Louise Druce, 30, from Sutton, didn't say a word once she went into labour - but she's making up for it now...
Did you go over your due date?
I was over by about four days. I'd had a few bouts of false labour. At 2am in the morning the cat set off the burglar alarm and my husband went down to sort it out. He got back into bed, I rolled over and I can't explain it but I knew I was in labour. I went downstairs to let Chris get some sleep and made the cat keep me company until it got light. I couldn't sit down. I couldn't do a lot so I did some washing and hung it out!
Then what happened?
The pain got quite bad so I phoned the hospital and they asked me to time my contractions. I woke Chris and then it kicked off. I read that you'd have 10-15 minutes between each contraction but my contractions were two minutes apart. I didn't really know what was happening as my waters hadn't broken and I hadn't had the show. I couldn't really speak so I communicated with my husband with hand signals. I couldn't really cope with speaking with anybody which is so unlike me. I'm a real chatterbox.
That doesn't sound like you! Did you then leave for the hospital?
Yes. I thought I'd go to the hospital looking trendy but in fact I was wearing my twelve-year-old pyjamas. I had my TENS machine on but it made no difference. It did nothing for me. I was 3cms dilated so the hospital sent me home. I got into the bath and stayed there for about two hours. Chris kept pouring water over my belly every time I had a contraction to help ease the pain. When the pain became unbearable we went back to hospital and they admitted me.
The midwife in the birthing pool helped me with my breathing and calmed me down. They examined me and realised the baby was back-to-back which is very painful and his head had got stuck on my pelvis. They were worried his fontanelles were crossing over. They wanted me to reach beyond 6cms before I got in the pool. They let me go in the birthing pool at 11pm in the evening. I just nodded off in the bath between contractions. My waters hadn't even broken then.
So what happened next?
After a couple of hours they hauled me out of the pool. Things weren't going right. I'd only had gas and air at this point. At 1am they said I'd been in that stage of labour for too long and it could be dangerous. They broke my waters. They said it could be painful but I didn't feel a thing because I was already in so much pain. When they broke the waters they realised that there was meconium present and the baby was distressed. I knew then I wouldn't have a water birth and they talked about my options. I managed to walk back to the labour ward - I didn't care that the gown didn't do up at the back. I couldn't cope anymore. It had been 24 hours since the contractions had first started.
Did you have any pain relief?
I asked for an epidural in case I needed an emergency c-section so I would be awake in the operation. I drifted in and out of sleep. My poor husband Chris was curled up on a chair trying to sleep but failed dismally. I started to relax and they said I was fully dilated. It was really hard to push as I couldn't feel the contractions because of the epidural. I'd had a problem in my late pregnancy with the baby pushing up in my ribs as he was quite long. Every time I pushed it was like being stabbed in the heart. After a time everyone went quiet and more people came in the room - I lost count at 13. They realised I wouldn't be able to get him out by myself so they went for a ventouse.
How did you feel when Thomas was born?
When he came out I started sobbing. I couldn't hear a cry and they didn't say whether it was a boy or a girl. He was passed over me - not to me - but I saw he was a boy. They realised he wasn't breathing properly. He was resuscitated and he went to the neo-natal unit. Chris managed to get a picture before he was taken away. They asked for his name and we called him Thomas as we didn't want him to leave us nameless.
I sent Chris to go with Thomas as I knew I'd be alright. It took the doctor an hour to stitch me up. I'd lost quite a lot of blood. I was wheeled down to see Thomas five hours later in the neo-natal. It was really scary - he had tubes and wires everywhere. I never thought he'd end up there. But he knew who I was as soon as I got there. He looked in my eyes and there was an unbreakable connection.
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