My Little Duke

Labour

A Labour of Love - Part 4

Motherhood, LabourMatt DukeComment

 

I had been labouring for the best part of 28 hours and I was at the end of my tether. I couldn’t escape the pain; pain that was so excruciating it took my very breath away. I was sweating profusely. Matt was sweating profusely. I gripped onto that hospital bed like my life depended on it and prayed that the torture would be over. Meanwhile, Matt was chirping away beside me ‘PUSH, come on Steph, PUSH! Keep going, you’re doing great!’ Dear love him, it had been a long 28 hours for him too. It had also been a long 28 hours for my poor mum. At the beginning of my labour she was with me, keeping me calm, giving me advice and ensuring me that I would do just fine and that I would be a brilliant mum. When I left her for the hospital, I could tell that all she wanted to do was come with me and make sure I was ok. She was entrusting Matt and I knew she would be pacing the floor at home, worrying and praying for me. As my labour progressed, Matt wasn’t as able to keep in contact with our family and my wee mum ended up phoning the hospital in a panic to see if I was ok. After reassurance, all she could do, like us, was wait. The doctor returned to assess the situation. My memory from here is a bit blurry - all I could think of at the time was the pain that seemed to be erupting from my very core and shaking my entire being from my head to my toes. Words cannot describe how I felt in those moments. Agony, exhaustion, anxiety and trepidation would be a start. I just knew that something was wrong. It was all taking too long. The pushing and pushing and pushing was yielding nothing. Why was my baby not coming? 

 

One of the many contraptions that I was wearing was a foetal monitor with electronic sensors and straps across my tummy. As I was now on a Syntocinon drip, baby had to be constantly monitored as the oxytocin hormones could overstimulate my uterus, producing very strong, frequent contractions which could in turn, distress my baby. It was clear that things were also not going so swimmingly on the inside. After a swift inspection, the doctor declared ‘Emergency Caesarian.’ Those two words were like music to my ears. It took every ounce of will power left in me not to burst into tears. You might assume those would have been tears of fear, but no, they would have been tears of utter relief. In that moment I knew I would soon meet my baby and the pain would be over. There was a very quick discussion between doctor and midwives, something about my baby’s head being visible but very high. This was suggestive of her head being stuck in my small pelvis. No wonder there was so little movement. I was pushing and pushing this poor baby who was stuck and not going to go anywhere!! 

 

If I thought I was in the midst of chaos before, I was wrong. The second the doctor uttered those two words, the commotion in the room became a frenzy of activity. I was still hooked up to the Syntocinon drip and enduring its endless, excruciating, exhausting contractions. It took everything in me to get through each contraction and I mean ... everything. Looking back, I simply do not know how I did it. I winced, squirmed and writhed on the bed as a lovely lady doctor talked Matt and I through the risks and procedure of the C-Section and another doctor shaved me down below so I was ready for the knife. I really tried to concentrate on what was being said to me but all I wanted was for the doctor to STOP TALKING, GET ME TO THEATRE and STOP THE PAIN!!!! She probably only talked for about 2 minutes but it felt like an eternity. Wave after wave of indescribable pain coursed through my body as one midwife (not lovely Shauna) continued to tell me to ‘KEEP PUSHING!’ and that I could 'still deliver this baby naturally before going to theatre.’ I wanted to punch her right square in the face. There was no way in hell that I was going to push for ONE SECOND more. Did she not hear what the doctor just said?? My baby was STUCK. I was going to have to be sliced open if I was ever going to see my baby. Pushing was achieving NOTHING, except making both mama and baby distressed. 

 

In those moments, the thought of going through major surgery or being cut open didn’t phase me. To be honest, all I could think about was not having to push or deal with the pain any more. Until that epidural needle went through my skin, all I could do was continue to struggle to cope with the pain. Amidst all the hubbub, I was wheeled out of the Delivery Suite, headed for what was (thankfully) to be my last destination on my labour journey. At the doors to the Theatre, Matt kissed me, told me he loved me and that he would see me soon. When I asked him if I looked scared and did I appear to be ok he said I had a sort of ‘deer caught in headlights’ look on my face. This perfectly encapsulates what I was feeling right then. It had all become too much. I was being shouted at, informed, asked questions, prodded, wired up, encouraged, reassured, all while being wheeled round to Theatre. By the time we arrived all I could manage was to just about follow whatever instruction I was being given next. One was to sign the consent form for the Caesarian.

