Somebody really didn't want me to have that massage...
Lumpy, aka James William Peter Badger, was born on June 29th at 11.40am, weighing 7lbs 13 ounces. Punctual to the point of being, well, a day early.
So here's the birth story. Knowing my great skill for brevity (ahem) it will probably be divided up into parts (and also, the new boss of the house will no doubt interupt demanding BOOOOOOB). Be warned - there are gory(ish) details, and embarrassing revelations aplenty. So only read on if you're prepared to hear about my lady parts and other related regions. And poo, of course. You can't forget the poo.
So, anyone still here? Then we shall begin.
On Monday, after escaping the daytime TV bizarreness I went for my swim, and managed a respectable mile at a not too slow pace (for a beached whale, anyway. Though a beached whale presumably doesn't swim very fast, being beached. Anyway...) I walked home and settled down to the aforementioned 8 hours of tennis. I kept thinking I should get up and look through the last of the bags full of baby stuff that were waiting to be sorted and put into the nursery. I also thought I should probably sort out some baby clothes, nappies, and so on to put into the hospital bag. It was my due date in two days, after all. Not that he would come on his due date, of course. He was going to be late, no doubt. I'd been fairly sure of that throughout the pregnancy. And I hadn't had any signs of imminent labour - I was obviously in this for the long haul.
Late in the afternoon my nighbour, Jo, came round to drop off some spare nappies. She'd had a baby boy 8 weeks ago, and brought him with her.
"Right," she said, unstrapping him from his carrier and thrusting him into my arms. "Have a cuddle. That's meant to bring on labour. You are keen to hurry things along, aren't you?"
"Um, I guess so," I answered non-committally. I was fairly keen to get things moving - not because I was sick of being pregnant or even desperate to finally meet the little invader in my tummy, but rather because of the looming consultant appointment on Thursday, when I would be one day overdue, and was convinced they'd decide to induce me on the spot. I'd eaten a pot of fresh pineapple at lunchtime, but drawn the line at the second one. I'd upped my raspberry leaf tea intake, too, but only to two cups a day. So, yes, things could get moving, but maybe not all that soon. There was the massage to get to, after all. Lovely massage...
I cuddled Jo's baby, boggling slightly at the thought that I'd have one of these in a few days, and not really believing it. Something was sure to go wrong. The hospital would decide I wasn't really pregnant after all, and send me home, ashamed of the fuss I'd been making over the last nine months. Or the baby would just never come, and eventually everyone would get bored and go away. I couldn't actually have a baby, a real baby. That would be too weird.
Mr Badger came home, and we watched some more tennis and had dinner. These were some day-old chicken kebabs which I'd made for our barbecue the day before, and had been rather excess to requirements. They'd sat out in the sun for a while, attracting flies and other such delights, before I decided it would be better to put them in the fridge. (I have my Basic Food Hygiene certificate, don't you know. My food hygiene is officially basic, at best).
We headed up to bed and went to sleep just as normal. The night passed uneventfully, featuring sleep, mainly (ahh, I remember the days when nights featured sleep. They seem so long ago... But I don't want to ruin the end of the story (SPOILER: it involves a baby. That's all I'm saying.)
At 6.10am I woke up and glanced at the clock. Nothing really unusual in that - I'd been waking up fairly early for most of the pregnancy. There was a slightly odd sensation in my lower stomach - I'd had a couple like it in previous weeks and days, but always dismissed them as wind (my farts have been mighty impressive throughout the pregnancy, if I say so myself. Oh, come on. I'm just warming you up for what's to come. Girding your loins for you, so to speak). No doubt these would turn out to be more of the same. I got up and went to the loo, and had an equally impressive bout of the squirts (gird, gird! Think of it as a mental warm-up). So that was it, then. The kebabs. Food poisoning. The day before my due date. Another classy move by the Badger girl. Nice one.
I went back to bed and had a few more stomach cramps, but they were nothing to get excited about. I'm a bit of a pro at food poisoning, and like to get it at every opportunity. And I've had some major, spectacular cases - in Egypt, for example, where the stomach cramps really were something. In fact, I'd compared them to what labour must be like, at the time. Compared to those, these were pathetic. That kebab had been a wimp. I snorted at its patheticness, and picked up my 'Effective Birth Preparation' book. I was only just over halfway through, and had better get my reading in over the next few days. I would definitely make the massage, too. Food poisoning or not, I was getting my goddamned back rub.
The cramps came and went over the next few hours, but they were fairly ignorable, and didn't follow any sort of pattern. When the alarm went off, I told Mr Badger that my tummy was feeling a bit odd, but that it was probably nothing (and most likely a rogue kebab) and that he should probably just head to work. At a bit after eight I had a slightly more intense feeling. And a couple of minutes later I had another, similar, one.
"Oh ho, Mr Kebab!" I thought to myself. "Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough, eh? Let's see what you're made of." (chicken, mainly. With some pepper, mushrooms, onion, and Delia-inspired barbecue sauce).
"Umm, this food poisoning might be a bit worse than I thought," I said to Mr Badger, as I lay on the bed and panted slightly. "And regular. They're getting a bit more regular."
I decided to go downstairs and make Mr Badger a sandwich for his lunch (as a good wifely soul, this is something I do every morning). This took rather longer than usual, as I had to keep stopping and concentrating through the stomach cramps. But I made it (ham salad, since you asked), and packed it up with the rest of his lunch. Then I went to lie on the couch and moan gently to myself. Mr Badger came downstairs, and, seeing me prostrate, decided he'd hang around for a while before going to work. The food poisoning cramps had now been coming every two minutes for over half an hour, it seemed.
We both began to suspect the kebab may not be the true culprit here. The kebab may turn out, after all, to be a red herring.
Mr Badger, being a technology nerd supremo, had downloaded an app onto his new iPhone which could record your contractions and show you how often they were coming, and how long you'd been having them for. We started using the app, and it confirmed how regular the feelings were. Every two minutes on the dot, each a minute long.
"I thought you were meant to get a nice break in between, this early on," I said, in between one of them. "And they're fairly intense, for the excitement stage." I was starting to feel a bit of self doubt. A first labour, I had been assured time and again, would take at least 12, and more likely 24, hours. We'd had it all planned - we'd stay at home for as long as possible. Watch some films, maybe a few of our favourite comedy episodes, eat a nice meal, and listen to the hynotherapy CD at least a few times, getting me into a nice, relaxed state before the real meat and potatoes part of labour began. That was the plan. And it was a good plan.
But I hadn't really bargained on the first stage being this intense, or the contractions this often. I wasn't sure I could handle another 12 (let alone another bloody 24) hours of this. And these were the mild, easy, gentle contractions. It was only going to get worse, surely.
I suddenly didn't think I could do this. It was going to be too much.
"We need to listen to the CD," I said to Mr Badger, slightly desperately. I needed to go to my safe place, our honeymoon beach in the Maldives. I could feel the birth I wanted slipping away. I was starting to feel scared. I couldn't do this, after all. What had I been thinking?
We put the CD on, and I tried to get into a comfortable position lying on the couch. I made my breath as deep and steady as I could and tried to focus in on the voice I had listened to so many times throughout this pregnancy. But I was still very aware of the contractions, and kept coming out of the hypnotherapy session to tap the iPhone and record the latest contraction. I was also finding it hard just to lie still and breathe through them. I was gravitating up to my knees during them, and making a noise which was very, very reminiscent of a cow. It was The Moo. And Mr Badger would become very familiar with The Moo over the next few hours...
TO BE CONTINUED... dum, dum, duuuuuuuuuuuuum!!!