Sorry for the delay in pictures and birth story - so busy round here as our lodger left to go and live in New York yesterday morning. We've had him for five years so it was very sad to see him go, and then my parents came and then I went to a barbecue at a friend's house, so been pretty busy. So anyway my due date came and went on Friday 21 August, but as by dates EDD was the 24th, I wasn't so fussed. I saw the midwife on Monday and she did a remarkably painful sweep as my cervix was a long way back and it felt like she was punching me repeatedly to get to it. I had a lot of bloody mucus afterwards but nothing really to say that labour was going to start, although my OH points out that I did have nasty indigestion after eating my dinner that night (curry). In an effort to help things along that evening I took some pulsatilla at two hourly intervals and bounced on the birthing ball for hours, and had a nice clary sage rub on my bump. Four am tuesday morning I woke up with period style pains, nipped to the loo and then when back to bed not really thinking anything of it. I had been dreaming about induction though oddly enough. At six or so I woke up again and realised that I wasn't able to really sleep through them, so I got up, took more pulsatilla and had a nice big mug of RLT. I also popped a flannel, which had been soaked in hot water and clary sage, onto my bump and sat in the spare room so not to disturb OH. I saw some hot air balloons go past, which was lovely and slightly trippy! I went downstairs and posted on BnB at around seven or so, and then bounced solidly for an hour or so (taking pulsatilla every two hours and lashings of RLT). At around nine am OH wandered downstairs and I told him that I was having contractions, but that they could be false labour as a result of the sweep (I was pretty sure they were at this point). I did alert my birth partner though. I started timing them at nine and they were around twenty seconds long and about eight minutes apart, and totally manageable. I rang my midwife and left a message. What I didn't realise was that my phone was playing silly wotnots and the poor girl couldn't get through to me for the next three hours. Sigh. The contractions got stronger and longer and closer together, but still not painful enough for me to be sure they were labour. I didn't want to talk during them, but I didn't really feel in a lot of pain. Got hold of the midwife at around one and she said it sounded like I was in latent labour, and that this could go on a while, but it was unlikely to stop, YAY! She explained that I should wait for them to get five minutes apart and about a minute long, then wait for a couple of hours and go in. About two minutes after that, they started coming five minutes apart and lasting around a minute. So we went for a walk to help things along and take my mind off things. Looking back, I really should have got my birth partner to come at this point and started doing serious relaxtion, although I was pretty darn relaxed still. I thought I had lost a bit of my plug too, so was quite excited. We walked for half an hour or so, stopping every so often for me to hang onto OH and rock gently on my heels through the contraction, and by the time we go home, I thought I would have a clary sage bath. It didn't really help all that much for me, so I only stayed in for half an hour or so, and then got out. By this point it was difficult to do anythig during contractions and I had a hard time getting dressed and dry and back downstairs. I got on the ball and got OH to call my birth partner (Fay) and we started timing contractions. They hurt a lot, but were very bearable still with breathing. I guess this was around three. Fay arrived and we did very well for the next forty minutes or so with relaxation and light touch massage. I had been on the point of getting too upset before she arrived and making a lot of noise during contractions, and I was able to breathe through much better when she got there. I called the midwife again at four thirty or so and was told to stay at home, although OH says I was underestimating the length and frequency of my contractions when I spoke to her. I was really desperate not to be sent home from hospital though. At five, the pain was getting unmanageable and OH made me call the on call midwife (who I had met once before). Mind you, I had just lost a bloody mucus plug THE SIZE OF MY HAND. He thought I should go in for assessment, particularly after I had a contraction down the phone at him and it lasted over a minute so we got in the car. Got stuck in traffic. Contractions became very very uncomfortable, and I was moaning like a ghoul in the front seat, and shouting at OH for driving too fast/over bumps/swearing at the traffic. Rush hour is not a good time to try and get to Homerton Hospital. Finally we got there and blocked the car park for a minute while I finished a contraction, and then Fay took me in while OH parked the car. We had to stop to hang onto things every couple of minutes while I contracted, so OH caught us up before we got to the delivery ward. I was quite comfortable with vocalising