I started writing the previous blog at 8 a.m. By 2.11 p.m. I was a mother of two. Our son came 8 days early, and in a hurry.

I had decided to use the time that Dad gave me by taking BB to the park for their regular morning jaunt to write on my poor undernourished blog instead of grabbing the opportunity to sleep. SS (my now teenage stepson) was asleep in the front room. The practice contractions had become steadily stronger and more frequent; they had woken me up from a deep sleep a few times in the night. Pretty much from the time I got up, big contractions were coming short but strong every two minutes. Just like last time I started noting down the times at which they occurred, but quickly gave up as they were simply every two minutes and didn’t waver. I was confused by the early date, and the fact that they were over so quickly. Surely it can’t be today? I had texted a friend just the night before saying I expected it to happen in another couple of weeks.

The morning continued with these bursts of intensity every two minutes. BB returned from the park. I was trying to look after her whilst regularly shutting myself away in the bathroom, half thinking the pains were stomach related. But BB was in an uncharacteristically mellow mood, unphaseable which I took as a sign of this being no ordinary day. I phoned the midwife and said, ‘It might be the start of something.’ I reasoned that things were a long way off, as I hadn’t even had the show yet. Figuring that one can’t teach the piano whilst having contractions I cancelled the lesson I had booked in for 11.00.

Dad was asking me if he should take SS home that morning instead of later in the evening as planned. It’s a 2 ½ hour round trip. SS said, ‘does that mean we’re not going to play tennis?’  I said, ‘Go and have half an hour of tennis, then yes maybe you should take him back early’.  In between contractions I felt so fine it seemed I was making a lot of fuss over something that still must be far off in the future, but they felt very real for each short time they gripped me.

The boys left, and almost immediately I got the show. What now, shall I call them back from the park? Should I call the midwife again? Alone with BB I called my friend, Brilliant Mum. She had offered to take BB off my hands when the time came.

‘you know last night I said it would probably be another two weeks?


‘Well, scrap that. I’m having contractions. Would you come and keep me company while Dad takes SS home?’

She duly arrived with her son the same age as BB and a friend and her 3 year old girl. The children played and I kept up conversation through the cramps, my mind racing about the things that needed to be in place that weren’t quite there yet. Things like, ‘where are the dust sheets?’ A very important requirement for a home birth. The girls were concerned about Dad going away on the tube. When the boys returned from playing tennis, they asked SS, ‘Can’t you go on the tube on your own?’

The look on his face was one of perfect bafflement. Dad left whilst still trying to get hold of SS’ mum and grandparents, saying hopefully he would hand SS over somewhere on the way and high-tail it back. The children milled about, BB started being impossibly clingy and difficult. My mind was spinning. After a while, brilliant mum said to me,

’If there’s anything you’d like me to do, just tell me.’

I didn’t miss a beat. ‘Take her to the park!’

So they did. I took BB downstairs and kissed her goodbye. I wouldn’t see her again for another few days. Suddenly I was alone with space to focus my mind.

Between my regular bouts of leaning on the windowsill, trying to be relaxed a la the hypnobirth CD, I packed an away bag for BB. Clothes, nappies, her beloved panda etc. I found the sight of this bag so forlorn and poignant I took a picture.


I packed a bag for me and the new baby in case I ended up in hospital.

The midwife came to check in on me, thinking she might then go away and come back later. The contractions were still very quick but getting more and more intense.

‘Where’s your husband?’

I felt a little embarrassed. She said it was impossible to tell how far away it was unless she examined me, but examining me might set things of resulting in Dad missing the birth. I had some toast and got a text from Dad saying he was half an hour away. We put dust sheets down. I leant on cushions and moaned. Dad eventually arrived and I suddenly felt all wobbly and worried, and wondered why. I thought it was the added number of people in the room, but maybe it was the transition I was feeling, because when Dad put his hand on my back, the contractions were suddenly stronger still.

The midwife was asking me questions and I was annoyed to have to expend the extra energy trying to answer them. I muttered through the pain and Dad translated.

Another midwife arrived and I was asked if a student could come in with her. ‘No!’ I said emphatically twice as I was already put out at the thought of someone else swanning in!

I remember it really annoyed me that the new midwife was quite heavily made up, as if she represented too much of the day, of the outside world invading the intimacy of my nest.

At some point I thought it would help matters if I took my trousers off. All was bright red when I looked down.  A few contractions later my waters broke with disconcerting violence. I remember thinking, ‘Aren’t you’re supposed to feel some relief with that?’

But things were happening fast. A few big contractions later the baby’s head was through. I had instinctively put my hand down to help it out, and then it was through and in my hand, all small and furry and silent. I marvelled at this and just kept saying, ‘Baby. Baby.’

The midwife was shouting loudly, ‘You have to listen to me now, this is very important’, and getting me to pant instead of push. I did pant when I heard her but her voice was quite distant in my head and the urge to push was inescapable. My son was out. They let Dad cut the cord and I held this tiny lump of new life while the midwives surveyed the damage.

I had a tear which was too large to be stitched properly at home.


Well my little boy is now nine weeks old, asleep, and so is his two year old sister. Better get this piece of writing finished. We went to hospital in an ambulance and I was stitched up properly with the help of an epidural. I was then very reluctantly stuck in hospital for two more nights. I remember feeling a little twinge of defeat when my perfect baby boy and I were tagged and entered into the system.

It was exactly right to be seen to properly in an operating theatre, and the epidural and all that that entailed, but I felt keenly the sudden loss of autonomy over myself and how I chose to care for my baby. I felt the sudden lack of family and even knowledge of what’s going on, stuck behind a curtain having no idea where I was, waiting for the next person (of the vast army) to come and see me.

I was regularly given an assortment of drugs which kept me out of pain. This never occurred to me after my previous birth, stupidly. Back then I sat on a rubber ring, bathed twice a day and was in pain for weeks. I can’t say I felt any pain at all in hospital. But I had a lot of discomfort, catheters and cannulas, noisy ward nights. So I concluded that birth at home meant more pain but family and comfort, and hospital meant less pain but more wires and strangers and discomfort. I don’t really know which is better or worse!


The impersonal and uncomfortable nature of hospital summed up on one wrist.

So now enters my son onto the world’s stage. He looks all-knowing, wise and strong. For the purpose of this blog I think I’ll call him Biscuit.


Dad with Biscuit when we had just got to hospital


Drowsy early mornings spent gazing at perfection.