Right, so, the details…
I first started with meaningful contractions at about 5am on Saturday morning and was at that point pretty certain I would have the baby by late afternoon, but although the pains were fairly regular they never really got any closer together or any stronger for most of the day. After lunch we went out for a pretty long walk to try and encourage things along, which perhaps it did a little, but still nothing very exciting was happening. Strangely enough this labour seemed to be more effective when I was lying on the sofa than when I was walking around - dunno why! So we pottered through the day and things gradually looked more serious, but I think I had it in my head that I needed to be able to be more peaceful to concentrate on labour. And strangely, as soon as all the kids were in bed (about 8.30pm) things really hotted up and by 9.30 I got Paul to ring the labour ward to say I would be needing someone to come out and assess me soon. The senior midwife on duty is someone I know well from previous babies and I spoke to her (SC) - in between contractions - who explained there was simply no way she could spare two midwives out to a homebirth as the Labour ward was over-run that night. She was really apologetic and said she would accommodate me whatever way she could and that I could go straight home from the Labour ward - whatever time that was. She even agreed to let me bring some children in with me if I wanted to (really not hospital policy).
So I gathered some bits together and off we trotted. Ironically this time I hadn't packed a 'grab it' bag - just didn't think I would need it as it's always been a waste of time in the past - so that took us a little while. I've never done a car journey in labour before - didn't like it! We arrived at the hospital at about 10.15 and I wondered whether things might take a while to get going again, but they didn't really so that was good. The midwife that met us at the door was probably one of the most irritating people I have encountered and when she put her arm around me to guide me to my room I was not amused! She failed to tell us her name, but presumed to make physical contact with me. I pushed her hand off and when I had chance muttered to Paul that she was going to drive me crazy! She was not impressed when we said that we were going back for the kids, but when we said that SC had approved it she back tracked and disappeared! Fortunately SC must have seen my face and knowing me well the next face I saw was a different midwife (F) and she was FANTASTIC! She was willing to accommodate me and bend over backwards to make things good for me.
When she examined me - about ¾ hr later - I was a good 5cms, but she seemed to think things would be a little while yet. "still thick and long though. Baby's head is still high - I can push it almost out of your pelvis! Membranes bulging, but the head's too high to break them." - which I didn't want anyway, but I knew she was wrong about the 'a while yet' ! The contractions kicked in hard then (as I knew they would after an exam') and it was not long at all before my waters went. There was meconium in the water (that was first for me) but not heavy. F said that she 'should' put a monitor on because of the mec', but I said that baby would be here in 20 minutes. If he/she wasn't out in half hour I'd let her put a monitor on. She was happy with that and as baby's heart beat was happy and he was still squirming around I knew he was OK J Of course, he was out in no time (about 4 or 5 contractions I think) - and arrived very happy, not loud, but happy J , all 9lb 6oz of him - followed by a positive flood of water - if I hadn't been on all fours he'd have drowned, but as it was he just had a thorough wash! The midwife passed him through to me and we cuddled up for a bit while we waited for the placenta. The HCA who was there took Nathanael and gave him a 'good rub' - I had to stop her before she rubbed his skin off - she was rubbing him clean and dry with those horrible starchy hospital towels! I asked her to stop because I hated it! I wanted him wrapped in our soft towel - we had taken them with us so Paul got one out and we wrapped him in that instead - much better! And that was that really!
I was up, bathed and discharged in a couple of hours. We arrived home by 2.15am when we woke the children to see if they wanted to come and meet their new brother. The boys came down first and then the girls. Jake thought that I was joking when I said we had been into hospital to have him but when he saw the unopened birth kit he realised I wasn't ;-) So after they'd all had a cuddle we packed them all back to bed and snuggled down for the night with our newest son.