A small part of my brain remembers an earlier conversation I was barely listening too…
Andy- “Is it normal for them (the contractions) to be so close together already?”
Care assistant- “They are very frequent aren’t they? You may find as they’re quick and intense already she may progress quicker than normal.”
Well… she wasn’t wrong was she?
Everyone’s heard those stories; about the women that surprise everyone with their labour, even the midwives.
Everyone’s been to hospital and heard the conversation that starts with “You see the woman in the bed over there? Well…”
Everyone’s met a friend and heard “My neighbour/friend/colleague/sister Julie, Well… When she was in labour…”
I never imagined I would be a part of those stories; as I was wheeled through the delivery suite, I could hear the conversations forming around me…
“I can’t believe it! Linda booked her in and she hadn’t even dilated at all!”
“Wow, this is one I wont forget in a hurry!”
Midwife 2 (to me)- “You’ve done so well to get to 7cm with no pain relief Abii! We’ll get you on the bed here and get some gas and air!”
Midwife 2, was Nora and she was to be the midwife that stayed with me and Andy throughout the remainder of my labour and would subsequently help deliver Connie. She was young, friendly and had a soft Irish accent that would put anyone at ease.
The time for morphine was well past but, bizarrely, as I heaved myself onto the bed in my new delivery room, the pelvic pain was fading. Maybe it was because I knew I couldn’t have any morphine so I was just sucking it up because I had no choice? Maybe it was because the baby had finally made her way down past my pelvis and the pain was actually fading? Maybe it was because my attention was now solely focused on the birth of my baby that I couldn’t give a crap about my pelvis anymore? Whatever the reason, the pelvic pain was fading away, giving me time to focus to the contractions.
The radio was playing Mark Wrights Friday Nights Club Classics of the 90’s, a fan was blowing in the corner, Andy was next to me and I had gas and air in my hand. I was oddly comforted. The time was 8.45pm.
To be honest, the next couple of hours are a slight haze. When I look back on my memories of what was happening it’s like I’m looking through a fogged lens. The gas and air was working! I vaguely remember when I started to push (at 9.10pm) commenting on it feeling like I was “doing the biggest shit of my life!”- Charming.
Andy was spraying me generously with a cooling spray in a can after each contraction. It was so hot in the room. One of my strongest memories is the smell of the spray and the overwhelming feeling of relief as my skin was cooling.
About 15 minutes after I started pushing my contractions shortened. They were still coming every 2 minutes but instead of now lasting a minute they were only lasting 20-30 seconds. This was not ideal. Anyone who has ever been in labour knows you push with the contractions, I was now trying to push a child out with only a 30 second window to do so…
30 minutes had passed and my contractions were coming less frequently, now only every 2 minutes lasting 20-30 seconds. The midwife managed to clip on Connie’s head to monitor her heartbeat more consistently. It was hovering around 152bpm- nothing to worry about.
More time had passed, I was now beginning to feel like this would never end. Nora was great, so encouraging. I now had both feet on platforms to help with the pushing.
Finally, after what seemed an eternity, Connie’s head was there! “She has hair!” Said Nora- this gave me hope and more willpower and I continued to push as hard as I could, knowing that the end was near. Then, about 5 minutes after, it all went wrong.
Connie’s heartbeat dropped to 47bpm.
The room was full of people. Another midwife was at my side trying to wretch away the gas and air “You can’t be breathing that when you’re contracting! Let me take it!” The fog cleared.
“No, I can’t let go! I’m not using it, I havent been using it during contractions, I promise! I need to hold it!!”
Squeezing that gas and air tube in one hand and Andy’s in the other was the only thing keeping me there. I could not relinquish my grip on it for a second, if I did it felt like what was anchoring me to the earth would stop and I would float away!
A resuscitating unit had appeared. An alarm was flashing “RESUSCITATE BABY”.
A doctor was at my feet. My baby was still in me.
“Just get her out, I don’t care! Pull her out of me!”- The last thing I remember saying before this tiny, purple floppy creature was placed on my tummy. Just one quick glance and she was away, on the resuscitating unit. The alarm was still flashing. The world was spinning.
Then, the best sound in the world- a tiny cry.
Connie was born at exactly 11pm on the 16th July by ventouse delivery. A little over 4 and a half hours had passed since my waters broke.
She was perfect, calm and covered in hair; weighing in at 7 pound 1 ounce and measuring 42cm long.
She spent the first two nights of her life sleeping on my chest being cuddled continuously.