Ok, either my waters have gone, or I have just wet myself. I wait a moment feeling the warm liquid continue to trickle out of me. I am fairly sure my waters have gone… I had better wake Dennis.
‘Dennis…’ I nudge him gently ‘Dennis!’ No answer from his side of the bed, that’s typical. ‘DENNIS!’ I give him a good thump with my elbow which does the trick and he wakes with a grunt.
‘Wha, what? Are you ok? What’s wrong?’ He is yawning at me, bleary eyed.
‘Well…’ I tell him, ‘either, I have just wet myself, or my waters have gone.’
I haven’t even gotten to the end of my sentence before he is up on his feet panicking.
‘It’s ok,’ I tell him, ‘we have time. Just help me up to the loo would you?’
He is rushing round the bed. The poor bloke is all in a tizzy. He helps me up and I waddle my way into the bathroom.
Hmmm, do I have everything ready? Hospital bag, snacks, camera, birth plan, extra socks, phone, phone charger, baby clothes,
‘What you doing love?’
change for payphone in case I have no mobile reception,
‘Sandy? Are you ok?’
I lose my train of thought. ‘Yes honey I’m fine. Can you call Paisley and let them know my waters have gone?’ I’m sure I have forgotten something ‘I’m just jumping in the shower, I need to shave my legs and my bits.’
‘You WHAT?!’ He is obviously surprised at my sudden desire to de-fluff at 2am. ‘Why are you bothering with that?! Shouldn’t we be leaving? The baby is coming!’
‘Dennis. Am I HELL having this baby looking like this! If some random person is staring at my down belows I had better be tidy!’
He seems to have decided to leave me to it because I get no reply.
What did I forget…? Hospital notes! Its ok, they‘re already in the car. I let out a long sigh of relief. Everything is ready to go. Except me.
The next hour seems to fly by. Getting dressed, searching for my hospital notes before remembering again that they’re in the car. Waddling out of the house in my Ugg boots, fleecy onesie, winter coat, woolly hat and extra-long scarf wrapped three times round my neck. The wind trying its hardest to coup me. Getting settled in the car and then realising half way to the hospital that they obviously want to examine me and I picked, of all things, a onesie to wear! Oopsie! I blame it on my baby brain and the fact that it’s so early in the morning.
Dennis gently hauls my heavy load up out of the car. He holds me firmly but gently and supports my weight as we cross the crystallised ground of the deserted car park. The crisp crunch of the frost under my Uggs makes me think of Christmas. I share a secret smile with myself as I realise that this Christmas will be our first as a family of three.
A plump, overly cheery midwife called Maggie meets us at the door and we are ushered to a side room.
‘Dressed far eh occasion?’ She asks in a thick accent, one eyebrow raised and a smile on her lips. My cheeks flush as I struggle not to look sheepish.
‘Sorry. It’s chilly baltic out there and this is the warmest thing that fits over my bump.’
‘Ha! No tae worry, A’ll just pop round eh corner and get ye a wee goonie. Won’t be long. Make yersel comfortable.’ She is gone for no more than a moment before striding confidently back into the room. ‘Here we are ma’ lass, a wee goonie for ye. Just pop that on in the wee lavatory there and give me a wee shout when yer ready, ok?’
‘Yeah thanks,’ I reply as she again leaves the room.
I settle myself onto the bed after half exhausting myself un-onesieing and then fighting with the hospital gown that was obviously made for size eight people who are not pregnant.
Dennis pops out to let Maggie know we are ready for her and she appears once again.
‘Right ma’ lass, feet together knees apart, ye know the drill.’ She is busy lubricating her meaty gloved hand.
Gosh her hands are a fair size.
She has caught me looking and I blush as if she knows what is running through my mind.
‘Typical Aibardeenshire fermer’s daughter me.’ She drawls, ‘Hon’s like two ham hochs. Don’t mind me ma’ lass, Am just gonie to examine ye.’
It’s uncomfortable but I bear the poking and prodding, waiting for her to confirm what I already know.
