(warning - slightly gory birth story follows.)
On Saturday night our daughter, Sofia Grace Glucina, was born. She needed a bit of a push to arrive - after trying the usual spicy foods and hot baths with no result, I was induced at term because I was an older mum. We'd been told the process was usually slow and I wasn't looking forward to a long day or two - but at least we'd been to the DVD shop and taken out 8 DVDs of the 'romance' and 'general nostalgia' variety (Mark assuring me that this was the one time he'd agree to watch "The Notebook" with me. )
We managed one DVD before my contractions started getting really strong - so they had a look, decided to break my waters and sent me off to delivery suite. At this stage I was only 2 cm dilated and at the average rate of progress for first time mums, had about 8 hours to go. The anaesthetist was called to do an epidural - I've witnessed hundreds of births in my job as paediatrician and believe me, you can tell who's had an epidural and who hasn't.
But while waiting for him to come my contractions got even more intense. 35 minutes down the track I suddenly felt a tremendous urge and shouted out, "I want to do a poo!" (It wasn't my most poetic moment.) But it had the desired effect - the midwife dropped everything and couldn't get my legs open fast enough for a check - sure enough, I was fully dilated and the obstetrician was soon on her way. It was too late to have an epidural - so for me, whose birth plan was to be completely medicalised, avoid pain and have drugs all the way, it was 'natural childbirth' time. Ouchies.
"You're going to have your baby really soon now," the midwife said. I nodded, but even though I pushed when they said, deep down I still didn't believe that someone wouldn't magically intervene and get the baby out for me. It wasn't until they put the mirror between my legs and I could see the hair on her head appearing as I pushed that I realised that yep, this time there was no shirking - the only person who could push her out was me (well, with quite a lot of encouragement and an episiotomy, it turned out - though by that stage I really didn't care.) And if you're wondering if I pushed like the serene ladies with an epidural, the answer is no - I believe I shouted the place down and made my poor obstetrician deaf in one ear, while Mark (my wingman) soldiered on beside me with the water and the facecloth and the cold water spray. It was weird though. The pushing part didn't hurt, strangely - it was just damn hard work that only I could do.
But less than 12 hours after we'd checked into hospital, I was holding my newborn in my arms. I think my first emotion was disbelief. Even now I'm still getting used to the idea of having a baby, even though it's something I've hoped for and planned all my life. Now she's here, and the feeling is so different to how I'd imagined it. I thought there'd be ecstasy - but what I have with my daughter and my husband is so much better. It's the start of a lifetime relationship. We're a new three. We're a family.