As the countdown became less, I refused to pack my hospital overnight bag for when I went into labour. This, I thought, was tempting fate, and I was determined that this baby would not be born before my fiancé's return. I would commit myself to baby upon his homecoming.
The wedding planning was also coming along. After looking at numerous venues, I decided on the gorgeous New House Country Hotel in Cardiff. The views were magnificent, and you could see my hometown in the far distance. I took my mum to see it, and H's family, they all loved it. We originally wanted to get married on our two year anniversary of meeting, this date happened to fall on a Bank Holiday Monday, but the venue was free for this date. I rang the registrar, but they would not come out to marry us on this date. My heart sank! I rang the venue, and booked the nearest available day to this date. The 8th of August 2010. It seemed like a long time to wait, but I wanted our day to be perfect.
H had his homecoming date, which had stayed the same for some time, it was before my due date, but only by a day or two. This still worried me. I was convinced this baby was coming early, I had developed SPD (Symphosis Pubis Disfunction) and was on crutches. Even though I struggled with day-to-day tasks, I refused to call welfare to have H flown home. He loved his job, and if I could get by I would get by. I had friends and family around me to help every crutch-aided step of the way.
I always kept in contact with H's family while he was away, and his parents had bought the baby some things so asked if the could come over one evening to see me before H came home. This was fine with me, and I looked forward to seeing them.
The date they planned to come down came, and I made sure the house was spotless (with help from my mum). I was so tired and weak from the pregnancy that I didn't bother putting on any make-up. It was only the in-laws I thought, and with just over two weeks until my due date, I knew they'd understand if I didn't look my best.
H's mum text me throughout the day, letting me know that they had a few things to do before coming over but would be with me as soon as possible. This was fine with me, and I relaxed watching a bit of TV. I put J to bed, and waited. It was coming up to 7pm. With a fair way to travel, I thought I best text H's mother and check that everything was ok. They were on their way and wouldn't be long. I did think it weird that they would be popping up to see me so late, but shrugged it off, and waited patiently. I love new baby things, so I was excited for presents!
A little later I heard a knock on the door. I woddled to the door slowly, opening it tiredly. Only one person stood infront of me. Confusion washed over me, I stumbled back. My legs had turned to jelly, I held onto the stairs to keep myself up. I could not believe my eyes. Infront of my stood my fiancé! I don't think I quite gave him the reaction he was hoping for. I looked at him in a daze and asked "What's going on?". He nervously laughed, "It's me baby, I'm home". I lunged myself at him in tears. My countdown bell rang! He was home!
Still in shock, H guided me to the living room and sat me on the sofa. I did not know if I was dreaming. He held my hands together and pulled me closer. He kissed me gently on the lips as I cried tears of happiness.
My wait was over. My soldier had returned, all my prayers answered. He was safe, unharmed and home in time for the birth of our baby boy.
I did not get the excitement, and butterflies that all military WAGs get when waiting for their man to walk through the door after a long tour. I did not get the chance to make myself look beautiful, I didn't even have any makeup on. What a mess I must've looked! H laughed when I moaned about the state I was in, he looked me in the eye and said "Baby, you look gorgeous. You always look gorgeous". This made me blush slightly, as even though we had been together over a year, and I was carrying his child, the moment they come home from a 6 month tour it is like a new relationship. You need to get to know each other all over again. You need to familiarise yourself with their ways, and adjust back into the regular routine of having a partner. I was even slightly coy when it came to him kissing me. This feeling is exciting, and joyful. It makes the wait worth it.
His parents decided to come in for a cup of tea, I was still in a state of shock. I remember sitting there and looking over at my mother-in-law thinking "is this really happening"! They didn't stay for long, and we were left alone. It still felt like a dream. He was so handsome, and tanned. I could've looked at him forever. He touched my belly "Hello chickabean, Daddy is home and cannot wait to meet you". He bent down and kissed my bump gently, looking up at me he reached forward and kissed me on my nose. "I love you, Kirsty". Tears started rolling again, tears of utter happiness. That night I lay in bed, with the knowledge that my man was laying next to me, safe. I fell asleep with his arms around me and a big smile on my face.
