Friday the 18th was spent waiting around. Dozing. Not feeling anything much in the way of womb activity, and seeing no more of the show. I didn't leave the house, and by the time The Boy got home, I was crazy with cabin fever and making no sense at all. We ordered pizza for dinner, instead of going out, which turned out to be a wise decision. Not half an hour after we'd eaten, I all of a sudden felt WEIRD. Hot and strange and uncomfortable and just odd. The Boy brought the fan in from the bedroom, and in making myself comfortable, I moved from my position on the couch and noticed a little patch of pink on the towel I'd put down, just in case. A quick dash to the toilet revealed BLOOD, that I was certain was not more mucous plug, cos there was no mucous. We called our midwife, R, who was already at the hospital with another woman, and she said we should come in and get checked out. I had a little teary, and then we quickly cobbled together all the bits and pieces we hadn't quite got around to putting in the hospital bag, just in case this was it.
The hospital was quiet. We didn't wait long before we were upstairs in a room on our own, with a monitoring belt thingy around my belly and a screen to watch the two lines of life tracking. One for the bean's heartbeat, one for my womb. At some stage a midwife came in and
Inside, I felt a fool for going straight for the TENS machine, thinking it was too early to bother with such business, but remembered someone saying that they work best when started at the beginning. The Boy taped me up and we went to bed. He slept, and I dozed, buzzing myself awake every few minutes as the contractions settled in. A few hours passed this way, maybe four, and then I needed help. I woke The Boy, and together we knelt in our tangle of sheets, me rocking and howling at the moon, and him holding and hugging and whispering to me, and quietly logging the contractions. At 6am or so, he called R, who listened to a moan or two and said to give it half an hour and then call back. The sun came up; the contractions slowed, though they didn't decrease in intensity. Nellie came over and made sure I was drinking and eating (grapes, I remember, and somehow a tiny bowl of Special K). There were hours here. I cannot find them.
Nellie left. My parents were waiting in the street, in the car, and when mum came in, able to wait no longer, it was time to go. I felt like a caged animal wandering in circles between those two rooms and I was ready for a change of scene. I remember saying over and over, 'I'm OK, I'm OK', while mum and The Boy gathered bags and fed the cat. It was hot outside and I had a contraction in the street while my dad held on to me and people wandered past. My mum was asking whether I wouldn't rather go in their car instead of climbing into the back of our little two-door, and all I wanted to do was leave. Too much discussion. We had planned this trip, I knew what I was in for. I ended up just clambering past her and holding onto the pillows The Boy had piled in there for me. The drive in took 20 minutes, apparently, but it felt like 5. Still with my eyes closed, I didn't know where we were and I didn't care. I was in the zone.
We got to the hospital at 4, and once we were upstairs in our room, I realised that both my parents seemed to have settled in for the show. What the fuck?! Nellie and The Boy and mum and DAD! and a midwife I didn't know and too many people altogether. I yelled 'Get out! Get out! Get out!', and luckily the parentals had the good grace to leave, no offence taken.
I remember sitting on a ball. I remember going to the toilet a whole lot. I remember bawling my eyes out, and The Boy crying too, when after two hours there (and 20 hours in total) they said I was only 6cm dilated. Nellie is a saint, and calmed me down, and the next part was lying on a mattress on the floor. The pain was REAL. I pulled the wire out of the TENS machine a couple of times and the panic of it... how can something hurt SO much? So much that my previous tack of moaning and rocking wasn't doing it for me anymore, so I lay, eyes closed, on the floor, moving only my toes and my thumb on that precious buzzer as the transition pain seared through me. The Boy and Nellie tag-teamed and ate dinner, but I didn't notice one or the other was gone. They fed me red dinosaurs. I wept.
And then, a toilet trip, and a gutteral, pushing moan. Pushing! I remember kneeling on the floor mattress, my elbows on a chair, and a pop! as my waters broke, not one contraction after The Boy had told a shift manager I hadn't even realised was there that I was doing fine and I didn't need them broken for me. There was meconium in the fluid, and again The Boy asked whether intervention was necessary, but I remembered my cousin L's baby dying and quick as a flash was on the bed, strapped up to the monitor, in much the same position as I was using on the floor.
Still so much of this is with my eyes closed, but I know I was beginning to feel more lucid. Thinking how utterly unfair it was that the contractions still hurt across the front of my womb AS WELL as all the other stretching and bone-shifting that was going on. R rushed in, late from looking after other women, and I was so glad to hear her voice. I could feel the bean coming down and slipping back up, and remembered Rhea's advice to hold on between contractions. That stopped him moving up, but I panicked when it meant that he kept coming down, forcing the bones of my pelvis to separate. Surely this is not ok? My skeleton is coming apart! R suggested a change of position, and then, the bean's little head began to crown. I felt his fuzzy hair, and they showed me the top of his head in a mirror. Still so much bigger I had to get, but we were nearly there.
The Boy was holding a leg of mine up. They kept pointing a mirror at me but I couldn't see anything. The ring of fire is no joke. 'It's only stretch receptors!', I yelled. Pushing and pushing and then 'Stop!' and there he was. A slither of wet warmth and a tiny baby on my newly flacid belly. A boy. My boy.
I didn't cry. I was elated that it was all over. I lost too much blood to go without the placenta thigh-jab, but I did not care. Stitches were required. No drugs for the whole 24 hours, and while it hadn't entered my head to ask for them, now that it was over, I did not want more pain. So I sucked on the gas thingo and woooo! I was high as a kite just as the grandparents came in. That was the shit. Until I took too much and nearly fainted.
I did faint from the blood loss, later, in the bathroom, but The Boy and R were there to catch me, and it meant a catheter and an extra night in hospital, both of which were a-ok with me.
I did not sleep. I did not remember a thing from the breastfeeding class. I ate and ate and ate and then the three of us (three!) went home.
He is one now, the kid. Almost to the minute. What's that thing people say about babies being your heart on the outside? It is true. I love him like I never knew I could. It is a terrible, wonderful love and I am astonished, every day, that this tiny human is something that I made.