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Having a Baby - Part 2

Posted on: Friday, 30 January 2015

I suddenly need to know everyone’s name - I’m ready to shake hands and kiss people and write thank you notes. The anaesthetist is already out the door but I ask the midwife what she’s called anyway. ‘Tell her thank you!’ I say, dizzy with joy. ‘Really, you must tell her thank you. Tell her I said THANK YOU SO MUCH.’ Everyone’s smirking yet I’m completely earnest. God, I feel amazing! Totally AMAZING! Look at me - painfree, contracting like a boss, teeth chattering, arms and legs shaking, shaking quite a bit actually - Jesus, hang on, am I having some kind of fit, is this normal, FFS…?

Totally normal,’ says the midwife. Ah, OK. Best find something new to worry about. ’Will the drugs wear off?’ I ask anxiously. ‘No,’ she says, busying herself with buttons and drips and clips. I have a peculiar need to Be In Charge despite clearly being in a situation where I am most definitely Not In Charge. ‘Are you sure? What if I labour for 24 hours? Do I need to warn you when the bag looks low?’ ’No,’ she says. ‘Your baby will be here before I finish at seven.’ It’s perhaps 1am. Woah. 6 hours tops. Countdown. 

Now that I’m no longer completely absorbed by pain every few minutes I can take in the room properly for the first time. There’s a stainless steel lamp the size of a dustbin lid fixed to the wall with an anglepoise arm.  Directly opposite the bed there’s a changing station with an overhead heat strip and monitoring equipment where the baby will be checked after it’s born; clean towels folded, a quiet altar, waiting. A red LED flickers like a sanctuary candle. Everything’s so quiet and still. It’s also, I suddenly realise, horrifically hot. Adam tries to open a window but they’re nailed shut. He’s gutted. “Change into your pyjama bottoms,” I tell him with sudden clarity. Minutes ago I couldn’t speak, never mind suggest sensible courses of action such as changing into cool cotton pants. Hmm. Interesting.

I have what I think is a Deeply Profound Thought about some women being intimidated by an overly medicalised environment, hence all the focus in the antenatal class on doing things naturally and challenging all suggested medical interventions; however, I am a Completely Different Kettle Of Fish and find all of the equipment and drugs the most reassuring thing in the world. I tell Adam about this Deeply Profound Thought. He finds it less profound. In fact, now that the ‘Oh my God, this pain is HORRIFIC’ panic is over, he’s trying to go to sleep on the floor. 

Zainab - the healthcare assistant, we’re all on first-name terms now - wheels in a fold-out bed and Adam lies down. The ‘relaxed’ playlist I composed in a panic in the days before my due date (and totally ignored until now) purrs in the background. ‘Do you have children?’ I ask Zainab dreamily. My right leg, dull and fizzy, keeps slipping off the bed and she lifts it gently back onto the mattress. I’m not so out of it that I’m not a little bit embarrassed by the hole in my sock. ‘No,’ she says, and her smile implies ‘As if!’ Instead though she says, ‘I’m only twenty.’

And so we lie there talking until Adam drifts off to sleep. I could be pissed off, but actually it’s lovely to lie there quietly for an hour or so, thinking about the pulsing in my stomach and my body doing what it needs to do and the baby on its way. I can’t remember the last time I lay down, listening to music, thinking, doing nothing else with no distractions - I can heartily recommend it. I’m thinking about us and the baby, unsurprisingly - no great epiphanies, just vague drifting thoughts, and it’s deeply pleasant albeit in the most pedestrian of ways. 

Midwife Adele (see, we’re practically best friends) and Zainab appear and disappear at intervals. Zainab, then Adele, then Zainab, then Adele again. She still smells of cigarettes. Night shift sucks, eh? She scrutinises the machine and whatever’s happening down there and then she speaks. 

‘OK, I think we start to push soon.’ She looks at the clock. ‘Around 4:30, yes?’ 


