Plenty happened in those final few weeks before Alice was born.
Greg and I attended Parentcraft classes, giving us the chance to meet other expectant parents in our area.
There were four sessions overall, covering everything from what to expect during labour, what might go wrong, pain relief options, and baby feeding.
Some sessions were helpful and others less so. It was at these sessions we met Izzie and Sean, who were expecting little Theo just two days after Alice’s due date.
Once we began our maternity leave, Izzie and I met up a few times. We tried an Aquanatal class but found it a bit odd. So we stuck to cake instead, sharing our fears and excitement about our impending labours. And we’re still meeting up to this day, only this time with both babes too!
I still had a few antenatal appointments with my midwife, Annie. I wrote my birth plan with her help. I knew that every labour was different and that it was all too common for your birth plan to go out of the window.
Despite this, I planned to have a water birth in Stepping Hill’s Birth Centre.
Having completed a tour of the hospital a few weeks earlier, there was no way I wanted to give birth in a delivery room. They seemed sterile and cold in contrast to the spa-like calmness of the rooms in the Birth Centre.
As for pain relief, I was open to options but prepared to go as far as I could on gas and air. I’d read up about epidurals and one of them was the last thing I wanted.
Given the choice, I wanted to have a natural birth, with as little medical intervention as possible.
Yes it would be painful, but I wanted to see what my body was capable of.
My birth plan was signed off. I was healthy, baby was healthy, and as long as nothing major happened in the meantime, it looked probable that my labour would take place in the Birth Centre.
Then I hit the 36 week mark and things changed slightly.
I went to my antenatal appointment as usual, handing over my urine sample for testing. This time though, there were traces of protein which can be a sign of pre-eclampsia.
What’s more, when Annie felt my stomach, she told me she thought Alice had gone breech. After weeks of being head down, this was the last thing I needed to hear.
She made me an appointment for an ultrasound scan the next day at the hospital and told me if her fears were confirmed, I’d be booked in for a caesarean section.
I knew it wasn’t the end of the world if I did have pre-eclampsia or if Alice was breech, but at the time it felt like everything was going wrong.
However, the scan confirmed Alice was still head down and healthy. A second urine sample showed no signs of protein and all was well again.
I breathed a sigh of relief and went back to enjoying my pregnancy.
Over the next few weeks I had several signs that labour was close, feeling powerful contractions over and over again.
They were all false starts though and before I knew it, my due date came and went and Alice still hadn’t made an appearance.
It wasn’t until my 39th week that I started to get impatient. Where was she? I’d gone all through pregnancy convinced she was going to arrive early.
I’d had our hospital bags packed and ready by week 32, I’d finished work, I’d cleaned the house from top to bottom everyday for the past few weeks.
I’d had a membrane sweep on my due date and gone home with a little spring in my step, certain that I’d go into labour that night.
Nothing happened. I tried eating curry, several times, to kick-start labour. Nothing apart from some painful Braxton Hicks. Pineapple? Still nothing. There’s a whole list of things to try which are supposed to speed labour along, and we tried them all.
My bump was getting bigger by the day, I was barely sleeping, getting up to go to the toilet every 15 minutes, and just generally feeling uncomfortable.
I was getting texts and phone calls daily asking if I’d given birth yet. Every time I ventured out of the house, strangers would ask how long I had left, then look at me in panic when I told them I was already overdue.
Eventually we realised we were just going to have to wait. Alice would come in her own time, when she was ready.
And eight days later, at 41 weeks and one day, she was born.