I was 39 weeks pregnant when I sat under a Potutukawa tree at my local cafe, sipping horrible decaf coffee, crying. I was sore, tired, swollen and enormous with my baby bump. It had been a hard month of sleepless nights, mood swings and dramatic Braxton Hicks that my midwife was not interested in hearing about. It’s not labour, she insisted. Have a shower and go to bed early, she advised.
I was over it. Please baby, please come soon I prayed, as I gazed up at the crimson red blooms above me. I didn’t know how much longer I could hold on.
That night, my Braxton Hicks were longer and stronger than usual. I was reluctant to call my midwife again but knew that things were different this time – I intuitively knew that I was in labour. This was the real deal.
A single mum, I (stupidly) drove myself to the hospital at 9pm with my nine-year-old daughter and waddled into the maternity assessment ward. Despite an exam revealing I was 2-3 cm dilated, they told me that wasn’t unusual for a second-time mum and that I was likely still having Braxton Hicks. Go home, have a shower and go to bed, they said. I was furious, stomped out and drove home before crying myself to sleep. No one believed that this baby was coming and I KNEW she was!
At 1am, I was woken by a violent contraction. I felt scared but I was reluctant to call anyone after being sent home just a few hours before. The contraction passed and I lay in bed, wondering what to do. Ten minutes later, another contraction came which had me climbing out of bed, hanging onto the side of it. I felt nauseous and desperate and knew I had to ring the hospital. The midwife on duty was irritatingly relaxed when I told her what was happening. She stayed on the phone with me to wait for another contraction, which arrived dramatically. “Are your toes curling?” she asked, as I was moaning and trying not to be sick.” Yes! I screamed.
“Right, come to the hospital and this time, don’t drive yourself,” she said.
From there, it was fast! After a speedy drive to the hospital (thanks to my BFF) and a super-quick exam which revealed I was 7cm dilated, I waddled as fast as I could into the delivery suite and started pushing almost straight away. There was no time for any pain relief other than gas. The birth was hard and almost violent in its intensity. At one stage, my birthing team had to stop me falling off the bed. And then, in about 40 minutes of super-human pushing, it was over!
"I will never, ever forget the special day she came into the world and hold onto her birth story as a precious memory and one of the most special days of my life."
My beautiful little girl, born with a shock of hair that lay in a mohawk and with a healthy wail, was in my arms. I was euphoric and suddenly glad that I hadn’t had time for an epidural or a Caesarean (I had illogically screamed for one while I was in the throes of hard contractions) or any heavy painkillers. I felt fantastic, if a little sore, and was absolutely, intensely in love with my babe.
I had two names in mind for her, one being Cara and the other Maggie. Cara seemed to me to be a gentle name and Maggie was perfect for someone lively. As my new child writhed and yelled, furiously looking for food, I just knew she was a little firebrand, full of attitude, and just had to be called Maggie.
Almost 12 years on, she is a healthy, happy tweenager who is full of personality. I certainly gave her the right name!
She was my last baby – I vividly remember thinking, “I’m done! No more pregnancies or births EVER for me” – and I enjoyed every minute with her. I took maternity leave for six months and basically sat on the couch expressing milk (we had trouble breastfeeding), feeding her, and gazing at her adoringly for that entire time. I will never, ever forget the special day she came into the world and hold onto her birth story as a precious memory and one of the most special days of my life. I love you Maggie. Thank you for completing our family and for being my beautiful girl.