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Mother of two (born 1980s/2000s), from South-East England

1) 1980s: 17 years old looked after by the GP Unit. Went into Labour at home and remember having a show. Midwife came round and told me I had ages to go. Eventually was ready to go to the delivery suite at the local hospital. Crammed myself into front seat of our mini while my then partner drove me to hospital. There was some nonsense about parking. He had to leave me to park the car I remember. Having thought it was never going to happen, suddenly I was in a wheel chair and in the delivery suite. All very fast, my body was shaking all the way through and I couldn't stop throwing up. I distinctly remember the momment when I said I'd leave it for now and come back and finish the labour tomorrow. Had some gas n air, which didn't do much for the pain but helped me focus on my breathing. The baby wash pushing against my spine and it was agony. The baby's dad pushed back against my spine all the way through which helped a bit. Father of the baby had some too. THe waters were broken at the last minute and her cord was round her neck. I don't remember that being frightening though. The midwife just hooked it over so easily. Then she was born. about 5 hours after I arrived. My own GP was there just in time. I'd known her for ages and the midwife was a friend of my mothers. My beautiful hairy baby girl was there on top of me. I breast fed her and my boyfriend went out to the phone box in the hall and cried when he told my mum.

2) 2000s: nightmare pregnancy - pre-eclampsia and symphesis pubis disfunction. Not so easy being an older mum. Had a brilliant independent midwife who stepped in as a favour after things started getting a bit complicated with the pregnancy (another friend of my mum's there's something lovely about a family connection like that). Had to go in to be induced. We'd resisted, still had some fantasy birth in mind with a water pool set up in the living room. Midwife insisted. My husband spent the night on the floor under my bed as they tried to start of labour with a pessary (which brought me out in a rash) and by breaking my waters (unbearable agony I had to beg them to stop). Eventually labour kicked in. Very hard and very fast. Because of my pelvis I was keeping my legs together. The epidural arrived and sitting still for that to be fitted was awful. then suddenly it was all go. I remember someone fumbling to hit the emergency button. then there she was. She shot out so fast she was a blur. She looked just like me. That really struck me, because my older daughter had looked so much like her dad. But I could really see me in my youngest baby. The epidural only started working after she was born. The whole labour was 4 hours. Too fast to get my head around it really. She was a bit skinny and the placenta was in a bad state so the decision to induce had been the right call. (retained placenta later led to scepticemea - but that's another research project). My flatmate brought my oldest daughter in to see us. It was early evening. Then my husband had to go home. That was the first night we'd had apart. That felt so wrong. I had to tell my baby all about her family that night because they couldn't stay with us.