Another contraction. I crawled out of bed. When Sally found me, I was on the bathroom floor, doubled over as one nauseating contraction followed another. She phoned the birth centre, and after ten minutes, someone finally answered, by which time I was vomiting.
I had been dreading the ten-minute, knee-to-ear backseat Yaris journey to the hospital but, despite three contractions, sick-bucket to hand, out in the cool of the night-time air, I felt a sort of purposeful excitement. And then horribly self-conscious as I hobbled through the main-entrance of the hospital in my pyjama bottoms, Bagpuss wheatpack clenched to my abdomen, Tens machine wires trailing. Suddenly it was all an episode of ‘One-Born-Every-Minute’; the next clip would be the pregnant lesbian being ushered back out again past a crowd of onlookers, in disgrace over inadequate dilation. But the corridors were dimly-lit and deserted.
In the soft lights and quiet of the night, the birth-centre was even more spa-like than we had remembered. I located a coffee table over which to contract while the midwife went off to get a birthing ball. The mood was of excited relief – we’d been determined to avoid the labour ward and, while transfer due to complications was not out of the question, now my bath was running, surely they’d let me stay? Initially, I refused to be examined, for fear of being sent home again, but with a little persuasion from our midwife, I relented – eight centimetres dilated already; only two to go.
Lowering myself gingerly into the pool, I felt the relaxing effects of the water. I knelt, leaning on the side where Sally held my hands. And the contractions continued. I tried gas and air, which didn’t seem to have much effect, but it gave me something to focus on. Having brought with us enough food to feed a small village, Sally was munching on ‘Thai Bites’, the smell of which I will always associate with the later stages of labour. At some point, things reached a peak – transition – and sometime afterwards, I was pushing, kicking my legs back through the water with the exertion. The presence of our midwife was reassuring – he hovered, sometimes just watchful in the shadows of the room, sometimes offering encouragement, checking progress with a mirror in the water. I remember a point where I wanted to ask “how much longer?”, but didn’t.
And then after one of the pushes there was a release, and suddenly my insides were stilled; it was over. The midwife was passing me the slippery warmth of a baby and it was already incredible that it was this that had been inside me, this creature, this tiny girl, so real and wriggling and wholly new.
Article: by Lindsey, West Yorkshire 14th January 2013