About 36 hours after my last sweep, at 3am on the Wednesday I was woken up by back pain that I couldn’t sleep through. Certainly much more painful that the bouts of back and period-like pains I’d been having on and off for the previous couple of weeks. I got up, took some paracetamol, watched television and added to my Pinterest boards to take my mind off of the pain. I had an inkling that this was early labour but I also thought that it would be hours and hours before things would really kick off. MrS went to work as normal, I did tell about him about my back pain and sort of assumed he would understand that something was happening but he didn’t and went to work blissfully unaware! I was keen for him to go into the office though as I knew he had things he wanted to finish but in retrospect I think it would’ve been better for him to stay at home to help get the oxytocin (the bonding hormone that helps facilitate birth) flowing and things moving quicker. Plus (spoiler alert) he did a full day in the office followed by a full night and most of the following day awake so perhaps not the best deal for him either!
That day I pottered around at home, took more paracetamol, had a bath and put my TENS machine on. I resisted going to sleep as was waiting for a John Lewis delivery (totally wrong priority – it is so important to try to sleep in early labour to give you more energy for later!). The delivery arrived at about 5pm then I headed up to bed to doze. MrS came home at 6pm and the pains were ramping up by this point. I remember thinking that I wouldn’t be going back downstairs until I left the house to go to hospital. TENS machine still on, I did quite a quite a bit of pacing up and down (perhaps a foolish use of energy), bouncing on my birthing ball and leaning over the banister for contractions.
MrS was a bit panicky, deciding to pack a bag for himself and iron a shirt so he could do skin to skin with the baby in case I couldn’t. He also reminded me that I should probably ring the hospital to let them know I was in labour. I did this at 9pm and was told – quite patronisingly to be honest – that I didn’t sound like I was in labour and I should take some paracetamol, hardly the encouraging conversation that I was looking for! I managed for the next couple of hours with much the same ball bouncing, pacing and leaning. MrS tried to get some sleep. Around midnight I called the hospital again to have another patronising conversation with a midwife along the lines of: Her: “Are you in pain?”, Me: “Yes”, Her “Well labour is painful” and being advised to take more paracetamol even though it would take me over the recommended dosage for that day. I hung up on her and came to the conclusion that we may have to go it alone!
Looking back I think we should’ve gone into the hospital at that point as the contractions then ramped up several gears. I got in the bath for 2 hours with MrS sat beside me timing the contractions on my iPhone app. We don’t have a full size bath in our tiny bathroom and the only time I have had a bath in it in the nearly 3 years we have lived here was during labour. It was not the most comfortable experience! I was turning onto my side for each contraction and lots of water would come whooshing out onto the floor and we’d need to add more water almost constantly. At 2am I decided I’d had enough of the bath and transferred over to the bed and back to the TENS machine. More “comedy” moments ensued as the TENS pads kept falling off my back and I was yelling at MrS to get them back on. He says he is going to use gaffer tape this time. Bizarrely we were able to drift off to sleep for a minute at a time between contractions. Around this time my waters broke but I didn’t realise it, I just thought that I uncontrollably needed to wee and kept going to the loo and back to the bed over and over for about 5-10 minutes.
I had a sweep booked at the hospital for later that morning and I kept thinking “well I’ll go in for my sweep appointment and they will have to see me then!”. At about 4am I felt down and was rather surprised that I could feel the tip of the baby’s head. I rang the hospital again and simply said “I am coming in”. The midwife said something about coming in if I wanted to but they might have to send me home if I wasn’t far enough along!
To be continued …