On Friday morning, six days after my estimated due date, I had a sweep. I was attending the Domino Clinic usually, but was in the public clinic that morning as they wanted me to see a consultant to book me in for induction the following week. As my first son had been born at 11 days over (in the National Maternity Hospital) I had no trouble convincing them to book the induction for the following wednesday (+11) rather than on the Tuesday, which would have been +10 – policy in the Coombe. Either way I was confident my boy would arrive before then.
Later that afternoon I started getting pains at home while giving my 2.5 year-old dinner and chatting to my sister-in-law. I didn’t tell my husband as I didn’t want to say it in front of her because she was on call to mind the toddler and I didn’t want her to get nervous. The pains were only in the front really low and about ten minutes apart, so I didn’t think I’d be calling her to action until a civilised hour on Saturday morning. I managed fine until about 11pm bouncing and rocking on my gym ball but as they were getting closer together I figured maybe I should try and sleep and went to bed. An hour later they got down to 5 minutes apart and were getting more intense. I’d probably slept about 40 minutes, listening to Gentle Birth tracks all the time. I had dipped in and out of Gentle Birth casually during my pregnancy, finding the different tracks calmed and focused me hugely. (Many’s the night they got me off to sleep while my mind raced.) We called my sister-in-law about 1:30am and her and her boyfriend drove over. We got into hospital about 2:30am.
She pushed the bed aside, and laid out a large mat, beanbag and pillows on the floor for me, and the lights were left low. Anyone she needed to speak to, or needed to speak to her, came no further than the door which was curtained off.
The Domino midwife on duty in the Coombe was on the regular public rotation and attending another delivery but she was called for me. (The scheme is relatively new in the Coombe so there wasn’t too many women signed up yet). In the meantime another midwife coolly told me I’d a good way to go because the pains were still 4 or so minutes apart. I knew otherwise, I really did. I let it wash over me – she was happy to hold off on the examination until my midwife got there.
My Domino midwife, aptly and beautifully named Joy, examined me the first and only time at 3:15am – I was ‘only’ 3cm but the surges were increasing in intensity and speed all along. She moved me to a big delivery suite. She pushed the bed aside, and laid out a large mat, beanbag and pillows on the floor for me, and the lights were left low. Anyone she needed to speak to, or needed to speak to her, came no further than the door which was curtained off. No interventions like breaking my waters were suggested. She was massively encouraging and said I didn’t need examining at all, she knew by me how fast things were progressing. I felt empowered – I trusted my body, and my midwife trusted me.
I decided to try out gas and air. I had rejected it quickly on my last delivery but had been advised since by others that if you stick with it you get used to the sensation and it takes the edge off. After 4 or 5 contractions it really did work, and though I felt pretty stoned I don’t think I said anything too out of character! Between that and my yoga breathing I was in the zone. Staying on the floor, swaying and using gravity really worked for me. I definitely had the clichéd “I can’t do this” transitional phase, but I remember laughing at myself because I’d done exactly the same thing last time, and witnessed it countless times on programmes like One Born Every Minute. Just before I delivered, the membrane sac broke and in the next couple of pushes his head came out. It was 4:45am and I was on all fours. My gorgeous boy was passed up through my legs to the front and we had a fab cuddle. The cord was left to pulsate before cutting and we moved to the bed to see if my little boy wanted to feed. He latched on like a little trooper. I spent the day in a 4 bed ward chatting to other 2nd and 3rd time mums as my husband was busy with the new big brother and went home that evening at 7pm to my own bed.
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