In HuffPost Birth Diaries we hear the extraordinary stories of the everyday miracle of birth. This week, Vicki Cockerill, 28, tells her story – if you’d like to share yours, get touch with email@example.com.
It was three days before my due date – and a very ordinary evening: my partner and I had put my son Elijah to bed, and then he had made us dinner. We sat on the sofa watching Die Hard 2 (my favourite), eating our fajitas (also my favourite!) and I started getting a weird stomach ache; the kind that comes with an upset stomach.
My immediate thought was that Greg had undercooked the chicken or just included too much spice. My waters hadn’t broken, and I was convinced the pains weren’t contractions because they were two minutes apart and had coincided with eating.
And then, a little after 9pm, I threw up – and knew I was in labour, because it was exactly what had happened when I’d had Elijah, four years earlier.
His birth had been quite traumatic. Born 11 days early with a heart defect, Elijah went into NICU, and had open heart surgery at six months. So it was unsurprising that I felt anxious second time around. But I also really wanted the perfect birth that I hadn’t had with Elijah. This time, I’d wanted to give birth at home but, because I was high risk, had been told I should instead use the delivery suite. Now, however, things seemed to be happening at home anyway. And they seemed to be happening fast.
“My waters shot out as if under pressure, and landed all over my partner's feet – like we were in a film"”
My post-fajita pains were still coming, so I headed upstairs to the bathroom. Then I felt the urge to push. Looking down into the toilet, I saw I’d lost my mucus plug – and called Greg at the top of my lungs. As he arrived, my waters shot out as if under pressure, and landed all over his feet. It was like we were in a film.
Even in my state of shock, I knew things were moving quickly, and so I decided to run a bath and get in. “What do I do?” Greg kept asking me. I didn’t know! In the end, he went to call my nan, who was a short cab-ride away, to ask her to look after Elijah, and then dialled the delivery suite to let them know what was going on. But I knew he didn’t really believe I was on the verge of giving birth.
My body, however, was having other ideas. The urge to push came again – and I went with it. It’s that crazy thing about births: your body just does it. It’s in control and it takes over. My baby was coming and I had no way of stopping it.
Greg, on the phone to the delivery suite, came back into the bathroom to examine me at their instruction I think he thought I’d be no further along – only to realise the baby’s head was coming out. As Greg held the phone between his ear and his shoulder, I pushed four times and delivered Harlow into his hands just before 10pm.
[Read More: ‘I gave birth so quickly I missed my own leaving do’]
Shortly after, my nan turned up. “Have you bloody had him?” she asked as she walked in. “I only left 10 minutes ago!”
Greg laid the baby straight on my chest, drained the bath, and covered us in towels. It was surreal. We still hadn’t even found out the gender – it wasn’t until the delivery suite staff, still on the phone, asked if it was a boy or a girl that I realised we had no idea!
It was a boy. Our Harlow. And we bonded quickly. The first responder didn’t cut the cord, just clamped it to stop it pulsing. I walked down the stairs, over the road and into the ambulance holding our new son, while still attached to him. There was a closeness between us because we weren’t separated for almost two hours.
It was midnight by the time we arrived at hospital. I delivered the placenta and had surgery because I’d suffered a tear. Harlow had tests and observations, we established feeding and sleeping, and got home the next day at 9pm.
The night we brought Harlow home, we sat down and watched the rest of Die Hard 2, now as a family of four. Now whenever the film comes on, Greg will joke: “You better not give birth this time”.
My birth advice?
“Don’t fixate on what you’ve seen in the media and what your image of birth is. The chances are, it’s not going to go that way. We are given an unrealistic image of what a good birth is, so when things don’t go to plan we feel like we’ve failed. But here’s the thing: there is no such thing as a perfect birth. They are all different. They rarely go to plan. Expect the unexpected and just go with it.”
Vicki Cockerill shares her stories of being a mum on her blog. As told to Amy Packham.