I was ten days overdue with Harry, and after a failed sweep I was resigned to having an induction, which was booked for a couple of days later. So it was a bit of a surprise when I was woken up at 6am by my waters breaking. I made it to the toilet, but I could see that there was a bit of discolouration in the waters, so when I rang the labour ward they told me to come in for monitoring. I was fully expecting to be popped on the monitor for an hour or so and then sent away to labour at home, so my husband got himself ready for work, and I put my hospital bags in the car almost as an afterthought. Parking on the sidestreets by the hospital was free until 9am, so we parked there thinking that we'd be out in plenty of time.
I'd had a few contractions in the car, about every 15 minutes or so, but I didn't realise that they were actual contractions, I thought that they were just Braxton Hicks!
I was put on the monitor, and straight away I could see that the midwife was a bit concerned because Harry wasn't moving much. He never did first thing in the morning though, so I wasn't too worried, but then she started talking about c-sections which made me a little anxious. Also they had decided that I did have meconium in my waters, which could mean that he was in distress. Luckily they called in a paediatrician for a second opinion, and she said that I was fine to carry on. Unfortunately because of the meconium I did have to be strapped to the monitor all the way through, which wasn't ideal as I'd been hoping to labour in water, or at least be able to move around.
It wasn't until a midwife put a hospital bracelet onto me that I asked "Oh, so am I not going home then?" and she laughed and said "no, not until you've had the baby!". My husband went out to move the car, and was gone for ages. He came back having popped out to Waitrose to get himself some posh sandwiches and pasta salad for lunch. I was hungry too but not allowed to eat anything!
I was having quite frequent contractions by this point and they were getting more painful, so about 10.30am the midwife connected up the gas and air for me. This helped, only in as much as it just made me want to sleep between the contractions! It did make me feel a bit spaced out, so my memory is a bit hazy. I think that I progressed quite quickly, although it seemed to go on forever. By about 1pm, the pain was getting very intense and I didn't know how much longer I could go on. I tentatively suggested to the midwife that I might like an epidural and she said "Oh it would be such a shame when you've got so far". I was a bit cross at the time, but I think that I was actually in transition at that point and it was too late for one anyway.
I then discovered that if I bore down at each contraction the pain was a little lessened, and then I realised that I was automatically pushing. I'd had it drilled into me not to push until the midwife said, to avoid tearing, so I asked if I was allowed to push yet and she said "you can if you like". So I started pushing. My husband found himself roped in to support one of my legs and the midwife had the other and I pushed away for what seemed like ages. It would feel like the head was coming out, and then the contraction would finish and it was sucked back inside, so it felt as though I wasn't getting anywyere.
Harry was finally born at about 2.30pm. The midwife didn't tell us until after he was born that he would need to spend some time in the Special Care Baby Unit because of the meconium. But he was checked over, and we were able to spend some time cuddling him before he was taken away, which was good of them. He spend the night in the SCBU and I was on the ward, so it felt a bit surreal being on the ward on my own surrounded by screaming babies, and I was desperate to get home. Happily we were discharged the following morning, and he didn't suffer any ill-effects from the meconium. I had second degree tears so I was pretty uncomfortable, but it all healed up fine after a few weeks.
You can read the rest of the birth stories here.