Waiting for Joen to arrive was a pain. Actually having him arrive was also a pain (Katherine can attest to that). Luckily we had a huge amount of support, with about a hundred people following the blow-by-blow action on my twitter account.
Thank you to everyone at home following the feed, it really felt great to know so many people cared. Thanks as well to the supportive tweets from people we don’t even know – @pmphillips, @em_cooper and @HeidiSiena especially!
In the run up to Joen arriving, we’d been ready for about a month, every day thinking “this could be the one!” I usually get lifts with people to work, for environmental/financial reasons. After Christmas, however, we felt it was safest I drive, since the due date was the 17th, so I needed to be ready to scoot home when I got the call. In the end, I drove in every day for 4 weeks, each day getting at least one call from Katherine, that I answered with “IS THIS IT? ARE YOU…”, and she would interrupt and ask me if I wanted carrots for dinner.
Sunday night, when she was a week overdue, she had a bad lower abdominal pain, worse than any before. Excitedly, I grabbed my phone and set off the stopwatch, timing between the contractions. When I woke up the next morning, the stopwatch read “7 hours 37 minutes”. I went to work, slightly deflated.
Then, on Thursday, her waters broke. A bit. Maybe. Still, the midwife wanted her in, so I set off home. Or tried to. The friendly driver of a black BMW had parked behind me in the car park. And then disappeared off the face of the earth. After ringing every single room in our unit, to no avail, I got the car next to me to move out, and, borderline levitating my car, managed to escape out of the side. Of course, this was the only time this happened, during a month of parking in the same car park.
Anyway, we got back, went to the hospital, waited around for ages, and they told us… her waters hadn’t broken. We went home, and then, around midnight, Katherine had a contraction. By now I didn’t even believe her. This proved to be a wise decision, as although they kept her awake all night, they became less common and less painful throughout Friday.
Just as we were settling down to watch Naked Gun on Friday evening, the contractions came back with a vengeance. Powerful, painful – it was clear that these were the real deal. I started timing them on my phone, and we called the midwife when they reached a rate of every 5 minutes. She came and examined Katherine, to tell her that she was not even 1 centimetre dilated.
The rest of the night was spent with Katherine moaning in pain, and me trying to find different places in the house to sit that wouldn’t hurt her. Two baths later (not to mention several trips to the bedroom and the nursery laden with fifteen pillows), her contractions were every 2 minutes, and we rang the Jessop Wing, who told us to come on in.
In we came, where they set up all kinds of machines that go “PING!”, and told us that both baby and momma were well, but that mummy’s cervix was only about 3cm dilated. At 10cm, birth can begin, and generally the rule of thumb is that it dilates a centimetre an hour. We were soon to take that thumb, and stamp on it again and again and again.
From 5am that morning, to 4pm that afternoon, Katherine went through a huge amount of pain, hundreds of drawn out contractions, and a moderate amount of despair at the task ahead of her.
At 4pm, she was assessed by the midwife again, which showed that all her work, all her sacrifices of blood and sweat over 11 hours had resulted in the cervix widening from 3 centimetres… to 4!
At this point, we became a little depressed. Neither of us had slept at all on Friday night, and Kat hadn’t slept since Wednesday night. Coupled with this, we still had a long way to go, down a road that was already proving exhausting to Katherine, and showing signs that it would be beyond her capacity to withstand pain. So then, reluctantly, we made a decision to go for an epidural. We were reluctant because epidurals have a few rare but serious side effects, and can make labour last longer.
The epidural went in at 8pm, after an anaethetist made 5 attempts to get a cannula in, and then gave up! Eventually a colleague got it in, bring Katherine’s total number on cannula attempts during labour to 9! The next 4 hours were pretty good. Katherine was suddenly pain free, and she got some desperately needed sleep, whilst her body carried on getting itself ready. As best it could.
At around midnight, Joen’s heartbeat started dropping, probably because his head was getting crushed by Katherine’s superhuman pelvic floor muscles. It recovered quickly, but it continued to happen, so it was decided that we needed to have this baby soon.
Another examination at 3am showed that the cervix had stubbornly stopped… at 9cm. By now, both myself and Katherine just wanted the baby out, and safe; so the decision for a caesarian section was a relief.
And that’s about it. 56 minutes later, after a mere 31 hours of labour, Joen James Lowry entered the world. Ain’t that just fabulous?