Unfortunately, I was still deeply entrenched in my "breathe through the contractions" mindset, and very attached to my gas and air. I believe it had to be wrenched from my hand. Which made me sad. I also think that it was at this point that I completely stopped listening to the midwives, so that Husband had to repeat everything they said so that I would do as I was told (those of you that know me will know that I'm not the best at that. Come to think of it, me actually listening to Husband was a bit of a turn-up for the books). Eventually, I listened, and started pushing. Someone had told me that pushing to get a baby out is remarkably like pushing to get out a big poo, and even in the throes of childbirth, I remember thinking "how weird, that's actually true". I'm glad I was told that, as all the midwives kept saying was "push down into your bum", which even now makes no sense to me, and I wouldn't have had a clue what I was meant to do.
And bloody hell, it's hard work. I always thought that I'd be screaming in pain when I got to this bit, but actually it was more like a long, drawn-out Wimbledon ladies singles final grunt, born out of the sheer effort of trying to get an actual human head (albeit a small one) out of somewhere that is not remotely human head-sized. I was convinced I could feel every single blood vessel in my head bursting. And I was trying as hard as I could, honest I was. But the bloody thing kept going back in! I wasn't really prepared for that. As well as being a thoroughly weird feeling, it's kinda frustrating. I started to feel like it would never come out, and informed the room that I was NOT doing it anymore. They quite rightly pointed out to me that I didn't really have a whole lot of choice in the matter at this point. So they decided I needed some inspiration, and got me a mirror so I could look and see my baby's head. WHY WOULD I WANT TO DO THAT YOU CRAZY WOMAN? I AM TRYING TO CONCENTRATE! And they kept on at me to have a feel! ARE YOU KIDDING ME? But they kept going on at me, so I looked, and I felt. And wished I hadn't. Say what you like about childbirth, but when you're looking at, well, THAT doing THAT, you can't help but feel it's completely unnatural.
And oh, the crowning. They call it the "ring of fire" apparently. I can see why. It stings. A lot. Words are insufficient.
Finally, I got the head out. And I felt like I was entitled to a rest after that. But no, apparently the rest of the baby has to follow. And at this point, a couple of thoughts got a bit mixed up in my head. The first was that I was still wearing the top I had come to hospital in, which was not the top I had packed in my hospital bag all those weeks ago. Giving birth in this top was not the plan. Also, having had the importance of skin-to-skin contact drummed into me, I somehow got it into my head that I had to get the baby on my boob STRAIGHT AWAY or breastfeeding would FAIL. So it seemed perfectly logical to whip my top off before embarking on the next part. Once the midwives had stopped laughing at me for randomly stripping, they told me, one more big push and I would have my baby. Not sure I believed them to be honest. It seemed very strange that one little head could take so much effort, and a whole body could just shoot right out. But that's exactly what happened. Just like that, the baby was out, and being shown to Husband. "It's a girl!" he said. In a pretty astonished tone of voice, as I had been convinced it was going to be a boy. Which was why my first word on the momentous occasion of meeting my firstborn was "WHAT?!!!!"
Then, apparently, followed what Husband has described as the scariest minute of his life. I, for some reason do not seem to recall this properly, but the baby came out with the cord round her neck, and didn't breathe straight away. So she was taken to the other side of the room while they did whatever it is they do, and she soon let out a cry.
And then I had my baby in my arms (and on my breast, where she stayed for about the next two hours. Poor Husband didn't even get to hold her until after the midwife asked could she please take her away to weigh her so she could finish the paperwork. And she pooed all over me. The baby, not the midwife). Some fairly nasty things happened afterwards to do with stitches and haemorrhages, which I will spare you the details of (see, I have some boundaries!), but that's the story of how Bad Mammy became a mammy.
Well done if you've read it all, and I'm sorry for boring you all with my self-indulgent rambling.
Oh God, I've got to do it all again soon......