Home births have always repulsed me. I have never understood why someone would want to inflict that on their home, their place of calm. However, when my first baby flew out at top speed and the midwives half-jokingly told me to stay at home the next time or I would end up giving birth in the car, I started to think about it when my second babe was on the way. We decided that the risk of pushing a baby out with an audience of truckers and dog-walkers was too high and we booked in with the home-birth team.
So when I started having contractions, we rang the hospital and asked for the home birth team to kindly pop on over. They informed us that no one was on duty. Brilliant. But we weren’t to worry they assured us; the B-team of not-actual-midwives were on hand to assist the delivery of our beloved child… I like to think I’m a pretty optimistic person so, thinking the best of the services, I was at first potentially inclined to let the B-team have a crack at it. However, the hospital continued, the second class crew were at present delivering another baby to a poor woman who obviously had the guts to give them a shot (hey, everyone deserves their first break). The hospital discussed with us that they were probably nearly done so we were very welcome to patiently wait and they would come and see to us next. Perfect. I would cross my legs and tell my baby to wait her turn.
I had a quick word with my unborn child and she replied that she was not impressed with this plan and defiantly kicked contractions up a notch. I mentioned to my husband that it felt like the baby could be on her way very soon and his response was to go and put a pizza in the oven.
Thankfully our superhero friend turned into a taxi ninja and dropped us off at the hospital with no sign of the infant dropping out just yet. But as soon as I stepped out of the car, labour kicked up a gear again and my silent prayers turned into “God, just get me to a room. Please. We are SO close.” And yet so far as it turned out.
The ward we were headed for is really helpfully on the fourth floor. My husband offered a hilarious joke, asking whether I wanted to take the lift or the stairs. One sharp look from me and he shut up.
The lift took about one hour to arrive. Then we boarded the lift along with approximately 167 people. Each person individually chose each button for every floor of the hospital, with some delightful conversation along the way before they made their carefully planned choice. As we stopped at every single floor that the building had to offer, we engaged with more visitors who thought long and hard about whether they wanted to join us. Was there room? No, don’t worry, they would wait for the next one. Oh there was room! Lovely! Let’s squeeze in too. But only if it was no trouble. Spiffing! Come on in family of 50, there’s always room for one more! I have never been so close to screaming at a bunch of strangers in my life.
We got to the ward. We got to a bed. I had to pee in a tin foil cup. I never brought it back. In that moment I genuinely believed that I was not going to get back off that toilet.
Eventually I lay down and started to push. The charming midwife chose this moment of intense focus to ask me the most, in my hazy mind, random questions:
Firstly, where would I like the baby delivered to?
What are you on about? What are the options? Down the hall?!? My home address?! My husband gently answered that I would like the baby delivered to my chest. Oh I see. Sorry lady, very considerate.
Secondly, would I like to delay cord clamping?
What the hell is that?? I don’t have the capacity for this nonsense. I look at my husband with wild eyes and probably a ‘you better sort her out’ kind of expression and he fields that one too.
After this experience of being on University Challenge, our baby was indeed born (and delivered to me) and we got to go home without the manual of how to raise a newborn and a toddler at the same time.