It seems like 2016/2017 has been the year that a huge number of people I know have announced their pregnancies (not counting the fact that Beyoncé herself is expecting twins in 2017). As I am now at the grand age of 31, it really isn’t all that surprising. There has been a huge shift in the average age at which women are having children. Where ten-fifteen years ago, conceiving in your early 20’s was commonplace, fast forward to 2017, the average age for giving birth has moved to the early 30’s.
When I first found out I was pregnant with my daughter Letoya (my eldest), I remember feeling absolutely ecstatic at the prospect of being a mum, whilst anxious and nervous about just how she would enter the world. I must have read twenty plus books, countless online articles and asked every female with child I knew about their birthing experiences. Now, whilst this was useful in its own right (and fear-inducing), there is no way of predicting how these series of events will unravel for you.
I had my hospital bags packed from around 35 weeks pregnant. This was an easy task, as I had meticulously washed, ironed, categorised and itemised every item I had purchased from day 1. And so the waiting began….. and impatience set in. I had daily thoughts of ‘what will I do if my waters break at work’, worse still ‘what will I do if my waters break whilst I’m on the train to work’. Needless to say my phone stayed almost surgically attached to my person until the moment it all started.
We then move to three days past my due date. This is the exact date (do not quote me), at which pregnant mothers reach their most aggravated, impatient and snappy. Pacing up and down, eating curry, I must have tried every NHS recommendation going, but still no appearance from my little lady. I eventually gave in and sat down to watch CSI Miami at 11pm and felt what I can only describe as an elastic band pinging in my side. It forced me to my feet, which were in seconds covered with water. I looked around the living room absolutely panicked. Not so much about the fact that the baby was coming, but more so that I had not had chance to shave my legs.
I rushed upstairs to the bathroom, with a giant towel on tow. I then grabbed my hospital bags and rushed to the hospital. At this point my contractions were unbelievably strong. Having read so many accounts of women having light, gentle contractions and having a warm drink and a bath, easing into their labour, I was beyond confused, and frankly felt defrauded. Either these ‘light’ contractions are in fact light and I am a complete wimp, or I was going to have the baby very soon.
I got out of the car barely able to walk and hobbled through the hospital door. The midwife suggested that I should have called first, to which I grunted as I couldn’t actually form any kind of comprehensible speech. I was rushed up to the delivery room as my contractions were so strong and close together. I laid back on the bed and as my mother recounts, ‘asked for some lip-gloss’. A personal disclaimer, this was not due to my wanting to look like a celebrity mum. The gas and air given is very drying to the mouth, so have a big bottle of water on hand!
Twenty minutes later I started pushing and out Letoya came. A mere hour and ten minutes after my waters broke and contractions started. Now, when I tell this story to other mums, they often look at me like I am either, 1, lying, or 2, a birthing machine. I was extremely lucky to have such a quick labour. To ease the minds of those approaching this special date, whilst it was painful, I didn’t find it as awful as many sources indicated. Maybe this is because the mind removes painful memories and you quickly forget about the pain when you have a miracle lying in your arms looking up at you with adoration and love.
The whole experience from start to finish was amazing. There is nothing else like it in the world. Those first special moments spent looking at every detail from their eyes and nose, to tiny hands and feet, you will never forget.
I really wanted to reach out to other expectant mums, to share my story and my experience. With so many labour stories beginning with ‘well, after 24 hours of contractions’, I wanted to ease the over-active mind, which I too once had.
If I can give you one piece of advice it would be this. Be prepared and have your bags ready. Always have your phone with you and a list of people close to you that can help you at all hours, but most importantly, relax. Every birth is different and nothing can be predicted. Go in with an open mind and a relaxed spirit, sound in the knowledge that mother nature has taken care of women for millennia. However your story evolves, the bundle of joy you take home with you at the end will be worth every second.
How did you find your birthing experience?
Please tune in for my next parenting post where I will discuss a topic which is rarely covered; What happens after the birth and how you will feel.