and walking, and I was a bit narked off when some unhelpful orderly made me get into a wheelchair for the last 100 yards. IT HURT. Sitting down does not help. It makes it worse and I feel out of control. Stupid man. It was about six o clock by now. Anyhoo, they had a look and I was completely effaced and eight centimetres dilated. Guess I should have gone in a bit earlier. The lovely midwife went off to find a room and some gas and air for me, having said that she thought the baby would be here really soon, but I was a bit panicked at this point, finding it difficult to keep control during contractions and breathe through them, and not helped by some crazy-ass nun/nurse coming in during a contraction and grabbing my legs and asking if I needed to push. Apparently I shouted really very loudly for her not to touch me. Got into the delivery room and got some gas and air. I think I pretty much zoned out for an hour or so, although didn't really feel like the gas and air was doing much. I started pushing a bit because it helped the pain, and sometime around eight the midwife broke my waters and suggested I try to bear down a bit more, so Fay and OH essentially helped me hang off the edge of the bed to squat. At nine, my community on-call midhusband, Al, turned up. Nice chap, but not nearly as good as the lovely one I'd started off with, and I really don't think he helped my labour progress. He got me to bear down hard as well, and then we spent the next few hours playing with different positions to try and get the baby to crown. Once or twice the midwife shoved their hand up and pushed the lip over the baby's head, but it always just went back again. I hated the moving around, every time I got sort of comfortable, I was moved again - all four, birthing stool, lying back, squatting, you name it, they tried it. They catheterised me and drained my bladder in case she was bouncing off that, they took me to the loo, nothing seemed to help. And then the alarms started going off - the delivery ward was flooding as a pipe had broken in the ceiling outside the door to my room. Everyone else is evacuated - except me and what felt like every midwife in the hospital. A few more had turned up and started giving their opinions on what was going wrong (like I couldn't hear them) and it felt like every person who came in was shoving a hand up my vagina to see what was going on or to get me to push their fingers out. I was really really really tired of pushing by now. It had been going on for three hours and I had been pushing really really hard. And they kept taking the gas and air away, and while it didn't help that much, it stopped me from wanting to die. The original midwife had said she'd be born by eight, then nine, then ten. At this point, OH says the smiles were getting a little forced. At ten the midwife went for the registrar, who came in, didn't introduce himself and shoved his hand up my fundament. Then left it there. While I was contracting. He so nearly got kicked in the face, I roused myself to speak for the first time in an hour or two to tell him to take it out. Then he patronisingly tried to draw me a picture of how the baby's head was stuck - I had figured that out already as they'd been talking about it in front of me AND I'M NEITHER STUPID NOR DEAF. I told them I couldn't push much longer and that they could do what they liked to get the baby out, especially as she was starting to get very distressed during contractions. They wanted to do a spinal block (I'd wanted one of these for about two hours but hadn't been able to say it) and use a ventouse to get her out, and permission to do a c section if that didn't work. YES YES YES DO IT I think is what I said, but who knows by that point. It felt like it took forever to get the consent forms signed and the canulas in and the premeds in. I didn't feel any of that, because the contractions were horrendous by this point. And they kept making me push with my feet in stirrups. There's not much worse than being made to do something which you know is pointless and painful, everybody knew that she just wasn't coming out that way. Anyway, I had to turn over, because baby was very distressed with me that way round and her heart rate didn't go up until I was on all fours. The worst part came at around eleven, when they wheeled me, through a flooded and deserted hospital corridor, on the hardest wheelchair imaginable, to theatre. I couldn't take the gas and air and I was sat down, which as I had discovered earlier, really really hurts. When I got onto the bed, I saw that I was leaking yellow crap. Meconium in fact. But I was in so much pain, that I couldn't even focus on that. The next ten minutes, waiting for the spinal block to be given, were so so horrible. They were probably the worst ten minutes of my life. I can't even describe how hideous the pain was. But when the block finally took effect, it was pure heaven. I pretty much went to sleep. Pushing was really tricky once I was numb, and a lovely nurse had to help me push right. The ventouse was NOT working though. It kept coming off, and then they got another cap and I kept pushing as