Sorry in advance for this post - it's probably really boring for anyone who wasn't there, but I have to write this down in case I forget anything.
On Friday 25th May, one day over my due date, I got up and it was business as usual. I took Blod on a really, really long walk to one of our favourite spots. I made Mr Meep and I a lovely lunch, then did a bit of washing and cleaning.
Mr Meep went off to work - he was working from 5pm and wouldn't be back until around 2.30am.
My mum called me at around 6-ish to see if I wanted some company, just in case anything happened. I had a few niggly pains in my stomach, but nothing to speak of, so I was happy at home alone with Wife Swap and Jonathan Ross for company.
At around 8-ish, I listened to my natal hypnotherapy CD (more on this later). While I was in a deeply zen-style state, imagining myself breathing in the beautiful golden light, I started to feel a pain in my stomach, which gradually got worse, then moved into my back, then slowly faded away again. About ten minutes later, I had another one. By the time the CD ended, I'd had four pains in forty minutes. They weren't that bad, so I put them down to those Braxton Hicks practice contraction thingies.
Throughout the evening, I got a few more, but still they weren't that bad. I retired to bed with a nice mug of Horlicks and drifted off to sleep. I'd wake up every now and again with the pains in my tummy. When Mr Meep came home from work at 2.30am, I woke up and calmly declared: "Hello. I think I am in labour." Mr Meep looked a little shocked - why hadn't I rung him at work? What was going to heppen next?
I was a bit excited now, so there was no way I was going back to sleep. I decided to have a bath and see if the water helped speed things up. Mr Meep got the laptop out and logged on to Contraction Master (you really can find anything on the internet), which scarily revealed that my contractions were between two and five minutes apart and were lasting a minute each time. Really, this should have alerted me to the fact that I was in full-on labour, but I really didn't think it was that painful, so I was still in denial that it was really happening. I lay in the bath, breathing in the golden light and visualising myself on a special beach with the waves crashing on the shore...
I thought maybe I'd better call the hospital anyway, just in case. The midwife on the graveyard shift said she was happy for me to stay at home as long as I felt fairly comfortable, but to give her a call if my waters broke or if I felt any... ahem.. rectal pressure.
I sent Mr Meep off to bed for a few hours kip, while I pottered around the house, straightened my hair, had a cuppa, played with the dog (who was very confused by all this night-time activity, and could I just bugger off please so she could get some sleep).
By the time Mr Meep woke up at around 7-ish, I was feeling a bit more pain. Still managing to waddle around while they were happening. Mr Meep decides that now is a good time start reading about what happens in labour. I start feeling a bit odd - too hot, then too cold, then a little bit sick, then... oh my god... "Gah! I need to push!".
Mr Meep steps into action, ringing the hospital, getting the bags together and calling my parents to come and collect Blod. Meanwhile, I am writhing around trying to fight this overwhelming urge to push the baby out. Rectal pressure? Bloody hell yes - and then some.
I was trying to get dressed but couldn't stand up. Mr Meep managed to get some clothes on me, but I didn't think there was any way I'd make it down the stairs, let alone into the car and the three-mile drive to the hospital. I could feel the baby's head, right there waiting to be pushed out into this big bad world as soon as possible.
Somehow, I got into the car without giving birth in the street. The urge to push was coming in waves that were closer and closer together. The car journey was interesting. Mr Meep, not the best at directions, had to ask me which way to turn out of our street. I managed to splutter a few "lefts" and "rights" in between trying not to have a baby, doing lots of "Shit, shit, shit, shiiiiiiiiiiiiiits" and frantically trying to find the 'Emergency delivery' section in 'What to Expect When You're Expecting'.
At the traffic lights outside the Cardiff Bay Morrisons, I thought I would try and see if I could see the baby's head, despite the fact I was sitting upright in the passenger seat of our not-very-spacious car. As I looked down, I felt a warm wet senstaion. Ah, I'd forgotten about the waters - this was them breaking then. Goodness knows what the lorry driver stopped next to us at the lights must have been thinking was going on.
The waters going made it all kick off. By the time we got to the hospital, the pains were coming one on top of the other. Mr Meep pulled up outside the entrance to the midwife unit to drop me off. I tried to get out of the car, but collapsed on my knees on the pavement, bum in the air and head still inside the car. I managed to get inside between contractions, got inside the foyer standing in soaking wet clothes, dripping amniotic fluid all over the nice clean floor.
The midwife came out to see me, but before I got her name, I was on my hands and knees again. She took one look at me and had me straight in the delivery room before you could say 'Gas and Air'. I'm wondering what's happened to the birthing pool - I'd packed my Ray LaMontagne CDs as some chill-out music while I laboured in the warm water.
"No time for that love, it takes an hour to fill - this baby's coming now."
Meanwhile, Mr Meep, who said I was so calm that he had no idea the baby was about to arrive, was concerned about the car park.
"Shall I go and move my car? I'm in a disabled spot, and it says we'll get a £15 fine."
Ten minutes later, he comes back...
"Em, have you got any change? The car park's £1.50 and I've only got £1.30. I don't want to get a fine."
No time for fumbling about for 20p though. He was about to miss the main event. It all happened so fast. I was on a bed, they were putting plastic sheets under me, getting a big box of 'birthing' stuff out and then I was pushing Gwen out. Just three contractions and a few puffs of gas and air later, and there she was. A purple crying thing covered in yoghurty stuff was plopped onto my chest.
I arrived at the hospital at 9am, she was born at 9.43am. You know when anyone tells you about giving birth, and the amazing feeling that comes over them when they see their baby for the first time and they cry and cry tears of overwhelming love and joy?
Mr Meep and I - we looked at each other and burst out laughing.
Then we had a nice cup of tea and got into a big bed for a family cwtch.
And that's it. Childbirth? Don't know what all the fuss is about! OK, I was incredibly lucky, but I think the Natal Hypnotherapy is the best thing ever, ever, ever! The midwives said they had never seen anyone so calm and relaxed - I was even chatting in between pushes. So pregnant ladies, my top tip for you is to get hypnobirthing - the best £18 you'll ever spend.