For weeks people had been asking if I was fed up. At 38.5 weeks, I can honestly say that I was not. With so much going on over the last few weeks, I was desperate to get through the two older children's birthdays and hopefully the talk by Julia Donaldson at Kevin's exhibition before going into labour. And up until the 29th of March, by body, on the whole, seemed to be obliging. My pelvis was better, I wasn't hugely uncomfortable and the only time I ever wished that baby out was in the wee small hours when I had to heave myself out of bed for the 6,000 time to pee.
On the evening of the 29th, I decided I should probably unpack the baby's things, pack a 'just in case' hospital bag and set up the baby hammock we'd bought from a friend, joking with friends I "hadn't wanted to do things too early".
On the morning of the 30th I woke up and had that feeling. You know, the deep sense of peace that baby could come, with the proviso that it would have to be quick. My father in law was arriving on the evening of the 31st for Ellis' birthday and I did not fancy going into labour with my father in law in the house. Baby had 36 hours to make an exit or wait.
Contractions started almost immediately. They were 'just' braxton hicks, but regular and coordinated. I didn't say anything to Kevin. I dropped him off for a meeting in Dunblane and bumped into the chair of his organisation, who immdiately said that I did not look ready to give birth and I "definitely had a few days". I kept quiet about the fact that I wasn't so sure.
The rest of the morning, I just kept about my business. I went to playgroup and the supermarket, contractions stopping. As I got home, they began to pick up. I decided to phone Kevin as he can be notoriously hard to get a hold of. He returned my call after two failed attempts. I asked that he come home, if he could. That I wasn't sure what was happening, but my contractions were steady, not sore, but getting more coordinated. If nothing else, I just wanted a bit a break from the children.
With both G and E, I had very quick labours that were preceeded by a few hours of irregular contractions. Ellis' birth was almost in triage because no one believed I was in labour. With this in mind, Kevin urged me to call my midwife, Allison. I didn't want to. I wasn't sure this was it and was convinced that I would probably have days and days of on and off again labour. After much urging, (and after Kevin told me off for not doing so after I had to end a call to him enroute home due to a contraction coming on) I did phone and given my previous history, roadworks on the motorway and the rushour approaching, she decided to come an pay us a visit.
We also had planned on having some friends over for dinner that evening. I phoned Kev to ask what to do. We agreed that they should come, if nothing else just to play with the kids. I let them know what they were walking into and they were happy to come along.
The moment Kevin walked in the door, the contractions fizzled out and I became unbelievably grumpy. I didn't want anyone around me. I was so cross. Cross that everyone was at my house. Cross that my contractions had stopped. Cross that I had bothered my midwife. I posted online how I thought I was having "false" labour and I was gently told by a friend that it probably was the real thing if I was so upset. She was so very right.
I managed to get through dinner and actually enjoyed it. I took a walk to clear my head. Allison left at about 6 and as my friends were leaving at about 8pm, the contractions started up again. Not sore, but increasingly requiring my concentration.
Kev arrived back from dropping them in Stirling and I phoned Allison back at about 9:30. The contractions were every 5 minutes. Not painful. I hung up the phone and things really started. The next few hours are a bit of a blur.
I had been so worried about labouring this time. A year and 4 days is not long enough to forget the pain of the last birth. As the contractions began to ramp up, I could feel the panic rising. With Georgia, I realised in hindsight that I had spent much of my active labour panicking. I had said things like "I can't do it". This time, I was very clear in my head that I could and would do it. With every contraction, I tried to focus on the fact that they brought me closer to the baby and closer to being out of pain. That said, I do admit to telling Kevin that I didn't want to be in labour and I made him (and Allison when she arrived) promise that next time I could have an epidural.
Other than these brief conversations, apparently I hardly made a sound. I do remember feeling incredibly sick and being unable to get comfortable. I moved from bathroom to bedroom and back again.
Allison arrived at 1030 and did some checks. At about 1115pm, I began to wonder how far I still had to go. I felt so incredibly nauseous and I begain to worry I couldn't cope any longer. I asked to be examined…the first time I'd ever been examined in labour. I just wanted to know if my waters had broken and how far dialted I was. As she was checking externally to see if the baby's head had engaged, my waters went. I instantly felt better and declined the internal exam.
I started pushing quite soon after. I tried gas and air, but it made me sick, so I just bit on the mouthpiece. I knew instinctively when to push and when to pant and wait for the next step. It was only a few contractions to get Theo out. Allison has recorded that from the moment of being able to see Theo's head to him being fully out was one minute (a long minute). I didn't need any coaching or encouragement.
Allison sat slightly behind and to the side of my as Kevin caught Theo. As he was coming out, Kev told me what he could see…head, eyes, mouth. He slid out quite quickly and Kev announced it was a boy. Theo was passed to me for a cuddle before I needed to lay down.
As with both of my previous labours, I went into shock. Kev took Theo for a bit so I could deliver the placenta and take a bath to try and stop shaking. From the start, Theo has fed like a dream. However, the feedings caused terrible afterpains that made me sick each time I fed for the first few days.
We have had a bit of a scare with him. He's quite a noisy wee fellow and Allison noticed some rapid breathing at the discharge appointment. A trip to the children's ward on Monday had him diagnosed with Laryngomalacia, which for him at this stage means nothing more than some quite noisy breathing and occasionally a struggle to coordinate his breathing and feeding. Its something we need to keep an eye on, but should resolve in the next few years.
Theo is such a lovely baby. So very calm and alert. He was awake for hours after he was born. Even now, he spends ages studying this crazy family he was born into. And we know we are lucky to have him.