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Laura's birth story

A timely appearance from baby Theo

Posted: 23 May 2005
by Laura Davis

About Laura

27-year-old teacher Laura was expecting her first child with husband Richard, also a teacher. As she reached her due date she found that even your most tentative expectations can be confounded, but it was all worth it to welcome little Theo into the world.

There may be a great deal that first-time mothers feel they don’t know about childbirth before it happens, but there are two things that everybody can be sure of: firstly, that due dates are not meant to be taken seriously, and secondly, that first labours are long – 18 hours on average, I was warned. And it is probably fair to say that most expectant mothers are also fairly certain where their baby will be born – in the maternity wing of their chosen hospital, of course, or, if they’re feeling adventurous, in their own home. So, in the chaos of the thoughts that invade your insomniac mind in the final days of your pregnancy, when, padded about with cushions, you sit alone and count on three fingers the half-certainties of your impending labour, it suddenly occurs to you that the things you think you know are as follows:

  1. that the birth will happen on almost any date other than the one you have been given that
  2. the duration of your labour will be indeterminate, but prolonged
  3. that the baby will be born in the place of your choice

So it came as something of a surprise to me when my first baby, Theo, was born on his due date, in seven hours, in hospital and not at home, as I had intended.

Nesting instinct

In retrospect I wish I had spent more time reading and less time folding and re-folding babygros. But such is the nesting instinct...
I woke on the morning of the 12th of February with slight backache and decided, because it was my due date and only 2% of babies are born on that day, to ignore it. My husband glumly boarded the train for his regular wintry commute into Birmingham and I began another day of my childless maternity leave (in retrospect I wish I had spent more time reading and less time folding and re-folding babygros. But such is the nesting instinct).

At about 10am I felt the first twinge, not painful, but not the odd abdominal clenching of Braxton Hicks either. Unnervingly, the next twinge came soon after and then the next, so I began to time them, electing wisely at this point to stow away the hoover. Even at this early stage my watch told me that the contractions were only three minutes apart and so I rang the community midwife, who helpfully told me that she was just about to attend another home birth and, rather irritably I thought, advised me to have a bath and see if the contractions subsided. Evidently she had looked at her list that morning, seen it was my EDD, and also decided that it was the single most unlikely day for me to give birth.

Baby Theo at 6 months
The contractions didn't subside and I noticed that my bump wasn't performing its usual acrobatics in the bath, so I calmly rang her again, only to discover that her mobile was out of range. I rang my husband at this point and on hearing his voice my calmness evaporated. He was team-teaching a lesson on contraception at the moment I rang and so, irony aside, was able to abandon his class instantly to his able colleague. Sadly, he was also forced to abandon himself to the astonishing inefficiency of Central Trains who finally delivered him to me (a rather less painful delivery than my subsequent one though no less welcome) an hour and a half late.

By the time Richard arrived I had spoken a number of times on the phone to the hospital midwives, who had advised me to come in as soon as possible given the baby’s apparent lack of movement. I have to say that throughout my short stay at the hospital, the midwives were extremely sensitive to the fact that I had requested a home birth and, although when the day came I lost all interest in anything but the actual labour, I did appreciate their concern.

We arrived at the hospital at around 2pm and by this time the contractions had become stronger though not, by any means, excruciating. The midwife examined me and found that I was already five centimetres dilated, then hooked me up both to a foetal heart monitor and to a device able to measure my contractions (“ooh, that’s a humdinger” was one of the quotes of the day). Apparently Theo’s heart rate was not behaving as it should with each contraction and so she recommended I stay in hospital for the birth, which I was more than glad to do – I felt surprisingly vulnerable, caught up in the sheer momentum of that inevitable but still largely unpredictable event of childbirth.

Things moved quickly after that and I can’t say I actually remember being moved to the delivery room, though certain events do stick in my memory: the midwife mopping my brow; my husband, Richard, rushing out to fetch me a cold Ribena (like nectar, believe me); the news that the dog had been safely delivered into the hands of some friends and neighbours; the midwife telling me to direct my energy downward rather than outward, so that I suddenly became aware of the extravagant noise I was making (“like a farmyard animal”, as a friend of mine has described it); Richard announcing that he could see the baby’s head and my indignant thought, after an hour and a half of pushing, that I should bloody well hope so.

Pain relief?

It wasn’t until after Theo was born and the doctor was dealing with a small tear down below that I realized what gas and air is supposed to achieve...
Richard will have his own version of this story to tell but the two things he has most often mentioned to me are the helplessness that he felt (he wasn’t helpless; he was fantastically helpful) and the vision of a green head emerging from within me. My mother tells a story about a woman whose midwife, on the delivery of a very large baby, remarked, “My God, it’s a monster!” and I was glad that my baby’s greenness (from the meconium he had excreted inside the womb) did not elicit a similarly tactless comment from my midwife.

When Theo came, they delivered him quickly on to my belly and I retain a very distinct sense of how big he seemed, and how real. Those hazy scan images were never quite enough to persuade me of the miraculously human nature of the thing growing inside me. Then he was whipped away and my body was flooded with sheer relief at the pain having gone. In fact, it wasn’t until after Theo was born and the doctor was dealing with a small tear down below that I realized what gas and air is supposed to achieve: I clearly hadn’t used it properly during the labour (relax; deep breaths – it’s harder than it sounds). I was glad that I had read somewhere that pain can make you say some terrible things.

My last chance of a relatively good night’s sleep was squandered that first night: Theo slept like the proverbial baby but I, proud Mum, couldn’t keep my eyes off him – desperate to hold him, I was actually glad when, at 2 o’clock in the morning, he was sick.

Your own birth stories

You can read ThinkBaby members' birth stories in the birthing blogs section, or add your own stories. We've split them up into age groups so it's easier to find experiences of women of a similar age to yourself:

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i thinl your son theo is very cute

Posted: 16/11/2007 at 15:29

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