My first thought was 'have I just wee'd myself?', but I was pretty sure that despite my enormous state I was still in full control of my bladder. There was also a very distinctive smell!
This threw me a bit, in the classes we'd been to and the stories I'd heard I couldn't recall anyone mentioning their waters going before any twinges or contractions. I made a phone call to S at work telling him that he probably wouldn't be in work the next day and a phone call to the LGI asking for advice. They told me that there was no rush but to come down as and when so they could have a look at me.
So at 5.30pm, shortly after S got home, we headed on down to the LGI. I was seen in the Maternity Assessment Centre where they hooked me up to a monitor to do a trace and suggested an internal to check that my waters had actually gone. Fortunately one of the things I did remember from the Antenatal class was to keep any pads if your waters have gone. As I whipped the pads out of my bag the midwife took one sniff (gross, I know) and confirmed that it was definitely my waters and no need to do an internal. Phew, the less poking about up there the better!
I was packed off home and told to come back the following day by 2.30pm if nothing had happened but hopefully sooner.
Back at home I started to have mild pains around 7.30pm but the quickly progressed to being uncomfortable. I was mindful of the advice of not to leave it too long before using the TENS machine so I popped that on. If you have never used a TENS machine it can only be described as WEIRD. I don't think it did anything to take the pain away, but it was merely a distraction and something else to think about.
I decided to get an early night as I wasn't sure if I would be having to get up very early in the morning!
Friday 28th September
I didn't have to get up very early. Absolutely nothing happened overnight, I did manage to sleep but not that brilliantly. The contractions had picked up however and were coming every 6 minutes. I spent most of the morning bouncing on my birthing ball and cranking the TENS machine up to the highest level.
Around midday I mentioned to S that I was a bit concerned not to have felt the baby move all morning. He phone the LGI and they advised us to come down. At this point the contractions were coming every 3-4 minutes. But strangely the 15 minute drive to the LGI seemed to put a stop to the contractions.
We arrived at the LGI at around 12.30pm and I was put on a monitor to trace the baby's heartbeat. The contractions did start up again but were every 10-15 minutes apart.
I was told that the delivery ward was full but as soon as a bed became free I would be taken down and they would look at putting me on a drip to get the contractions going again.
For 5 hours I was on the maternity assessment ward waiting for a delivery room. They were 5 long hours, separated from the other women in labour by a mere curtain.
At 5.30pm I was told that there was a space for me on delivery so I walked on down. Much to my horror I wasn't put in a delivery room, but what can only be described as the medical stock room. There were three beds, me and two other women in this room where staff kept coming in an out to collect medical supplies from the cupboards. To say I was not happy is the understatement of the year.
Whilst in this room I started to feel the need for some pain relief. The midwife looking after me suggested co-codamol and went off to get some. 10 minutes later she returned with two paracetamol in hand and advised that I couldn't have co-codamol as there was no doctor available to sign it off! I refused the paracetamol.
Shortly after this, at around 7pm I was moved to the room in which I would give birth. Room 3. Every time I see the room on One Born Every Minute I have to point out that it is 'our' room!
There was a change of shift at 7.30pm and our lovely midwife Rachel joined us. By this point I was 4cm dilated so I was told that they wouldn't bother with the drip, they would just let things happen naturally. The midwife got the Gas and Air going. This was good for a while but has given me very hazy memories of what happened.
The Gas and Air made me feel like I was the most drunk I have ever been in my life. S says that I was coherent and having full conversations between contractions but I felt dizzy, sick and didn't know what planet I was on.
I requested diamorphine. This was not going to plan. The diamorphine brought temporary relief, it let me ease up on the Gas and Air for a while. But I think I had it too late. It didn't do enough. I was exhausted and in absolute agony.
I did what I said I absolutely would not do. I asked for an epidural.
I had told S many times that I did not want an epidural and if I asked for one he was to talk me out of it. He did his best, but there is only so much you can say to a mad, screaming pregnant lady.
An hour after I requested the epidural the anesthetist arrived. This was around 10pm. She put all the tubes in my back and was about to administer the epidural when all the sirens went off. She had to go to an emergency. I think I remained quite calm when she told me she would have to go but would be back as soon as possible to administer the epidural. Inside I wanted to kill someone.
Two hours later the anesthetist returned. Midnight. The epidural was put in and I could feel nothing. Absolute bliss.
Saturday 29th September
Once the anesthetist left the midwife examined me. I was 10cm dilated.
I was told that there was no point pushing as the epidural meant I wouldn't be able to feel it and I should get a couple of hours sleep. There was nothing I could do about it at the time, but with hindsight I am absolutely furious. Had I been examined before the epidural finally went in I probably wouldn't have had it. I had waited those two longs hours for it to be put in and during that time my body had got where it needed to be.
So I went to sleep.
At 3am I was woken by the midwife and told it was time to start pushing.
I pushed and pushed and pushed. I remember the midwife saying that I was doing brilliantly and getting really annoyed with her because I knew I wasn't. Baby wasn't moving anywhere, I was pushing as hard as I could and getting no where.
At 4am a lady who was probably a doctor came in and said that I had another 30 minutes to get baby out. I think she gave me a bit longer. About 45 minutes later she returned and I was still no closer.
She told me that they were going to help me. There were three scenarios. The first; forceps delivery where we were, the second; a forceps delivery in surgery if they were struggling, the third; if worst came to worst a c-section. As this point I did not care what happened as long as they got the baby out of me.
The instruments were wheeled in. Several more people appeared in the room. S saw the instruments lined up and says it's a good job I didn't see them. He couldn't believe the size of the forceps.
The doctor told me she would give me three contractions to get the baby out before we went to surgery. I felt the scissors cut me and the forceps put in position. On the first contraction, with a big yank on the forceps, her head was born.
I then had the most bizarre couple of minutes of my life, where everyone was stood around chatting and I was laid with a baby's head between my legs. I could feel her head there, it was a surreal time.
Her body was born with the next contraction.
Elsa Florence, born at 5.30am on Saturday 29th September 2012 weighing 8lbs.
She was put strait on my chest and S cut the cord.
The rest is a bit of a blur. I delivered the placenta and I remember them talking about what a good cord it was, very thick, and holding it up to show me. I have no idea what a good cord looks like, I have nothing to compare it to!
Not long after Elsa was born I started throwing up. I had managed to make it through the whole pregnancy without being sick only to throw up afterwards.
I was stitched up and taken up to the maternity ward. I was resolutely determined that I would not be spending the night in hospital and we finally managed to get home at 8.30pm that evening.