 

The moment Matt disappeared, I began to get scared. I was still in overwhelming pain and coping with only gas and air. I had to manoeuvre into a bent over, seated position so the anesthetist could administer the spinal block into my spine. There was a very particular place for that needle to go so I was instructed to be as still as I could manage and to stay in that position. For some reason, it took quite some time to insert the needle into the correct place and by this stage I was in utter desperation. I was struggling to breathe, struggling to move and struggling to adhere to instructions. The doctors and anesthetist were also struggling to get me in the right position and to then keep me in position long enough to stick that needle in. Once administered, the effects of the spinal block were almost instantaneous. Instantly the pain disappeared. Instantly I could feel my body relax. Instantly I began to shake. I got the shakes so badly, I was actually worried that I would shake right off the table! There was a team of about 8 doctors, nurses etc and it seemed like it took all of them to lift me onto the operating table. I was constantly being talked to while lying there, I don't at all remember what was being said. There seemed like there was a lot of reassuring and explaining going on. All I knew was I wanted Matt beside me and I felt such relief when he arrived. Gripping my hand, he told me over and over again that everything was going to be alright, while one of the doctors explained what was happening. Panicked, I kept asking Matt if I was putting the surgeons off with my convulsive shaking! 

 

I felt a surreal sense of tugging and pulling in my abdomen as my baby was dislodged from my pelvis and all of a sudden, out came our little angel. She was flashed before us and whisked away to the incubator to be checked all over. The very second I heard those newborn baby cries, the tears began to flow. Simultaneously, I had a very strong feeling of fear. Was my baby ok? Where was my baby? I needed her close, I needed to see for myself that she was alright. At this point we still didn't know the gender, but all I cared for was getting my baby close to me. After what felt like an eternity, the doctors began to assure us that our baby was fine, that she was a GIRL and a big one at that! I looked across at my husband and cried out amidst tears and shakes, 'It's a girl, a baby girl. Matt ... we have a baby girl!' As I write this, I am completely choked up. I will NEVER forget that moment. It was truly amazing. I am so thankful that Matt eventually convinced me not to find out the gender. It was the best surprise in those chaotic, cathartic moments during our little Phoebe's entrance to the world. We had a sweet, precious little girl and I was dying to meet her. 

 

Suddenly, there she was. This little squishy, warm, wet bundle. She was held close to me so I could touch my new daughter's soft, sweet little face. I was overcome with emotion as I laid eyes on my darling daughter. I felt disbelief that she was actually here and that she was completely ours. I felt overwhelming love like I cannot begin to explain. All I can say is that from that moment on, I changed. I became a mother. Since the moment I laid eyes on her, I would never view the world in the same way again. She was placed in Matt's arms and I felt complete. He moved close to me and I savoured some of the most precious moments with them before Phoebe was taken to be cleaned and checked some more. Matt stayed by my side a little longer as I was told I had to be given a shot to contract my uterus to deliver the placenta and warned that I probably would feel nauseated and most likely need to vomit. This was truth. For a while I kept convincing myself and trying to convince the doctor (between shakes) that I was fine. I wasn't. A wave of sickness came upon me like I've never felt and I vomited over and over into the kidney bowl pushed under my chin. Matt stayed right by me as long as he could as I gagged continuously and shook vigorously on the operating table. I was freezing cold and desperate to see my baby girl once again.

 

As the sickness began to ease, Matt was ushered out as I was stitched up layer by layer. I remember just lying there, shaking and shaking as one kind doctor reassured me that I would be just fine and would see my baby soon. After some time, and more shaking and more vomiting, Shauna, my midwife appeared. I was taken to the recovery room and was met with the sweetest sight that I will never forget. Matt was sitting waiting, holding our daughter in his arms. What I didn't know then was that he had been sitting for 45 minutes, absolutely freaking out and completely terrified that at any moment, the little lady in his arms would start screaming and he would appear to be some sort of bad dad, as he wasn't quite sure what to do if that happened! I kept one eye on those two and one eye on Shauna as she pulled some crazy tight, long socks up my legs (very surreal as I couldn't feel her doing anything!) and asked if I wanted some tea and toast. I was famished and forever grateful that she allowed me to eat so soon after surgery. While devouring my tea and toast, one of my doctors came in to see how I was doing and explain my recovery procedure. It was all very daunting lying there in the throes of becoming a new mum and going through surgery while she explained the often difficult recovery from C-Section. She also explained that if there ever were to be a baby number 2, they would also have to be born via caesarian as my pelvis is small and the next baby is always bigger - jeez! I think I’ll wait that one out for a while!! I was covered in a special blue blanket to raise my body temperature and as I began to feel the shakes begin to ease, Shauna gave us some time on our own.

