Monday 11th September, we've gone in to the hospital for a sweep, at 12:30. I've been told that it will work within 24 hours if it's going to work. There seems to be conflicting evidence. I'm nervous about it. I'm not very good at not being tired when it gets late and I'm afraid of ending up in full blown labour when I should be sleeping (routines aren't always a good thing!) and being exhausted. However, I need not have worried because it didn't work, and it didn't really do much other than make my insides sore. My mucus plug fell out two days later, but nothing happened.

It's 9pm on Thursday 14th and tomorrow morning I'm being induced, and I'm nervous about it.

I figure I'd probably have gone a week and a half overdue or something like that if left to my own devices. I spoke to a friend of mine last week, and though our situations are different the feelings are similar, just a wild paranoia that something is going wrong, in these final weeks. So close to the end for it to be taken away. This is how I feel about the baby in general, I suppose it's how I felt the first time around too. There was always a part of me (and I imagine probably all mothers) that feared the Ezra would, at some point, stop breathing. I was happy and that part of me felt that I didn't deserve to be happy and so there was an inevitability that it would be taken away from me. I can't quite shake the feeling that that's how it's going to turn out this time, too.

Sure, the pregnancy has been fraught with reduced movements (ish), and worries galore, but it's not the pregnancy I'm worried about. Sure, I've booked in an induction, but it's not the birth I'm worried about. Not really. There's a small part of me that thinks maybe something could happen between then and now, but it's the aftermath that I am afraid of. I'm afraid of my own complacency. Will I let down my guard and let myself experience that happiness again, only to have it torn away from me? I know how devastating that is, and I worry that self-preservation will inhibit me from really bonding the way I should, and the way I want to because I feel that we won't make it past three months anyway, if we even get there, so why bother?

It seems the closer I've come to the birth the less I've really wanted to think about it. It feels not surreal but unreal. As if it's just not going anywhere, the pregnancy and birth will build to a massive crescendo of nothing. That's how it feels.

So when I woke up on Friday morning the nerves were full blown but more in anticipation of the pain, I think. In a way, of the unknown. While I've given birth before, naturally, it started differently, it was a Hollywood-style waters break, rush to hospital, admitted right away kind of deal. By the time I realised that this was it I was already in too much pain to really be worried or nervous about it. But then, that morning, it felt like she was already trying to make her way out of my flesh, my bump ached and it was cramps galore, perhaps in anticipation, too.

Once we got to the hospital, my midwife was late arriving, which annoyed me. I don't like being late. I don't like other people being late and not telling me they're going to be late. I've never had an induction and she was my point of contact for everything. I was pretty much lost without her. She sat down, told me how busy labour ward was, and asked if I'd wait until Saturday morning ("no"). I told her that movements had been iffy for a few days but considering I was to be induced I'd left it as the movements were there, just not as vigorous as they had been the week before. I had left it because I thought that she'll be out soon and I won't have to worry about her in there anymore.

When she's out, I can do CPR if something goes wrong, if she's inside, I can do nothing.

So she put me on a CTG, for over an hour. Baby had bradycardia AND tachycardia alternating for a bit, and then it went back to normal. I got given a bed on the antenatal ward eventually. It was 6pm before the doctor came by to OK induction and to explain the process and allow things to start. It was later still when the midwife decided it was time to do an examination and put in the Propess (pessary).

Upon examination, I didn't need the pessary at all, cervix was ready to go and all that needed to happen was waters breaking. I was offered a sweep but I declined, I figured I didn't have the kind of absolute pain relief I wanted on the antenatal ward, or water. I didn't want to sit up here and be in pain and have to use the entonox (gas&air) or pethidine as the combination fucked me over last time. Plus, I didn't know how quickly it would work and how bad the contractions would be. So I waited.

