“I knew exactly what I wanted. Labour for as long as possible at home, nip to hospital, a dip in the birthing pool, a bit of gas and air, then pop out the baby. At a push, if you’ll pardon the pun, I’d have an epidural.
“Two weeks before my due date, I was sent to hospital by my midwife because my blood pressure had risen and there was protein in my urine, a combination that indicates pre-eclampsia. Three days later I was still there, having my blood pressure measured day and night and saving all my pee in a huge plastic bottle – lovely!
“Finally, they decided it was too risky to let the pregnancy continue in case I developed full-blown eclampsia. The midwife broke my waters and we waited. An hour later there was no sign of movement so they hooked me up to a drip to get things moving. Within five minutes I had three monster contractions and was grabbing at the gas and air. When the contractions took hold, I flooded the room. Did you know that contractions squeeze even more liquid out of you than when your waters break?
“A fresh face entered the room every two minutes with something new to plug me into. I had drips to reduce blood pressure, control contractions and prevent fits [a symptom of pre-eclampsia]. Then there were wires from the foetal and heart rate monitors, as well as the TENS, blood pressure and ECG machines. On top of that there were tubes for the gas and air, an oxygen mask and a catheter. The list was so long, they ran out of electric sockets!
“I just vomited my way through the contractions, but after five hours nothing had happened. I was so deflated and un-dilated! I cried for an epidural and the anaesthetist swiftly did her magic, adding even more needles and tubes to the mix. The relief was amazing.
“Seven hours later I hit the 10cm mark and was ready to push. But the baby wouldn’t budge and her heart rate started to fall. My fantastic husband, Joe, said it was because I’d made such a lovely home for her during the last nine months that she didn’t want to come out, and I cried!
“After an episiotomy [a cut to widen the vaginal opening] and a bit of suction with the ventouse vacuum pump, Caitlin Niamh Gallagher entered the world. Then I passed out!
“When I came round, Caitlin had been cleaned up and was being cuddled by her dad. We stayed in hospital for a few days, as I needed a blood transfusion. Then we headed home, happy and relatively healthy.”
Length of labour : About 11 hours.
Pain relief: TENS, gas and air, epidural.
Scariest moment: Throwing up when my husband and the midwife were out of the room.
Funniest moment: Trying to find a four-way extension lead for all the equipment.
Advice for mums-to-be: It doesn’t matter how good or bad your labour was, tell your story to other people. Who cares if they’re not listening? You’ll feel better for getting it off your chest!