Nicholas turns 8 weeks tomorrow and it has taken me this long to come to terms with the fact that I have had him - that he really is here, this is NOT a dream, I will not wake up to find myself still pregnant and waiting with anxious prayer for the day I give birth to the baby growing inside me. Pleading with the Lord to keep him safe, keep him healthy, to let me keep him.
It was the night of the Closing Ceremony for the Olympics on 12 August that my account begins. Ross and I were having difficulty getting Ryan to settle to sleep, so we didn't start watching the closing Ceremony until later on in the evening. It was almost 1am when it ended and we crawled into bed. I was big, uncomfortable and shattered on so many levels. "I really need a good sleep tonight" I said to Ross with a big yawn. We kissed goodnight and I rolled over to cuddle up to my husband to go to sleep...Whoosh.
"Oh no, I think my waters are breaking!" I groan, in a really tired, we've-been-here-before-this-is-nothing-new kind of way. Ross shot up in bed with a "WHAT?" I think he was thinking - or hoping - that I was joking. But I shot out of bed and ran into the bathroom.
My waters have never broken on their own. They broke my waters when I was in labour with Ryan due to slow progression (Half an hour later he was born!) and Alexander was born in his waters! So I didn't know what it really felt like to have your waters break! At this point I still had a small wonder if I had finally lost all control of my bladder - but actually, when your waters break, you really DO know. Well, I did anyway. It just kept coming and coming and coming.
I also felt restless, anxious and there was just this "feeling" somewhere in my chest. I knew that I was on the brink of something rather spectacular and a massive change was about to be thrust upon our family. The water was clear but slightly pink - I remember it looking like that when I was in labour with Ryan.
I started to tremble.
Am I ready for this? After two births in recent years, the memories of which still painfully fresh, I knew what was to come. Will I have good midwives? Will I need a C-section? Will the baby get stuck? Become breach? Will the baby be alright? Will I be alright?
The anxieties of the later months of my pregnancy rushed over me like a tsunami. I had been so sick during my pregnancy, and I had not taken my prenatal vitamins as I couldn't swallow them, there were concerns over Choleastasis and I had a midwife sit me down and say that my baby could be stillborn.
As if I wasn't already paranoid enough. Due to recent events I was well-aware of how delicate life is. How easily things can change. I had two healthy babies that I brought into the world, they were good deliveries, surely now things would go badly. I was filled with thoughts of death. I was very convinced that I would end up in surgery and die. My babies would be orphaned and Ross would loose his wife.
Anyway, all these terrible worries and thoughts filled my mind and I decided that now was not the time to have a baby. I walked back into the bedroom to tell Ross that my waters had gone for sure. Ross was sat up in bed looking at google on his phone.He looked up when I walked in. "I've been reading, and apparently it can take a while for things to get moving, so even though your waters have gone, it can still be a long time". He said semi-confidently. I think he was hoping we could go to bed for the night and pick this up in the morning. I know I was hoping the same, but hearing Ross say the words made something whisper to my heart that this was not going to be the case for me. I was told, by this spirtual being that this baby was coming. Soon.
I texted Naomi, my sister in law. She wanted me to tell her as soon as things kick off as all of this baby stuff is incredibly exciting to her. I said something like "Hi Na, my waters just broke! We're going to try and get some sleep as it could still be a while!"
30secs later I received her reply "NO DON'T GO TO BED! 3RD BABY LAURA! THIS WILL BE FAST! GO TO HOSPITAL NOW!!"
By this point Ross had decided to get some sleep and I got myself changed for hospital. Then I mosied downstairs to find a phone and call the birthing unit. When I called and explained that it was my 3rd baby and my waters had broken, they were keen to see me immediately. I was not experiencing any contractions at all, so I felt it was a bit premature. I also wanted to let Ross get some rest - he would need it. So I texted Na and explained that I was packing my hospital bag and looking for my make up bag....(Na's replies were equally as dramatic as the first)
I went up to Ross and felt more hot and flustered and very panicky. I had mild period-like cramps, but nothing major. I just felt like I was all over the place. Pacing and huffing. Ross decided to get up and - Take a shower! - while I called Carla to come over so we could go to the hospital.
Just minutes before Carla arrived, the contractions started. WHAM. Heavy, long, intense and powerful contractions. They burned. Everything burned with each pain. Na was kind enough not to tell me, but had known that I was about to experience the most painful labour of the three. When your waters break, there is no cushion around the babies (hard) head on the cervix. They call it dry labour. It was - horrendous.
Carla got here and I was leaning against the wall in the landing and breathing deeply and acting very panicky. I just thought "not now, not now, not now, not now!" over and over. Carla was great at calming me down and rubbed my lower back with each contraction "You're doing great Laura! Well done! This is really good!" she said in the kindest, softest voice. She would make a marvellous midwife. I trusted her words. She was reminding me that whislt I am terrified, this was all good. It was what I was begging for! I'm having the baby! But in the moment I seemed to forget that. Carla was very good at bringing me back round to that idea.
Ross drove 100-110mph and got us to the hospital in record time. Just half an hour after contractions started, they were 2 mins apart and long and strong. I got out the car and had a contraction.....I walked a few steps and that brought on another contraction.....I hobbled a few more steps and the same happened.
