So, I thought that I should probably be more punctual in writing up Baby E’s birth story than I was with Little O’s (written about 15 months after the event). Although he is now six and a half week old, it feels as if Baby E has been part of our family for so long that my memories of his birth are probably just as they were of Little O’s 15 months on.
Our little gyermek (child in Hungarian) was due on 25 January but as Little O had arrived 9 days after his due date, I was convinced that it would be about the same with our second.
The Thursday before my due date three mamma friends came round for dinner at our place, our excuse for a girls night being that they had all volunteered to help out with looking after Little O when the time came for Husband and I to go to the hospital. Of course they needed to come round for dinner and see the spare room and hear about Little O’s routine. And so what if that part of the plan actually happened at 1am, shortly before they left… We spent the large part of the evening discussing birth stories and perhaps also indulging in a very little bit of gossip. And I clearly remember telling them that I knew that this baby would not come on time, that I was settling down for a long wait and that maybe I would even get to the same stage as with Little O and have to be discussing the option of the dreaded inducing of the little one.
Fast forward to the next evening and Husband and I decided that it really was time to practice some of the Lamaze breathing exercises, seeing as we’d had our refresher course a month before, just before Christmas. Just before going to bed we ran through the three different breathing exercises. We’d been warned that the third one could make you feel a bit light-headed, so when I started feeling a bit funny immediately afterwards, I imagined that was the reason.
But then I started feeling even odder and it started to feel familiar. Off to the bathroom I went, and that was it, my waters broke. And immediately the contractions started. They were probably about 30 seconds long and about 3 minutes apart. I immediately sent a text message to my three mamma friends and let them know that all systems were go. It was around 10.30pm at this point and one of them had just finished having a meal with colleagues in the city and so she was able to be with us within 10 minutes.
While I waited for her to arrive, I wrote up Little O’s breakfast details and anything else that I could think of that she needed to know. Because, of course, this baby was going to arrive late, so I had not done any of this yet… I called our chosen hospital, BB Stockholm, a privately-run ward at Danderyd Hospital, where Little O was born, and let them know that we were heading in. (A privately-run ward sounds so very posh, but it isn’t really – you pay a small fee and it is all just a bit nicer and less hospital-like.)
Husband called a taxi and I ran through the instructions with my friend and put the final bits and pieces into my hospital bag (yeah, yeah, of course, I hadn’t fully packed that either – don’t you know, this baby is going to be late…). By this time the contractions were still about 30 seconds long but were now coming every couple of minutes. A quick discussion with Husband and we changed plans and decided to head for our nearest maternity ward, at Karolinska Hospital, instead, as BB Stockholm was a 25-minute drive away and Karolinska was just 10 minutes down the road. Karolinska were more than happy for me to come in – especially when I said how close the contractions were and that Little O had been born in around five hours (from when my waters broke).
The taxi journey was were things started to get a bit surreal. As I was having a contraction at the time, I’m not sure how it happened but the next thing I knew Husband and the taxi driver were chatting away in Hungarian, while I sat in the back wondering whether I should be doing the first stage of Lamaze breathing or the second…
At the hospital, we were taken into an examination room and the midwife waited while the contractions abated so she could check me. By this time, which was around 11.40pm, they were less than a minute apart and unfortunately she wasn’t quick enough examining me between the end of the last the beginning of the next. Blooooooody hell, that hurt. On the upside though, I was at 9.5cm.
At this point I knew which breathing pattern I should be doing and switched to the third, as I was feeling the urge to push. I let the midwife know this and also that I would really, really like to use gas and air. She obliged and suggested I kneel up on the bed and hold on to the headboard as that was where the mask was.
The next part is a bit of a blur. I remember breathing very deeply in and out when the gas came through and starting to feel its effects. Some more people came into the room and I was feeling the gas fully then, so in my confused state, I became convinced that they were surgeons and that I need to have a C-section. They started to undress me and asked me to hold out my arms and at that point I may or may not have grabbed one of them on the boob – sorry to whichever one it was! It got more surreal from there and I started to think that I had full understanding of everything – you know, life, the universe and everything. I remember thinking “I need to ask Husband for a paper and pencil when this is over, as I need to write all this fantastic insight down”. Oh yes… powerful stuff that nitrous oxide. The only thing that was distracting me from these amazing thoughts was the woman screaming in the next room – I really wanted her to shut up. I took the mask off for a short while to ask for a glass of water and found that the screaming had stopped. As the gas began to clear from my system in that brief period, I had an even clearer realization: that the woman screaming was me…
Two sips of the water, another urge to push, mask back on, two pushes more and Baby E was born at 00.01 on Saturday 21 January.
So, it was a pretty intense experience all said and done – an hour and a half from waters breaking to Baby E’s arrival, beating Little O’s five hour delivery by some margin. I know they say that subsequent births are quicker than the first, but this really was cutting it fine, as he born just 20 minutes after we arrived at the hospital. I am so very glad that we made the decision to take the nearest hospital, rather than risk Baby E having been born at the side of the motorway on a cold January night!