Earlier today, we went on a family trip to the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard with one of Alexander’s friends. We managed an early start, and were there for the place opening at 10am. The morning was spent in Action Stations, an interactive play area with lots of simulators and things to do. The kids loved it, and so did I (although I don’t think I’ll qualify to fly Merlin helicopters). Tracy even managed to have a go on some of it.
After lunch (about 1230) we decided to go and see HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar. On the way round Tracy mentioned that she’d felt something strange inside her, but wasn’t sure what it was. I waited with the kids at the bottom of the gangway onto HMS Victory while Tracy went to the toilet. After a few minutes I got a bit worried about how long she was taking, so I sent one of the kids (a girl) in to see if everything was OK. It turned out what Tracy had felt was her waters breaking.
Anyway, we decided that there was no need to panic (Alexander’s labour had been induced and took just over ten hours, so we were expecting a similar length this time as we’d been told that the six year gap would mean that it was unlikely to be significantly faster). So I took the two kids onto the ship while Tracy did her best to mop up. It was an interesting tour, the kids were most interested in the deck where Admiral Nelson was shot, and wanted to know where the sniper was, and where he’d been shot. That’s six year olds who love Horrible Histories for you…
So once we’d been round the ship, we collected Tracy and went back to the car. It was about quarter past one when we got going back home. Fortunately traffic was clear and we got home shortly after half past two. En route we texted our babysitters and the two reserves, just to make sure. Once in the house, a rapid check and re-pack of the hospital bags took place. Tracy called the hospital and the midwife asked her to come in for 1530 for some monitoring. We made it out and dropped Alexander and his friend off at her house (with her Dad to look after Alexander) and we set off for the hospital, expecting a long stay.
On arrival at East Surrey Hospital we decided not to bring all the bags in, because although Tracy’s waters had broken (there being absolutely no doubt given how soaked her trousers had been on the way back from Portsmouth) she wasn’t having any contractions. So we went in with just a bag of snacks and a couple of magazines.
The next hour and three quarters was mostly spent with Tracy hooked up to a fetal monitor which tracked the baby’s heart rate and Tracy’s contractions. During all this we were very well looked after by a student midwife and her mentor who carried out a number of the usual sorts of checks and tests on Tracy to determine whether or not labour had started. It was clear from all the readings, and the other diagnostics, that although labour was under way that it was very slow and not progressing rapidly enough to warrant staying in the ante-natal day unit.
Having told us that they would send us home for now, the midwives went off to arrange an appointment for Tracy to be induced in the morning if the baby still hadn’t been born. At this point Tracy and I were discussing what we’d do for dinner given that it was about ten past five. Tracy then said that she was having a noticeably stronger contraction than any of the previous ones (which had been too mild to cause her to remark on them and had barely showed on the monitor graph). About five minutes later, when the midwife came back to confirm the appointment time for the morning Tracy had another, stronger, contraction.
As we went to leave the ward, the student midwife asked us to wait a little longer, as she was still writing up the notes. So we went into the waiting area next to the midwife station. After a couple of minutes in there Tracy said to me that perhaps it was worth me starting to track the contractions as she was having another one. I got out my phone, and fired up the contraction tracker app I’d previously installed. It was 17:24 and the (third) contraction lasted about 45 seconds.
Two and a half minutes later Tracy had a fourth contraction, and started to get a bit worried about things. She also vomited, fortunately the student midwife had just come over as she had finished writing up the notes and helped Tracy with a bowl. A couple of minutes later it was obvious that there was no point timing the contractions as a fifth one hit, and Tracy started saying that she needed to poo!
On hearing the magic word a group of midwives appeared in the waiting area, one of whom asked me where Tracy was. On telling her that she’d gone into the toilet (which she’d not locked), two of them opened the toilet door and hustled Tracy out with stern words about not trying to poo. Another two disappeared again in opposite directions. Along with Tracy I was directed into a nearby side room. The other two midwives reappeared, one with a baby resus trolley and the other with a birth pack (gloves and stuff).
We tried to get Tracy onto the bed, and ready for the birth. However she wouldn’t get onto the bed with her shoes on, and I ended up taking them off for her. It seemed to take four of us to get her up on the bed in the appropriate position. I took up station next to Tracy holding her hand and safely out of the way of the midwives.
The leading midwife who’d hustled us all into the room then told Tracy not to push, but to pant a bit instead. She called for the student to hurry up as she needed to be there to deliver the baby as she’d done all the care. Someone asked how far dilated Tracy was, and the midwife simply glanced at Tracy and pronounced that she was fully dilated and ready to push. I hazarded a quick glance, and could see the baby’s head crowned.
The student midwife appeared, quickly got her gloves on, and then Tracy was allowed to push. It only took two pushes, once for the head and the second for the rest of the body, for my daughter Lucy to be born. One of the midwives present threw a couple of towels on Tracy’s chest and Lucy was delivered onto the towels, although the tightness of the cord meant that she wasn’t that far up Tracy. I watched it all in amazement (only the second birth I’ve seen, and most likely the last). After Lucy had landed on her mum, I remembered my camera phone and pulled it out to take a photo, which was at 17:37 (so a mere 13 minutes between the third contraction and birth).
Immediately that Lucy was born, Tracy stopped being stressed and pained and was a smily happy Mum. We both said hello to Lucy and sort of stayed out of the way of the midwives doing their post-birth tidy-up. They were all fantastic, largely because they don’t normally deliver babies on this ward and so were quite excited by the change to their routine (although I think they’d have been fab anyway). I only had a few minutes of taking it in though before I had to run out to the car park and get the bag with Tracy’s nighties and Lucy’s clothes in it.
On return from the car, Lucy was mostly cleaned up (including weeing on Tracy) and she got weighed as 3.26kg, which translated as 7lbs, 3oz. in old weights. We dressed Lucy in her first outfit (chosen by her big brother) and then she got a feed.
After a breather and a wee cuddle from my brand new daughter I went off to find my small boy so that I could bring him back before visiting ended at 8pm to see his new baby sister. He was fantastically excited and talked all the way into the hospital room about it. He was delighted to see Lucy. We then went home, via the local Tesco Metro for some dinner for me, and stayed up until 2300 in our excitement before we went to sleep.
- Rule, Britannia! – Portsmouth, United Kingdom (travelpod.com)
- HMS Victory hired out for dinners to fund its upkeep (rnzngunners.wordpress.com)
- Call the midwife? (ghostwritermummy.co.uk)