 

Finally, it was just Matt, me and our new (unnamed) baby. And … it was ... magical. 


Stay tuned for the final (I promise!) instalment in this Labour of Love series when I’ll document those first few days after Phoebe’s birth (inc. dealing with the c-section recovery, our early breastfeeding struggle and a journey home that I’ll never forget - and not for good reasons!!) 






A Labour of Love - Part 2

Matt DukeComment

It was a very strange feeling, leaving our house for the last time as a two. I distinctly remember feeling a real sense of change. I watched Matt lock the front door and felt an acute awareness of just how different our lives would be when we returned. The next time I would step through that front door, I would have been through labour and more importantly, I would be a mum. It felt surreal … like it wasn't really happening to me. From the very moment that faint pink link appeared in the test strip, everything changed. What I thought was 'my life' definitely wasn't 'my life' anymore. My pregnancy experience at times felt like an out of body experience. Sometimes I really didn't know who I was, what I was doing or what was happening to me - and the journey to the hospital felt a lot like that too. We had to detour to my mums house as I'd left my maternity notes in her car from our eventful trip to M&S (see Part 1.) I was conscious to get in and get out as fast as I could to avoid having to cope with too many contractions in front of everyone. As one came, I turned away and leaned all my weight against the counter and prayed that I would make it to the hospital in time. There was now so little time between each contraction that I was beginning to struggle to keep my composure and deal with the ever increasing pain. I just wanted to be at the hospital.

 

We arrived at Craigavon Area Hospital at around 11pm on Monday 15th December, 2014. The doors to the Maternity Ward were locked after 9pm so we made our way through A&E, stopping each time a contraction came. They were now strong enough to halt me in my tracks, forcing me to find some way of dealing with the surge of pain coursing from my back and through my belly. At this stage, leaning against a nearby wall was sufficient and I truly felt every inch like a 'woman in labour.' I had flashbacks of episodes of 'One Born Every Minute,' watching the women pacing the floor of the hospital, screaming in pain as they waddled back and forth; I knew that this was me now. I had waited for this to happen for so long and here I was, completely in the thick of it. Yet, I had absolutely no idea what was still to come. After a fairly unpleasant pregnancy, I knew that my labour experience was bound to have it's own set of challenges; but nothing prepared me for the struggle that lay ahead. How can any woman know what to expect from her labour? Every individual's body and experience is totally unique. The incredible midwives have seen it all, yet, even they can't predict how any one woman's labour will progress or how she will cope. As I entered the Admissions Room, I was still coping well. The adrenaline was pumping; but underneath, I was a bag of nerves. 

 

Thankfully, Admissions was empty - so much for being told they were busy! After a short wait, we were told that a room was available (an answer to my many unspoken prayers!) and were guided up to the Midwifery Led Unit (MLU.) Already I began to feel more at ease. It was warm, homely and quiet, and as we were shown into our room I felt relaxed and excited that our baby would be born into this calm environment. I took in every aspect of the room. In my mind, my baby was going to be born here … the reality was hitting home hard and I tried not to get too emotional. A lovely midwife made her introductions and began to examine my notes. I took one look at the bed and having been contracting all day, felt like a little lie down wouldn't be too out of the question. WRONG! Contractions whilst laying on the bed were awful! The pain felt like it had tripled in force and I instantly manoeuvred myself off the bed and back to a standing/leaning position. I write 'manoeuvre' rather than 'jumped' here as that is really about all I could manage. As mentioned in Part 1, my pelvic pain was excruciating and hoisting oneself on and/or off a hospital bed was incredibly painful and EVERYTHING was just plain awkward. I was huge. My bump was huge. My feet and ankles were huge. I wasn't in control of this alien body of mine and every movement I made was uncomfortable and awkward. 

