Gemma Hooper, 32, lives in Essex with husband James and sons Ben, five, and Connor, two. She tells M&B her real birth story about how her baby joined her during an away break...
When my cousin invited us to her wedding in Watford, Herts, we decided my pregnancy wouldn’t stop us from enjoying the celebrations. We made up our minds to stay in a hotel for a few days and turn it into a mini break. I was 39 weeks pregnant, but my parents would be there with me.
As they snored, I felt a pain intensifying in my stomach
After checking into the hotel, James, Ben and I went to the wedding and had a great time. By midnight we were exhausted, so went back to our hotel room, where James and Ben fell straight to sleep. As they snored, I felt a pain intensifying in my stomach, so I phoned my mum in the next room, who came to see me straight away.
‘You should ring Watford Hospital,’ she urged, seeing the pain I was in. But I felt sure I could hang on until we got home the next morning.
By 3am, though, I knew I needed to go to hospital. James dashed down to our car to grab my hospital bag and call a cab, passing my brother and sister who were oblivious to the goings-on and still chatting in the bar!
By the time James returned to our room, my contractions had ramped up and I knew I wasn’t far off giving birth. James called an ambulance, and Mum scooped up a still-sleeping Ben and carried him to be with my dad in the next room.
‘I can’t,’ I gasped. ‘Get my knickers off!’
The ambulance was on its way but I was ‘in the zone’ and knew my baby would arrive before it! As James went to fetch extra towels from the hotel staff, Mum stayed on the phone to the emergency services. ‘They want you to lie on the bed to try and slow down labour,’ she told me. ‘I can’t,’ I gasped. ‘Get my knickers off!’ The urge to push was overwhelming.
As I stood by the bed, bearing down with all my strength, the waters gushed out. Still calm and in control, I carried on pushing. Mum was fantastic, rubbing my back, encouraging me and giving updates to the man on the phone.
I felt a huge, low-down pressure, and in the next massive push, out came my baby boy
Suddenly, I felt a huge, low-down pressure, and in the next massive push, out came my baby boy. The paramedics arrived at 4.15am to find Mum holding Connor and gently cleaning him with a towel. The paramedics cut the cord but we had to wait an hour for the local on-call midwife to arrive and give me an injection to help deliver the placenta.
I needed to have stitches, so went to Watford Hospital, being discharged an hour later. Back at the hotel we introduced Ben to his little brother, and the four of us sat in the dining area. The look on my brother and sister’s faces as they came down for breakfast was priceless! Looking back, my mini-break birth experience still seems surreal. Even though it didn’t happen as planned, it was a really straightforward, positive experience.
Three things I’d tell my friends
- If you’re going to a party or celebration, make sure at least one person around you is the designated responsible person, who doesn’t drink and can take charge.
- Don’t leave it to the last minute to go to hospital. Labour can speed up quickly.
- Think twice about travelling far in the last few weeks of pregnancy. Sometimes it’s best to stay in a familiar environment.