Thirty years and one day ago I was sitting in the garden with a friend watching our toddling daughters playing in a sand pit. It was a July day just as it should be, scorching with a silent air, waiting for a thunder storm that didn’t come. The girls played happily with the sand between their toes and fingers sticky with ice cream. I was waiting as well, for the discomfort I was feeling to turn into something tangible instead of the crampy, twingey, shovey feeling in my abdomen. I wriggled in the deck- chair for the umpteenth time and caught my friend’s anxious sideways look.
‘Are you all right? Nothing’s happening is it? You’re very fidgety.’
‘Just a bit uncomfortable, maybe things are getting ready and it will come on Saturday when it’s due.’
‘I’m not sure you will last that long,’ she laughed as I rolled to my knees on the grass, the only way I could extract myself from the deck-chair, and then gradually shifted from quadruped to upright.
‘It can’t come soon enough for me but I think it’s another lazy girl, just hope she doesn’t give me such a hard time as Nina.’
Natural delivery had eluded me when my daughter had arrived nineteen months earlier, I had a dose of pre-eclampsia and they decided to induce me. And so, in the way of much of what happens to me in my life, I really wasn’t certain what I was feeling. Husband came home from work, dinner was eaten, toddler was bathed, tucked up and TV was watched.
‘I don’t think I’ll go to bed’ I said at around eleven, ‘something is definitely going on and I don’t want to have any panics.’ The vision of my waters breaking in the style of a tidal wave, ruining the mattress, was second only to it happening in the supermarket, where I had already entertained them by fainting a couple of times.
‘Shall I call mum and dad?’ we didn’t have a car in those days and his parents were pre-booked to be taxi and to look after Nina in the event of any night time journeys.
‘Let’s wait a bit, I can’t tell if I’m having regular contractions.’ He intermittently dozed on the sofa and watched while I paced around for a couple of hours. I knew that I was in labour then, but still couldn’t time my contractions accurately; they would come at ten minute intervals and then seem to be up to half an hour. I just knew it hurt; I’d had a bit of what may have been a show, so we called the hospital.
‘Come in if you think they are ten minutes apart, it’s your second it could happen very quickly.’ With the complications I’d had the first time they weren’t taking any chances. Half an hour later we arrived at the hospital in my father-in-laws orange Saab and I waddled in. All of my so called contractions stopped.
We waited. Regular checks were done and it was agreed that I was in labour but only three centimetres dilated and they said I could go home for a few hours if I wanted. There was absolutely no way I was budging, once I was there that’s where the mess was going to be! They punished me for staying – with an enema!
M went home wondering why he and his parents had been up all night and I fell asleep for a few hours until I was woken by pain. Because I was so medicated for my first birth I had been to National Childbirth groups this time around, I was determined to be present and that my baby wouldn’t be having any drugs. The day drifted on through with all well; I was constantly monitored, they fully expected that I would need a Caesarean and so wasn’t allowed even a drink. Thank the Goddess for my tiny and expensive NCT natural sponge to suck on. With my legs in stirrups my nether regions were frequently explored by an assortment of midwives and doctors, one of whom I could have slapped for catheterizing me and reaching in to stick something on the baby’s head leaving me pinned to the bed.
Towards mid afternoon when I’d been huffing, puffing and making strange shapes with my mouth for what seemed an eternity, I was finally taken to the delivery room with nearly my ten centimetres. I was crying with pain and ready to give up and have some nice drugs. The bitches said it was too late, it wouldn’t make any difference now, and baby was on its way. I felt really panicky- this hurt big time. They gave me Entonox, but I was trying to breathe, pant and inhale all at once, just too confusing for my tired, addled brain.
My precious son arrived at 4.50pm weighing a whopping nine pound one ounce, incredibly long and skinny. I was proud of myself for the drug free arrival I gave him and totally shocked and happy to have one of each. He’s still tall and skinny now, very handsome and intelligent, and a loving parent himself. I’m very proud of him and my beautiful daughter; being a mother is a gift that I give thanks for every day.