The baby was due a few days before Christmas, so losing my job gave me plenty of time to prepare for its arrival, at least that’s what I thought. A month before the due date I nonchalantly told my husband not to worry, he should just go ahead and visit his son in France for a few days while everything was quiet and in control at home.
A couple of days before his return, my friend Susan was due to come and help me clean windows and get things ready for the imminent arrival of our new family member. That morning I woke knowing something had changed; it looked different too as I observed traces of blood. I called the midwife and she advised me to come to the hospital immediately for a check-up and suggested I bring my not yet prepared hospital bag.
I went to the hospital that same day and apart from one brief night, I was not to return home for the next three weeks. Tests indicated the waters were leaking and I was informed an inducement would be performed as soon as a bed became available. There were eleven delivery suites at the Royal Free Hospital, all occupied; and so the long wait began.
That wait proved fruitful, long enough to skip over a few chapters of the book I was reading on Preparing for Childbirth and start reading about inducement. I didn’t like what I read at all, injected with drugs which make contractions more severe than they would otherwise be, did not sound in any way appealing. I looked for the chapter on breathing; I hadn’t read that chapter yet either. I had not finished the preparation classes, three weeks was plenty of time to get into the huffing and puffing part I’d thought.
My friend Susan arrived and read to me from the chapter about inducement, I listened to her calm, soothing voice with increasing horror and fear at the alarming words tumbling forth in that gentle voice and my thoughts drifted to my aromatherapy training and all those essential oils that are contra-indicated in pregnancy because they are emmenagogue, able to trigger contractions. Clary Sage, Jasmine, Rosemary. I had put some Lavender and Rosemary in my bag, one to stimulate, the other to relax. I decided that a natural intervention was required, I had to at least try, I had nothing to lose and a few hours left to do something.
Susan went home to rest, promising to come back later in the evening. She had started the day out intending to be my window cleaning helper and she would end it as my birthing partner, something neither of us had envisaged and something I will forever be grateful to her for.
My dear friend Kimberley came to visit. Kimberley had been pregnant at the same time as me. We used to work in the same office, laugh together, drink big mugs of tea together and talk about our future. We were supposed to have our babies at the same time. Her beautiful, so loved already baby didn’t make it and now here she was coming to comfort and be with me.
I asked her if she would massage some of the Rosemary and Lavender mixed with almond carrier oil on my stomach. I told her my plan and she laughed that gorgeous, contagious laugh she has and said she hoped it would work. I felt some flutters, but not much else, it felt good to laugh and the aroma of the oils made me forget the blood-curdling screams that had been coming from the bedside next to me earlier.
About 10pm Susan returned and the nurse arrived to announce the availability of a delivery suite. We moved to the room and as they set up the monitors the fluttering started up again and the indicators on the monitor started to jump around. I looked at Susan and at the nurse. The nurse gave me nitrogen gas to inhale and I started to laugh uncontrollably, the room seemed to have become a little crazy, like we had entered a different zone. We had. The baby was ready to move.
The doctor returned and asked what was going on. He had expected to come in and administer drugs for an inducement. He took one look at the monitor and said “No drugs needed here. You are on your way” and left the room.
Next Up in our mother/daughter collaborative story: A Silent Education: Our Quiet Challenge in Provence
Episode 4 : Where’s My Baby and Why Isn’t She With Me!
Previous Episodes: Introduction
Episode 1: The Benefits of Insomnia
Episode 2: We are not Living in France!