"The epidural only worked on one side of my body
Annermarie du Plessis tells how a night of poker led to the birth of her little girl Jo-

I was just over 38 weeks pregnant with our little princess when I got up round about 3am to visit the bathroom, I was shocked when I saw that my tummy had dropped down and I rushed to wake my hubby. He just nodded and drifted back off to dreamland! I was excited, surely it meant that it was nearly time for baby Jo-Anne to make her arrival! Her room was ready, my bags were packed. Of course she didn't come right away.

A few days later my brother invited us to their smallholding nearly 35km from home. The men would play poker while the girls chatted. Tuesday was Women's Day so we gladly accepted the invite.

The men were just about to put our meat on the grill at about 7:45pm, interupting the poker game shortly. I excused myself from the girls to visit the loo, but when I got up water just ran in every direction! And I knew, it was time, my water had just broken! I sent my sister in law to call my husband while I hobbled to the loo. He came to check that I wasn't just joking, as he was doing pretty well at the poker table. He gladly gave his chips away and we got into the car for the bumpy drive back to town.

I was planning a natural birth and I knew I was going to need some energy so we made a quick stop at the McDonalds drive through, not exactly healthy, but it had to do! I finished my food on the way home, almost too excited to eat.

At home I had a shower, packed the last items for myself and baby and drove to hospital. I wasn't feeling any painful contractions yet and my water had broken almost an hour and a half ago.

At the maternity ward baby and I were checked out and I was only 1cm dilated. I was given a bed and basically had to wait it out.

At about 12am they wanted to send hubby home, but we both refused! He was too scared he would fall asleep on the couch and not hear his phone. So he stayed! At about 2am my contractions started. At first they were easy to handle, and I could cope by just standing or walking a little bit. As time progressed they became more intense, just as you feel you can't handle the pain any longer it eases. My husband played a vital role here, comforting me, encouraging me and talking me through each contraction! He watched the monitor like a hawk!

I dilated slowly and at 5am was given the option of an epidural with some meds to increase my contractions.

I was more scared of the epidural than of the birth, but it was fairly painless and helped to ease the pain so much that by 7am I could doze a little. I was quite tired, since I haven't slept at all! But the excitement of seeing my little girl overcame all forms of exhaustion.

At one point the nurse tried to let me sit up straight to help with the dilation, but I nearly fainted! Soon after that I realised that the epidural was only working on one side of my body, but it still helped enough to ease most of the pain! It felt quite strange to feel contractions on only one side!

At 10am the Gyne came in and I was positioned on the bed. I refused to take off my pink bedsocks! And the Dr could only laugh at them! He and my husband casually discussed the bombings in England as the TV was on in the room. I was feeling anxious! This spreading of the legs story was not exactly comfortable, but I soon forgot about that when I was told that the time had come to push!!

Since the epidural only worked on one side, I felt a lot during the birth process, but I lost myself in the moment! And just focussed on everything the Dr and my hubby told me. He was there all the time, talking to me. I needed him there!

At 10:48am our beautiful little girl was put on my chest! She had blacker than black hair. She cried for a few seconds and then she was content to cuddle with me. I had never felt so greatful in my life. Jo-Anne stayed with me while the docter did the sewing up part. He had to cut me twice and I was losing a lot of blood. Of course I was unaware of all this. After he was done, the nurse helped me to latch Jo-Anne so that she could drink and our new little family was left alone to bond for 15 minutes after which our family was allowed in to meet her for the first time!

I was fortunate that I didn't require a blood transfusion and I was up and about later the same the day!

Jo-Anne's name is a combination of hubby and my name and means God is gracious and merciful! She is our miracle as we took a long time to conceive! She's a happy 15 month old todler now! And next year she will be a big sister to a baby brother named Jaden!

Motherhood has changed my life into a rollercoaster of ultimate highs and sometimes a few lows, but I have never been happier!

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