Gwen was due on 10th August 2000, my due date came and went,
with no signs of an imminent birth whatsoever! I had finished
work at the beginning of July, as I was finding travelling
into central London by tube too much, so I had had plenty
of time to get everything ready for the baby and by now I
was officially bored! The phone seemed to ring ALL the time
with people asking me "Have you had the baby yet?"
After a while their voices seemed to have an accusatory ring
to them! I wanted to answer "Of course not, since I am
answering the phone to you!"
I had my 41 week appointment with the consultant at the hospital
on Wednesday 16th August. First she tried to find the baby's
heartbeat, but couldn't, so I was rushed into the scan room
(in tears) to check the baby. It was fine, just very low down.
She then gave me an internal examination to see if things
could be got moving, and booked me in for an induction at
7am on Monday, 21st August. This was the last thing I wanted,
so on Friday I and friend I had met through NCT Antenatal
classes, who was booked in for an induction the day after
me, met up and decided to do some walking (read shopping!)
Picture the scene: 2 enormously pregnant women waddling around.
I think we terrified people!
When I got back from shopping, I went to the loo, and noticed
that I had lost my mucous plug. I started to get light, irregular
contractions, so when my husband came home, we went for a
walk to the park to really get things going. I slept fine
that night, and when I woke up in the morning, the contractions
were still there - hooray! For some reason I developed an
obsession that the garden which I had been working on to relieve
my boredom, absolutely had to be finished. I dragged Pete
around at least 5 DIY shops, and we bought some plant pots.
By the time we got home around lunchtime, the contractions
were picking up, and I was having to breathe through them.
We put my Tens machine on, which really helped. Then I insisted
that we planted the pots; breathing through contractions as
By about 3pm, my contractions really picked up, and were regularly
about 5 minutes apart, and lasting over a minute. I was having
to work hard to get through them. Pete rang the hospital and
they suggested that we come in. At this point I suddenly got
very scared, and begged Pete to ring them back and tell them
we weren't going to come in. Sensibly he decided not to!
We got into the hospital, and I was shown to a room, and had
the monitors strapped on. It was so much more difficult to
bear the contractions when I was lying down and my Tens machine
was my best friend as this point. All through the monitoring,
they kept losing Gwen';s heartbeat because she moving around
so much. I wasn't worried (after all I could feel her moving!)
but it seemed to worry the midwife. Next I was given an internal
to determine how dilated I was. Only 3 cm - imagine my disappointment!
The midwife suggested that I took a bath to relax me. It was
awful! Hugely pregnant, the only comfortable way to be in
the bath was lying down. But this was incredibly painful during
contractions. So I was struggling up to my knees every 5 minutes,
and then struggling to lie down again every 5 minutes. The
midwife had told me to stay in for at least an hour, and always
one to follow instructions, I tried, but finally I said to
Pete, its no good, I've got to get out, and get that Tens
machine back on! Back at the room, another midwife came in,
and monitored me again. She asked if I wanted an epidural,
but I had had dreams of doing it naturally, so said no, not
yet. Lying down to be monitored was agony, and of course Gwen
didn't cooperate! I laboured through the next few hours, until
about 5pm, the pain was getting intense. I abandoned the Tens
machine and started on the gas and air.
Another midwife came in, and I didn't like her at all. She
wanted to monitor me as well, and when I explained that it
was really painful to lie down, she said that if I didn't
lie down for 20 minutes, she'd make me do it for an hour.
You can imagine I was nearly losing it by now! (Although I
think part of that was an overdose of gas and air!). Finally
the monitoring was over with and I just entered a period where
all I could concentrate on was getting through contractions.
Pete was rubbing my back and trying to help me through. At
about 7pm, my fourth midwife came on duty - hooray she was
really nice, and I got to have her all the way through the
rest of my labour. I can't remember whether she monitored
me as well, as I can't remember too much at this stage. The
pain was extremely intense, and I had some 'out of body' moments.
At 9pm I said to Pete, either you get me an epidural, or I
am going home, and started trying to get off the bed to leave.
I had this feeling that if I went home, everything would be
ok, and the pain would stop - definitely too much gas and
air! He went to find the midwife and she sorted out getting
me the epidural. She checked me and I was 7cm. Oh my God,
the epidural was a wonderful thing. They started monitoring
me again and once again couldn't find Gwen's heartbeat very
well. I had to lie on one side all the time, and the epidural
wouldn't work on the other side. The anaesthetist wanted me
to lie on the other side so that the epidural would numb that
side as well, but they wouldn't let me as they were too worried
about Gwen. They kept trying to give me top ups but they never
really worked. With the epidural in, I also had to have a
catheter and drip. I started being sick, and and also got
very shaky, so they had to give me some extra fluids from
the drip. I was also now being monitored continuously and
by this time a student midwife had joined our happy throng
(my fifth midwife!).
The doctor started popping in and out because they were concerned
about Gwen's heartbeat (they just kept losing it), and at
around 11pm, they inserted a scalp monitor into her, to allow
them to monitor her more closely. At 12pm, I was finally 10cm,
and could start to push! The doctor said I could only try
for an hour because of their concerns about Gwen. I didn't
have too much feeling because of the epidural but pushed just
about as hard as I could because I really wanted it all to
be over! However Gwen didn't react very well to the pushing;
her heartbeat was going down with the push, as is normal,
but not coming back up quickly enough when I stopped pushing.
In came the doctor again, and by this time I was getting frightened,
and said "That's it, help me get the baby out, because
I can't do it on my own." The midwife and the doctor
decided to try the ventouse. The doctor said, "Well,
if this doesn't work, its forceps." She attached the
ventouse and I gave the biggest three pushes ever, and out
Gwen came. What a moment of blissful relief! She started crying
almost straight away, and I could tell they were relieved.
They put her on my tummy, Pete was crying "Alice we've
got a little girl!" and I looked down at her and said
"Don't cry, Mummy's here!" I didn't feel as emotional
as Pete at the time I have to admit; I was just very glad
it was all over!
After that they took her off me to be checked and sorted out,
Pete had to dress her, and put her nappy on, whilst receiving
some quick lessons from the midwife! The placenta came out
with no problems after the injection.
I had had an episiotomy and had also torn a little bit, and
so had to have stitches, and I also was sick a little bit
After that, they left us alone with the baby, and I gave her
her first breastfeed. She was born at 1:08 am, on Sunday 20th
August. The midwife couldn't believe how lucky I was to miss
the induction by one day!
We came home on Monday 21st August, and she has been an absolute
delight ever since (albeit hard work!). I couldn't have believed
how much I would love her.
Although I left the hospital, saying never, ever again, the
memory of the pain has faded now, so I think we probably will
- one day!
All of the preparation, book reading and antenatal classes
cannot prepare you enough for this exciting and scary experience.
Seeing your wife in pain and not being able to do anything
about it is an intensely humbling experience, as is the moment
of birth and holding the baby in your arms for the first time.
And now, life is nothing like I thought it would be, our
world revolves around our little girl. She charmed me from
the first time she looked at me and each day brings a new
surprise; whether that be a smile, a new tooth or a first
few wobbly steps.