 

I was asked what pain relief I had been taking - nothing up until this point. In the previous days and weeks, I was chomping down the paracetamol to relieve my pelvic pain. Yet, today was different. Today was labour day. I really wanted to make sure that I didn't numb the pain of my labour in case I mistook it for more Braxton Hicks and stayed home under false pretences. I was certainly not prepared to have an unexpected home birth!! I wanted to ensure that I knew this truly was labour. Thankfully, it was! I was given some codeine tablets for the pain and I was happy enough with that. I waited anxiously as the midwife examined me to see how dilated I was. I had visions of being a measly 1 or 2cm and being told to go home, embarrassed and disappointed. But I was 4cm! I was actually ecstatic. It was such an energy and mood booster to hear those words and I remember inwardly telling myself 'come on girl, you've got this!' However, my brief celebrations were cut short as we were shipped off to a nearby Ward because I wasn't yet in 'active labour.' I can tell you now, I sure felt like I was in the throes of 'active labour.' We were ensured that I would be closely monitored and as soon as I was ready, I could come back to the MLU. This slight change in events really knocked me off sorts. We were directed into a dimly lit, small bay on the Ward and told in hushed voices that I should stay here and continue to labour. I was advised to go walking up and down the stairs, bounce on the ball, basically keep moving to try and speed things along. It was now about 1.30am and it was clear that the other bays on my Ward were occupied with sleeping mamas. I could feel myself begin to panic. Up until this point I hadn't been loud or vocal while dealing with my contractions, but they were increasing in strength by the minute and I wasn't sure how much longer I could keep controlled and quiet! 

 

I was now hyper aware of my surroundings and this only made the pain seem worse. Stay quiet. Stay controlled. I could do this, I kept telling myself. I looked at the bed - no good. I tried the exercise ball - it only made me feel nauseated. The only other option in our little bay was a tall, hard backed chair. I positioned myself on the edge of the seat and gripped the handles as wave, after wave hit. Matt sat facing me and I found myself beginning to grab onto him with each contraction. I was starting to feel claustrophobic and beginning to lose my self control. The longer we sat, the stronger the pain became and the more I was beginning to struggle. As I focused on NOT making noise, I found myself making MORE noise. Those wee hours of the morning were beginning to feel like years and I was losing it. I tried walking the quiet corridors but needed something to grip onto with each contraction. Stupidly, we had left some of our hospital bags in the car and I really wanted a drink. Matt was going to have to leave and go and get them. At that moment, Matt having to leave was terrifying for me. I did NOT want him to go, but he had to. I began to calculate. My contractions were every 4 minutes and there was no way he would get down to the car and back up in that time. I would have to endure at least 2 contractions while he would be gone and I genuinely didn't think I could do it. I had my mind so convinced that I needed him with me that every time he suggested going I would beg him to stay. After each contraction he would look to get up and run I would grab a hold of him and shake my head. But, it had to be done and suddenly, as a wave of pain began to ebb away I told him 'GO.' Dear love him, off he ran dutifully, leaving me to my contractions. At that point it was absolutely mind over matter. I had been doing a terrible job of it up until now so I resolved that this was it - I would take control of myself from here on out. 


I nervously watched the timer on my iphone tick over; the seconds became minutes and I knew it would soon be time. This felt like my first real test of character. You mamas out there know the drill … the slow, dull wave of pain appeared and as the intensity increased, I told a firm hold of the chair handles, took a deep breath in and braced myself. As the wave reached it's peak of intensity I gripped those handles like my life depended on it and began to slowly breathe out, teeth clenched, making a 'ssssssssh' noise through my teeth. As I made the 'ssssssssh' noise I concentrated on getting rid of the pain through the exhalation of breath. Unbelievably, it worked. I came out the other side of that momentous contraction like a new woman. I truly felt like a small victory had been won. I COULD do this. I WOULD do this. As I waited for the next wave, I psyched myself up to do the same. I did. It worked again. Rather than focusing on the pain and trying to stay in control and stay quiet - I focused on my breathing, letting the exhale of breath take the full force of the pain. Matt returned and I filled him in on the new technique. I was suitably impressed with myself and found that the technique really worked, for the most part. It wasn't as effective when using the bathroom unfortunately. Continuing with the theme of my pregnancy - I still had to pee, a lot. Peeing while in labour however, is no picnic. Enduring a contraction while sitting on the toilet was horrendous. Couple this with the vast amount of blood, mucus and other 'insides' making their escape; my frequent trips to the loo were highly unpleasant. The breathing did little to help. 


We spent about 3 hours in that sleepy Ward, all the while praying that things would continue to move their merry way along. During those long middle of the night hours I was offered more codeine and when I was FINALLY checked, I was 7cm dilated. Thankfully the midwife could see that I was really struggling and phoned the MLU, insisting that I was to be offered my room back. Back to the MLU we hobbled...

