It's taken me until my baby is two months old to write this - how crazy! I am currently sat with my daughter snoozing happily in her moses basket (wait until she wakes up and realises she's not on a comfy chest anymore, she'll be furious) with old Friends re-runs playing in the background. It is September and I cannot believe I am a mother.

At some point I need to write down more about the craziness of these early weeks and months - the incredible highs, the floor-scraping lows, the sleep deprivation and newborn cuddles - but let's start with...

The birth!

I woke up just before 7am on Sunday 7th July at 39 + 5 and felt... odd. A bit like I was anticipating something but I wasn't sure what. Then I felt a change of pressure somewhere low down and jumped up and ran to the bathroom - thankfully managing to catch what I now know was a hind water rupture; a bubble of waters rather than the entire shabang.

I stood shaking for a minute or so and poked my head around the door to tell my husband that cheesy Hollywood line - "I think my waters just broke!" - and then promptly rang my Mum to tell her to get her skates on down South pronto. The baby was on its way!

After a quick call to the local maternity unit to confirm ruptured membranes and also to let them know I wasn't yet contracting, I had an appointment booked for 7pm that night. We were officially on clock watch for those all-important contractions to arrive, as any loss of waters is a risk of infection - meaning I was headed for induction if things didn't get cracking within 24 hours.

So we walked. And walked some more. I bounced on my birthing ball. My mum arrived. And by 7pm we were in the maternity ward with not a contraction in sight.

The baby was not on its way, after all.

After a rather vigorous examination (wow they do not prepare you for those, do they!?) which was basically a sweep, my timid uterus decided that yes ok maybe we will have a baby. Although I was not at all dilated. Not one centimetre. But it was ok! Because the contractions came and they were... easy! SO EASY. I could do this! So we went home and I was a happy camper because as we have all agreed these were easy and didn't hurt at all.

Fast forward to midnight - my contractions were coming around every 2-3 minutes and were stronger but manageable. It still didn't really hurt, but I was focusing more and finding it harder to talk through them. I lost a little more of my waters - roughly triple what I lost the morning before, but still not the lot - and I was feeling like I'd probably made some progress.

"Let's go back to hospital!" I said.


By 1AM I was having my second VE (YOWCH) and nope hah actually I was 1cm dilated after 6 hours of contractions and being awake since 7am the morning before. So I cried. Because I knew I was only 6 hours away from being induced and I didn't realise how badly I wanted my water birth with minimal intervention until I was told I couldn't have it.

Typical, right?

So we went home again and after that second examination my contractions were really cracking on. Back home after a few more tears and losing more of my waters, I climbed into the bath and tried to sleep in between contractions, which yes ok now actually do hurt and I wouldn't mind not being in labour anymore thanks. I remember lying on the bathroom floor and trying to sleep but finding the pains so tough and praying I'd progressed a little more.

As instructed, come 7am, we duly traipsed back to hospital where I was told I was just 2cm dilated and no I can't have my water birth due to the risk of infection. Wah.

My lovely midwife Laura then takes me to my room and apologises over the water birth. "Next time!" she says cheerfully and I agree, silently thinking that after 24 hours of being awake and no baby in sight I'm not sure if I want to sign up for a second time. I ask if maybe please I could avoid syntocinon and induction, which thankfully as I am now contracting my midwife team agree to and leave me 'crack on'. So crack on I do.


The next bits are a blur, so bear with me if the details are a little fuzzy.

What I do know is that time seemed to zoom and all I could do was focus on breathing through each contraction without completely losing my cool. Every time I looked at the clock 20 minutes seemed to have passed. I remember not caring that I was basically naked and being checked by doctors and midwives seemingly every hour, until I was examined again around 11am and told I'd only made it to 4cm.

So that's when I asked for pain relief - pethidine, to be exact. I knew from my NCT classes that using pethidine at this point would mean that the risk to my baby was low and the effects minimal as I was progressing so slowly, but that I would get the rest I so desperately needed. The doctor then told me she'd be back at 5pm to check on me and I distinctly recall thinking that by hook or by crook, I would have my baby in my arms before 5pm!

I got my pethidine at 11:30am and managed to rest in between each hellish contraction, which felt like I was being punished for every bad thing I've ever done. The pethidine really didn't take the edge off - it helped me rest, but the pain was very much still there. I remember biting down on the gas & air mouthpiece just for something to distract me. My body was riding waves of pain and I needed to surf them as best I could.

Side note - the best way I can describe the pain is it is not really like any pain you've ever felt - it's an intense, full body, work out style pain and you know in your bones that your body is working so, so hard. Intense! I did remember thinking that I could never do it again and promising myself to never ever ever get pregnant ever again, but within 2-3 hours of giving birth I was joking about 'next time'... so it can't have been that bad!

After the pethidine a trace was fitted on baby's head, which meant two things - one, they wanted to monitor her and two, I was getting a cannula in case they needed to get syntocinon going after all. I did my best to put my positive birth company learning in place - up breathing in a UFO position - but with the trace I was forced to lie on my back, which was not ideal for getting baby out! Traces are famously rubbish and they lost her heartbeat a few times, meaning a lot of panic and tears from me which was unhelpful. The cannula was a hiccup too and never made it into a vein - I begged my midwife, my Mum and my husband to remove it as it hurt more than the contractions, which was saying something...

Things began to ramp up.

Pre-pethidine I remember watching the clock, but within two hours I was contracting so strongly and frequently I totally went into a zone - eyes closed, animal sounds, the whole lot! Things were progressing swiftly and I remember getting up to pee and having a contraction on the way, after peeing, on the way back - and the bathroom was only a few steps from the bed!

Fast forward to 3pm and after another VE from the doctor, I heard the words I'd been desperate to hear:

"You're 10cm dilated, it's time to push."

And boy was I done. I was OVER being in labour. I've never worked so hard in my life. I remember hearing my Mum and my midwife coaching me through each push and focusing on their words - although my body really started to take over. I found it really hard to control the pushes when they told me to stop; it felt involuntary at times and all consuming.

It felt like forever and no time at all.

Then I felt it - the head, descending - and it felt as hard and as huge as a bowling ball. I couldn't believe my body was bringing my baby to the world but there it was. I didn't even feel like I really did any of it; my body really did know how to birth my baby.

Having said that, I was determined to get the head out as soon as possible and distinctly remember not caring in the slightest if I caused myself any - ahem - damage. So I pushed. Hard.

With each contraction, her head bobbed and it was agony. Eventually, thank God, I felt a sudden lightening of pressure - the head was out! The relief was immense; I'd watched enough births to know the worst was over and crucially, my darling baby would be here soon.

Then with the next contraction I felt a tug as my midwife helped her body free and there she was! Although I didn't know she was a she until a minute later when my husband managed to get a look and tell me those magic words.

"It's a girl!"

She was perfect and with us in just under half an hour of pushing - 32 hours from membrane rupture and after just 4 hours 19 minutes of active labour.

I opted for delayed cord clamping to give her that extra boost of fabulous cord blood, then an actively managed third stage (get it over with please). My husband cut the cord and baby girl latched straight on, feeding within just a few minutes of being born. I felt so proud of my body for creating her and bringing her healthily into the world. Women are amazing and we had just made another one! We then basked in a glorious quiet hour with lots of skin to skin with our gorgeous girl.

So would I do it again?

Without question - but for now, I'll just drink in every minute of our sweet baby daughter, all 6lbs 12oz of her, lemon drop and sunshine girl, born in the height of summer on a clear, blue sky day. We're so in love with you baby girl!