Every-time I meet someone new I love telling them how Isobel was born, as it was so fast and surprisingly unexpected that I need to keep telling it to believe it.
It is so weird when you are pregnant you know you are having a baby but even when I was in labour I still didn’t really believe I was!
It was the day of the women’s Wimbledon tennis final, when Serena Williams had run out of luck and was beaten by Angelique Kerber in a great battle. I was just finished watching it and switched to another sport channel. I had been out all day with my mother in law at a market and was happy to spend the evening lying on the couch watching tv.
About 30 mins later around 6pm, I started to get what felt like period pain, I didn’t think too much about it until by 6.30 I could not sit on the couch or get comfortable anywhere. I started reading through the “What to expect” book thinking maybe it’s false labour. I asked my mother in law, did she know what false labour felt like, and she had never heard of it. I think I frightened her right then and there as she went outside for a cigarette!! She was “babysitting” me as my husband was in Ireland attending his best friends wedding. I was still 5 days off my due date, and a week earlier my GP had assured me I would definitely go over my due date and probably have to be induced.
By 7pm I started recording the contractions as they seemed to be coming very quick, although I was still thinking; is this real? I can’t be having the baby, Shane (the daddy) is not here! After 8pm with not much break between contractions, i.e 5 minutes I rang the hospital. I explained what was happening and that I was recording contractions. The midwife told me to stop recording contractions and go to the cinema or go for a walk. At this stage I was just constantly walking around the house, as I couldn’t sit or lie. I decided to have a shower to relax. After that I put some soothing music on Spotify and dimmed the lights and lit some candles to create some false Oxytocin. With each contraction I was leaning against the wall with my two hands flat on the wall and taking deep breaths to get through. A week earlier I had met a friend of mine who had a baby in May, and I had remembered her saying you won’t realise how important breathing is, and for me this was so true!
In between this I was walking between bedroom and sitting room, I just couldn’t stand still. I had no other signs of labour other than this slight period pain. To keep myself busy I started making some bread just to pass the time in between contractions.
By 9pm I thought I should ring my husband and let him know what was happening, even though in my head I was like I am not having a baby. He didn’t believe me, so he had to talk to his mother before he could process what was happening. I told him I had checked flights and that I could book him on an early morning flight the next day so he would probably still make the birth, as I would be hours in labour yet, he agreed.
I don’t know why I rang the airline and not let Shane take some action, but he was so in shock I don’t think he would have managed to do it. With my breathing getting more laboured and the pain becoming more intense I explained to the Aer Lingus assistant I was in labour and needed to get my husband back as quickly as possible, she was very kind, and sorted it out within minutes.
With that done my husband kept texting me and his mother for me to ring my friend Gillian so she could be on standby to bring me to the hospital. I tried calling and with no answer I messaged her to explain the situation and to be on standby. She was so sweet and messaged within minutes to say she would come straight away and not to worry.
My mother in law kept the regular cigarette breaks going, (I think she was in massive shock too) while constantly asking me what can I do for you. I said I suppose nothing I just have to keep breathing through the contractions!
After 10pm I rang the hospital again and said I think I need to come in, as pain was getting much worse. They asked if I had any other symptoms and I said no, my waters still had not broke. They suggested leaving it another hour and then phoning again.
When Gillian arrived with fan in her hand I couldn’t have been more relieved, it was such a hot sticky night in London. She started timing my contractions and suggested we get to hospital straight away as they were about 2 mins apart and lasting about 40 seconds. We left the house around 11pm.
I was started to get weak at this stage but managed to get into the car. I couldn’t really sit on the seat properly so Gillian drove really slow to get us there safely.
My legs started shaking in the car to the point where I couldn’t feel my foot properly. Catherine (MIL) put her hand on my shoulder and said “your breathing has gotten a bit heavy, slow your breathing down and your leg will stop shaking”. Such wise words at a pivotal moment and this helped me relax and just focus on breathing.
When we got to the hospital the elevator was broken and in my haste to get to the 3rd floor I didn’t see the lift behind the elevator, so I had to climb the stairs to the first floor which was complete agony. Once there a lift was in front of me, and it seemed to take forever to get to the 3rd floor. I had about 5 contractions just in the lift. I felt the baby could come any second.
I finally got through the birth centre doors and leaned up against a wall at reception to get through another contraction. There were 2 midwifes at the reception and they were totally unfazed by me, and I was thinking “Are they not going to do anything?”
I told them I think the baby was coming, and I’m sure they were thinking “first time mother!”
One of the midwifes ushered me into a room and asked me to get up onto the table, I told her I didn’t think I was able. She said “don’t worry if baby falls out I will catch it” and she proceeded to put a towel on the floor between my legs! (very reassuring)
I managed to scramble my way up onto the table and after examining me was told “oh your 8cm dilated, you will have the baby soon”. I came out of the room and told Gillian and Catherine “no wonder I am in pain, I am 8 bloody cm” I was brought into the room for delivery and changed into my nightie. The midwife left me to read my notes and immediately I thought I need to push, get the midwife.
The hospital encouraged labour out of a bed so I was squatting against a pilates ball and a lot of pillows and towels, which was the first time I felt comfortable since earlier that evening. I finally got some pain relief, gas and air was my choice and it felt amazing! I sucked on that while keeping my eyes closed and just focused on my breathing. The midwife kindly rubbed my lower back which felt amazing.
I began to push in this position with each contraction and baby was coming very quickly. Because of this the baby’s heart rate had slowed down so the midwife had to call in the emergency team. She explained all this before they rushed into the room, but I was so high on gas and air and in the zone I didn’t really know what was going on.
They had to turn me around on my front to get a better view of me and baby. Suddenly I had 6 different people telling what to do, but I couldn’t really process or hear what any of them were saying. Gillian grabbed my hand and told me to “just focus on her and listen to her”. She explained what the doctor was asking me to do. They were trying to get my legs wider apart but I had started to get cramp and couldn’t physical move, I seemed to have lost my ability to speak too as I just could not communicate properly why I couldn’t move my leg. I turned to Gillian and just remember saying “cramp cramp”. The midwife had to lift my leg for me and then baby started coming. They needed to intervene with ventouse to get the baby out quickly. Once they had it in place there was no need to use it as the baby just slid out. The midwife told me after only for they were there to catch her she would have slid across the floor, she came out so quickly in the end.
The baby was thrown on top of me and cord cut immediately and she was brought to be checked over on a separate table. I kept asking “what is it, what is it?” All the replies I got were “don’t worry your baby will be ok, we are just checking the heart”. I wanted to know the sex! I asked Gillian in desperation is it a boy or girl, so one of the medical staff shouted out it’s a girl!
While Isobel was checked over, I delivered the placenta safely.
Isobel was born at 12:42 am about 40 minutes after I had first arrived at the hospital. She was a tiny baby and weighed just under 6lbs and was 4 days early. The labour and birth were such a whirlwind of excitement, but I could not have delivered her safely without the help of my mother in law Catherine and my good friend Gillian both of whom I am so indebted to.
Catherine and Gillian had both been in contact with my husband Shane during the labour and he was so shocked that she was born. He arrived in the hospital that morning at 9.30am and was in such disbelief, he was even afraid to hold her as he didn’t think it was real and kept asking “how did this happen?”