When you’re heavily pregnant, suffering from swollen limbs, constant breathlessness and anxiety about the forthcoming vagina splitting massacre your body is about to endure (followed by the lifetime responsibility of motherhood), life feels a little tense.
I was due on the 14th of February 2016. I started my maternity leave 3 weeks before my due date as the lift at work was broken and I was struggling with the 4 flights of stairs, and sitting at my desk all day with a sore back and hips.
The day of my due date I actually had a scare when I hadn’t felt my baby move for about 6 hours. I phoned the maternity ward who told me to do the usual things; drink something cold or sweet and lie on your side and wait. Nothing happened. He was completely quiet in there. I phoned again a couple of hours later and told them I was frightened. They told me to come straight in.
They hooked me up to the machines to hear his heartbeat and ensure everything was as it should be. His heart was beating but they were concerned that his lack of movement was a sign that something was amiss. I was kept in for about 2.5 hours while they monitored him. Turns out he was just having a quiet day and after a few more hours, he woke himself up and started his usual somersaults. He was ok. I went home and started the overdue waiting game.
As I mentioned in my pregnancy story – part two, baby daddy got in touch out of the blue on Thursday 18th of February 2016 after 4 months of utter silence from him. He apologised for not being around. At midnight that night, I started feeling pains. They resembled period pains but were more intense. Things were moving.
I text my mum the next morning saying it was starting. She wanted to come over right away but I told her to hold off as I had an inkling it would be a while. I had slept on and off in between pains but they weren’t so uncomfortable that I couldn’t relax enough to snooze.
During the Friday, I decided to pop out to Lidl to get a few supplies in case things sped up, and I remember having my first full blown contraction in the car on the way there, followed by two more strong ones in the store, as I bent over my trolley with my eyes firmly closed.
When I got home, I told my mum that things were really moving and she got herself packed and came over early evening. I remember having a lovely evening, catching up, talking about the future and generally enjoying a little mother & daughter time ahead of the huge change this birth would bring.
Contractions are a strange thing. I spent so long Googling them and trying to find descriptions of them so I could picture what it would feel like. One woman described them like ‘someone was taking a pestle and mortar to your insides.’
Though the memory of them is no longer vivid, I can confirm that when a contraction starts, then builds up into a wall of excruciating pain, you can think of nothing else.
By Saturday morning, following a completely sleepless night, I was exhausted and dismayed. I couldn’t see an end in sight but the pains were still coming thick and fast. After several frustrating phone calls to the midwife led unit I planned to deliver in, and furious contraction counting and timing, as per the midwives instructions, we decided to go in to get checked.
The drive over there was awful- I was almost on all fours in the back seat, trying to breathe through each pain. It was a 20 minute drive to the hospital and I had 4 contractions on the way. I was feeling them mostly in my back- which I’d heard about and hoped wouldn’t happen to me. I started to wonder if my boy and I were back to back.
When we got to the unit, I was seen by a lovely midwife who was very reassuring but after doing a quick and uncomfortable check down there, revealed I was only dialated one centimetre.
One bloody centimetre. And 2 days and 1 full night of labour pains. This was bullshit.
While she was down there, she told me she touched the baby’s head. He was right there. I wanted to say ‘can’t you just pull him out?’ She said that his head was pressing on my spine, we were indeed back to back, which is why my contractions were so ghastly in my back.
She gave me another sweep there and then with the hope that it would move things along, and we went home to wait it out.
My poor mum at this point had had not much more sleep than I had. We were both exhausted and losing strength, with the big finale still ahead of us.
Another sleepless night, a million more contractions and Sunday morning was upon us. I don’t remember too many details about the morning, just pain. Bouncing on my ball, pains. Sitting in the bath, pains. Paracetamol. Pains. Breathing. Crying. Pains. Timing the contractions. They slowed. Why? Sped up again. Timing. Breathing. Bath. Paracetamol. Labour ball. Pain.
I remember going upstairs to my bed to desperately try and shut my eyes for a bit, as I was now delirious with tiredness but was too in pain to sleep and so disheartened that I’d been in ‘early labour’ for nearly 2.5 days and I had no idea how long I could go on for, or when my boy would decide to really get moving.
When each contraction came, I flipped over onto all fours and gripped the wooden headboard with my face screaming into my pillow. My mum came up each time to rub my back and encourage me through it. She noticed that the time between contractions was getting shorter and shorter. And something that afternoon shifted – kicked up a gear.
My contractions were getting stronger and more painful. I was sobbing as they died down each time. How much longer could I do this? My mum phoned the unit again and told them I was having 2.5 contractions in any 10 minute period, forcefully told them that we wanted to go back in- and they conceded at last.
We gathered the bags, and bundled ourselves into the car for another torturous drive to the birthing unit. This time I would hopefully be staying in and not leaving until I was on my way home with my first born child.