I blame the weather.
All last week it was very hot, and on Thursday night I awoke a couple of times to mild contractions. I thought they were just practice contractions. I had a couple more during the day on Friday; again, I didn’t think much of them. But I was really feeling the heat.
I arrived home from work on Friday 19 July at about half past five feeling very hot and tired, and a little weak. I had a little food and went for a cool bath followed by a lie down. Robin phoned someone to take over his page-turning job in that evening’s church concert, on the grounds that I wasn’t feeling well.
I was woken a couple of times during my nap by contractions, which at first were very brief and I went straight back to sleep again. Then I started needing to get on all fours to relieve them, and it was while I was turning over for one of these that my waters broke in a great gush all over the bed.
It was now about 8pm. I phoned the hospital and explained the situation to the midwife. She told me to take a paracetamol if I needed to, and come in to the hospital in the morning.
My contractions got stronger. In between, Robin was flicking through Ready Steady Baby to find out what ought to be happening. It all still looked normal for early labour, so we thought we had plenty of time.
I began to feel an urge and wondered if I might be pushing, but dismissed the thought. It must still be far too early for that sort of thing.
Robin suggested we move into the front room, with a bigger, flatter sofa, more space, and a hard floor. I wasn’t keen on moving but once we had I realised that he was right. I knelt on a towel on the sofa, sitting on my heels, leaning against a pile of cushions.
After only a few more contractions I realised that I really was pushing. I put my hand up and felt a head!
I told Robin. ‘This baby is coming right now!’
‘No,’ I told him.
He swore. ‘What should I do?’
‘Call the midwife and tell her to come here. It’s too late to go anywhere.’
He phoned the midwife. ‘OK,’ he reported back, ‘she says we should head out to Dundee now.’
I’d pushed a couple more times by now. ‘No!’ I cried, with one foot on the sofa and one on the floor. ‘Tell her the head is at the perineum. I cannot move.’
That got a response. He was told to dial 999 and ask for an ambulance.
I continued to push. The baby was fully crowning now.
Robin was back on the phone to 999, asking when the ambulance would be here. The operative started preparing to talk him through delivering the baby. He’d got as far as ‘Yes, I can see the head,’ when the ambulance crew finally arrived.
Robin let the two paramedics in and they rushed into the room very competently. One waved a gas and air nozzle at me, which I had to decline three times before he believed me, while the other pulled a pile of cushions into position beneath me and encouraged me to go ahead when I was ready.
I got the head out in the next push, rested a moment, and then stood up a little more, pushed and tilted my hips, and felt the body slither out. I heard a cry. Looking between my legs, I saw a little pink slimy squirming body, noted in passing that she was a girl – with lots of dark hair – and bent down to take her up from the hands of the paramedic and rest her squalling on my shoulder.
So she was born at 10pm on Friday 19 July, after just two hours of labour.
I nestled the baby on my chest and the paramedics covered us both with a blanket. She shrieked for a moment longer and then went to sleep.
After about half an hour the placenta hadn’t emerged, so the paramedics started phoning the hospitals. The midwife unit at PRI (five minutes down the road) said I was high-risk and should therefore go to Ninewells (half an hour away). Ninewells thought I ought to go to PRI. And I kept saying ‘Can’t they just send out a midwife?’
In the end they managed to get hold of a doctor at Ninewells who agreed that of course sending out a midwife was the sensible thing to do. Soon the community midwife appeared and helped me deliver the placenta, and confirmed that I had no tearing. Then she set me up with the baby for her first feed, before arranging for us to go into PRI overnight for observation. They weighed her there at 2.7kg (just under 6lb). We were back home before lunch the next day.
Since then she’s been sleeping a lot and feeding like a champion. It took us a couple of days to be sure of her name. But she is called Zoe.