Make sure you check our part one, part two and part three of my birth story, so that you know what has happened up to this point. It probably won't make very much sense otherwise.
In that lovely quiet, dark space I was beginning to breathe my way through contractions; controlling the ebb and flow of the pain by slowing my breathing and really focusing in on slowly filling my lungs and then emptying them again. I continued to monitor the pains, waiting for more consistency and for a clear pattern to emerge, and waiting for that moment when I would just "know" it was time to wake Rich and to go to the hospital.
2:40am duration 00:47.
2:42am duration 00:26.
2:46am duration 00:49.
2:49am duration 00:48.
2:52am duration 00:56.
2:57am duration 00:59.
3:00am duration 00:45.
3:03am duration 00.39.
I woke Rich at this point. And I know that because I know that I only recorded one more contraction at 3:10am after waking him, and then monitoring them went out of the window.
I leant across the bed and gave him a gentle nudge awake, and he sat bolt upright in bed and said he'd sort of been awake for a little while and had listened to me breathing strangely but had decided to leave me to it until I needed him. Well now I needed him, my contractions seemed to be getting longer in length and definitely in intensity. And while they still seemed to be a way off of the consistent one minute long contractions that I'd always been told to look out for, they were coming pretty thick and fast now. And I just kept remembering all the warnings about third babies tending to come pretty quickly, and also how things had sped up really quickly with my second labour.
So he rang the hospital while I manoeuvred out of bed and attempted to get dressed. And it was as I stood up, and gravity began to come into play a bit, that I began to wonder if maybe I should have woken Rich a little earlier. Once I was standing up I was very much more aware of how intense, long and regular my contractions were. Rich is well known to be a bit of a ditherer, and it takes him ages to get out of the house, and I can remember at some point trying to stress that we really needed to get a move on. I quickly waddled to our lounge to let my mum know that we were heading off, and she sleepily wished me luck. And then we were in the car, and on our way to meet our baby.
It was on the car journey that it really became apparent that things were moving quickly. That car journey was simultaneously the slowest and fastest of my life. I was desperate to be in hospital now and to know how things were going, so from that perspective it seemed to take forever to get there. But the journey really did fly by in a blur of contractions with very little respite in-between. I had long ago stopped monitoring them, but Rich watched the clock every time I started to focus in on my breathing again and said at some point on the journey that they were consistently 2 minutes apart now. I know the roads were empty but I also know for a fact that he was really putting his foot down. I wasn't really in a place were I could converse in the breaks between contractions, and I think he was as keen to get me to hospital as I was.
We pulled up and he sorted out getting a car parking ticket, while I made a slow waddle towards the hospital entrance. I knew from my second labour that getting into the maternity unit in the middle of the night can be a bit of a mission, even when you've rung ahead to warn them that you're on your way. There are umpteen doors to buzz through, and a lift journey to take, and the first creeping thoughts of anxiety came as I seemingly had contraction after contraction, slowing us down drastically by having to stop every couple of minutes to hang onto a wall or a bench or Rich, while I rocked my hips from side to side and tried to pushed the pain away as I pushed out each breath.
It was such a feeling of relief to finally reach the maternity unit, to be buzzed through the door of the assessment unit and to finally see those telltale uniforms of midwife and maternity professionals. We handed over my notes as they cheerily told us that we were the only people on the unit in labour, and that they'd move me across to the labour ward as soon as they'd assessed and admitted me.
And then they moved me to a waiting room... having already told me I was the only woman there. And they told me to take a seat... which was basically impossible. And they told me they wouldn't be long... and it already felt like I'd waited long enough. But wait we did; me standing bent over a chair, gripping it's arms and rocking back and forth. And Rich looking on with a pretty concerned look on his face.