hard as I could, passing out a couple of times, which felt interesting. She sort of came out a bit after half an hour of this, but was really very distressed, so they cracked out the forceps. I'd had a long and fraught conversation with OH at one point about how I didn't want forceps and would rather be sectioned, so bless him, he tried to object and I had to interrupt and say that it was fine, as her head was significantly out already. Anyway, ten minutes later she finally came out, and was dumped on my stomach (registrar needed his hands free) for a minute, before being taken over to the resuscitator. I was very glad that I got to see her for a second so I could see she was breathing. They worked on her for a bit and then brought her over to me to have a look at before giving her to OH. She had an APGAR score of five at first, but it went up to nine by five minutes. OH was speaking to the paediatrician while they were stitching me up, essentially as Imogen was a little oxygen deprived and FULL of meconium, they took her to the special care baby unit for the night, after hoovering her lungs out a bit. They gave her formula (BOO) to get her blood sugar up and she was on IV antibiotics for 48 hours, which is why I didn't come home until friday. I was pretty tripped out and vacant by this point, finding it very interesting as they whipped out the placenta and rumaged around inside me pulling out all the clots. I remember being especially interested when they couldn't find all the swabs Then they cleaned me up a bit and this fab nurse was very matter of fact as she essentially gave me a nappy for the lochia, saying that she'd tried her best to get me clean, but let's face it, my baby had pooed all over me. It was true, she had opened her bowels inside me, and all over my stomach as she came out. Lovely. Then it was off to recovery for me, and off the SCBU for her. OH went with Imogen and came to see me later before going home. I wasn't all that bothered that they were taking Imogen, as I was so trippy and tired, and the thought that it would be someone else's responsibillity to make sure she kept breathing all night was nice. When I eventually got to the ward, it was less nice as there were lots of babies crying and nobody gave me any water, and I was so thirsty and I really couldn't sleep. Then in the morning, all of the other women were complaining about how they didn't want to get out of bed and it hurt, whine whine whine. I was desperate to get out of bed and go and see Imogen in SCBU, but had to wait for my catheter to come out. When they did get around to me in the end, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I wasn't really in any pain. At all. I went and had a shower, and put my clothes on and toddled off to SCBU where Imogen was having a feed. All good Except that we couldn't go home for 48 hours at least, which was really upsetting. They brought her up to the ward that afternoon, and she stayed with me and I wheeled her back for antibiotics every four hours or so. The stay itself was a bit of a nightmare, didn't really get to sleep, my MiL bowled up when I was at my most sleep deprived and desperate and started taking pictures of me breast feeding. ANGER. I really hated the baby between the hours of midnight and five in the morning or so, she just wouldn't settle in the cot (probably had a headache) and of course I couldn't sleep with her in the bed, as she might have fallen out. She would settle on me, and so the only way I got any sleep was to sit on the bed crosslegged and put her in between my legs, while I lay back a bit and dozed. Unpleasant memories. Anyway, we were allowed out on Friday afternoon, and it's been lovely since then really. Imogen is a nice laid back baby at the moment. We're trying to get into the swing of breastfeeding. At the moment I have enough milk to feed all of London, and Imogen isn't great at sending out the feed me signal, and often sleeps until she's actually too hungry to latch on properly. I think we're getting there and I haven't had any trouble with sorely boobs or cracks so hurrah. She sleeps for six hours at night, which is blissful, and even if it doesn't last (everyone keeps saying it won't) it's been fabulous to catch up on the lost sleep from hospital. Still not suffering from the stitches (maybe because I purposefully didn't ask how many there were) and apart from rotten posture, I feel significantly returned to normal. Looking forward to getting back to pilates in a week or two to sort out this silly curve in my low spine from hawking that bump around None of the clothes we bought for her or I made for her fit - I had to do an emergency trip to mothercare for some tiny baby clothes, even though she was over 7lb. I guess she'll grow into them. We've had real trouble with the terries as they push her legs out too wide, so she's partly in muslins and partly in disposables (YUK) until she grows a bit. In her crib in our room In her pink thing which we were given by a friend who has finished their family. I loathed it at sight, but of course madam loves it so I'm stuck with it until I can find something more subtle.