Fajitas in the bath

Now you’ve all seen a few (or a million if you follow us on Instagram at @babymabymama) photographs of the delicious little thing that is Miss Mabel Lavender, I thought it was time to tell The Birth Story!

A brief history…

About 6 years ago, after a laparoscopy (operation using a teensy camera to look at your insides) to investigate some abdominal pain, it was found that I only have one ovary. Not the cause of the pain, but a worrying discovery for someone who can’t bear the thought of not being able to get pregnant or having children in her life. The consultant’s words have rung in my ears ever since, “Do not leave it any later than 35 to try and get pregnant.” Tick-tock. TICK-TOCK TICK-TOCK TICK-TOCK. Although 35 was about 9 years away, it suddenly gave me a finite amount of time. What if it takes years? What if I need IVF? What if I can never be a mum? I can honestly say, I thought about those words every day for 6 years. By some miracle, when it actually came to it, we were amazed to fall pregnant straight away. In fact, I was shocked. Years had been spent imagining countless trips to doctors and specialists, endless record keeping of monthly cycles and the possibility of IVF. So we got lucky.

I’ll have a P please, Bob

Anyway, after what felt like a very long 9 months of vomity grossness (not that I’m complaining, I would go through it all again) we were finally ready to meet our little chicklet. I had been told by so many people about first babies being late that when my due date came and went a week after leaving work, I still thought I had a couple of weeks of waddling around and watching daytime TV to go. But Mabel had other ideas. There I was, minding my own business and watching Blockbusters at 4.30 in the afternoon and vaguely considering what to start cooking for dinner when I stood up and my waters broke. Just like that. Contractions started at 10 minute intervals and all I could think was that I wasn’t ready yet! After phoning Matt and my parents I got into a warm bath and stayed there until Matt arrived home from work. The contractions were totally manageable for the first few hours. The water really helped and they only lasted about 30 seconds. But after extra hot fajitas (only after I’d eaten them did I consider that I might regret spicy food during the ‘pushing phase’) in a hot bath the contractions worsened and became more frequent. Matt made several calls to the hospital and each time we were encouraged to stay at home for as long as possible. At around 11pm when the pain was finally becoming too much and the contractions were every minute and lasting for a minute we set off for the hospital.

Is it your first?

After a long and painful waddle to the maternity unit, a miserable midwife examined me with a miserable plastic speculum and told me I was only a very miserable 1cm dilated and should go home. I know childbirth is supposed to be painful, but knowing now how bad it gets, I really was in agony at that time and couldn’t stand the thought of not only the walk back to the car, the journey home and climbing the stairs to the flat, but waiting 12 hours before doing it all again. “Is it your first?” she asked, “you’ll be a while yet,” she informed us with a patronising smile and stroke of the arm. After an hour of trying to drag myself off the bed, said miserable midwife informed us it was her break so off she pottered leaving us scared, alone, and me vomiting in pain. It took about 20 minutes to make what should have been a very quick walk back to the front doors of the hospital, by which time I had started to push and quite honestly didn’t know what was happening to my body. I sort of thought that your contractions just got worse until the baby appeared somehow but actually your body does this crazy trembly pushy thing that you can’t control. So I was stuck in a deserted hospital with no hope of making it back to the maternity unit or to the car, and I certainly couldn’t stay hunched over the stark, metal waiting room chairs in the foyer that we had to be buzzed in and out of by a security guard. All I had was Matt, and he had no more clue than I did about what we should do and couldn’t even leave me to get help.

An angel appeared

At that moment, by some miracle my parents appeared and insisted that actually I wasn’t going home because actually I was having an actual baby and we needed to move quick. At that moment, a woman appeared in the empty corridor who just happened to be a midwife and who just happened to be carrying with her all the equipment needed to deliver a baby. An angel, my mum and dad believe. Anyway, angel or not, this extraordinary woman rushed us back to the delivery suite and we were handed over to a wonderfully supportive and encouraging midwife. Mabel was born 36 minutes later at 2.31am. It was that quick. No time for the water birth I planned. No time to watch the box sets we were told we would need to help pass the hours, or to eat the bags of healthy snacks we came prepared with to help me through a long labour. Not even time for pain relief other than a few gasps of gas and air. A brand new nightie remained folded away in my hospital bag, along with shiny new slippers and redundant birthing plan.

The part in the corridor, well that was scary. But last half an hour was so empowering and amazing I would do it again in an instant. It all went rather smoothly in the end, but I wonder whether the speed at which it all happened and the panic and anxiety I felt when stuck in the corridor contributed to succumbing to postnatal depression. I wasn’t being monitored and neither was Mabel so the outcome could have been very different and that’s a really scary thought. The advice I should give now would be to follow your gut and say if something doesn’t feel right, insist on staying in hospital and so on. But it’s really difficult in such a brand new situation to know what your instincts are telling you, and when the medical professionals that you put all your trust in are telling you to go home and that it will be a long time, well, you simply believe them. At least I know a little more what to expect next time…

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