(Read Part One here)
It’s 1am, and I’m an hour into being 37 weeks pregnant.
I wake up, feeling uncomfortable, as though I’ve been sweating in my sleep. I shift in the bed, and wonder why my pajama pants feel damp.
Last time I felt like this, my waters had broken, I muse. Funny.
I get up to pee. There’s something not quite right; the toilet paper shouldn’t be pink. It’s definitely pink. I wonder stupidly if my waters have broken, but there doesn’t seem to be enough liquid and besides, the baby isn’t engaged anymore.
I shake off the feeling of deja vu and clamber back into bed. No sooner have I gotten comfortable than I feel an intense cramping in my abdomen. I breathe deeply and it seems to pass. Bloody Braxton Hicks, I grumble inwardly. Sleep, sleep, sleeeeeep.
Five minutes later, another cramp. Geez, these are intense, I think, panting a little. I fleetingly wonder if they are actually labour contractions, but the thought is quickly dismissed. It’s not possible, I tell myself, squeezing my eyes firmly shut. 10 hours ago, he was posterior and completely out of my pelvis. This CAN’T be labour.
Twenty minutes and another four “cramps” later, I sit bolt-upright in bed. I groan, and finally accept that I am having contractions.
I get up, and call my midwife. She’s surprised to get my call, but is calm and rational as always. “Call me when you want to go in to the hospital,” she says. “And call your parents to go to your house, too.”
I get back into bed, remembering the advice to “rest and relax” as much as possible. Two minutes later, I’m back on my feet; lying down is not an option.
I wake Tall and tell him what’s going on. In stark contrast to last time, he’s calm and coherent. I tell him to keep sleeping, and that I’ll wake him when I need him.
Then I go and do what any normal woman in labour does at two o’clock in the morning – I file my nails and hang some washing on the clothes horse, all the while thinking, Tiny’s got no dry nappies, dammit.
My parents arrive, wide-eyed and surprised. They settle themselves into bed in our spare room (thank goodness I had the foresight to put clean sheets on the bed that week), and I continue with my pacing. At 3.45am, I wake Tall and tell him it’s time to go. While he has a quick shower, I call the midwife. By 4am, we’re at the hospital.
The midwife asks what I’d like to do, and I say I want to get in the bath. It takes a while to fill, but I’m feeling okay. I even have a chance to comment to Tall about how different I feel this time around. I feel in control, and I feel as though I’m letting my body do its thing, instead of fighting against it.
In the bath, the hot water is dribbled in, in a constant stream. By this point, I’m shaking uncontrollably, but it’s not because I’m cold. I can’t stop it, and it’s the first time I feel like I’m not in control.
The midwife is sitting quietly in the bathroom with us. She’s unobtrusive, and let’s us spend these moments in relative peace. I relax into the water, bracing my feet on the side of the bath whenever a contraction becomes too much to bear unsupported. When I feel the sudden urge to push, I don’t need to say anything or ask for permission; I do what my body is telling me to do. I push, and I feel my waters break. I’m surprised at the violence with which they pop, and it takes my breath away.
Then I hear my midwife’s voice. “I’m just calling for assistance…everything’s okay, there’s just some meconium in your waters…your baby will be fine, you just need to go slowly and not make any sudden moves, okay?”
I know I shouldn’t panic, but I do, momentarily. And then I breathe, and I keep the midwife’s words in my mind. Our baby is fine, our baby is fine, our baby is fine.
I push and I push. Just once, I tell Tall I can’t do this anymore, and then I know that with the next push, the baby’s head will be free. I feel him crown, and I know that I have to get those little shoulders out. And then he’s out, and I’m turning around in the water, performing all sorts of gymnastic moves to swing my leg over my baby and the cord, and then I’m being handed my slippery little newborn son. I clutch him to my chest and cry and smile and kiss him, and welcome him into the world. It’s 5.23am, on June 22nd, 2012.
Once he’s swaddled and fed, and I’ve had a shower and we’re snuggling on the bed, I wolf down apricot jam on toast and sip milky sweet Milo through a straw. I look at my husband, and say, “His name is Henry.”
Tall laughs and says, with a twinkle in his eye, “Oh, really?”
I know he’s teasing, but I respond vehemently: “Yes!” With my eyes, I challenge him to argue with me. With ME, his wife, who has safely, naturally, confidently delivered his second son. There is no argument forthcoming, and I whisper into our newborn’s ear, “Hi, Henry. Welcome to our family. We love you so much, little man.”
Because we do. We are instantly smitten with this determined, I’ll-arrive-when-I-decide, black-haired little boy.
At that moment, I think of Tiny (hopefully) fast asleep at home, and feel a sudden sense of fulfillment with the knowledge that our family is now complete.
(Read Tiny’s birth story here)
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