48 hours ago I was tossing and turning in bed, trying to find a comfy position for my giant bump, now I have two children, and it being almost 3 am as I type this (and 6 am as I finish it, one fingered and with a rest inbetween) of course we are sleepless again. Sitting on the sofa breastfeeding my little girl*, I wouldn't swap it for the world.
So you know the key facts, which are that she arrived quickly, but safely, at home, but I wouldn't be a good blogger if I left you hanging like that would I?! Let's talk details (again, squeamish types look away now).
It seems that after all that hanging around, once she had decided to come out C just couldn't wait. I spent most of the morning of her birth pottering around, wondering if the crampy 'Braxton Hicks' feelings I had would come to anything. Around 10 I called my husband and said I thought there might be pattern and did he want to come home. In the back of my mind I did worry that I might be dragging him away from his beloved office for a false alarm. Yes I could now predict that my bump would tighten every five minutes or so for about 20 seconds at a time, but it didn't hurt. I put it to the back of my mind though and carried on with some chores. Putting the cover back onto our Maxi Cosi carseat was probably my proudest achievement, a task that's almost impossible to accomplish even when not in labour.
My Mum arrived for a long arranged date to play with T. I told her things felt like they were getting started and she arranged to take him on a bus and tram adventure to her house, giving me some space and peace and meaning I could relax even if the tightenings turned out to be just another trick my overdue body was playing on me. At 11.30 they left and I went upstairs for a lie down.
Once on the bed I felt the tightenings ramp up. I put on my iPod and listened to Marie Mongan's Rainbow Relaxation, the hypnobirthing script which had lulled me to sleep almost every night for the past four months. The practice paid off, and although the cramps were getting harder to ignore I was managing to breathe through them with ease, inflating an imaginary balloon with each contraction, counting up and down to 20.
It's only because of the script that I am able to time much of what happened with the rest of my labour. I stayed on the bed, on all fours, breathing through two plays of the Rainbow Relaxation, a total of 50 minutes. I heard my husband call the midwife to warn her I was in early labour, and start to organise the birthing pool, the low hum of the pump intruding into my headphones.
Then suddenly whatever I was doing stopped working. The Rainbow Relaxation started for a third time, but the surges were so strong I could now no longer concentrate on the breathing. From far away I could hear myself groaning, and knew the contractions were suddenly much closer together. I called for my husband who, although having completed nine tenths of the hypnobirthing course with a look of disdain on his face, remarkably managed to coach me back into the correct pattern, which helped, albeit temporarily. Despite my clinging to him for dear life, he left to call the midwife again and ask her to start the 15 minute journey from the hospital to our house. He returned and I hung my arms around his neck, levering myself off the bed in a desperate attempt to relieve some of the pressure I was feeling at the bottom of my bump. My waters went all over the bedroom carpet.
Despite being encouraged to get back onto the bed (which in hindsight was probably my husband's futile attempt to protect the new landing carpet from, erm, leakage) I demanded to go to the toilet, hobbling doubled over to the bathroom. The pressure was too great to allow me to sit on the loo, so I got onto the floor.
'No you're not'
'I am, I can't stop it'
'Calm down, the midwife will be here in a minute'
More of my waters released
'I can feel the head'
'No you can't'
'I can, I can feel it, the baby's coming'
'Stop touching it you might do some damage'
'Hold on, the midwife's on her way'
'I need to stand up'
'You'll slip on the wet floor and hurt yourself, stay down there'
I hoiked myself up on the sink
'The baby's coming ... catch her'
And so C was delivered into her disbelieving father's arms. His shout for help was answered by the midwife who had just arrived and let herself in through the (thankfully open) front door. She came up the stairs to hear the baby's first cries and began a well rehearsed operation to get us wrapped, warmed and fully checked out. The time was 12.45 pm, just an hour and a quarter after I'd gone for that first lie down, and we were back in bed, this time plus one. More towels than I thought we owned were called into service. Sadly though I'm not sure the landing carpet will ever recover.
I did it. I had my homebirth. The baby arrived safely. No pain relief. I am superwoman!
*learning to BF lying down is high on my list this time. T didn't get the hang of it until around three months when he was a bit bigger and I realised the joy of feeding and sleeping at the same time. C had her first feed lying on a pillow next to me, but it's been hit and miss since. Still, I shouldn't complain, it's not like we're not going to get chance to practice is it?!