Wednesday 28th September 2016 started out like any other day. An unwillingness to get out of bed for the school run, fighting with Miller to get his teeth cleaned and ready for school, a hectic school run, followed by a reflexology treat, work and errands.
I was doing extra work that week in preparation for my due date on 10th October. Little did I know my planning would be coming in extra handy!
3pm I picked Mills up as usual and we popped to the supermarket to get some food for the evening.
I’d been getting a few twinges through the day, but hadn’t really thought anything of it. I’d had acupuncture on Monday and reflexology that morning, so I put it down to that. But as the day went on the twinges were getting more intense and I started to think it could be the beginning of something. There were a few occasions while on the phone to work colleagues where I had to take a breath and when I picked Mills up I was struggling to keep up with the conversation at the school gates. Carrying the food shop to the car wasn’t very easy either. And looking back it’s all very obvious what was happening, but two weeks before my due date, I was oblivious.
4pm Home, entertaining Miller and dinner prep commences. But by the time Dave comes home at 6pm, I needed time out. The twinges were getting more intense and rushing around was making it worse. (I’d tidied the house, prepped for the next day, and set up my bedroom for the night ahead) So I figured I just needed to have a bit of a chill. I rang mum, who was on stand by to have Mills, to let her know I might be in the early stages. Cue excited squeals down the phone and my reassurance that it was probably a false alarm but to pack a bag just in case.
Dave took over with Mills and I went upstairs. I’d already set up my bedroom for a night of being in labour. Closed the blinds, set up fairy lights and candles, a bit of aroma, and my iPod (is it me or does that sound as ancient as a Walkman?) was set up with Hypnobirthing affirmations. I had a shower, shaved my legs (all the necessities!) and proceeded to bounce on my ball and listen to the soothing sounds of my Hypnobirthing CD, whilst repeating the affirmations to myself over and over again.
Now this is where it all goes blurry. Between then and Marlie being born, there’s calm, bouncing, affirmations, positivity, goodnight kisses, reassurance, visualisations, confusion, a lot of shit, (in hindsight downing pineapple juice to clear my system for a long night of labour wasn’t such a good idea!), 8pm a midwife call (Conversation cut short – me: ‘I think I’m in labour, but I’m not sure, there’s no regular contractions, but I’m getting some pushing sensations.’ Midwife: ‘OK, if you get the uncontrollable need to push, call an ambulance.’), 8.20pm 999 call (me: ‘I think I’m in labour, but I’m not sure. There’s blood. I think something might be wrong. I feel like I need to push but I don’t know whether I’m in labour? I’m so sorry if I’m wasting your time. Etc, etc. [still sat on the toilet thinking I need the mother of all pineapple juice induced shits] Operator: ‘OK, maybe get off the toilet and put some towels on the floor. It does sound like your baby is coming.’ [In the background ‘how much longer until the ambulance arrives?])
Three paramedics arrive to see me on my knees leaning over the bath, half naked, mucus plug gone, waters gone, baby coming, pineapple juice shits coming. Me ‘I’m so sorry about this. I’m not sure what’s going on.’ Paramedics ‘Your baby is coming, we just need to get you to hospital. After your next contraction, we need to get you into the ambulance.’ Once I knew I was about to give birth I was totally focused. The worry that something was wrong with the baby was out and I was in full on hypnobirthing mode.
[PJ bottoms on and I’m off down our steep stairs leaving the paramedics in the dust behind me.]
At this point I’ll fill you in on what’s going on in the background.
On the occasions that Dave has asked if I’m ok. I reply, ‘Yeah, I’m fine, Just sort Mills out, I’m pretty sure I’m in labour but its only just started so it could be all night.’ So Dave is reading an excitable Mills bedtime stories, all set up for a long night ahead. I’m silently back and forth from ball bouncing and ‘omming’ in the bedroom, to the bathroom thinking the pushing sensations are just the pineapple juice in action. On the final toilet trip there’s blood and a whoosh. Mucus plug and waters breaking are obvious now. And it’s then I call Dave (in my calmest, protective mother voice) who stands at the bathroom door looking shocked and disheveled (in his pants I might add) Me: ‘You’d better get dressed, I need to call an ambulance, tell mum to get over quickly.’ iPad comes out for Mills, Mother called [who is now rushing around packing her bag, which she didn’t do on the 6pm call opting to watch TV instead!).
Back to it. (around 8.30/8.40pm)
I’ve rushed down the stairs. (they’re ridiculously steep with no hand rail!) The paramedics are still upstairs ready to escort me down the stairs. In shock that I’ve disappeared. I stop at the dining room to reassure Miller that ‘Mummy’s fine darling. I think the baby is coming so hopefully you’ll get to meet it in the morning. Be a good boy. Nanny’s on her way. Love you see you in the morning.’ He’s looking a little shellshocked, but the paramedics have been wonderful with him so he’s not as scared as he could’ve been.
