She was born to a thunderstorm.
As she let out her first cry, the heavens opened in reply, and thunder roared the news of her arrival.
For us as new parents, it felt appropriate. Our entire lives had just changed.
But not so long before, we had been starting to think that she might never come…
I started having regular contractions that were different to Braxton Hicks a week before my due date. Never having been through labour before, I assumed that our baby would be with us within a day or two.
Boy, was I wrong…
Those contractions started 5am Friday morning. My waters finally broke Wednesday afternoon, the day before my due date. But when they checked me at the hospital, I was still only 3cm dilated after 5 and a half days of irregular, increasingly strong contractions.
I was disappointed to say the least.
After an entirely sleepless night in the hospital while they monitored and checked me without really letting me know if I was progressing, contractions slowed down again, and the midwife suggested I head home to try and get a bit of sleep before returning at 5.30pm for an induction, as my waters would have been broken for over 24 hours then.
It was on stepping over the threshold at home that afternoon that I realized the difference being in a familiar environment makes, and I resolved that if all went well with this birth, any subsequent ones would be home births.
I had barely been at home half an hour before my contractions came back with a vengeance. They quickly intensified and became more frequent, and by the time I set foot back in the hospital at 5.30, they told me that an induction was unlikely to be needed.
I breathed a sigh of relief at that!
After several hours of increasingly intense contractions, and inhaling rather a lot of gas and air, I finally got past 4cm and into active labour. At this point, I was offered pethidine to help me sleep a little between contractions, and although I really didn’t want to, I was so completely exhausted from a week of early labour and several nights without sleep, that I accepted.
Turns out, although it helped me sleep a little and gather my strength for pushing, it was probably unnecessary on the whole, because our baby girl decided she was suddenly in a hurry.
After getting strong urges to push, and being told to ignore them (which is basically impossible!), I was examined and found to be 6cm. There was a little of my waters left, so they broke them and contractions came thick and fast. They suggested my husband and mother go and get some coffee as it was still likely to take a long time, so my husband left the room to track some down.
He had barely got the drink in the cup before someone was sent out to rush him back in.
I went from 6cm to 10cm in very little time at all, and pushing was a short process, too.
Dazed and confused from gas and air and pethidine, I saw a long, very purple and pale baby being held by my midwife. They rushed my husband to cut the cord, and I knew something was wrong, but our midwife was so reassuring and wonderful that I barely had time to worry.
The baby who had spent months wriggling constantly in my womb was suddenly very still, and they had to take her out of the room.
After what felt like an eternity, but was probably only a few minutes, she was brought back in, wriggling and crying, and it was music to our ears.
Sadly, with pethidine still barely into my system, I was quite out of it, and terrified that I might drop or hurt her. But there’s no feeling quite like holding your little one for the first time, and already the pain seemed quite a distant memory.
It was pain like nothing I had ever known before – and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Baby Wiggles was born at 12.55am, less than an hour after her due date had ended, after only 3 and a half hours of active labour. She is now three weeks old, and thriving. She has a soft cry, a smile that melts your heart, and long feet that kicked her out and have kept kicking ever since.