Emma, 33, from Edinburgh didn't have the easiest pregnancy, but like a lot of new mums, hoped to be bringing her baby home to a beautifully renovated house and serene environment ready to start life as a family. Unfortunately, things didn't exactly go to plan, as building work, dust and dirt overran to her due date...
What came first – the pregnancy or the home improvement plans?
Definitely the home improvements. We spent a lot of time planning the renovation with the architect, then another few months organising a builder and getting planning permission. It all took a while to sort out, then when the work finally started, I found out I was pregnant!
Did you dream of having your home perfected in time for your new baby?
Absolutely. We were pleased when the builder told us it would all be done by July because my due date was 2nd October, so we thought all would be fine, but, as with a lot of things, it really overran, and the house was still in a mess when I neared the end of my pregnancy.
How did your pregnancy go?
It was tough. At the start I had morning sickness, which lasted until about 16 weeks. Then the happy hormones kicked in and nothing (not even a wall being torn down and live electrics hanging all around) could get me down. At 33 weeks, the midwife found that the baby had stopped growing and I was monitored closely from this point. It was also around this time that I started having problems with my pelvis. I was in a lot of pain – in fact near the end I couldn't even walk to the toilet without crutches. Not ideal when your house is full of building tools and bags of cement.
At 38 weeks, we were referred to a consultant. He couldn't explain the growth problems and recommended that the baby was delivered as soon as possible – so I was booked in the following day for an induction. I was in shock. And naturally, the medical staff weren't remotely interested if my home was ready for a new baby or not. I put my worries on hold, too - like them I just wanted the baby out safe and sound.
When did you go into labour?
I was booked in for an induction on Wednesday 17th September 2008. It all felt very civilised and I thought it would happen very quickly. My contractions started on the Thursday but then stopped later that night. On the Friday there was nothing and the baby wasn't moving much. More scans revealed that the baby was losing fluids and the blood supplies weren't as good as they wanted. So it was decided late on the Friday night that I needed to deliver immediately - by emergency c-section.
Did you have any pain relief?
I had some pethidine on the Thursday night which made me very giddy, but it helped the contraction pain and pelvic problems no end. Then I had a spinal block for the c-section.
How did you feel when your baby was born?
The operation was terrifying but magical all at the same time. My husband was allowed to watch the baby being born and confirmed what I thought all along – that we had a boy! He was shown to me quickly and whisked off to be checked. I remember lying there and crying with happiness. Once I was stitched up, I was allowed some time for skin-to-skin contact and to try a feed. We called him Fraser and he weighed 5lb 6oz. I was in love instantly.
When did you go home to your building site?
I was in hospital for a week. While I was in, friends and family had been working their socks off - finishing the kitchen, cleaning bathrooms and painting the hallway.
What state was the house in then?
Thanks to my friends and family, it wasn't too bad the day I got back. I was actually pleasantly surprised. So much still had to be done but for that one night, it was just wonderful. Sadly, the following day, the builder returned (he had gone off site just before I went into hospital) and started doing some work, made an awful mess and then walked off site once more. In the end we asked the builder to stop work and said we'd finish the job ourselves - which we're still doing!
How did you cope?
I was breastfeeding and topping up with formula, so in preparation for our arrival home, all the bottles and feeding equipment was laid out so we could find everything easily. The day I arrived home with Fraser, the builder came into the house and covered everything, including the bottles, in a layer of dirt and dust. I could have cried. Thankfully, within nine weeks, Fraser slept through the night, and in amongst the mess, the dust and Fraser's horrible colic, we just learnt to manage and get on with things amongst the mess.
Did things get better?
Every woman wants to 'nest' and get her home ready for a new baby – it just didn't work that way for me! But we got through it and we have the most gorgeous little boy. I would never have believed it at the time, but I can (almost) look back on the building site first few weeks with my newborn and laugh!