I woke at midnight with a strange sensation in my stomach. Is this it? I thought, something I had been saying repeatedly. I was only 3 days overdue but the baby had been fully engaged for a couple of weeks and I was impatient for something, anything to happen!
I got up and slowly waddled to the bathroom, as I sat down on the toilet I noticed I was shaking. I awkwardly climbed back into bed and I experienced a contraction. A feeling I immediately recognised, my first labour flooding my memory. I had been induced at 38 weeks with Nathaniel due to pre-eclampsia. The labour was fast but incredibly intense with no time for pain relief and highly medicalised. It was not the calming, natural experience I had hoped for. As I breathed through that first contraction on the bed, I imagined how different this birth was going to be, I was ready to face it and meet our baby girl.
At this point my husband Chris had not yet come to bed. I decided to try and get some rest but as soon as I lay down another contraction came. And another shortly after that. Chris came into the room unaware. "Don't get into bed" I said "I'm having contractions".
We called my parents who were on stand by to look after our toddler son. I imagined him breathing slowly in his sleep, blissfully unaware of how his life was about to change, forever! "There's no answer" Chris said. "Try again" I replied. 7 tries later and my Mum wearily answered the phone, they hadn't heard it ringing!! Luckily they were with us 10 minutes later.
We called the birthing centre to tell them that I had gone into labour, my contractions were coming quickly and intensifying. I had to stop to breathe whilst talking to the midwife. "I think you should come in" she said. "But I haven't been in labour long" I answered. "Just come" she said.
We set off on the 20 minute journey. Contractions in a car are far from pleasant. "Stop the car" I squealed as a contraction started. "I'm not stopping Hannah" Chris replied a little panicky. When we arrived we met our midwife. A pretty, gentle and petite woman called Sophie. She examined me, I was 5-6cms. Sophie ran me a warm bath as I lent on Chris slowly breathing through my contractions, his reassuring touch and massage getting me though each one. I felt totally calm, they were coming quickly and each was stronger than the one before but they were manageable. I imagined them washing away, never to be seen again, bringing me ever closer to my baby.
I climbed into the bath, the deep, warm water working as pain relief. It was at this point that things escalated. I had a couple of extremely strong contractions and I remember saying to Chris "well that upped the anti". The atmosphere in the room remained serene, the lighting was low and I felt completely in control. I didn't feel the need for drugs - even though I had planned on having gas and air. I wanted to remain in control, listening carefully to what my body had to tell me; and then it told me to push. That uncontrollable and overwhelming feeling flooded over me and I was suddenly pushing. My waters broke during the first push.
After a few more pushes in the bath I decided to get out, I couldn't get into a comfortable enough position. I got onto my knees on the floor, leaning on Chris's lap who was sitting on a chair in front of me. Each contraction came and I pushed hard. I could feel my baby gradually making her descent. She would come and retreat, come and retreat until eventually I felt her head burst round the birth canal. It was at this point that Sophie told me to try "little pushes" and to"pant". This was pretty much the only time she gave me an instruction. She was so quiet, just letting me take control of my own labour. Slowly, slowly I felt our baby's head enter the world...And then with one final push she was there, all pink and beautiful. She cried as I lifted her to me, I looked into her tiny face and I wept happy tears. She was perfect.
Edie was born at 3:41am on the 22nd September - just 3 hours and 41 minutes after I had woken with that first contraction. It was a wonderful, healing and incredible experience. The perfect birth.