My baby was around 10 months old. As I was breastfeeding, I had only just had my first period post-baby in mid August. Not much of anything but enough to make me think my body was returning to normal post-pregnancy and my periods were starting again. I was due to give blood for the first time post-baby in the middle of September and hadn’t had another period so did a pregnancy test to check I was irregular owing to the fact that my periods were just starting back and I was still breastfeeding. The test was negative so I went ahead and gave blood, all went well.
A fortnight later, I had lunch with my friend who had married in the August and stopped using contraception. They were in no hurry to conceive and expected it to take a while but she had said that she now understood what I meant first time around when I described Dave & I as ‘not trying, but not preventing it’. I asked how that was going, she replied “well… it worked! First time!” and so I discovered that she was expecting! I told her I thought I might be too, as I still hadn’t had another period, and she encouraged me to pick up a test again. I agreed, especially as my hen night was coming up and I obviously wouldn’t be able to drink if I was pregnant! I picked up a test, got home and it was positive.
Second time around, our reactions were quite different. I had just taken voluntary redundancy and secured another job but hadn’t started yet. I still feel enormous guilt about that, starting a new job pregnant. Sigh. We were also due to get married about two weeks later. The new job which I had secured was a temporary contract and my husband was also only working on a casual basis. Not ideal financially but I was having another baby! Being a mum already, this meant so much more to me than my first positive result. I was happy. Husband tentatively happy. Timing could definitely have been better but again, we weren’t preventing anything so knew what the possibilities were.
So pregnancy number two. I had a sober (and fairly boring if I’m honest) hen night and a sober (but fantastic) wedding. I started work and told my boss in the first week, burst into tears (I can blame the hormones, can’t I?) and apologised. He believed it was a genuine surprise to us – after all, who would get pregnant when about to start a temporary contract with a husband who was working days here and there on a casual basis and a baby who wasn’t yet 1? Yes, that would be me!
Time passed, another healthy and easy pregnancy with no morning sickness. I’m so very lucky in that respect. This time around I was due to deliver in a different hospital as my previous hospital had closed. The new hospital DID offer 20 week scans! Again, I wanted to know the sex but Dave decided he didn’t want to know. My 20 week scan was scheduled for the first working day after the New Year in 2011 and, although Dave had secured a full time temporary contract for the rest of the school year, he was concerned about taking time off so we were happy for my mum to accompany me to this scan. We found out that it was another boy and everything looked good. I was going to have two boys, 18 months apart! I was delighted. My little monsters.
You’ll remember Dave didn’t want to know the sex? Well I managed not to tell him. On day one. On day two, my other pregnant friend (who it turned out was due 6 days ahead of me) saw on our online forum that I was expecting a boy and texted me to say they were having a boy as well. That evening I told Dave my friend was having a wee boy TOO!! I lasted all of one day. Could not believe it. A total accident but I really don’t think I could have kept it quiet for the next twenty weeks.
The pregnancy went on, I worked full time until around 37 weeks again. My first baby had arrived on his due date with the labour starting two days before. We reached the night before baby no 2’s due date and I remember feeling so low and crying on hubby’s shoulder. Why wasn’t my baby on its way? By this stage in my first pregnancy I’d been in labour over 24 hours!!
The next morning was the first day in about three weeks I was childfree as the toddler was going to his gran’s for the day. Dave left for work and dropped the toddler off and the couple of cramps I’d had that morning made me think this might be it, as I stood at the sink washing the dishes. That’s a fun activity when your diameter is 3.5 foot.
I texted the husband. “I’m having cramps but far apart, roughly every 8 minutes. Think this might be it”. He texted back “OK, I’d like to come home by eleven if possible. Don’t like the third period class.” This panicked me – husband coming home! What if it all stopped? What if it took 36 hours like last time? I told him to stay at work while I sat on the ball and ate some breakfast, I said I’d time the tightenings for an hour or so. I’d know soon enough if things were regular or not.
Before I could text him again, the door opened. He said hi, gave me a kiss then sat himself down on the sofa to watch some tv. Typical Dave, again!! I had in mind this labour would last around 24 hours so expected to be able to get on with things until at least that evening. I wanted to go to the supermarket for hospital snacks and to keep me busy and on my feet, then home for a shower so I could dry my hair and feel & look reasonably nice before going into the hospital. We set off to asda around 1pm and I waddled around gripping the trolley whenever I had a contraction. We came home, put something in the oven for lunch and I went for a shower. I love showers, I felt so relaxed and noticed quite quickly when I came out of the shower that the contractions were much closer together. 3-4 minutes by this stage.
I had my lunch (pizza – a typical lunch selected by my husband!) and two paracetamol, my first pain relief, but I was sick around 10 minutes later so probably didn’t get the benefit of the painkillers. The same thing happened in my first labour, I think the pain makes me vomit. But I still had to blowdry my hair, my hair was still wet, it would get frizzy if I didn’t blowdry it! I distinctly remember kneeling on the floor leaning over my exercise ball while my husband tried to dry my hair and convince me I looked lovely.
So after frantically making, changing, and changing again plans for the toddler to be collected from his gran’s and stay overnight at granny’s – involving husband collecting him and bringing him home (cancelled as I didn’t want the toddler to see me in pain), then husband meeting my dad at husband’s mum’s with the toddler’s bags to swap over (cancelled as I quickly didn’t want my husband to leave my side) to my dad collecting the toddler then coming to mine to collect his bags – we phoned the hospital and updated them. The midwife said “well, it’s your second baby you’ll know when you need to come in”. That was NOT helpful. I wanted someone to say “your baby will be hours yet. Stay at home a bit longer” or “leave now!”. So I agreed to wait another half hour then we would make our way in.
