In HuffPost Birth Diaries we hear the extraordinary stories of the everyday miracle of birth. This week, Eva Katona, 40, shares her story. If you’d like to share yours, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’d never given birth before, but I assumed the first signs of labour would be pain: contractions, or the feeling that something in there was moving. But two weeks before my due date – before I’d even noticed a twinge of pain – I woke up with soaking wet sheets. My waters had broken.
It was my first baby, so I did what many others would do in that situation: panic. My husband and I got up, packed a hospital bag, dressed ourselves, rushed to hospital. And then got sent straight home. The midwives literally looked at me and said, “Come back when you’ve got contractions, at least 20 in a minute”.
But, as a first-time mum, I was desperate to be in the safe hands of the hospital staff. We headed home but I spent the next few hours trying to get back to the ward to calm my nerves – and as it turned out, my anxiousness wasn’t based on entirely nothing. Because my baby decided to make a rather swift appearance.
We arrived home mid-morning, and we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. I was in labour, but the pain was relatively low – just a little discomfort and leaking – so I spent hours walking back and forth to the bathroom. Changing pads, checking my watch, watching TV.
A few hours later, the contractions came. I knew then I really wanted to get to hospital – I guess I’m the kind of person who heavily trusts in professionals; they’d know what to do, and I had no clue.
So while I’d been advised to stay at home until I had enough contractions per minute, I kept calling the hospital. While I didn’t feel like I was about to pop, I still found myself saying: “I feel like it’s quite advanced!” on the phone.
Each time, I was told to take paracetamol and call back when my labour was further along. That is sound medical advice, but to me it felt like a blow each time. “We can’t let you in yet,” they’d say – like there was no room at the inn.
In the end, I lied. “Yep, I have that,” I said when another midwife reminded me I needed a certain number of contractions before coming in – although actually I had half that number. I know that it was cheeky, but it was what I needed – and, considering how the rest of my birth story panned out, it was actually a good job I went to hospital early.
The journey to hospital was strange because I knew that when we returned home in that car, we’d be a little family. It was like my son was getting ready for his arrival, like he knew exactly where we were heading.
And he seemed to be in an increasing hurry. During the 10-minute drive, my contractions started to move from pain to an urge to push. I had no idea what stage of labour I was at, but the closer we got to the ward, the sooner I felt he was going to make an appearance.
By 5pm, I was sitting in the ward, being examined by a midwife who told me I was 8cm dilated. This baby was coming!
If I hadn’t had lied about my contractions, I’d probably have given birth to my son on my living room floor. Of course I didn’t blame the staff for sending me away – birth is far from textbook, and even I was shocked about how quickly I’d gone from low-level pain, to that urge to push.
My partner and I were sent straight to the birthing suite, although my hopes of a water birth went out the window because I couldn’t get in the pool at such a late stage. I also couldn’t have any other pain relief – even though I was begging for it – because I was in the late stages of labour and it would have delayed the birth. And my son definitely wasn’t hanging around.
I was put on the bed and hooked up to the monitors, then I pushed for about 20 minutes and he was there. Just like that.
I’d spent months going over and over in my head what my birth would be like – and in the end it was a unique string of events, everything perfectly leading to his safe birth in hospital.
It didn’t go how I’d expect – labour went from zero to 100 in an hour – but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Laszlo was perfect.
My birth advice?
It’s good to prepare – but most of the time, it never goes according to plan. Be at peace with that in advance.
As told to Amy Packham.