I woke during the night with lower back pain. H was concerned but I told him not to be silly. I woke again, "It's ok babe, I'm only having some Braxton Hicks". Braxton Hicks is a term used for mock labour pains that you feel whilst pregnant. They are not labour pains. But as my pains got stronger and regular I started doubting myself. I was in labour, this baby was coming 15 days early! We counted the time between pains, roughly 5 minutes. Having had such a short labour with my first (one and a half hours of established labour) I had been told to call the hospital when first signs of labour were apparent.
I wasn't ready to go into labour. I was so nervous. H ran me a bath to help me relax, and rang my mother to come over to have J (I was unaware that my mum had been in on the whole surprise of H coming home, it wasn't a shock that he rang her. However it may have been a shock that I was in labour). It was 5:30 in the morning and I had been feeling the pain since 4am.
Once my mum was on her way, we rang the hospital to let them know I was coming in, and to fill the birthing pool for me. I could not believe that I was having the baby less than 24 hours after my soldier returned from Afghanistan.
Once it sinked in that I was actually in labour, and that this baby would be here today, I remembered that I had not packed all my things for the hospital bag. In a panic I grabbed all the things I had yet to pack. The pains were bareable, but H did all he could to help me relax. There were things I needed that I hadn't even bought yet. Once my mum arrived to look after J (who had woken during the commotion, and was super excited), she said that she would pop to the shops and grab the few things I needed and drop them into the hospital later that day.
During this time I kept thinking 'Poor H, he has not had any time to adjust back to normality', I worried that he would freak out, and not be able to stay with me during the birth. I quickly blocked that thought out, as the pains became stronger. He told me he was fine, and I kept apologising, which he thought was silly as this labour was out of my control.
We got to the hospital to discover I was only 2 and a half centimetres dilated. Wow, this may be a long wait. I spent the new hour or so bouncing on an exercise ball, and gripping H when the pain came. I said "If you were worried about the taliban, you haven't seen anything yet", he laughed and kissed my forehead. Then at 12 noon, whilst laying on the bed in the hospital watching Philip Schofield on This Morning, I doubled over with pain. Gripping H like a Koala, I curled into a little ball. H rang the buzzer panicing, and a midwife came rushing in. I think I passed out with the pain, either that or I've blocked it from my memory. As I came around, I opened my eyes. "That's what we call a toe curling contraction" the midwife said to me. Not bloody wrong! H tried his best to keep me comfortable.
The midwife examined me, and I was four centimetres. Finally in established labour, that explains the pain. It was time for the gas and air, and the birthing pool. As it was lunchtime, and I was a patient, they offered me a lunch. I was in full blown labour, and wasn't particularly hungry. The midwife said to H "we're not supposed to do this, but as you have just come home from Afghanistan, here's lunch for you". He sat in the corner with his plate of fish and chips, while I moaned and groaned in the birthing pool. Even though I was in a great deal of pain, I felt a sense of pride, the midwife did not need to do that for H, but she did. It hit me that people appreciate what our men do. I wanted to cry, but the pain subtracted that emotion as I was too busy screaming.
I started freaking out when it was finally time to push. I was bobbing up and down in the pool, and couldn't get enough pressure on my feet to push hard enough. "Get me out, get me out" I said in a panic. As I stood out of the pool, as I wanted to push baby out on the bed, my waters broke all over H's new trainers. "Welcome home baby" I said as I giggled. He looked at me mortified, but helped me walk to the wheelchair. Once in the delivery room H helped me onto the bed. It was time. I pushed baby out at 14:34. A two and a half hour labour this time!
H was such a big help during the labour, I could not have pushed baby out without him being next to me. My biggest fear of all whilst he was away, was having to push that baby out knowing that he would not be one of the first people to meet our little guy. I looked over at him, holding our baby boy. His eyes glazed over, happiness pouring out of him. He cwtched T, and tickled his little nose. Relief washed over me.
What a whirlwind of events! I had my hero and my baby boy, all within 24 hours of each other. There was my 'wonderful thought' that I'd been dreaming of. I was overwhelmed with joy.