When we were ready to go, I was having contractions lasting 90secs every three minutes or so. No pain relief, not even paracetamol, and the pain was excruciating. I felt very different this time though, I knew I could do it. I didn’t have any fear and I was relaxed. Possibly even enjoying it? Until the journey started and we quickly encountered rush hour traffic. I was squeezing the door handle/husband’s hand/handbrake/gear stick with every contraction and screaming my head off (oww oww oww oww oww oww oww (pause to breathe) owwwwwwwwwwwww oww oww oww) whilst at the same time trying to make sure the driver in front (when the three lane road was closed to a one lane due to roadworks and we were stuck in traffic for half an hour!!) couldn’t see me. An interesting car journey, to say the least.
Lady luck was on our side at the hospital – there was a space! Dave parked the car, I was in between contractions so I was out like a shot and waddling towards the doors leaving him to collect my bag and lock the car. Had to stop periodically and breeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeathe. Arrived at triage, was asked to wait in the waiting room which had two other quiet couples in it – too quiet to be in labour!! I couldn’t wait in a room with strangers and most definitely could not sit down. I walked up and down the corridor, stopping to lean over the desk with every contraction. The staff quickly gathered that I was quite far on and showed me into a bed for an examination. 6-7cm – yeeha! Sheer delight that I was so far on having presented at 2cm the first time. Oh, and “bulging” waters. I was put into a wheelchair and the nurse ran wheeling me behind her to the lifts and downstairs to the delivery suite. If I wasn’t in so much pain it might’ve been funny, watching Dave (a 6ft3 rugby player) running behind us along the corridors wheeling the suitcase along. Trying to manage contractions sitting in a fast moving wheelchair was interesting.
So we arrived at the delivery suite and both birthing pools were free but needing cleaned. We were shown into a run-of-the-mill delivery room with a bed. The bed was set very high. I stood out of the wheelchair and the midwife had the gas & air stretched across the bed to reach me. I stood leaning over the bed with the gas & air before I’d even said hello to the midwife. Stayed there for about an hour until my legs started to collapse underneath me as my body had started pushing.
During this hour, the staff changed shifts and during a contraction my midwife introduced the two new midwifes who were taking over – one was a student, if I didn’t mind. I couldn’t talk during the contraction but when it passed and I glanced round – the midwife was Gayle, who had delivered my first child! She had been great the first time around and I was overjoyed to see a familiar face. I don’t think I’ll ever forget her.
We reminisced about the things we had discussed during the first labour and caught up, inbetween me moaning/screaming during each contraction. It’s funny, I remember being very quiet during my first labour. None of that second time around. It was much more intense and I hadn’t had the diamorphine, I felt every twinge but felt totally in control and confident. At this point I was on the bed kneeling up and leaning over the back of the bed.
The student midwife was officially ‘in charge’ but after an hour of pushing, Gayle suggested she go for a teabreak. While the student was out, Gayle offered to break my waters. She explained that she would’ve done it sooner but with a student they are supposed to do everything naturally and with as little intervention as possible. I trusted her implicitly and was happy to follow her advice. I can’t remember what time that was but, after kneeling up and leaning over the back of the bed for about an hour pushing, Gayle suggested me lying on my left hand side to allow the baby to turn, which worked, and my second son Luke arrived, another child born on his due date, at 9:25pm on the 24th May.
I have breastfed both children – the toddler until he was 11 months and I was pregnant again, the baby is now approaching 6 months exclusively breastfed – but the toddler really struggled to latch on in the early days. In retrospect, and with huge guilt, I think this was due to the diamorphine. I had it 7 hours before he arrived but the difference in my babies was quite noticeable. The strength with which Luke sucked within minutes of being born was breathtaking. They really are little animals!
Unfortunately, I haemorrhaged after Luke’s birth. Dave had phoned both of our mums to announce our news but after fifteen minutes of bleeding, we realised things weren’t quite right. A third midwife came in, I was hooked up to a drip and the baby was left on me to breastfeed while someone massaged my tummy to encourage my uterus to contract. A consultant had been paged and when she arrived, with an assistant, she explained that she had to do something to remove clots from my uterus. I was given the gas & air to help me through this but was quite alarmed and in tears. I felt as though the baby was lying on me nursing but I wasn’t holding him as one hand was holding the gas and one had the drip in so had to ask someone to take him. He was handed to Dave while Gayle tried to talk me through the panic. The consultant removed the clots, the drip started to work and everything calmed down again but rather than going for a shower and getting my new pjs on (you can’t beat new pyjamas!), I had to lie in the bed until the drip finished, three hours later! By the time they had stopped working on me, it was around 11pm, and we were both quite annoyed to discover that family (not mine, I hasten to add!!) had already commented on facebook and our news was out, before we could make the announcement ourselves.
So despite the baby arriving at the civil hour of 9:25pm, it was around 3am before my drip had finished and I had been showered and dressed to move to the ward, and to add insult to injury – I had a catheter to ensure a full bladder didn’t aggravate my uterus further!
Despite all of this, once I was in my own curtained-off bed on the ward, I sat and cuddled my newborn baby for around an hour – staring at him, taking everything in, and I know that I didn’t sleep at all that night. In comparison to my first labour, I was so proud of this one. It had all gone well, I managed on gas & air which was what I hoped for, and delivered a 9lb3oz baby! A total high. And this time I knew how amazing the days, months and years that were to follow would be.