I saw Thomas had blogged the birth right the way through from the triage farce to the arrival of Anna. I thought I'd leave myself a day or two to get over the shock before blogging the same from my perspective!
We'd had a bit of a fraught 3 days where I monitored every twinge, mainly because Thomas's parents had flown in to meet the baby so we so desperately didn't want their trip to be in vain... Anna had other plans however. Finally on Tuesday, the date I had calculated from my period to be my due date, Thomas came home from work and mentioned an ex-colleague, Elspeth, had suggested a massage between my thumb and forefinger would do the trick. Laughing, he held each of my hands and rubbed them for 30 seconds or maybe less. An hour later, I sat down on the couch to watch Gordon Ramsay and felt my waters break! Coincidence, I suspect! It was 7-30pm. I monitored contractions thereafter. They were mild and infrequent and by 10pm I figured labour wasn't going to start till morning.
In bed I felt them become stronger and didn't manage to sleep. After midnight I felt things were becoming more imminent so I woke Thomas and my dad at 1am. In the 20 or so minutes I waited on my parents to arrive to babysit the others, I had frequent, painful but short contractions so assumed the birth would be like Pudge's and mentally estimated it at 10am.
On arrival at triage, a fairly grumpy midwife confirmed I was only 1 to 2cm dilated and insisted I lie on a bed hooked up to 2 monitors, one measuring contractions, the other, the baby's heartbeat for half an hour. This was sheer torture. Anyone who has ever been in labour knows lying on your back is on a par with lying on a train track watching the virgin west coast intercity hurtling towards you. Unable to lie still I watched these monitors slip all around my belly, not registering any of the contractions while the grumpy midwife waited next door, popping in flippantly declaring from time to time that I wasn't really contracting much... if I'd been within reach of a machete, Derek would have been defending me in court next week! Not bloody contracting? I was contracting every 3 or 4 minutes for a minute or more. Worse still the baby heart monitor was also slipping about, not registering, so looking like the baby was asleep, therefore confirming to the numpty nurse that my baby wasn't even noticing the contractions and therefore that I wasn't really in labour yet. She suggested returning home or sleeping overnight in an all-female ward while waiting for labour to start. I had been unable to sit in dad's car on the way in at 1-30, so I sure wasn't going to sit in a taxi back then in my dad's car again the following morning at rush hour. I also didn't believe I wasn't in labour as I couldn't stand, walk, sit, lie and was in excruciating pain. I quite believed it would take all night as I have always had 20 hour labours but I knew I was already in advanced labour.
We reluctantly opted for the women's ward. I was quite annoyed given the triage ward with its 3 or 4 beds was completely empty and Thomas was allowed there. He went out to reception, I went next door to another empty ward and they left me beside a hospital bed that was up as high as it could go in a room where all the chairs were at the other side of the room. I was in too much pain to try to adjust the bed, I was in too much pain to cross the room to get a chair. Between the next 2 or 3 contractions, I slowly crossed the room and walked a chair back, unable to lift it. I had been abandoned so couldn't ask for help. I sat down on the chair backwards leaning on the back and waited maybe another 15 minutes. I felt desperately sick and started to reanalyse my birth plan request for no morphine. Morphine makes me sick so I didn't want it but figuring I already felt like vomiting and potentially had another 8 hours ahead alone, I decided to attempt to cross the room to the buzzer and ask the midwife's opinion. It took ten minutes to walk the 10 paces to the buzzer. A new midwife arrived nonchalantly on the scene. I started to explain I was considering morphine for those reasons when I felt a great deal of pressure in my bottom. The midwife looked panicked and asked me to quickly jump on the bed for an internal because I wasn't acting like the 1cm dilated patient they had been told to expect and had been ignoring assuming she was tucked up in bed for the night.
She helped me on to the bed and put her fingers into me. I'm so sorry, she told me - I assumed that was to be followed by - you are still only 2cm dilated but in fact it was followed by: you shouldn't be here, you should be upstairs, you are nearly 7cm dilated and if you have dilated that far in half an hour you must be in terrible pain! I cancelled the morphine, realizing the degree of pain was actually in keeping with the degree of labour... and I wished once more for a machete..
Buzzers were pressed, wheelchairs ordered, Thomas found and we ran to the lifts to get me upstairs in a record 5 minutes. Within 10 minutes of arriving upstairs, I was fully dilated and ready to start the pushing phase. I remember little of the next 15 minutes. I know there were foetal heart problems and I was made to turn round while a monitor was fitted. I know I was given oxygen and it ran out which felt like someone was strangling me, so I had to scream at them twice that the tank was empty before they heard.
Finally I felt her head pop out about 30 minutes after arriving upstairs. The nurse, this one was lovely, as was the 2nd one, started to tell me not to push her out till the next contraction, but as I felt her shoot across the bed, simply fell silent. The heart problems, it turned out, were caused by the cord being wrapped around her neck.
Thomas tells me he cut the cord but to be honest, I was only vaguely aware of that, as I was still shaking in shock on the bed slowly coming to terms with going through 10 hours of labour in slightly more than 1h30!
I think they felt guilty at the cock-up because the usual 1 hour you get to spend together postnatally in delivery eating toast went on from 4-24am to 7am, in this case, leaving me time for a bath, some extra toast and also the loss of several scarily large bloodclots.