One born every ... nek minnit

Last updated 05:00 29/10/2012
MADE IN CHINA: Hannah Maunder and her husband before the birth of her daughter, Lucy.

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I had it all planned out. I had watched countless episodes of One Born Every Minute. I had seen the women on the show screaming, swearing and sweating. Making a real scene. That wasn't going to be me. I had it all planned out.

Our wee girl was going to be born into a darkened room so the light wasn't a shock to her, I wouldn't need pain relief as I could do some breathing exercises, there might be some light music in the background and certainly no screaming from my part ... nek minnit.

My husband and I were living and working in China throughout my pregnancy. So yes, bub literally was 'Made In China'.

We were moving back to New Zealand just before she was born. I came back at 36 weeks pregnant, on the last possible day the airline would let me fly long distance. My husband would join me three weeks later with one week spare to get the last things ready before she was born.

I was staying with my mum in Christchurch and a week after being there I noticed the soles of my feet were becoming increasingly itchy. Being in the third trimester of my first pregnancy I had the whole random pregnancy side effects down to an art. I had the brown line down my tummy, cravings (which I tell you, were never fulfilled living in China, rice just didn't cut it) and the terrible heartburn.

Whoever gave out pregnancy 'glows' surely didn't give any to me. After a quick consultation with Dr Google I diagnosed my itchy feet as a normal pregnancy side effect. My husband had one week off work for school holidays so he decided to fly back from China and spend that week with me and the belly, then return to China for one last week to tidy up our apartment before returning again to New Zealand, but this time for good.

About two days into my itchy feet things had become unbearable, to the point where I couldn't sleep and would use tea towels to tie ice slicker pads to the soles of my feet for some relief. I decided to ask my midwife if she could recommend some cream to help.

My husband was due to arrive for the week in two days. I didn't hear from my midwife till the following afternoon as I had emailed her, her cellphone was for emergencies and I didn't want to disturb her just for my itchy feet.

It was Saturday that she called and asked me to go straight to the clinic to have an emergency blood test. Turns out Dr Google was wrong. Itchy feet is not a normal pregnancy symptom. We wouldn't have the results till Monday.

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My jet-lagged husband arrived on Sunday afternoon after about 48hours of traveling with one missed connection and a huge thunder storm in Hong Kong. Monday lunchtime the results from the blood test came back and I had cholestasis.

At first I thought the midwife had made the word up. What on earth is cholestasis? Turns out it's a thing women can get when pregnant which means the liver isn't cleaning the blood as well as it should and that it could be then poisoning baby, the words 'possibly linked to stillbirth' were thrown in somewhere. We went straight to the hospital with the hospital bag.

At 3pm Monday I was induced. Bub was coming out. At 37 weeks gestation and a healthy size it was time for her to meet the world. By 6pm the niggles began. I thought, "this is fantastic, these must be contractions, she will be born by 9pm and then I'll get to have a good night's sleep". I guess what I felt was similar to a bad period cramp. Nothing I couldn't deal with. Induction, but I could still stick to my birth plan at this rate.

10pm. No baby. No sleep. Very painful contractions which the nurse named 'tightenings' from the induction. So technically, no contractions. Husband asleep in the lazyboy.

3am Tuesday. No baby. No sleep. Very painful contractions which the nurse named 'tightenings' from the induction. So technically, no contractions. Husband asleep in the lazyboy.

6am. No baby. No sleep. Very painful contractions which the nurse named 'tightenings' from the induction. So technically, no contractions. Husband asleep in the lazyboy.

9am. Midwife check. No baby. No sleep. 1/2 cm dilated. Husband awake!

The next 12 hours are a bit of a blur and not very pretty. The silent birth plan went out the window. I'm sure anyone walking around Hagley Park must have wondered what on earth was going on. I'm no stranger to pain. I've had a small tattoo in Thailand the traditional bamboo way, I've had a compression fracture in my spine falling off a horse, I've had four wisdom teeth out. I think my labour pain could be described by adding the pain of those three things together, then multiplying that pain by about 74.

At 9.18pm on Tuesday May 1, and one epidural, three midwives (our midwife, one hospital midwife and one midwife in training) later we were blessed with beautiful Lucy Ella Maunder weighing a healthy 3.3kg (7lbs 5oz). Part of me is quite glad she didn't go to full term as I'm sure she would have cracked the 4kg.

Even though my labour didn't go to plan and I found things quite painful, I would do it all again in a heartbeat. Holding my wee girl in my arms is worth every second.

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