29 August. That’s the date I was told we should expect baby girl to arrive into this world. And because Ralphie was a week late, I was fairly sure we’d be having another September baby.
So when I sat at work feeling a bit funny just under two weeks before, it didn’t cross my mind that I could be going into labour imminently. Thankfully my gut instinct kicked in as I did have a quick rush around Boots at lunchtime to grab some bits for the as yet unpacked hospital bag. And I handed over a couple of tasks at work that had been playing on my mind.
A two mile walk home, play with Ralphie and dinner, and I was feeling progressively more uncomfortable. I asked Ryan if he thought it could be something…”You probably just need a big poo!” he said.
By 9pm I was fairly certain it was happening and I started hurriedly packing my hospital bag. In I went under the stairs to dig out the newborn clothes, the carry cot, the Snuzpod mattress. Ryan thought I was mental. But by 11.30pm the feeling was unmistakeable. Bugger!
As I lay in bed to ride out the early pain, Ralphie woke up, crying out. I went in to check on him and he was visibly distressed and wanted a cuddle. We sat together in the dark and I found myself crying as I realised this was our last little moment together before baby arrived. I hope he didn’t see, but it was like he knew, because he gripped extra hard, and two minutes after putting him back in bed, he was crying out again.
When mum and dad arrived in the early hours after I put in the nervous call to wake them up (imagine if I wasn’t actually in labour!), Ralphie was wide awake and raring to go. This never happens.
As I gritted my teeth and clung onto a bit of living room door frame through those early contractions, Ralphie performed while mum, dad and Ryan sat drinking tea. It was such a weird occasion!
Eventually we got the boy back into bed and called the hospital. We were off.
Already, only a week on since I began labour and I’m struggling to describe the feeling of those contractions, other than that they were totally unbearable! Deep breathing helped, but they were long and I had little respite between each one…about a minute or so. Other times they blended together completely.
When they first examined me and told me I was only 3cm, I was so disappointed. I didn’t know how long I would be able to cope physically while saving enough strength at the end for what I hoped would be the big push.
At 9.30am on Thursday after I got past 4cm they said I could have an epidural. Heaven to my ears! Never has so much willpower enabled me to stay so damn still through those contractions so they could fit the tube. And then…relief!
It was a long old wait, spiced up a little by the fact the epidural pump stopped working around lunchtime, bringing back that horrendous wave of pain.
Mum and Ryan kept me well hydrated and in high spirits. At times I felt more sorry for them as their chairs looked so uncomfortable. At least I was in bed!
Finally, at around 6.30pm I was ready to push. I was nervous, excited…I didn’t know what to expect.
At first when I was pushing I couldn’t feel what I was meant to be doing. I was cross with myself as although I’d been reducing my intake of local anaesthetic, I still couldn’t feel much. And then there it was…that sensation of having to push out a massive football!
Mum, Ryan and the midwife could see baby’s head and were willing me on. Everything clicked into place and I knew what I needed to do. It was the most overwhelming, incredible experience. One minute I could feel the hardest ball of pressure and then…whoosh…she was here!
And that should really be the end of it. But it seems that I am quite incapable of giving birth without some element of drama.
This time, I proceeded to suddenly lose almost three litres of blood (over half of my body’s blood volume; almost two large bottles’ worth of Coca-Cola) – gushing all over the floor.
Needless to say I don’t remember much. The room was flooded with people. I vomited and Ryan said I went totally delirious, talking about watering the plant pots. In that foggy haze of panic (and not just for my unwatered plants!), what I do remember thinking was that I going to lose my uterus or not be able to see my beautiful babies grow up.
After what seemed like an age, and probably even more so for mum and Ryan, I was stitched back up (by a lady called Maureen who had the most impeccably styled hair and a fabulous no-nonsense attitude. She proceeded to look after me all night). It’d been over an hour since I’d held my baby and I was worried she hadn’t had a feed.
But feed she did. And slowly the colour came back into everyone’s faces as we calmed down and processed the ordeal. Well…apart from me. I remained looking ghost like for a good few days after. I still think I could benefit from a little extra blusher now!
Did I genuinely think I was going to lose my life? No. It wasn’t my time. But 17 August 2017 will forever remain one of the most glorious and terrifying days of my life.
Most importantly, she’s here. My August baby…Lily Rose. And my, what a beauty she is!
Welcome to the world, little one.