It’s a boy! That makes two now. 8lbs 8oz – 1oz heavier than the other guy – but what an entrance. Long term readers will recall the hysterical entrance to Holles St in the fur coat, the puking, the fainting husband. How could that be topped? Simple! Have a labour so fast that your heroic husband has to deliver the child on the floor of the en suite ten minutes before the midwife comes dashing in!
All my own fault of course. I walked to our local village in the afternoon. Felt a few spasms that I attributed to intense Braxton Hicks. Came home and existing child and I went to bed for an hour. Got up, fed that child, put him in the bath and to bed early. Husband rang several times to see if I was happy for him to attend his annual soccer 7 aside awards dinner. I assured him I had no intentions of going into labour that night as I had to pick up our new car in the morning. As I was likely to go at least a week overdue it would be silly to deprive him of a good night out. However I advised him that perhaps it might be wise not to get drunk just in case. Reassured, he agreed to stay out but with promises of regular checks. I made my own dinner – a mild sweet curry and spotting a bottle of Budvar, a very fine beer, in the fridge, I settled down to my Soaps. I phoned a media friend to discuss the 6 o’clock news (I kid you not) and sat down at 8.45pm to write an email to RTE to complain about the news.
At 8.50 I got a sudden pain that I can only describe as a really urgent need to make no.2. I ran to the loo but nothing happened. I returned to my extremely important email and the same thing happened at 9pm. Then 9.06. Hmmm. Was it possible I was in labour? This was a completely different pain to the one I had experienced last time. I checked a pregnancy website and looked for descriptions of labour pains. It said the pain should be underneath the bump and the whole bump should go hard. When the next one came, I compared experience with research and there was a match – but with the hot poker feeling that made me unwilling to leave the toilet.
In the course of this wondering and running and doubting, husband rings and not wishing to alarm him I say that I do have pains, which are probably just the result of constipation but perhaps he should come on home. The awards had been made at this point and his vote had been crucial in securing ‘Player of the Year’ for his friend. He thought he’d eaten his dinner too fast and had a few pains himself, so he happily agreed. By 9.30 I was kneeling beside the phone and the pains were now bringing tears to my eyes but bizzarely I was still racked with doubt. We were now every 5 minutes. I rang the hospital (finally!) and spoke to one of the midwives. We were booked for a home birth so the arrangement was that one of them would come out when I went into labour. If I cracked up I could always go in for the drugs, so its a cushy enough system. However, my overriding feeling when speaking to the midwife was to avoid the shame of calling her away from another labouring mother only to discover that it was constipation. So I reported the reduced timing of the pains but apologised in advance for wasting her time. So in other words, I over did it and she advised calling back in 10 minutes and said I sounded happy enough. I hung up and wept briefly, wondering why I had agreed with her. I was in pain and in doubt. I wasn’t really happy at all. If only I could be sure!! I ring the husband. He’s waiting for a bus. Instantly I am Miss Calm again and gently suggest that perhaps a taxi might be better advised. He gets in at 9.45pm. At 9.55 I’m back on the loo holding on to him, starting to panic and suggesting that he should a) call the hospital back really quickly and b) maybe we should forget about homebirth and get an ambulance ‘cos the pain was already killing me. To his eternal credit he did a Mr. Reassurance speech and suggested waiting for the midwife before making that decision. This turned out to be crucial for all concerned. He rang back the hospital and during the phone call things suddenly get more intense. I’m on the floor, on my side, in the en suite, half sobbing with pain, half shouting at him to hurry up. I have two visions. One of the earnest midwife speeding her way through town in her car with a small bag. One of big ambulance, with heroic men carring large cylinders filled with drugs who will come running into the apartment and save me from this crucifying pain. I know which one I want. I have one thought. How on earth could I ever think of doing this again??!!
Husband is back in the en suite, with a mobile phone to his ear receiving instructions from the midwife, who he assures me is on her way and will arrive any minute. I am urged NOT TO PUSH. I’m not pushing. But a burning hot grapefruit is coming down between my legs anyway and I hear my strangled cries. I am urged to pant. I try to, but hear myself grunting from way down in my chest. I remember one of the midwives describing this grunting in a recent delivery she did at home. Finally, finally, I accept the fact that I am not, in fact, constipated. I am having a baby. Now. On the floor of the en suite and the midwife is in her car. And I stop panicking. It all seems very simple now. Wait for a contraction, grunt and push and let this thing happen. Husband is saying all the right things. He’s describing the progress of the head coming down to the midwife; she’s calling out instructions for panting in contractions and long breaths in between. One more excruciating sensation of the burning grapefruit and my husband is shouting “the head is out – the head is out” – he’s thrown away the mobile and is holding the head. I am suddenly totally elated and put my hand down and feel the head. The head starts to roar crying and I know its perfectly fine and my husband just delivered the baby; well, the baby’s head, so far. He’s anxious, to say the least, that the rest hasn’t appeared but in my mood of amazement and delight (those hormones are mad) I am totally confident and know that we just wait for the next contraction and the rest will come. Sure enough I hear myself groaning and the body slides out. He catches it and over the continuing cries of the baby, is gasping himself, as he declares it a perfectly formed baby boy. He puts it up on my chest and grabs the phone again asking the midwife (who had noted the first cry at 10.27pm) and reports. She says to ignore chord stuff and just keep us warm. He gets a big towel, throws it over us and in my delirium all I want is the light switched off so the baby is not frightened. He turns if off and runs out to let the midwife in while I hold the baby, gasping and laughing and crying.
Midwife runs in and cuts the chord, wraps baby up, gives him to husband and then tends to me who has now gone into shock. This is the nasty bit. I shake violently and realise I am really really sore and I think I’m crying. She wants to get me into bed but there is no way I am getting off my floor. A blanket is fetched and wrapped round me and hot sweet tea appears. It takes a good 20 minutes to get over this stage but finally I stop shaking enough for the placenta to be delivered and that reduces some of the soreness. In the background, husband is on the phone trying to convince family members and the guys back in the pub what just happened. They all assume he’s drunk and give him no heed. After a few more minutes I can get up and the midwife puts me in the bath. Shortly afterwards I am sitting up in bed, breast feeding the baby, munching toast and drinking tea by the gallon. We are all great!