Adele is required to shift into super-patient, super-reassuring mode again. Yes, there will definitely be a feeling despite the epidural. No, it won’t hurt. It’ll feel a bit like needing the toilet. Yes, there will be a doctor, he’s on his way. 

Nothing happens for five, ten minutes. Fifteen minutes. Adele has disappeared. She’s wrong, I think. Nothing to see here, no urge to push, categorically nothing. Almost simultaneously I feel a bearing down; a sort of painless pressure. Bloody hell. Shall I? There’s only me and Adam in the room. I push, tentatively, feeling like a naughty schoolgirl about to be caught out at any minute. The sensation returns minutes later, and I push again. 

A doctor breezes in - not my doctor, but a man - removes his coat and rolls up his sleeves. Literally. I don’t think to ask where my doctor - cheerful Dr Inge with the jazzy shoes - is. ‘So we are pushing?’ Um, yes. We seem to be. Suddenly the room seems very busy, what with the doctor, his assistant, Adele and Zainab and Adam and me. The bed has been hoisted up and the doctors sit on stools. Adele and Zainab hover in the background. 

Things are speeding up. Push. Don’t push. One big long push now. Little pushes. Pushpushpushpushpushpuuuush. And rest. It’s like you see on the TV but there’s no pain, making me feel like I’m an actress in a crappy daytime soap. I’ve got no idea how hard I’m pushing on account of not being able to feel anything. Everyone seems pleased with my efforts, mind, so I can’t be doing too badly, I rationalise.

After what seems like a ludicrously short space of time someone announces that they can see the head. Oh God, this is actually happening. Empty cliche alert: I can’t believe it. But I actually CAN’T believe it. Apparently it has hair. Then the head is out. Oh God. It feels like I’ve been doing this for fifteen minutes. It’s actually been forty. Still, ridiculous. I can’t believe it. THE BABY’S HEAD IS THERE.

Zainab is suddenly at my shoulder, tugging at my gown. ‘What are you doing?’ I ask, thinking OK, I liked you, but now you’re violating me. ‘You will want skin to skin, yes?’ she says. What? I can’t believe we’re so close to the baby being born. ‘Is it ready?’ I ask, which makes everyone laugh, like he’s a microwave meal.

And then it happens. 

‘Ooooh!’ cries everyone, collectively. 

He’s hot and hollering and livid on my chest. I’m not sure how he got there. I say ‘he’ - I knew he was a boy before we even thought to check. 

‘Oh my God!’ I say. I say very little else for the next five minutes. ‘Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!’

It’s 5:30am and I’ve just had a baby and I feel like a bloody champion.  

(all the hard stuff came later)


  1. Wowzers. Well done to you!

  2. I am terrified - really, properly terrified of giving birth. Not something I have to think about at the moment but maybe one day. I think this is the first account I've ever read where I've thought "ooh, I might be able to do that" so - thankyou!

    1. So was I! TERRIFIED! I thought more about birth than the baby! And I'd read so many birth stories while pregnant by women who sounded like they were trying to outdo the next in terms of how horrific their birth had been that I felt a bit evangelical about spreading a positive account. It really wasn't what I expected it to be, in a good way (in my experience, anyway). At the end of the day, it will be what it will be and you will only have minimal control over that but it will ALL BE FINE.

  3. I mistakenly believed that all natural was the only way to achieve a 'beautiful' birth. In fact, your little boys birth sounds very similar to my little boy's birth, although I was induced (I'd reached 6cm a few weeks earlier-believe it or not-and stalled at that!) because of reduced fetal movement. It was the most wonderful day of mine and my husband's life! A completely beautiful birth, very quick (5hours for a first time mum) and for the last two hours, pain free! Courtesy of an epidural for the last two hours, skilfully administered by the wonderful Dr. Santiago-I'll never forget him! Happy memories! Enjoy your little boy :) and keep writing, you always entertain me!

    1. Thank you :) Sounds glorious. I'd definitely describe it as beautiful, and serene. In fact, I'd go so far to say that I felt so conned by all of the MEGA-PAIN hype. There aren't enough realistic positive accounts out there in my opinion.


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