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And Then We Were Four...

Sally Wilson

Monday, March 14 – due date

8pm: I’d had a silent word with the baby to stay put for the due date as I was desperate to see the outcome of the Bachelor final. I got to see every schmaltz-stained last minute of it and the ‘After the Rose’ show at the end. What a thoughtful baby!

The midwife had announced I was 2cm dilated after a check-up earlier that day. She’d also attempted a cervical sweep but couldn’t assure me of any success as the membranes were so slippery. She said I might feel a bit crampy and I had through the day. But that night I was blissfully chomping Mini Eggs and putting up with the usual evening period-type cramps I’d been experiencing for the past month or so.

11pm: Preparing for bed, something was afoot. The evening cramps hadn’t abated. I hadn’t finished packing my hospital bag but instinct propelled me to add final flourishes. Hit the sack late a little apprehensive. My mum had arrived, white knight in shining armour-like from Scotland two days earlier. Fully expecting another late baby as with my first, I had a whole program of things lined up to do with mum and Eliza. As I drifted off to sleep, I had an inkling the program was going to have to change...

Tuesday, March 15

3am: Incredibly woke not from needing a pee but from an early contraction. Went to the loo hoping I’d imagined it but ten minutes later there was another. I watched the blue digital numbers on our clock until 5am and by then I was needing to breathe gently out on them. Husband N woke up. ‘It’s happening,’ I told him. He gave me a cuddle and from the blue digital reflection, I could tell he was crapping himself. That made two of us...

7am: Contractions still manageable. Figuring I had a long road ahead, I didn’t want to put on the Tens machine. Husband N got toddler Eliza up and left her with me in the bedroom while he sorted work stuff. I wanted to stay lying down for as long as possible as last labour time, I was on my feet for the whole duration, in too much pain to lie flat. The contractions were intensifying. Eliza kept asking to be lifted into our bed and read a story. The distraction was welcomed despite reading the same book over again for twenty minutes.

8am: Husband N works round the corner. I told him to go in for a meeting and I’d see him in an hour. I would need his help to put on the Tens machine but figured it could wait an hour. Realised I didn’t know what procedure was for going to hospital – did I call them or the ob/gyn clinic first? Called the latter first and spoke to my Fave Midwife. She said I could head to the hospital now as contractions were five minutes apart, she added she’d be on shift at the hospital from 12noon. It was the best news – I so wanted her to deliver my baby. I made a plan to last it out at home until Fave Midwife started her shift.

9.30am: Where the bloody, crapping f*** was Husband N? Contractions getting closer together and much more painful. I needed the Tens machine. NOW. Rang him at work. He assured he was on his way. Mum took Eliza outside to give me quiet in the house. I was up against the walls, using yoga breaths through each contraction.

10am: Tens machine on. Aaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh, the relief....

10.30am: On all fours in bedroom listening to Madison Violet. Contractions every three minutes or so and quite mind-blowing. Still had it in my mind that I was in for the long haul so wasn’t paying heed to how close together they were. No waters broken, no mucus plug. I figured I still had a long way to go.

11.00am: Pain getting far too intense. In between contractions, managed to tell Husband N we had to go. Barely had a chance to say a proper goodbye to Mum and Eliza out playing in the garden. Couldn’t cope with sitting down so crawled into back seat on all fours amongst Eliza’s car seat and general car trash debris. The journey to hospital was only ten minutes but felt like three hours.

11.15am: ‘I’m in labour,’ I told the hospital receptionist. She ushered me to the Admitting Office where I was given a pile of forms to sign while I huffed and puffed through several more contractions. It took ten minutes to get through the forms. A maternity nurse was summoned to get me with a wheelchair. I refused to sit in it trying to explain it hurt too much to sit.

11.40am: Was brought into the delivery suite and told to undress, gown up and get onto the bed. I was grouchy as all hell. I didn’t want to lie down and protested but the nurse insisted that they needed to strap on a monitor for the baby and take my blood etc. More blood taking?! What is it with these people?!

11.50am: Fave Midwife arrives full of smiles. I’m so delighted to see her and feel a rush of ‘ I can do this’. She does an exam. ‘You’re eight centimetres dilated,’ she beams. I’m utterly staggered as are Husband N and the nurses. Surely I should be swearing a lot more being this far along? Fave Midwife has to go assist with another delivery but says she’ll be back soon. A nurse asks me heaps of admission questions as I agonise through more contractions. All I want is to get off this bloody bed....

12.10pm: Nurse asks if I’m feeling a pressure down below. Her asking, suddenly prompts awareness of it. ‘Yes,’ I wince. She fetches Fave Midwife who checks me again. ‘The baby’s ready,’ she says quickly. Suddenly there’s a flurry of activity. I’m aware of nurses swarming and the squeak of latex gloves. Everyone’s peering at my bits. ‘What would you like to happen with the delivery,’ midwife asks. I ask her if she means what drugs I want. She actually means do I want to be handed the baby once it’s born. I’m so out of it with the pain I hadn’t realised I was too far gone to be administered any drugs. I’m told to start pushing....

12.15pm: There is nothing like this pain. It’s raw, primal and unforgiving agony. Every fibre in my body pulses with the assault on its senses. My Tens machine is ramped up to electric shock status but I can barely feel it. I grunt and yelp animal like through one contraction after another, crushing Husband N’s hand. The support squad positioned at my nether regions encourage me with what they can see. I feel moments of renewed strength when I hear the baby’s head is there but it’s tempered with the pain. ‘I can’t do this,’ I screech to Husband N.

12.20pm: A no-nonsense nurse says, ‘Sally, we need to get this baby out on the next contraction.’ Her tone is sobering and serious. It jolts me to my senses. I’m here to finish what I started all those months ago in the marital bed. The contraction cloaks me but I surf it – pushing with all that I have left. There’s a horrific stinging sensation. ‘The head’s out,’ a nurse shouts. I’m almost done. A final arduous push and I feel the shoulders then the lovely, slippery, gentleness of the rest of my baby’s body as it slips through. I look down, all the pain forgotten as I see the grey, squirming, vernix-coated bundle in the midwife’s hands. I forget to ask about the sex. I feel the most amazing rush of love as the baby’s handed to me, wet, warm and wonderful. I’m laughing, crying, choked with adoration. ‘A little girl,’ someone says. She is a perfect package. And has the pink ribbons I’d secretly wanted all along. We call her Penny Lorna.