‘Wheel ma’ lass, I’d say yer waters have gone. Am sure that’s fit ye wanted te hear.’
‘Oh yes! Thank goodness for that! I don’t think I could have stood much more of this pregnancy.’
‘Aweright ma’ lass now ye know ye can go home, take it easy, get as much sleep as ye can, yell be in need o it.’
Eeep! I can’t wait come on baby your eviction notice has been served!
‘If the bairn disnae appear afore this time amorra then am afraid it’s back here far induction. Hopefully though the wee bairn will be on the way afore long.’
Dennis is helping me up. Supporting me. He looks shattered.
‘Thanks hunny,’ as I squeeze his hand I look over to Maggie. ‘Thanks a lot.’
She smiles ‘Just doing ma job ma’ lass. You get yersel changed and off home te bed noo.’
I nod, suddenly feeling the exhaustion that had until now been hidden by excitement and nerves.
Weary muscles blur my movements and I somewhat dreamily float my way through re-dressing myself, saying goodbye to the cheery teuchter midwife, navigating the dodgy lifts, practically skating down the hill to the car park and into the car.
Swirly dreams fill my head on the drive home. My baby arriving. Dennis trying not to cry in front of the cameras. Wondering why we are on TV and then realising that I am dreaming about that midwife show we were watching last night.
OH!! That was a sore one, I need to get up, it’s too sore to lie here. I open my eyes. I’m in bed. Gosh, I don’t even remember getting out of the car, let alone changing into a fresh set of jammies, and putting myself to bed!
Dennis appears to be asleep, that’s good. I would rather not be fussed over at the moment. He is better getting some rest.
Hobbling my way downstairs I suddenly feel sick. Hold it together Sandy! No puking now, don’t be sick, don’t be sick, don’t be sick. I have to waddle as fast as I can to the loo before losing the non-existent contents of my stomach. Using our poor wee ‘smart price’ toilet roll holder I haul my heavy self back up to standing.
Breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe, oh help ma Boab! This is going too fast, I need to get to the hospital quick or I’ll be having this baby on the floor of my loo!
While the trip home from Paisley had been blurred by exhaustion, the trip to the Inverclyde Royal was blurred by pain.
One of the regular midwives meets us at the desk. Lyndsay. Face full of care and concern as always. She helps Dennis guide me into one of the rooms to do my checks before I get to go into the birthing suite.
‘Alright honey. I am just going to check your blood pressure’
She is chatting away to Dennis. Telling him not to worry and that they have delivered hundreds of babies, so I am in safe hands when her face turns a shade paler.
‘Let’s just run that again shall we?’ She says, fumbling with the cuff on my arm. ‘These things can be a bit dodgy sometimes.’
As the machine rings its alarms for a second time she calmly switches it off and excuses herself from the room. Moments later she is back with another midwife and a porter.
‘Ok Sandy. Now I don’t want you to panic.’
Too late to say that Missus!
‘But, your blood pressure is causing some concern and we are not equipped to deal with high risk scenarios anymore.’
She looks apologetic, I’m being sent to the RAH…
‘There is an ambulance waiting to take you up to Paisley. They can look after you better there,’ she says, ‘just in case.’
My hospital staff relay race is drawing to a close as the porter hands me over to the ambulance staff and I am helped aboard the ambulance.
‘Don’t worry love. We will get you up the road in no time.’ Says a rather burley paramedic. ‘I’m Pat. Now, do you think you need some gas and air?’
He has handed me the mouthpiece before I have even answered him, and is busy explaining to me how to use it while I am busy ignoring him and sucking it down as needed. The ambulance speeds away from the hospital blue lights blazing.
Pat is trying to reassure me. ‘You’re doing well there Sandy.’
The steadily increasing pains crush and contort me from the inside out. The pain is fast dropping down and I start to panic.
Shit we’re not going to make it, we’re not going to make it, we’re not going to make it!
‘Oh Dennis help!’
He has unfastened his belt and is on his feet in a split second.
