It wasn’t supposed to take so long to write the next part of the story, but parenting two children on almost no sleep is more draining than I had reckoned on.
Joseph is adorable, putting on weight, smiling convincingly already and starting to look rather trendy in his spiky hair style and well-chosen clothes (thanks to so many kind people in our lives). I dressed him up for a funeral today in a smart outfit, but feeding time went on too long and I thought better of it. My friend Eileen, a lovely elderly lady from church died 8 days before the birth and I had hoped to get to today’s funeral with Joseph, but with hindsight can see that it probably wouldn’t have been a good plan. Joseph does not break wind quietly. He may not cry much, but when he does, you can’t ignore it. I think Eileen would have understood.
Lily is coping with big-sister duties with all the aplomb of a two-year-old. She frequently gives a running commentary on the few things Joseph does (he open eyes, he close eyes, he happy) and cheekily asked for some of mummy’s milk yesterday. No can do, Smorgeous. She has moments where jealousy kicks in, but has surprised us by suddenly gaining an enormous amount of weight (and is huge in comparison with a new-born) and being proud of her Baby Joseph and wanting to see him as often as possible.
Anyway, where was I with the story?
I will endeavour to keep this clean and tidy. I did endeavour to keep our toy room clean and tidy on the day of the birth, but delegated to the midwives. They insisted I was the one doing the work (they told me this afterwards; I am sure they did something too, otherwise they shouldn’t have been the paid ones in the equation).
I had gone over by 15 days. It was getting me down, as I have already indicated. In fact, so many people had suggested so many solutions to getting baby Bean out, that I was not convinced any one method was any more reliable than any other. I had had two convincing false labours and other odd contractions at different points. It could have been that these were brought on by methods of natural induction, including curries, walks and pineapple. So I took the line that leaving the baby where it was without interfering may also work, and would be less likely to result in another false labour.
This resulted in me going into labour ‘spontaneously’ the evening before we were due to go to the hospital. So, to add to the list of what helps a baby arrive, I would like to officially add ‘none of the above’. Which also takes some of the pressure off.
Our midwife cautiously informed us that we were able to refuse to be induced, but may be encouraged to go ahead on the day we went in, and to be ready for this. She said that our scan date may help us, as NICE guidelines had recently been altered so that the local procedure was now to work from scan dates, buying us three extra days. On top of this, no consultant was available on the Thursday, so we had an appointment for the Friday (due date plus 15). I did some homework on what they might suggest, what induction might mean and what the good people of the internet recommended (avoiding the most hysterical opinions as much as possible). The hospital literature seemed to suggest that it was in the baby’s interests to be born as soon as possible. My gut feeling was that it was possible to go on longer, and that each day the chances of giving birth naturally would in any case increase. I was also getting used to the idea of going into hospital and accepting a certain amount of medical intervention and allowing for more serious options that I hadn’t considered before.
I had had a failed membrane sweep on the Monday and another on the Wednesday, by which point I had started to efface.
I had been told that I would be allowed a home birth between 37 and 42 weeks. It was Thursday evening (42 weeks exactly) when the real contractions started. They quickly sped up to 3 minutes apart, as they had with Lily. I know this, because I played with a clever contraction timer on the internet just to be sure. So, at around midnight, fearing that the midwives at the hospital may not allow me to go over into the next day, we phoned and asked for a community midwife to attend us.
A lovely lady turned up not long after, and stayed the whole night. She spent most of the night sitting on a wooden ex-Sunday School chair, listening to my inane chatter (while I could still talk) and saying all the right things. She was from New Zealand, which meant watching a film I made with my husband a while back for my sister when she was returning from New Zealand (it involved kiwis, jumping out of planes and was a lot sillier for the entonox than on previous viewings).
I did not enjoy being in labour. I cannot stress this enough. It is not a pleasant experience, even with a bouncy gym ball, a patient husband and midwife in the room, and a toddler sleeping through the night. I was 3 cm dilated for most of the night, which meant that we got through rather a lot of gas and air, and four midwives (and another, who delivered more of the stuff).
By the morning, my own midwife was on duty, so she was summoned.
At this point, I have to go and feed Joseph, so more to follow..!