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No two births are the same, as Croydon North’s Erica Webb discovered when she gave birth to her second baby boy, Fraser George. Here Erica shares the story of Fraser’s quick delivery. My babies were born two years and two days apart. That wasn’t exactly how I thought it would pan out. For a start, my first-born arrived 11 days past his due date, so I errantly assumed my second would be late too. But he came before his due date and surprised us all. Going into labour much earlier than I expected was just the beginning of what would become ‘the labour and birth comparison game’ that I subsequently played.
With my first son, I was in active labour for 12 hours, with nearly two hours of that being pushing, and that was as bad as it sounds. With my second, I estimated that I’d be in labour for six to eight hours. It paid to be prepared and think ahead, right? Well, little did I know that from my first contraction about 3.15am, baby was only three hours away.
Let me back up a little though, shall I?
It’s 3.15am. At first, I’m not sure what’s woken me; then I feel the burning, deep sensation of a contraction. It’s a familiar feeling that brings back the memory of my labour and birth with Lincoln just two years and two days ago. It all comes flooding back, and with clenched teeth I prepare myself for what I think lies ahead.
The contractions start as they mean to continue – hard and fast. Still, it was the same with my first labour, so I assume we have hours to go yet. Nevertheless, I call my parents to come by and watch my two year old – the last thing I want is a panic when it’s really time to leave.
My mum sounds remarkably chipper for 4am. But she’s been waiting for this call and her duties will involve looking after her beloved grandson and then coming in to visit the new baby. She has every right to be chipper. I am not so chipper.
By 4.30am I’m sitting at the kitchen table with my parents – them with tea and coffee, me continuing to grit my teeth and scream inside my head, wondering how on earth I was going to get through such pain. My dad thought it was a good time to make small talk and jokes. My sense of humour was missing in action.
My contractions are getting more and more intense – closer together and lasting for what seems like an age. Mum suggests it might be time to call the midwife, but I’m reluctant. It’s only 4.45am – surely calling anyone before 5am is inhumane. Besides, I’m certain I still have hours to go. But within a few minutes I decide I need to call. Things are ramping up and our midwife tells us to head in whenever we’re ready. I’m still convinced I have hours ahead of me, but by 5.30am I realise we have to go. I struggle to the car, stopping on my short journey to get through a contraction. My husband calls our midwife again and just like that, we’re on our way.
I’m in so much pain, but I tell myself I’ve done this before, I can do it again. Our car trip is punctuated by my cries of: “I can do this” and “his will pass” on repeat. One hand on the dash, the other gripping the overhead/window ‘handle’, I grip and talk my way through the contractions, taking a chance in the very short breaks between contractions to calculate how long we have left on our journey. I start to get the vaguest of urges to push in the car, but ignore it.
Finally, we arrive at the hospital. We have a bit of a walk (not much on a regular day, but a marathon when in labour). As we enter Emergency a triage nurse offers me a wheelchair. I abruptly decline – there’s no way I can sit down now. We head upstairs and, always the pro, our midwife promptly arrives behind us and we make our way to my birth suite. My midwife wants me on the bed to have a feel of my belly and a listen to the baby. I can’t lay down and stay still. I kneel instead, my hands gripping the raised head of the bed.
“I can’t do this! I can’t do this!” I cry. But I know I can. Really, what choice do I have? I start to feel like I’m losing control, but I hold on or at least I think I do. I can do this.
“Can I have the gas?” I plead. This is what I did last time, so I’m going through the motions, still crazily believing that ‘last time’ is a good yard stick. I suck on the mouthpiece and feel reassured by the fuzziness the gas delivers. The pain is still as real as ever though.
My midwife is saying crazy things, like “can you get your pants off?”
“What? Already?” I’m looking at the clock and the clock tells me I have hours to go. My midwife laughs at me as I throw her a pleading look and say “it’s too soon!” when she tells me to go ahead and go with my urge to push. I feel like I’m not with ‘it’ at all – so focused on the time and my idea of how things might go, that I’m somehow detached from what’s really happening.
Moments later my water breaks. It’s 6.15am. Pushing starts in earnest, but I’m still not convinced a baby is on the way.
I’m wrong. It’s 6.30am and I’m holding a baby in my arms. It’s a boy. He is beautiful. I’m shocked though. It’s only 6.30am. I went into labour at 3.15am. What just happened? Our little boy snuggles into my chest. He is amazing. We made this? Absolute perfection.
A little while later, our boy is weighed and measured: 3.6kg/7pd 15oz, 53cm long. We decide to call him Fraser George. It suits him. We’ll soon come to realise that his birth was a sign of things to come. This boy will not be walking in his brother’s footsteps, thank you very much. He has his own path to follow. Note taken, my boy. Note taken.

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