A Labour of Love - Part 1

Steph DukeComment

I am not ashamed to admit that I was pretty nervous about labour. For some considerable time, Phoebe had been measuring above the 90th centile for size and weight and I was beginning to panic. Not to mention that I was gigantic! (My weight gain and loss will be another blog post entirely!!) I knew that my baby was going to be big ... I felt her weight in those last few weeks as I struggled to move and find any sort of comfortable position. So naturally I was beginning to panic about how I would be pushing this big, bruiser of a baby out of, well - me! 

My due date was December 14th, 2014. With Phoebe being 'above average,' my consultant had scheduled me in for a last growth scan on December 16th if she hadn't already arrived. Everyone suspected I would go early, on account of me being enormous. Sadly, this was not the case! I was informed that at this scheduled scan, if baby measured more than 9lbs, 9oz, I would automatically be booked in to have a C-section. I never questioned this decision, as I was as convinced as everyone else that my baby would arrive well before this date. So I guess it was never something I truly believed would happen and I put it out of my mind. 

Let's be clear from the outset; having a C-section was not something that bothered me. I would have been happy to get baby out in whatever way meant that she was most safe and healthy. I was not one of those mamas that wanted an 'all natural' and 'drug free' birthing experience. I was pretty open to whatever pain relief I thought I would need in the moment! What I was keen on however, was being able to use water as a form of pain relief. Preferably a water birth, if a birthing room was available. I wasn't putting all my eggs in one basket, but I was secretly hoping and praying for the use of water. No matter how many episodes of 'One born every minute' I watched, I simply couldn't picture myself lying up, legs and arms flying!! Oh, how wrong I was!

prego2.jpg

Just a month or so before I got pregnant with Phoebe, I was told by my doctor that I tested positive for carriage of a bacteria called Group B Strep. I had provided a swab to be tested for thrush and received a phone call into work from my doctor, telling me that she had detected Group B Strep (GBS) but that it was very common and nothing to worry about. However, as she knew I was trying to conceive, she made sure to inform me that although GBS causes no problems or visible symptoms in day to day life, it is extremely dangerous to babies during and after labour - an undiagnosed mum can result in her babies death. Yet, I was told not to stress as a dose of antibiotics during labour would ensure that baby would be fine. A big yellow sticker was stuck on the top of my maternity notes and I checked if a water birth would still be a possibility. Thankfully it was, as long as I got to the hospital in time to have antibiotics administered before my waters broke and labour really kicked in. Although having GBS played on the back of my mind, I felt fairly happy that both me and my baby would be looked after during labour.

It was only when we entered those final few weeks, that I began to ask the consultants more questions about labour and GBS. I was horrified after one discussion with a female consultant who dismissed GBS like it wasn't anything serious and actually said, 'Are you sure you even have it now? It can come and go, so you probably don't.' To which I replied, 'Maybe I should get a test done to just double check, as you wouldn't like to take the risk?' Her response shocked me, 'We don't test for Group B Strep here.' What?! They don't test for a bacteria that can cause babies to become seriously ill, and even die?! I was outraged. Campaigners like the amazing Group B Strep Support are currently trying to get all hospitals to routinely test pregnant women for GBS as many, like Craigavon Area Hospital still don't. After my experience, I too, want to try and raise awareness because so many mums-to-be aren't being provided with the information that they deserve. For more information on everything you could want to know about GBS go to www.gbss.org.uk. 

GBS aside, I wrote my birth plan for the preference of a water birth if possible and to have my baby in the Midwifery Led Unit (MLU.) I knew I would feel most comfortable in the MLU as it was more of a homely atmosphere; much less clinical and cold than the Delivery Suites. Those big double doors leading into the suites actually scared me a little! (Little did I know, that I would be wheeled out of those very same doors with my new baby in my arms.) On my plan I also specified that I was open to all forms of pain relief but I was keen to mainly try and use gas and air and see how I got on from there. I knew that water would help and I never wanted to rush in and get anything stronger. If I could avoid an epidural, I would, but I certainly wasn't planning on being a hero; if I felt like I wanted and/or needed an epidural - I would get it. 

I had my hospital bags packed and sitting ready to go weeks before I needed them. They were a strange sort of comfort to me. The inevitable was coming and I knew at least the bags were ready, even if I wasn't! I wasn't quite sure how I was supposed to get myself 'ready' for labour. Yes, I practised the breathing techniques and the positions. I read the research and watched countless episodes of OBEM, but every woman's experience of labour is so different. I truly didn't know what to expect, how I was REALLY going to feel or if/how I would cope with the pain. It was a daunting few weeks of feeling a weird mix of excitement, fear and nerves. The more uncomfortable I got, the more I wanted my baby to make her appearance. I had the most horrendous pelvic pain on my left side and fluid like you wouldn't even believe. By my due date, I had swollen up like a balloon. My face, hands, feet and ankles were unrecognisable and I felt like I might actually burst at any given moment! Looking in the mirror I didn't know who I was .. All I knew was that I wanted my pregnancy to be over. 

