The week of my EDD rolled around and I felt grand. This was my fourth week of maternity leave. I finally felt wound down from work, and ready.
I took a ballet class that week, and two Pilates classes. Things continued as normal. I read Birth Skills, mentally discarded parts of it, but held onto a few key gems.
I had seen my OB on the Wednesday afternoon and was 2cm. We agreed to book in for in induction the following Friday, if she hadn't arrived by then. I went out for churros with some girlfriends that evening and we joked about them driving me to hospital.
The morning of my EDD dawned bright and sunny, a Saturday. V was working and headed off early. I pottered around the house, tidying non existent messes, went to the supermarket. Bounced on my fitball and drank raspberry leaf tea, watching ballet movies.
I started to feel some cramps in the late afternoon, but they were very mild - I could easily walk and talk through them. I did call the hospital and updated them, telling them I assumed they were Braxton hicks. The midwives said I sounded fine, to come in if I wanted, but stay home otherwise. I was perfectly happy at home. I did consider calling V but assumed I would be in pre labour quite possibly for days! No need to panic.
V arrived home at around 6pm, by that time the cramps were a bit stronger and crampier - I updated V and told him I felt like an early dinner and bed, I needed my sleep if this was going to go on for a few days.
We had literally just gone to bed and switched off the lights when we heard a loud pop, like a drum skin bursting. The bed actually shook! I just instantly knew, there go my waters! Thank god for ensuite bathrooms, I moved so quickly the bed and carpets were saved!
I called the hospital and had a shower, this was around 9pm. We tidied the house up, grabbed my packed hospital bags, and headed off. It was very surreal - I couldn't quite believe it was happening. V ran two red lights even though I told him there was no rush (which as it turned out was not entirely true!)
I remember the cramps (contractions! Haha) started amping up a bit as we drove. Bizarrely, I found that humming Delibes' Flower Duet really helped! (we had been dancing to this in ballet).
We arrived at hospital and were buzzed in to maternity. Our lovely midwife N got us settled into a nice big birthing suite - we were the only ones there that night! Very private.
They asked whether I had thought about pain relief, because it was night shift on a Sunday, if I wanted an epidural I needed to give them plenty of warning, as it could take an hour for the on-call anesthetist to even get there!
I told them I'd try all forms of pain relief as needed, and just see how I went.
My Strep B tests had been negative so I didn't need a drip and was free to roam the suite.
I was breathing and walking through the contractions, and squeezing a purple squishy ball (thanks JuJu Sudin!) I knew I would probably feel ill as we had eaten dinner - I did have a wee power spew, but felt fantastic afterwards. Better out than in! The barley sugars we had packed for labour were great.
My contractions started becoming more painful, so I hopped into the shower. This was my happy place!
V had a fantastic app on his phone to time the contractions and gosh that helped, having him cheering me through, "only 10 seconds to go babe, nearly done", and also count me in for the next one. The shower, vocalizing and my squish ball got me through the first few hours easily.
After what felt like half an hour, but was apparently closer to three, N needed to check baby's heart rate. She tried 3 portable dopplers but the shower sounds were distorting the reading, so she very respectfully asked whether I could get out and come over to the bed. I wasn't entirely happy leaving my shower safe haven, but at the same time I wanted my baby girl safe and well so I hopped out.
Baby girl was doing just fine. I asked N if she could examine me so I knew how I was traveling (always the Type A!) I was almost 9cm!
Things get slightly hazy here. I remember feeling I needed to push, but N telling me it was too early. She suggested I lay on my side to ease the pressure, which worked wonderfully well. I recall turning to V and telling him I was terrified - promptly scaring the shit out of the poor guy.
The pain was never the issue for me personally, yeah it was extremely intense, but I knew just had to get through each contraction, it was bearable in that sense - but the uncontrollable urge to push was so foreign to me, and I felt so out of control, it truly scared me. In retrospect, this was clearly the mythical transition phase of which they speak.
N had been calling my OB through this and updating him, I do remember her saying, "about another half hour", and that she'd call him back.
She had kindly dimmed the lights and was being generally amazing and supportive. She suggested I try the nitrous gas. I breathed as instructed for a contraction but that stuff? Doesn't take away the pain. What it does do, is make you high as the proverbial kite. I felt totally looped out after one contraction and told her I couldn't handle it. (Is anyone sensing a theme here? In writing this, I'm seeing I may have some control issues haha). It was at this stage, V later told me, that he stopped timing my contractions out loud for me because they were so long and with no break in between, he didn't want to scare me. Smart lad.
I had said prior to labour, that if I tried the gas and I didn't work, and I still needed something, I'd try pethidine, and work my way up so to speak. But I was suddenly, apparently, fully dilated and ready to push!
This was the hardest I have ever worked in my life - totally exhausting! I was only at it for 45mins, I take my hat off to you ladies who go for longer! N would tell me to lay back and rest between contractions.
I distinctly recall one contraction where I was so tired, I just thought to myself, I won't push for this one I'll just lay here and have a rest - hahahahahahahaha this is so hysterical to me now. Easier to stop the tide from coming in! It was totally out of my conscious control, it was a completely primal action.
Suddenly, my OB was there and telling me it was nearly done, and our baby girl was nearly here. He was fabulous and coached me through the last part, and finally handed my baby up to me, onto my chest. I remember asking him whether he was sure it was a girl, and he tilted her nether regions towards me saying, see for yourself! I wailed, "I can't see, I don't have my glasses on!" 😂
Evelyn May was born at 2am on Father's Day, 5 hours after my waters broke, weighing 3.485kg. They wrapped her up warm and settled her to sleep next to me, then brought me the best tea and toast I have ever had (after which I took the best shower I have ever had).
I'd like to end on some sort of profound note but neither of us cried, I didn't feel my life had changed forever, just that it was suddenly somehow complete when I hadn't really known it was missing anything.
We called my parents in Russia where they were holidaying, and they toasted her arrival with vodka haha. Walked her proudly around to our room, where the three of us spent the next 7 nights in a blissful cocoon of family time, jaundice and all it was wonderful.
The whole experience was incredibly empowering - such a cliche, but it was this sense of wow, look what I just did? How fucking clever am I? I honestly loved every second of it.
And the end result? Just so so worth it