Another contraction in the hallway and out the door. No shoes. In my PJs. A street full of neighbours wondering why there’s an ambulance blocking the street. (it’s a stupidly narrow street that should be one way!) I dash to the ambulance, shouting behind me ‘Leave as soon as Mum gets here.’ to Dave. At that point, Mum arrives, having dumped her car down the street. Me: ‘Quick get into Miller. Send Dave.’
I’m now in the ambulance, paramedics have caught up and there’s another contraction. (I’m just hoping the neighbours can’t hear the groaning sounds I’m making)
I can’t praise these three men enough. It’s a little off putting when you’re half naked, vulnerable, in a mess, shitting yourself and, unknowingly, giving birth in your bathroom. But that lasted a split second thanks to their amazing presence. All three had an instant calming effect on the house. Great with Mills. Reassuring me. I can’t thank them enough.
Blue lights on. We’re off. 80mph + on the short journey to the hospital. All the way I have one holding my hand giving me an encouraging ‘you’ve got this’ pep talk and the other helping me breathe through contractions to try and help slow things down.
Poor Dave is left behind in the dust. No idea why, but he wasn’t allowed in the ambulance, so he’s following behind in our car.
The journey seemed to last more than minutes and I could now feel a head coming down. So much so the PJs came off and the eyes popped out of the paramedics head, followed by ‘how much longer until we’re there?’ to the driver. I’m guessing Marlie’s head may have been on show!
We arrive at the front of the hospital. Thank the lord it’s a quiet, dark evening and hardly anyone is around. I get wheeled through to delivery as the baby’s head comes further down. (blanket hiding my modesty)
[Dave had lost us in the traffic – dam cars wouldn’t let him out – so he’s now trying to find a parking space]
The midwife is waiting at the door to the delivery suite with a big smile. A familiar face I’m so grateful to see. Me: ‘I think the head’s about to come out.’ Midwife: ‘OK, let’s take a look. Oh yes. No time to get you on to the bed, baby’s coming.’
On the ambulance bed I continue to push, with the help of the wonderful midwife. And, just as her head comes out, Dave rushes in [baby’s head hanging out, paramedics holding my hands, midwives rushing around] Then she’s out. 8.52pm. Screaming like a banshee, she’s put into my arms. I look between her legs. Me: ‘It’s a boy’ Midwife: ‘look again.’ [Umbilical cord moved] me: ‘It’s a girl. Oh my god.’
And that’s Marlie Mavis James Guscott’s birth story. All 7lbs 9oz of her early, quick delivery.
It seems ridiculous now that I didn’t know I was about to give birth. But it all happened so quickly I just couldn’t work out how it could be it. I just felt disappointment at the start that I wasn’t coping as well with the contractions. When I gave birth to Mills I’d been in the water until the end and then had an epidural to push him out. My mucus plug and waters didn’t show until the end of an all day labour. So everything was new and different to what I’d experienced. I’d also been more mentally prepared this time with the hypnobirthing course and listening to the affirmations had worked even better than I’d imagined. (I’m sure it’s this that got things going so quickly) When I had my show on the toilet and I saw blood my head was so far removed from the fact I was giving birth, that I thought something was wrong with the baby. When I rang the ambulance it wasn’t because of the pushing it was because I thought something was seriously wrong. I also hadn’t experienced the intense pushing sensations with Mills so the feeling of needing to pooh didn’t feel right. (even though it’s how it’s described!) I had visions of the baby coming out the wrong way at the time. Hilarious now I look back. But I was seriously so far away in mind from where I was in real life, it was the only possible answer.
The whole thing was quite the experience and it’s a funny story to tell. But it took us all by shock. The fact she was two weeks early was another factor to my calmness. But the hypnobirthing course made sure I didn’t panic and really helped get me through the intensity of the situation. Yes it hurt like fuck, but I was able to focus on my baby moving down the birth path rather than the pain, which made all the difference. Thankfully, because there was certainly no time for pain relief. I had some gas and air in the ambulance, but I couldn’t concentrate on what I needed to do so I gave that up pretty quickly.
By 9pm my placenta was out, I was stitched up and we were on the phone to Miller telling him about his new baby sister. I was ready to leave the hospital right there and then, but it was a busy night on the ward and I wasn’t allowed to leave until Marlie had been seen by a doctor. Despite having to rush off to another emergency labour, I couldn’t be happier with the service we had from our hospital and I’m grateful everyday for our wonderful NHS. Thank you to all of the staff at Worcester Royal.
Thankfully Mills was allowed to come up and see us while we waited in delivery to be moved onto the ward. It was just what we all needed. Mills got to meet his baby sister and we all got to be together for the first time. A perfect moment that I’ll never forget.