‘You need to sit down mate.’ Pat says.
Dennis is ignoring him ‘Sandy are you ok? What do you need honey?’
I need this baby out that’s what you idiot! Oh God I need to push
‘I need to push.’
Pat has leapt into action. He bangs on the cabin wall to tell the diver to stop and he is at my side almost instantly.
‘Now Sandy we haven’t quite made it to Paisley yet,’ he looks concerned, ‘do you think you can hold off on the pushing until we get there? Or do you absolutely HAVE to push now?’
This guy can’t be seriously asking me to hold this baby in, I’ll explode for sure!
I can’t spare the breath to answer him. I am too busy sucking on the gas and air and trying to fight my body’s commands to bear down.
‘I… NEED… to …PUSH… can’t…WAIT…oooooohhhhh!’
Dennis is holding my hand, allowing me to really dig my nails in to get some pressure point release.
‘I’m afraid we have not even made it out of the Port yet. Frank is pulling into Tesco’s car park.’ His face is full of concern.
‘I will need to examine you Sandy, if that’s ok, to see whether we will have time to get to Paisley or not.’ He lifts the blanket covering my legs and gently pulls my pyjama bottoms down. ‘Oh.’
“OH”!? What the hell does he mean by “OH”!!
‘Frank! I need you to stop now please!’
He gives Dennis a reassuring shoulder squeeze and moves to get some fresh gloves.
‘Ok Sandy, I need you to listen to me.’
He is worried, that’s not a good sign.
‘Your baby is crowning. We will not make it to Paisley for the birth. It’s going to happen here and it’s going to happen now. Try to breathe deeply and push as much as you can with each contraction. Would you like to move position?’
‘I’ll try’ I gasp and he and Dennis help me to move into a kneeling position.
The pressure is unbearable. My legs feel hot and sticky. I start to panic as I see the rather large dark red patch of blood that I have been lying on.
Something must be wrong, oh God my baby.
‘Don’t worry Sandy, that’s fairly normal, just concentrate on the job at hand.
He isn’t telling the truth I’m not an idiot.
My screams of pain from the fibres of my body ripping apart are bringing tears to Dennis’s eyes. He is as scared as I am but he has to sit there and watch without being able to help.
‘It’s ok Sandy, I’m here. You are doing great honey, just a little more. Well done.’ He chants rhythmically along with my contractions, moans and screaming pushes.
I can’t do this. I can’t do it any more, oh God will this ever end?
‘You are doing really, really well Sandy. Baby’s head’s almost born.’
With all my strength I push and push and push. Suddenly there is a pop and release of pressure along with a substantial amount of fluid.
‘That’s the head out Sandy well done!’ Pat is coaching. ‘One last big push and baby will be here.’
My jaw is clenched and my knuckles turn white from the death grip that I have on the head of the ambulance bed. I let out one more howl of effort as I bear down with all my might.
Finally. In a satisfying release of pressure, all the pain is gone and I can breathe once more. I turn to see Pat wrapping my baby in a towel and blanket and handing the bundle over to a very white-faced, shocked looking Dennis. I have not heard baby cry but I can see the bundle in Dennis’s arms gently wriggling, and so I breathe a sigh of relief. The ambulance shudders into motion once more and sets the baby crying.
Pat is busy dealing with the afterbirth that hasn’t come away yet. He is talking away to me but it takes me a moment before I realise that I don’t know what he is saying. His words are being drowned out by a sharp whistling. My vision blurs and I feel my body start to fall.
***I am only half listening to Dennis tell me of the drama that unfolded during my rather dramatic departure from consciousness. How the paramedics fought tooth and claw to keep me going until the hospital staff took over, and I was given a whole host of treatment and transfusions.
Eventually talk switches to our daughter and what we should call her. I look down at the beautiful, soft bundle wrapped up snug in her cot. I tear my gaze away and focus on Dennis.
‘I think Patricia would be nice.’
Dennis looks back at me and smiles.
‘Patricia’s perfect,’ he says. ‘Patricia’s perfect.’