It was about 10:30pm before I was taken down to Labour Ward, the midwife on call from my team wasn't about yet and we were waiting on her. Once we were there she asked me about my birth preferences, I had specified that I wanted to use water to deal with the pain, but that was under the assumption that it'd be day time. So I declined it, I left it to someone else and told her that I wanted to get the epidural as quickly as possible – as soon as it was "okay" to have it, I wanted it. I joked that it would be another thing to add to my list of experiences – but it's almost not a joke, because now, working as a doula, I have experience of both a medicated, and unmedicated, birth.

We got into the room, and I was nervous about the ARM (artificial rupture of membranes) just because I'd never had it done before. It's a little hook in between the midwife's fingers as she examines you, really, and a tiny pop. Not painful, not bad. But I knew how quickly it came on last time, the contractions and labour only started after my waters had broken, I'd no reason to think this would be any different. At 23:05 my waters were broken, it was like a flood, it pretty much felt like all the waters that were in there came rushing out, and I felt like my belly had emptied a fair bit, and I knew at that point that contractions weren't going to be easy.

Less than an hour later they were 2-3 every ten minutes, and they were lasting about 40-50 seconds. I was on the gas and air and trying to remind myself of what I say to clients, or what I would say to anyone pregnant. It was at that point that I really figured out how to use the gas and air (breathe into the thing! don't breath out around it, breathe out into it). I was so, so tired between them that it was hellish, but it did make everything seem slower (gas&air helped) so I was still able to concentrate on things for a while. I still remember it, for example, I remember leaning over the bed, I remember feeling her in my back, remember my ankles and legs starting to ache and give out.

At 1am, I was ready for my epidural. It failed twice. By 1:30am it was in, though (usually it would only take about 10 minutes, and I'm putting it down to the hypermobility that means my bones a little bit more difficult to manouver). At 2:20 I'd dilated to 5cm and so a synthetic hormone drip wasn't needed, despite the fact that for a little while we were afraid that the contractions had slowed.

At 4:40 we decided we'd wait it out till 6:20 for another vaginal examination, but instead we did it at 5am, decided that we would wait an hour for the head to descend and then start pushing. But she was quite excited to get out, it seemed, and at 5:40am we started to push.

Edith crowned at 6:20am.
The cord was wrapped around her neck three times. It took thirty seconds or so to stimulate her enough to cry, and they lasted a lifetime, though she was moving a little. They told me that I was lucky nothing had happened and I couldn't help but be a little annoyed about it. I'd said to the consultant at my 18 week appointment that I'd wanted a c-section because the cord around the neck wasn't something an ultrasound would show me and it was definitely something that could kill her. He said it was rare, and unlikely, but sure. I changed my mind since then, obviously, but that conversation came back to mind very quickly.

Edith was fine. I was bleeding a tonne. They thought it may have been a heammorhage, but it was large clots in the uterus that had not come out with the placenta – this we found out after Edie was taken away, put in a cot to chill by herself, an emergency bell called and people flooded the room. And my doula had left as she had to drive to Wales that morning. This time, though a little scary, I was not concerned. I called my uncle to come to the hospital while they figured out what was going on. I lay back and I let them go at it because this time the emergency was for me, not for baby. She was fine. Last time I also had the added problem of having breathing problems post-birth and tachycardia, which meant I was on oxygen for some time afterwards to bring that back down, this time only a small shortness of breath and that probably more due to all my organs being out of place and being tired.

Everything ended up okay. I topped up my epidural for my stitches (seemed like a million of them), a second degree external tear. Which is, as I had figured last time, worse than an internal one for the afterward recovery – bye bye toilet paper, hello water jug. We had skin-to-skin and she latched immediately, being so alert.

In summary, labour lasted 7 hours and 25 minutes (5hr25 active), I had an epidural, and it was fast. I can't complain. While I'm not hoping to do it again THAT soon – if I were going to, I'd go this route again in a heartbeat. So here we are, tired but cute.

Next post I'll talk about "rainbow parenting" and how breastfeeding, etc, is going.