On Friday 23rd July 2010, at 27 weeks and 2 days, I went into premature labour with our twins.
I had been feeling a bit funny all day. My bump seemed lower and to have changed shape somehow. I was also feeling more panicky than usual about the state of our house.
About 9pm David, my fiance, and I went for a walk around the block. I found it very uncomfortable and could not go far without really needing the toilet. We went home and not long after went to bed but I was finding it very difficult to sleep. I had pains in my tummy and needed to get up for the loo all the time.
By midnight I was too uncomfortable to sleep and by the early hours was keeping David awake too. I was getting cross and emotional and the pain was coming in waves. David and I thought that I might be having Braxton Hicks contractions. We looked them up online and in books. All the while the pain was getting worse.
By 4am David was insisting that we go to the hospital. I was crying and screaming at him that I did not want to go back there. I was sure that the pains were nothing, that they would pass and that the hospital would think I was stupid if I went in.
David dialled the hospital and gave me the phone. As I spoke to the midwife she said that she could tell I was in pain and that I should come straight in to be assessed. We drove to the hospital with the pain getting worse. I struggled to walk to the Labour Ward. Once there David and I were shown back in to the room where we had spent much of the last week as I recovered from abdominal surgery. We waited to be assessed.
There was a student called Alexandra looking after us. I told her that I did not think I was contracting and that I could feel the twins moving. The student and the sister found the twins’ heartbeats and they took my obs. We then just waited for the doctor. When he came he felt my stomach and said that he could feel me contracting.
The contractions were coming every two minutes.
I was in labour and the babies were coming!
This threw me into a mad state of panic. I wasn’t ready yet. The babies weren’t ready yet!
27 weeks was too early for the babies to be born. I didn’t know what to do! I hadn’t been to antenatal classes yet! I didn’t know about pain relief, I didn’t have my carefully planned and packed hospital bag! Everything was telling me that we, none of us, were ready.
But David changed. The minute the doctor confirmed I was in labour, he changed from worried, scared to positive about getting this job done.
The babies were coming, and they were coming soon! When the doctor examined me he found that I was already 8cm dilated. The babies were coming now and there was nothing anyone could do.
Everyone became busy. Cannula in, fluids put up and I was taken to theatre to give birth.
Whilst all this was going on I had been using gas and air to help ease the contractions that were coming thick and fast. I continued with this in theatre until it was time to push.
There were so many people in the room but I didn’t really notice and I certainly didn’t care. The babies were coming and I did not know what to do!
As the midwives were telling me to push I was screaming back that I did not know how to push. A young student called Naomi talked me through it whilst I almost broke her hand!
Between contractions I was on good form, I think, managing to laugh at David in his doctor’s hat. He looked like a strange French chef!
After what was really no time at all I was pushing Esther out. It really did hurt and was the strangest feeling. The midwives were telling me to push and bear down, and I really did try but I had no idea what to do. The midwife said to think of it as having a big poo, which I did, and so Esther was born.
The head really hurt and stung, then it felt warm and soft as her body came free. It was not unlike the sensation of when they broke my waters, warm and wet.
Esther was shown to me very quickly before she was taken away. She was beautiful even then and I take back everything I have ever said about all newborn babies being the same.
After a rest, congratulations and complete shock from David and I, it was time to go again, it was time for William to be born. I was given something to bring on contractions but there was every possibility that William would need to be delivered by c-section. But almost simultaneously with the words, ‘Prepare the c-section team!’, the doctor turned William around and it was time to push.
I could not help the screaming though I knew I needed to focus that energy on the push. It is hard not to scream with pain and fear and effort.
Our children were born 22 minutes apart on Saturday 24th July 2010.
Esther Grace Henley, born 7.33am
William Nairn Henley, born 7.55am