I was bawling my eyes out at this point. I was very hot, I hadn't even taken a paracetamol as it all just happened too fast. And now I was having contractions just seconds apart. I thought I was going to end up having the baby in the carpark!
Ross was now acting panicky. He urged me on and on. We got through the doors of the hospital and I received some very disturbed looks from a couple of police officers. I wasn't screaming, but I was moaning and crying. I was breathless between each pain and my legs were weak and shaky. I was dizzy. The whole situation was so different to my recollection of my other labours.
We finally got to the birthing unit. the midwives were LOVELY. "Oh bless, it's okay love, don't cry" one of them said. They could tell I was close to transition just by looking at me. No need for the booking in hassle. They set up the birthing pool immediately while I had my blood pressure tested and they checked to see that there was not any meconium in the waters. And there wasn't. Thank goodness.
It was 4am by the time I was invited to sit on a mattress on the floor (which they made into some sort of bed) I was given gas and air, which I appreciatively inhaled deeply. I expected my senses to be dimmed and the soft glow that gas and air drenched me in during previous labours. To my utter dismay, the gas and air merely made me more confused and disorientated. I was registering everything in delay.
I threw my glasses at Ross and said "I don't need to see for this job", the midwives laughed. The contractions rolled into one. Barely seconds between them - but because they left such a sting that I never felt any relief. I sucked on the gas and air hoping it would start to make a difference. It didn't.
The midwife checked me for dilation. I was in so much pain, I was desperately hoping it was not below 3cms. "Well Laura, you're a 5" she said impressed.
I guess all the prelabour and false starts I had, really were doing something then! I knew it wouldn't be long then, because when I get to 5, I go to 10 very quickly.
Sure enough, half an hour later I felt "pushy". They checked me again and I was 9cms. The birthing pool was ready for me to get in, so I stumbled over to the big white tub and climbed in. The walk must have kicked up the contraction a gear. Because I reached the - I am going to die - stage. "Please.....please I beg you.....I'll give you whatever you want....please can I have an epidural" I begged. I was no longer on the gas and air, no painkillers in my system and no pethodine. There was no time for any of that. I was devastated to realise that there was no turning back, it was too late for pain relief, I was going to have to do this the natural way and I didn't know how I was going to cope, because the pain was so intense, and I was so exhausted that I really thought I was going to die.
Then something happened. I stopped panicking, stopped screaming, stopped crying. I set to work. I went onto auto pilot - I got up on my hands and knees in the pool. Then I felt something drop and instinctively reached down and picked up the baby which had just slithered out of me. I sat down and laid him on my chest - he was white, floppy and tiny. I just sat there, baby in my arms, in the water and shaking from head to toe. I didn't feel a rush of love, I didn't feel anything. I just felt exhausted, in pain and shaky. My whole body was in shock. " That hurt" I whispered. The midwives were praising me and speaking animatedly to each other "she didn't need us, she just did it herself!" they said. Ross was in shock too. It had all happened so fast. We couldn't believe it.
After getting out the pool and delivering the placenta, I just collapsed on the little mattress on the floor. Ross dressed Nicholas and cooed over him, taking pictures for family while I lay there shaking and feeling too weak to move. The midwives left me in that state - covered in blood, still soaking wet from being in the pool and freezing cold. I just fell in and out of sleep. Unable to hold my baby or even care. I was physically and mentally spent. I could not even register that the baby lying in the cot before me, actually came from me. He was alive, he was healthy and seemed to be doing a lot better than I was!
After a few hours of this, I managed to get up and shower myself and put some clean clothes on. The midwives never came back to help me! I was finally given some toast and that made me feel a little better. Then I was shown a proper bed! There I managed to get some real sleep.
I woke up and Ross was out in the hallway on the phone - or getting a drink - I don't really remember. And I looked over at the little baby in the cot beside me. He was awake, all swaddled up in a blue blanket and his big blue eyes were peeking up at me.
There was that rush of love. It overwhelmed me. I actually felt knocked backwards by the force of it. I wept silently as I picked up my little bundle of joy and snuggled him close. I smelled his hair and took in his sweet baby smell. I stroked his squashed nose and kissed the velvet skin across his forehead. "I know you" I whispered to him. Of course, this is baby Nicholas. This is the baby I faught so hard to keep safe and bring into the world. The baby I worried for and prayed for each second of every day. He moved in my arms - I recognised the movement that I would feel in my bump. He was my baby. All mine. He was here and I didn't have any recollection of birthing him.
The weeks that passed were surreal. I would wake up and be surprised to find this baby lying next to me in bed, or in the little moses basket. A rush of love and joy and wonderment filled my being every time I looked at him. My heart is forever filled with gratitude to my Heavenly Father.
I *Still* haven't completely come to terms with the fact that I have had my baby. It distresses me that I just don't remember birthing him. But I do love him. I do know him and I am grateful to have him here.
In my notes it says my labour was 2 hours long and my second stage (Pushing) was recorded at 5 seconds. The midwives and health visitors say "oh wow, easy labour then" and friends have said "oh you're the woman people hate, what an easy labour!"
I didn't think it was easy. I thought it was blummin' hard work and very traumatic!!
But there we go. That is the story of how Nicholas Alan Craig Burton entered the world. Nicholas is greek and means "Victorious". We did it Nicholas! We got through it all! We were victorious indeed!