My prayers came true on Monday 15th December, while hobbling around Marks and Spencer with my mum. I had been having on and off Braxton Hicks contractions for a few weeks, so had learned not to get into a tizz about them. As I leaned over my trolley for extra support, I quickly began to realise that these pains were slightly different. The placement was different and the pain was different. It was ever so slightly more intense and I found myself inhaling sharply and gripping the trolley handle tighter every time they came. These contractions kept on coming too. My poor mum kept looking at me strangely and asking if I was ok. I convinced her I was fine and convinced myself that this was not the real deal. I had had so many false alarms that I honestly believed that this one was too. I believed I was going to see the consultant the very next morning to get my scan, my baby would be over 9.9 and I'd be scheduled in for my section. EASY.  

Not so. This baby of mine had other ideas and decided she would quite like to make her grand entrance. I remember perfectly my mum asking if I wanted to grab a bite to eat before we headed home. There is the cutest wee cafe on the Hillhall road and I was starving (as usual!) so we journeyed there for lunch. On route I texted my husband, Matt, 'I think I could be going into labour!' He told me to time my contractions on my iPhone App and to keep him in the loop. This wasn't the first time I'd used my contraction timer so I still wasn't believing this was really it. Sitting across the table from my mum, we tucked into sausage rolls and salad in between timing my contractions. She was growing visibly more and more concerned. Every time a contraction came, my neck and face would flush bright red and I'd take careful control of my breathing ... The cafe was small and I sure didn't want to startle anyone out enjoying their lunch! I remember going into the bathroom with my phone, sitting on the toilet and hitting the START button thinking 'this is really it.' The contractions were only 5 minutes apart and ever increasing in strength and intensity. I made my way back to our table and declared to mum 'all systems are go. I gotta get home!' 

I continued to time each contraction until I reached home. According to my App I was in the early stages of labour, so I phoned Matt and told him he'd better leave work early. By the time I got home I was in no doubt; labour really was happening. I wasn't panicked, just focused on getting through each contraction. I assured my mum that I was going to be ok, she was getting her protective mother hat on, asking a million questions about what I was going to do: Was I going to phone the hospital? When was I going to phone the hospital? When was I going to go over to the hospital? I wasn't quite sure myself what to do. My waters definitely hadn't broken, I was managing the pain ok and I knew that if I phoned the hospital, they would probably tell me to stay at home as long as possible. I was in no rush to head in as I knew I would be better off in my home environment for as long as I could manage it.

At 6.30pm I phoned the Admissions Unit, explained what had been happening and that my contractions were now regularly 4 minutes apart and lasting longer each time one came. As predicted, I was told to stay at home, have a bath and to see if my contractions were still as strong in a few hours; they were super busy (as always) so I'd best 'keep that in mind.' Unless I was desperate, there was no chance I was going over to Admissions to have to sit for hours in the early stages of my labour! During my pregnancy I wasted too many hours of my life in that place - waiting. So I stayed home and took a bath as advised. If I truly was in labour, the bath would help soothe, but not stop the increasing contractions, if they began to decrease, then it wasn't time. As I lay in the bath, my huge belly protruding, I tried to relax and focus on breathing. Every time a contraction came, I shouted 'NOW!!' to Matt who would hit the start button on my timer and we would wait to see if the bath would make any difference. Secretly I prayed that it wouldn't. I wanted this to be the time, I felt as ready as I ever possibly could and boy were those contractions getting painful... 

Thankfully the contractions were remaining steady and strong and I knew tonight (at some point) I'd be making my way to the hospital. I felt vulnerable in those moments lying there, bare bellied, while my amazing husband shaved my legs in preparation for giving birth. I had gotten so huge that I simply couldn't manage to shave anywhere below my belly so my poor husband had to do the honours for me! I felt so self conscious in those last few months. Having been a dieter for years before getting pregnant I really struggled with my new body. Pregnancy simply did NOT look good on me. I was a swollen mess by the end and I hated the way that I looked. I also hated that I hated how I looked. Yet I tried to savour those last moments with Matt as we both knew they would be the last of 'just us.' Very soon we would be more than a married couple; we would be a family.