We arrived home at 10.30pm, Storm Gareth was raging and the house was in darkness. Part of me was gutted that we were home without either of our girls, it just wasn’t at all how I imagined it would be when I left that morning but I was also just so relieved to be home. I guzzled some water and crawled into bed. Mark got me a cold cloth for my head and I just prayed that I would be able to get a decent sleep before my alarm went off at 7am. Within minutes we were both snoring.
I woke with a jump, thinking it was the storm that woke me, I glanced at the clock 1.04am and dozed off again before waking only a few minutes later breathing through a contraction. In my sleepy state I dismissed it as Braxton hicks and closed my eyes again, desperate for more sleep but it soon became clear that contractions were coming in waves and the pressure was intense. I made my way to the bathroom, thinking that the gallon of water I drank before bed was to blame for the pressure but it just intensified as I clung onto the sink breathing through wave after wave of contractions. Panic started to set in a little as I became more aware that this was not just Braxton hicks. I called out to Mark and asked him to start timing my contractions. Side note; in the three weeks prior to this I had asked him to time contractions at least twice so I am certain he thought this was another false alarm. He kept falling asleep as soon as he started the timer so the readings were all over the place. I still hadn’t managed to make it out of the bathroom yet, all I could do was focus on my hypnobirthing techniques I had used first time round. All of a sudden Mark jumped out of bed and frantically pulled on his clothes; he told me later that he realised I was definitely in labour when he heard me breathing just like I had done when I was close to delivering Susanna.
The next couple of hours are a bit of a blur. I vaguely remember putting on pyjamas and making my way to the bottom of the stairs and then being completely stuck. I was in so much pain I couldn’t move from the bottom two steps. The contractions were thick and fast and I couldn’t get away from clinging onto the railings. Mark phoned the hospital and filled them in on all the details; they told him I was still probably in early labour and not to panic but to make my way to hospital when we were ready. By the time he came off the phone I was in full blown ‘beast mode’, I imagine it would be pretty hilarious to watch but all my words had been replaced with grunts. I motioned for Mark to open the front door; the wind and torrential rain was howling through our hallway but I would have absolutely murdered him had he closed that door. I also had started to feel incredibly sick and managed to mutter the words “sick bowl” in between waves. Thankfully Mark brought two bowls, sorry TMI, but he spent the next twenty minutes or so swapping them out and rinsing them while I vomited profusely. It was horrendous! All I could think was “I’m not coping”, “I’m only 3cms and I can’t do this”, “I did so much better with Susanna”. I had firmly decided that my birth plan would be flung out the window, I wanted an epidural the minute I arrived at hospital.
Somehow we managed to make it into the car. Mark put my heated seat on and passed me a hot water bottle which I clung to my stomach in desperation for something to help ease the pain. I shut my eyes tightly and spent the journey breathing and falling asleep as soon as a contraction would end, they were now only two minutes apart and lasting two – three minutes. The 25 minute journey to hospital went by in a flash and as we pulled into the car park I started to feel a desperate need to go to the toilet (number 1, not number 2)! All I could think about was getting to the loo and then all of a sudden, as Mark walked round to open my door I felt my body starting to push. Weirdly I still felt like it was more of a need to pee rather than accepting that this baby was coming! I very slowly made my way to maternity ward, stopping every couple of minutes to hold onto the wall as contractions ramped up yet another gear. By the time I made it to maternity it was 3.30am.
I was taken to a side room to be examined, clocking a toilet in the room I quickly asked if I could go to the loo before another contraction started. I waddled in and locked the door and as I sat down my whole body began to push; I could physically see my stomach contract and move downwards. I must have shouted out to tell the midwife because before I knew it I was on a wheelchair being rushed to a delivery suite.“How would you like to give birth?” the kindest midwife in the world asked. I muttered that I would love a water birth, apparently I had gained some strength from somewhere and my desire for an epidural had subsided, maybe I could do this after all. Boom, the next contraction hit within seconds and I was quickly asking what pain relief I could have. I was blessed with the most wonderful midwife and doctor during the delivery. I could not imagine how I would have coped without them. It was now 3.45am and I was climbing onto the bed ready to be hooked up to monitors, still breathing deeply through contractions and praying with all my might that I would be given the energy for what was no doubt about to be a very painful few hours. I had no longer made it on to the bed before I was telling the midwife that I needed to push again. I still had my hoodie on and was sweating buckets; “let me have a quick check to see how far along you are” she said. This was almost immediately followed up with “you are 10cms, on the next contraction I want you to push as hard as you can”. I could not believe it. In my head I was about 5cms, coping horrendously and being a complete drama queen. Our baby girl was on her way and there was no stopping her. I was offered gas and air which I refused, not because I’m a martyr, but because it makes me violently sick. The realisation hit that I was going to have to do this without pain relief again (I was also too late for any pain relief with Susanna)!
I was panicking and clinging on to Marks hand as I started to push. The midwife and doctor were amazing, instructing me how to push properly and just to give me that little boost the doctor uttered the words “instruments to help” which made me push like my life depended on it. They could see the head and told me that on the next contraction I would need to pant. I am giggling now as I remember the next few moments! Panic well and truly set in; “what is pant?” I asked like an absolute numpty. They very graciously demonstrated for me and I began to pant as the ring of fire set in. Oh.My.Word. I was willing it all to be over. “That’s her head delivered, now breathe and wait for the next contraction”. This felt like the longest minute of my whole life. I could see tears rolling down Marks face, I know he won’t mind me sharing that he is super soppy when it comes to his girls. She was almost here, this was it.
With one final push our beautiful baby girl was born at 4.05am, just 35 minutes after we arrived at the hospital. I burst out laughing, sheer joy and in complete shock. How had this all just happened?!
Connie Jean was placed on my chest, I breathed her in and we stared at her perfect little face. She was the image of her big sister. There is absolutely nothing like that moment when you meet your baby for the first time. I was on cloud nine. I’m not sure I have come down yet if I am honest.
The Doctor examined me and realised I had a second degree tear so Connie was passed to Mark while I got stitched up. I can’t lie, that was not pleasant. I do remember it being the same after my episiotomy with Susanna but I felt every single stitch and was just desperate for all the pain to be over. Thankfully our precious baby was a great distraction. The midwife announced that she was a bouncing 8lbs 5oz and a whopping 55cm long.
Now can we talk about that tea and toast they bring you after your baby is born? Oh my! Is it not the greatest cuppa and the most delicious toast you have ever had. Then it was just us three, left to enjoy our tea and soak up that high. We chatted, cuddled our girl, examined every inch of her little face, hands, toes. Oh she was simply perfect. Before long it was 6am and I couldn’t wait a second longer to share our news. With husky voices our parents answered their phones and we told them she was here. We video called Susanna as soon as she woke and the little sweetheart had happy tears when she saw her baby sister; she had waited so patiently and at last Connie was here, a little best friend for life.
So if you had asked me what my perfect birth would have been, it would have pretty much been exactly how Connie Jean came into the world but perhaps with a little less intensity. God is so good.
Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you.
Jeremiah 1 v 5
I’m going to end my birth story here as it now resembles a small dissertation but I always think that first time Mums especially enjoy a birth story out of curiosity, but what they really want is an honest account of what it’s like in the hours or perhaps days after birth. We get so much prep for our labour and so little for early post-partum life. So, I will share what happened next because it wasn’t entirely straight forward. Chat soon.