Thankfully, we lived only minutes from the hospital and that time was lessened by The Native’s quick driving through the empty streets of our town. Often we still feel overwhelmed when we think of what the outcome might have been had we lived further.
He pulled up right outside of the maternity ward, in front of the No Parking sign and leaving the car running, he jumped out of the driver’s seat to help me to the entrance. Re-thinking this decision, he quickly ran back to the car and turned it off and we walked up to the intercom/buzzer. There were two buttons. We both were panicked. In the franticness of it all, we pushed the wrong button. The woman on the other end told us we had made a mistake; we need to push the other button. We couldn’t think straight, let alone see this allusive button. It seemed she understood the urgency of the situation, because she also started to sound frantic and helpfully shouted down the intercom, “The other button! Press the other button!”. It was right in front of our faces.
I remembered breathing through another contraction as The Native helped me down the corridor and seeing a pregnant women serenely chatting with family as we passed. I thought, “She must not be in labour. How can she be here and be like that, when I am like this.” They stopped talking as we hurried passed.
The Native went to park the car and call his parents to pick up The Big Brown One once the midwife came into the room. I asked her if I could be given pethidine or diamorphine. I was still so confused. They had told me throughout my ante-natal classes, throughout this whole night, that it would be ages and yet, the pressure, the pushing, the intensity of it all was too much to bear. If it would still be hours before my baby was in my arms, I needed something. She looked at me, and shook her head.
“It’s too late, darling. I need to see what is going on, but I’m pretty sure your baby is going to be here soon.”
When what I already knew in my heart was confirmed, it was okay. If I had gotten this far without it, I could deliver a baby.
She handed me the entonox nozzle and then she left the room. Ten babies were delivered on the ward that night. Ten. I was just one woman on the ward whose life and family was about to be changed, and I was now in my delivery suite all alone. I breathed in the entonox, but at this point, it didn’t seem to make any difference. I threw it on the bed, frustrated and scared. I was still in shorts and a t-shirt. I gripped a countertop as the baby pushed again. Would I be alone when my baby came into the world?
The Native walked through the doors and with adrenaline rushing through me, I pleaded, “It’s not working. The baby is pushing. I need someone. I need someone to help me. Please find someone. Anyone.”
He walked into the corridor, trying to wave down the first available person. The midwife came back into the room and asked me to lie on the bed. She examined me and The Native could already see my waters, which had not burst, bulging. He smiled at me and told me what he saw. “The baby is coming. You’re doing great.”
It starts to blur here, to be honest. The speed and way in which everything had happened meant that the adrenaline had completely taken over and much of what came next felt like an out-of-body experience. I can say I have experienced what it must be to go into flight or fight mode. My body wasn’t focussed on listening or talking. It was focussed on delivering my baby. From what The Native has told me is that she was monitoring the baby’s heart rate and he could tell it was slowing more and more. She had me try to change positions and that helped for a minute, but then the heart rate dropped again. A doctor was brought in, and another medical professional (which I later found out was a doctor for the baby, in case she was in a bad state) was standing a few feet away. They burst my waters and then told me that they were going to put a clip on the baby’s head. I can’t remember that.
I do remember them telling me that they thought the umbilical cord might be wrapped around the baby’s neck because of the dropped heart rate and that they were going to use the Ventouse to move delivery along more quickly. I agreed and started pushing. The Ventouse slipped and they re-attached it. After 25 minutes of pushing and 5 pushes, I could hear the first cry.
“What is it? Is it a boy or a girl?”
“A girl,” they smiled.
The umbilical cord had not been wrapped. They looked surprised and surmised that it was the speed at which everything had happened which had caused her heart rate to drop. Relief swept over me. The panic, the fear, the adrenaline all faded and I took my daughter in my arms and all of it was there. All of the feelings I feared I wouldn’t have – that I might not love her immediately, that I might not feel like a mother – those fears were put to rest. Instead of fear, it was awe. Lying on my chest, complaining about her rushed entrance into the world, was the little girl who immediately stole my heart and won my adoration simply by existing. She was the girl who made me a Mummy.