6 months ago today, 39 and a half weeks pregnant, I went into labour.
We drove to the hospital, me and J, in a playful mood, almost certain we'd be sent home again within an hour. Clearly it would be declared a false alarm and we'd be tucked up in bed in a few hours. We were an old hand at this going-to-hospital-to-have-a-baby thing, having only just done it 18.5 months before.
As we walked from the hospital parking lot we saw another couple - the woman also heavily pregnant - walking ahead of us. Being oh so hilarious, we decided it would be highly amusing to race ahead and beat them into triage. Yes, real mature. We ran (okay I didn't really run - more lumbered) up the steps, laughing all the way.
Once in triage things were a little more sombre. We sat in a small room - me in a glamorous hospital gown tapping my fingers on the bed, J playing a game on his iPod. After three hours there was nothing fun to pass the time anymore. Just scowling and complaining that we wanted to be at home, in bed, asleep. At midnight, the nurse told us to take a walk around the hospital, in the hopes the walking would get labour started. Can you guess my reaction? Not exactly thrilled. She told us it was either that or be induced right away.
So off we went, wandering up and down the lifeless corridors, past wards and offices, past walls of oil paintings, past a chapel, past emergency, up and down the staircase leading to the cafeteria. For two hours we walked. J tried to keep me entertained and awake. I told him there was no way I had the energy to have a baby that night.
At 2 a.m., exactly two hours after we started walking, the real contractions started. WHAM.
Here is the part where I briefly explain that I had been preparing for a natural hypnobirthing birth (chuckle). In the months leading up to the birth I had studied the ideas behind hypnobirthing, practiced the techniques, and cajoled J into being my hypnobirthing partner. I was not going to have an epidural this time (mm hmm). I was going to breathe the baby out, not push him out (har). No one would hardly even know I was in labour - because that's what labouring hypnobirthing mums look like (honest they do!).
Labour lasted 3.5 hours. It's true what they say about it moving along much faster the second time. Not exactly the whooooosh here comes the baby somebody catch him I was hoping for, but definitely very fast.
At some point during the first two hours, Hypnobirthing died a sad and sorry death, as I told J through gritted teeth to take the prompt cards I had carefully written out the day before and BURN THEM in a fire. According to Hypnobirthing, I was supposed to be breathing deep controlled breaths through each contraction. Instead I held my breath while the nurses yelled at me not to.
Somewhere around the third hour, I asked very politely, in my nicest voice, for the epidural.
"It's too late!" said the nurse grinning excitedly, as if this was good news. "You're ten centimeters dilated!"
I always thought those movie scenes - the ones where labouring mothers scream as though they're being burnt at the steak - were totally overblown (I was trigger happy with the epidural the first time, hardly any real pain was felt). Turns out, actually, they're not all that unrealistic after all. At one point the nurse actually held down my head and told me "STOP IT!". All I could think was, there's probably some poor first-time mum waddling into the labour and delivery ward, hearing my screams, and wanting to turn and run for her life.
After twenty minutes of pushing, Oliver was born.
My wonderful, beautiful boy.
In what other situation in life could such an ordeal be instantly relinquished by the sight and touch of another being?