OK so that’s a slightly misleading headline as I actually wouldn’t advise anyone to give birth on their bathroom floor (or anyone else’s bathroom floor for that matter), but as I start to seriously contemplate going into labour for a third time my thoughts naturally drift to the first time I experienced it.
Six years on, I can look back and laugh at the hilarious nature of the delivery. Details are certainly hazy BUT at the time I had the good sense to write it all down in a series of letters I’d penned to my eldest daughter. The idea was that I’d keep a diary of her first year, and present her with it on her 18th birthday as a token of my love and dedication yadda yadda. Needless to say, I didn’t keep the diary up for long….
So, for those of you who are interested in reading a farcical birth story, worthy of a Two Ronnies sketch, here’s what happened.
Wednesday 23 September 2009. It started out as any other day. With a midnight tinkle.
I awoke at 00.08hrs for a loo visit. Something felt different, it seemed my waters were ‘trickling’ a bit. I put it down to incontinence (my EDD was 9 October) and went back to bed. I had so many social engagements to still fit in including dinner at Hakkasan, a day at Cowshed and a mop chop, giving birth at that time was simply not an option. My bag wasn’t packed. My hypnosis session was still a few days away. My hypnobirthing CDs hadn’t arrived. I was not ready.
I tried to go back to sleep. This did not happen. Another trip to the loo. A show. A call to the Doula we had so carefully selected to help guide us through the unknown. Without my mother around for support it was really important to me to have another woman with me who knew what to expect, what was going on, what questions to ask. The call to the Doula confirmed what we’d learnt in ante-natal classes; conserve your energy, go back to bed, this is just the beginning.
00.38hrs: I called my sister who, at the time, lived a few doors away to tell her that I was in ‘early pre-labour’ as our Doula had put it. I tried to sleep but my contractions – when they did come – were too painful for me to sleep through. My husband called the Doula again who, clearly, really just couldn’t be bothered to haul her fat, lazy arse out of bed. “Tell her to calm down, run her a warm bath”, was the advice. I got in the bath. I had a contraction. I panicked I’d be stuck in the bath forever. I got out of the bath.
01.37hrs: I called my sister to come over, pack the hospital bag and bring yoga CDs. I was unhappy. The Doula woman kept telling my husband to tell me to calm down because I had “a long way to go”. I told him to fuck off. My sister arrived and found me in my darkened bedroom. I could only have one lamp on. I was listening to some yoga music. Apparently I looked a little possessed. The un-helpful Doula suggested taking Arnica. I took the Arnica. I asked my sister and husband to put the TENS machine on. It had only arrived that morning so we didn’t know how it worked. They faffed about, without light, whispering loudly to each other. I asked for peace and quiet. They looked at each other. Figured it out. Put the TENS machine on. Took the TENS machine off – it was pointless.
02.00hrs onwards: I had a word with myself. The Doula was not coming. I could not speak to her. All I could do was close my eyes and tell myself to stop being so dramatic. This was just the beginning. I had to get in the car and to hospital once I was in established labour which – according to the lazy Doula who was still in her own bed – I was not. I listened to my music. I breathed. On all fours on my bed I realised no one was able to help me. I was on my own for this one. It was ok. The music, the breathing, the darkness all brought comfort. I reminded myself to be brave. That women the world over did this every day. I was not so special. The situation was not unique. I recall being told in our NCT classes that when you felt the urge to push, not to.
Approx 04.10hrs: I found myself pushing – I couldn’t help it. I decided not to tell the comedy duo who were standing by. After all, what would they say? Instead I asked them to take me to the bathroom to do a poo. “Do it on the bed” my sister suggested. Was she MAD??? A brand new bed. A poo?? What?? So they took me to the bathroom. I could barely walk. I certainly couldn’t sit on the loo. My husband shouted “I can see the head” and ran off downstairs to call an Ambulance. I was pretty sure he was mistaken but nevertheless relieved he’d darted off because a) he was in my way and b) I couldn’t imagine having to sit in a car to get to the hospital. I stood up and lent over the bath because I was in pain. I could tell there was something between my legs but as I wasn’t wearing my glasses or contact lenses couldn’t see what and – anyway – there was a bump in the way, innit? I thought I must have pushed out an internal organ such as my bladder (?!). I asked my sister to check. “It’s nothing, don’t worry”, she said. I asked her to take a proper look in between my legs. “MANGO I CAN SEE THE HEAD!!!!!!!!” (Turns out she didn’t hear him when he’d muttered it a minute earlier). She has since told me she was my daughter’s entire head with her eyes and mouth tightly squeezed shut.
04.31hrs: Another contraction, another push from me and whooooosh. Out she sloshed, head-first, onto our bathroom floor and slid about a bit. It didn’t occur to me to pick her up. Luckily, my sister had the good sense to do so and gave her to me. She was very quiet. She just stared at me with her big, big eyes. “Look, a baby!” I exclaimed (no shit, Sherlock). My husband ran upstairs, said “Oh, you’ve had the baby!” and ran downstairs again (!). He then returned with a plastic chair for me to sit on and lots of towels to keep warm. Our baby was just looking around and taking everything in. She didn’t seem fazed. Apparently I was in shock.
Approx 04.35hrs: the first paramedic arrived, stinking of nicotine. Nice. “Have you called the midwife?” he asked. “No, but my Doula is on her way now” (evidently she’d finally managed to haul her fat, lazy, over-paid ass out of bed and actually come to our house). “What’s a Doula?” he asked. “Who knows”, was my reply. He told my sister to look away and then cut the cord. I was still in pain – I’m having another contraction…… Why?? I remembered I still needed to deliver the placenta. Ah! NOW I could ask for drugs. I’ll have some syntocinon injection please. “We don’t carry it in Ambulances”, said another paramedic (by this point a fast response car and two ambulances were outside our house and loads of people inside our house. I don’t know how many, I still wasn’t wearing my fucking glasses). So I had to deliver my placenta naturally too. A paramedic asked for a bowl so we could take the placenta to the hospital to be examined. My husband brought up one of my beautiful Joseph Joseph mixing bowls which was part of a set. Had everyone suddenly LOST THEIR MINDS??? First suggesting I poo on the bed and now telling me to plop my placenta out into a really nice mixing bowl. Anyway, I did it. I didn’t have the patience to explain otherwise. I was examined on my bed. I was taken to hospital in an Ambulance. I still didn’t have my glasses. But I had the most precious thing I had ever, ever seen.
Wednesday 23 September 2009. It was the happiest, most joyful day of my life.