I didn’t know I was in labour
Some births don’t go according to the pregnancy books.
(Carmen Roberts)
Considering my first son had to be induced (twice!) nearly a week after his due date, I wasn’t expecting an early arrival with my second child.

So when, 2 weeks before the date circled in red on my calendar, I lost my mucous plug, I didn’t think too much of it. This can happen up to 3 weeks before Baby’s arrival, so the books said. It’s simply a sign of your body getting ready for the birth process.

That afternoon I took my toddler to the park, and although I was feeling quite uncomfortable, there was no searing pain so I put it down to Braxton Hicks contractions. I continued to hold animated conversations with the other mommies about everything I still needed to do in the weeks before Baby arrived.

By 17:00 my back was beginning to ache a little, but I put it down to lugging my belly and toddler up the road from the park. I handed Firstborn over to Dad and had a nice warm bath, which soothed the aches but did not stop them entirely.

Is this it?

At about 18:30 I started getting a little sore, but I still imagined that it was false labour. And that if it was indeed the real thing, that it was only the beginning of a very long process. Having been catapulted into contractions the last time round, I had no idea what it felt like to slowly ease into labour.

The cramps were coming every couple of minutes but only lasting a few seconds each, so I dismissed them – the book said not to call the hospital until they lasted 45 seconds each. I practised the breathing exercises I’d learnt at yoga, and used a warm wheat bag to soothe the pain in my lower back.

Pack the bags!

By 20:00 I was feeling extremely uncomfortable so we called our doula to the house. She walked in, took one look at me, and ordered Hubby to pack the bags! He was in as much denial as I was, as he called my mother to watch Toddler while we went to the hospital “just to check things out” and phoned a colleague to explain that his wife “might” be in labour so he may not have those papers ready by morning.

I was getting a bit short-tempered and snapping at Hubby a lot (like for fussing about finding a matching pair of socks – no I will not let that one go!). It turns out that I was already in the transition phase of labour, because when we arrived at the labour ward I was nearly fully dilated.

Here we go!

The reality of the situation still hadn’t fully hit me. By the time my waters broke spontaneously and I was ready to push, I’d breathing-exercised and mantra’d myself into a sort of trance, and less than an hour after arriving at hospital, baby Yishai Shalom was born.

Those first few moments after the birth were incredible yet entirely surreal. Baby was handed to me and I was in total shock. I still had an unfinished nursery and a half-cooked dinner at home! I wasn’t pregnant anymore! We had a second son! I could barely believe I’d just given birth. 

Your body or the book?

I’d missed all the signs that I was in labour because I was listening to the book rather than my body. Actually, I’m not unhappy about that, because I think I may have handled things differently had I realized what was happening (panicked, rushed to the hospital and begged for an epidural).

This labour experience was a natural progression from pregnancy – my body just quietly got on with what it had to do. I’m grateful to my body for its wisdom, intuition, and ability to cope with one of life’s most amazing but arduous tasks: the birth of a child.

How did your labour progress? Was is quick or did it take hours? Share your story below.

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