I went to bed on Christmas Eve mostly looking forward to Christmas dinner the next day and a week of festive activities with friends and family.
However, at 01:30 on Christmas Day, I rolled over in bed and heard a funny noise. Then I heard it again and ran to the bathroom to have my waters go with a bang. For the first time in my whole pregnancy I think I accepted I actually would have to give birth.
My due date wasn’t for another 2 days and if the baby was anything like me, I wholly expected to see the new year in still pregnant. So to say I was shocked was an understatement.
I hadn’t been shopping for lucozade or jelly babies or packed a bag and there were no shops open now (one of this first random thoughts I had).
I’d planned a homebirth and once I’d calmed down and my husband had mopped the bathroom floor up, I got back into bed, again expecting not a lot to happen and to have chance for Christmas dinner.
The surges started at around 3am and by 7am they were strong long and close together. I’d managed so far by getting in and out of the bath and pottering around the house. But by 7am I was ready for some pain relief. My husband woke up as I paced the landing mooing and said ‘babe what are you doing? Get back in bed’. Yeah right.
Now I feel it important to say at this point I am a midwife myself, who works alongside the One to One girls. Lots of things were going through my head. Firstly, I’d convinced myself labour would be a breeze and was a bit surprised when they ‘pulling, pushing and pressure’ didn’t feel as nice as I was excepting. Secondly, I was not ready for this baby and had ignored any of the advice I give to mums about preparation being the key- idiot! Thirdly, I had to ring my midwife Katie and spoil her Christmas Day. Not a problem though, by 10:30 I had my birth squad present, gas and air in hand and the pool was filling.
One thing that labour taught me is to abandon expectations. Again, I was wholly expecting this child to drop out in a few short hours. I’d read the books, done the hypnobirthing and felt I knew my stuff. I had brilliant midwives by my side and it never entered my head I would encounter any problems. I thought I’d be eating that longed for Xmas dinner with a baby on my knee. As it turned out, I sat in the 10% of women who need intervention in labour and the day was a long one.
At 3pm I asked for an examination to assure myself things were progressing as I was beginning to struggle with what I was feeling. Katie told me I was 5cm dilated and that lifted my spirits and gave me some grit to carry on. Things continued, I was in and out of the pool, up and down the stairs, running around on my tip toes, locking myself in the bathroom and being a general pain in the bum from what I can gather. I was sick if I ate and food was the last thing I could entertain- again ignoring my own advice.
I’m not sure what happens to your brain in labour, or whether it was the gas and air, but there were all sorts of crazy things going on in my head. At one point I proclaimed I was giving birth to a Christmas tree. Every time I closed my eyes I could see Christmas hampers floating around in the pool and another time black boxer shorts.
As it got dark I got tired. I couldn’t get comfortable, doubt started to set in. It seemed I was getting nowhere despite big strong contractions. I was ready to throw the towel in and asking my husband where we might be able to source some drugs on Christmas Day haha. At around 8pm I asked for another examination as I was ready to call it a day. Everything felt so tight across my front, like I was being squeezed and stretched at the same time but nothing was moving anywhere. Katie found me to be around 6cm with the baby in a different position. It wasn’t the news I was hoping for. I ran off upstairs and got all my clothes on and decided I was driving myself to hospital…
Now, a trip to hospital was 110% not on my radar. Going back to expectations, I did not expect to need to go. Let alone want to. My midwives knew this and knew how vulnerable I was at this point and tried to help me remember what it was I wanted. I mustered up what I had left and decided to stay at home another while longer just to see if things changed quickly. I had a bowl of soggy coco pops in the birth pool while Skye rubbed my back and tried to regain focus. I must’ve dozed but when the surges came they took everything I had to get through them. Another few hours passed by, my surges became spaced and I knew that I had done as much as I could do at home. Nothing had changed.
Lucy came back to the house to transfer me to the hospital so Skye and Katie could rest after several hours of my whinging and tantrums and hallucinations. A bag was packed for me by my husband who put in clothes with holes in or that were too small so I spent 24 hours looking like an urchin. The ambulance arrived and we got to the hospital around 11pm dressed like I don’t know what in jogging bottoms and crocs.
I knew the drill once I got to hospital. I was keen for more pain relief so I could rest but was aware I had some delay as I had gone back to 5cm (which often happens with a change in environment). Because of the delay I would need a hormone drip and I knew I couldn’t cope with that without an epidural. I had also shown some signs of infection on admission and needed antibiotics and fluid. I had some diamorphine which helped me to relax while the epidural was sited and the drip started. Baby was monitored and I went to my happy place with a good epidural, a bag of fluid and a corned beef and tomato sandwich. I slept like a trooper while Paul kipped on a bean bag and Lucy watched over us.
After some hours (I don’t remember how many) the doctor woke me and asked to examine me as the baby was showing some signs of stress. Again, I expected to be told I was fully dilated and they were going to perform a forceps delivery. Flipping expectations. I was still 5cms dilated and the decision was made to go for a Caesarean section. A little tear rolled down my cheek as I admitted defeat but in the same breath I couldn’t wait to meet my baby. I’d made all the decisions along the way and agreed that the baby needed to be born safely.
So on Boxing Day at 06:44 little Lucia Alanís Anubla was born by emergency Caesarean section. Probably my worst nightmare before hand but it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I expected. She went off to the Paediatrician with her dad and came back with the midwife wrapped in towels. We had a little squishy kiss and then she sat with daddy while I was put back together. We had a 5 day hospital stay and made it home for New Years Eve.
I’m forever grateful to Katie, Skye and Lucy who watched over us both and I’m sorry for pushing all their limits and having a labour on Christmas Day. Don’t worry girls- it will never happen again (might aim for a summer baby next time).
People often ask how it was being on the other side as a midwife and now a mother. Well here’s what I learnt: