. It sounded like a good deal to me - I just wanted a live, healthy baby.
I mentioned that I'd had a few episodes of regular contractions over the last couple of weeks so K performed an internal and declared me 4-5cm dilated already and predicted I'd be having this baby sooner rather than later anyway. My major concern at this point was going into labour during the first week of school. I badly wanted to be around to see Ryan's first day so we discussed the risk vs benefits of inducing me at 37 weeks and locked the date in.
On Wednesday 20 January, T & I arrive at the hospital at 7am. We are introduced to our lovely student midwife, Renee and shown to our room. Renee peformed all the usual checks and then wheeled in my least favourite piece of medical equipment, the CTG machine. I grit my teeth through what I know will the first of many sessions and try to come up with a plan to avoid being continously monitored, although I don't like my chances. After 20 minutes, I'm allowed to come off it and we then begin the wait for Dr K to rupture my membranes.
She arrives right on 8.30am and we barely get the pleasantries out of the way before I am bustled on the bed and the ARM is underway. K tells me I'm now 6cm dilated and almost completely effaced. My waters are broken and before K can even remove her hand, she asks me if I'm contracting already. I mumble that I think so although I am in disbelief that it would be that simple to kickstart labour. I was expecting it to take much longer. I am sent straight to the birth suite and K decides that she will hang around the hospital for a while instead of heading back up to her rooms, which are thankfully only 500m up the road.
8.50am. We get settled in the birth suite. K comes to check on me and I tell her that I'm having noticeable contractions now at regular intervals and assure her that although I can feel a great deal of pressure, I am not feeling pushy. At this stage I am still not convinced that this is anything different to the contractions I have been feeling at various times in the weeks leading up to this day, so I convince her to go back to her patients. She leaves, but not before reminding Renee to get the CTG hooked up. I groan inwardly but consent and plan to head to the shower after giving them a decent trace and hope by that stage the monitoring is forgotten.
9.10am. The contractions have more bite to them at this point although they are still manageable. I alternate between sitting on the fitball and standing while leaning on the bed and swaying. Renee patiently squats in an awkward position attempting to keep the CTG in place as I keep dislodging it with every movement. It is distracting but she is doing her best not to interfere so I let it go. I alternate between focusing on the baby's heartrate on the monitor and timing my contractions on the clock because I don't know where else to look but find myself forgetting what time the pain started before it has finished so have to delegate that job to Tom. He informs me they are about 2 minutes apart. It's at this point I decide I need to have something else to focus on and since the contractions are building in intensity, I ask for the gas. At this point, my recollection of the day starts to get fuzzy, although I'm not sure if it is the introduction of the gas that does it or the fact that it coincides with the beginning of transition. I tell Tom that from this point on I am not going to be terribly coherent and (I think) I apologise in advance for being mean to him. I'm thirsty so Tom pours me a drink of water but I can only look at it vaguely and ask him how he expects me to be able to drink it. I must manage it somehow because I tell him to keep them coming.
In all this I have lost track of Renee but suddenly become aware that there is unfamiliar person in the room, standing slightly behind me with Renee mumbling about the CTG machine. The new person says that the babys heartbeat has dropped and become erratic and they want to email the trace to K. I focus on them long enough to hear that it could mean that our baby is in distress or has just simply moved down further into my pelvis and is being squished with each contraction. They go and Tom and I are left alone to digest this news and I am positive they are getting ready to prep me for surgery.
9.50am? Suddenly, I feel increased pressure and say that I'm feeling pushy. I want someone to reassure me that it's all okay but I don't want Tom to leave me to find that someone. I decide I need to be kneeling and get Tom to fiddle with the bed until the back is completely upright and I am in the process of climbing up on it but the cords from the CTG are hampering my movement. I hiss "get these fucking things off me" just as my obstetrician arrives back in the room and brightly chirps "Right, it's time to get this baby out!". I groan again at the anticipation of what's to come.
K tells me with the next contraction, I need to start pushing. Although I am feeling pushy, I don't want to try. It hurts and I want the gas back but I know they've turned it off and it's of no use anymore. I muster up the courage and give it a try but back down. K tells me (again, in that ludicrously cheery voice) "that wasn't much of a contraction!", I tell her it's still going and everyone is encouraging me to push. I am sure I have hours of this left and don't think I can do it. I tell them I can't and am sharply reprimanded by K, who of course tells me I can. I rally and decide to give it a shot but can't remember what I am supposed to do. K moves my hands under my thighs and Tom helps me bend my head forward and I push effectively for the first time. I feel the baby move down further and know that that the only way to end the pain is to keep pushing. So I do it, I keep pushing and know I am swearing loudly and wish I could stop but it has gone beyond that now. The CTG cords are again getting in the way and I feel them being removed and for a brief moment think I am free - I open my eyes briefly and see K organising the Fetal Scalp Monitor and badly want to object but cannot find the words to do so. I am still not convinced that birth is imminent and am considering asking her to caesar me, when K tells me to stop pushing and pant. It is only at this point it occurs to me that I am merely seconds away from holding our baby and it gives me the strength I need to keep going. I feel the sting of his head passing through and the sweet relief as his body slips effortlessly out. He is passed to me, purple and screaming and the pain instantly stops. He smells earthy and is covered in blood, vernix and god knows what else but I am instantly in love with this angry little man and I welcome him to the mad-house that is our family.