New Year’s Day, 2008
Woke up this morning before the alarm, which usually goes off at 7am shouting “mammy, get me!” Something has woken me up and after I pat my 40 week and 5 day old bump, I know what it was: a very mild, but distinctive period like cramp. I’d had one or two in the days shortly after Christmas but I’d been walking regularly and that was when they usually happened. Yep! There it is again. Another quick rub and half hour later I feel nothing more. Just as well as our 22 month old alarm clock is shouting for me to come “get him.”
So we get up, Mister Husband, Screecher Creature Only Child and I, and start our day as normal. Shortly after, the cramps return and continue throughout the morning. In the midst of them I manage to do a bit of housework. My first “nesting” sensations!!
I am very calm and relaxed, and begin to feel excited. I had been induced with our first son and am delighted that labour is starting naturally this time round. I am looking forward to a natural birth and have been practicing hypno-birthing from about the sixth month of my very healthy and normal pregnancy.
During the final trimester I upped my listening to relaxation cd’s, read and reread a couple of very inspirational and confidence boosting books and in general, my chick lit and murder mysteries were replaced with all things natural birth related. I logged on to Rollercoaster, an Irish parenting and pregnancy website site several times a day and read all the positive birth stories I could get my hands on. I drank Raspberry Leaf Tea and took reflexology sessions for the last month.
The cramps have stopped but am not worried. I have been visiting the bathroom all morning and I know this is another sign that I am in labour.
Send a quick text to my sister who has been on standby for babysitting. Tell her “something is definitely up” but not to mention it to anyone just yet.
Decide to go for a little walk with Screecher Creature Only Child to give Mister Husband a chance to catch up on some work at home. Can’t go too far due to my frequent need to wee.
Eventually, Screecher Creature Only Child decides he’s had enough as we reach the end of our housing estate and I find myself carrying him the short, but very cumbersome distance home.
Mister Husband has taken our boy for a drive to encourage him to take a nap so I get my earphones and settle down to listen to some of my hypno-birthing tapes. As usual, they are so relaxing and soothing, I fall asleep. Wake up at 4pm with the same reason I woke up at 6.30am. The cramps have returned. There is a noticeable difference; they are stronger and sharper – still perfectly manageable but I need to use my breathing this time.
Late Afternoon / Early Evening
Still lots of visits to the bathroom and at about 5pm there is a lot of water released - this makes me suspect that my waters have gone. Mister Husband is anxious at this stage for me to ring the hospital and let them know what is happening as it is looking very likely that I will be going in that evening. So I do.
Things are really speeding up now. I have to stop and breathe really deeply each time. It’s almost as if my body was delaying the progress of labour until I acknowledged out loud that I am having contractions. But I am still not going anywhere until our boy is tucked up in bed. This gives me another two hours before I intend to leave for the hospital. I throw my heat pack in the microwave and concentrate on the contractions.
It’s 7pm now and I am under a lot of pressure! I’ve already contacted my sister and told her at about 6 o’clock that there is still time but she had better hurry up just in case!!
At last! Twenty five minutes later I kiss Conor quickly as he is about to be put into his cot. I hold back tears knowing the next time I see him he will be a big brother. I feel very emotional.
We are in the car and on our way. The drive to Kilkenny is very difficult. It is extremely uncomfortable having to remain seated. My eyes are closed and I am blowing very loud and long raspberries in a double effort to distract me and prevent my jaw from clenching.
Are we here? We are! We are! It is 8pm and Mister Husband has parked in the ambulance bay which is marked Strictly No Parking. I’m Warning You. You’ll Be Towed Away! Or something similar. Mister Husband’s language is colourful as I point this out to him when he opens the door for me. I have to wait for a strong contraction to pass before I can get out of the car. We bypass admissions (Yes, I admit I’m in labour!) and go straight up to the labour ward. They are surprised at how close together the contractions are coming.
Things start to feel extremely urgent and suddenly - how the fuck did I do that? - I am in my nightie. I have no urge to push but Jesus I’d better be nearly ready to!
What? 2 cms! Say again? You are joking me! Tell me you’re messing!
To say I am disappointed is an understatement!! I am on the bed being monitored and finding it very, very difficult. What I really want is to get up off that bed when the contractions are happening. I cannot just lie here! I need to be standing up! Moving! Walking! Anything!
Another examination at which seems like only minutes later.
Ok 5cms now. That’s better. I climb off the bed and put my arms around Mister Husband and kind of low into his neck. It helps a lot.
And now I know it’s only ten minutes later. I feel this incredible urge to push. The contractions have stopped. There is a big build up of pressure and a funny sense of relief.
I am being helped back up onto the bed. The midwives are amazing. Mister Husband is amazing. This is amazing. There are no shouts to push. Just gentle encouragement. There is a lot of hard work and hand squeezing and the odd request from me for a thigh rub as my muscles seize up.
Within an hour and a half of arriving at the hospital, I am being handed our second little boy.
It is 9.30pm New Year’s Night and our 7lb 10oz son is receiving his first kiss and cuddle from his tired but elated mammy.
Introduction is short but incredibly sweet and he is taken from me to be weighed in and looked over. In no time at all he is back in my arms again and I am putting him to my breast.
Where is everyone? It is just myself, Mister Husband and our baby. The three of us together to count toes and fingers. Our new son’s eye contact is long and deep. It is an hour and a half later and our little boy is still awake, alert and unwavering in his eye contact still.
The tea and toast are pretty good too!
It is after midnight and we are back on the ward. Mister Husband has gone home to a Chinese and a glass of wine and I cannot wait for the morning when we are re-united as a family or four instead of three.
I didn’t give birth in my driveway. I didn’t have a traumatic or scary birth. There are no funny stories about the car breaking down, about us taking a wrong turn, getting a puncture or being stopped for speeding on the way. I didn’t use colourful language in the throes of labour. But this is my special and amazing birth story, one which is unique to me and my family and we couldn't wait to do it all over again.
Happy birthday Iarla Dooley. This is your story. You were five years old yesterday!!