At 1.30am on Christmas Eve morning, 2011, I woke up in labour with my second child.
I dozed for a couple of hours before waking again, this time with stronger contractions 9 minutes apart. My husband and I crept downstairs so as not to wake our elder child, where we pottered about making tea and contemplating what time we ought to call reinforcements. We decided to call my parents who had agreed to travel the 80 miles between us to look after our son pretty soon, so they could start readying herself for the trip. We also decided to wake our doula, Abbie, so she had a heads up that things were starting. As my last labour was 24h46m we didn't envisage anything exciting happening anytime soon.
Well, that was wrong! At about 4.10am my contractions jumped from roughly 9 minutes apart to 3-4 minutes apart. Hurried phone calls were made to my parents, Abbie and also the local midwife team. The midwife was the first to arrive, at 5.45am. She assessed me on my bed amidst chaos - toys from the playroom had been moved into our bedroom so the birth pool had room to be put up. They were meant to go into our son's room but at that time he was still fast asleep and we thought we'd have time to transfer them in.
At 7am my parents arrived and got Pixie up and dressed. He thought Christmas had come early being woken by Grandma and Grandpa! Abbie also arrived at that point and took over from my husband in pumping up and filling the pool. Far from the serene home birth I'd envisaged, the house was chaos at that point. I decided to get in the bath as the pain was getting a bit much; to be honest I also wanted a bit of peace and tranquillity. Even moving from the bedroom to the bathroom was agony, and after only 5 minutes in there I decided I needed gas & air. As the midwife brought it to me, Abbie called up to say the pool was ready, so I took a heave on the gas and staggered downstairs.
It was blessed relief to be in the pool. I'd tried a waterbirth with my first and it wasn't a pleasant experience - the water felt far too cold in such a big room in hospital - so I had been initially wary of being in water again, but this was heaven! Toasty and warm and like a cocoon. The G&A started doing its stuff and zoned me out from my surroundings. I vaguely listened to the CD that was put on (euphoric trance!) and to the chat around me.
After about an hour I started to feel the need to push. Or at least I thought I did! I doubted myself because I never felt it with my first. I also didn't know if I was supposed to tell anyone or just push! As the G&A had zoned me out so much it took several contractions to work up to being able to speak and tell that things were hotting up. Abbie came into her own here, and persuaded me to move from my sitting position to a kneeling position. If left to my own devices I wouldn't have - it hurt far too much to move!
At 8.46am, in a couple of pushes, the baby was born with membranes still intact. I'd been convinced it was a boy but when we were told she was a she it felt right, like I already knew. She was guided through my legs and I pulled her from the water. Coated in vernix and puffy from the delivery, she was the most beautiful thing I'd seen. She healed me in ways I can't even describe, mended the scars from my first born.
She came out in the caul, which I'm told is lucky. She feels lucky. I hope she's lucky.