Wednesday 7 June

2pm. Daniel's flat. Hurrah! After eight interminable days being overdue, baby is on the way! Blessed relief. Had started to feel like human head on body of potbellied pig. Daniel is on his way home. For once in life am completely ready and organised and all we have to do is go to hospital and calmly give birth to human child with only two arms.

6pm. Gaahaah!! In midst of nightmare. Journey began with me trying to squeeze woman's - head-on-pig's - body into evil-smelling back seat of minicab, while Daniel, ashen-faced and shaking, tried to force more and more stuff into boot and Magda yelled hysterically into my ear via mobile: "Bridget, stop panicking - you have to be calm or it'll harm the child!"

"Ow!" I yelled, doubling over, "Fuck!"

"Ohmygod," Magda shrieked. "It's only two minutes since the last contraction, you're going to give birth in the car! It's a total disaster. I told you you should have had me as your birthing partner to calm you down. Why did you leave it so late?"

"Daniel stopped off on the way home to buy a stopwatch in Liberty's," I hissed into the phone.

"A stopwatch?"

"To time the contractions. And then he got into a flap and gave the minicab the wrong address."

"You're going in a minicab?"

"We forgot there's nowhere to park at the hospital."

"You go on holiday? Somewhere nice?" beamed the minicab driver, wrestling the eighth bag on to the front seat as Daniel chucked an England flag, a large unexplained cardboard tube and a copy of The Sun - featuring Heather Mills McCartney in a pornographic pose with a weird German - into the back on top of me, then jumped in, yelling at the driver, "Go! Go! Go! It's an emergency!".

"What's this?" I said, looking at the cardboard tube as the minicab took off with a screech of tyres.

"Keep yourself hydrated," yelled Magda. "Suck on an ice-pop."

"Daniel," I panicked, "did you bring those ice-pops out of the freezer?"

"Yes," he said huffily, rolling his eyes and handing me a polythene bag.

"These aren't ice-pops. They're frozen sausages."

He looked only momentarily sheepish. "What's the problem? You can suck on a sausage. Wouldn't hold Lady Mills McCartney back, would it?"

"Wait - where are we going?" I yelled, suddenly realising we'd been heading in completely the wrong direction for some time.

"This is the way to the Portland hospital, right?"

"Daniel! We're not having the baby at the Portland!"

"Oh my God, you're right. Stop! Christ. I'm so sorry, Jones. Christ."

Had never seen Daniel in such a state before. By the time we'd got through the rush-hour traffic to Paddington, the contractions were coming every minute and the minicab driver kept looking over his shoulder, crying and saying prayers in Arabic. Daniel was gibbering hysterically, asking if babies were supposed to come out head first or feet first, and I was lying with my head on Daniel's knee, yelling in pain, and sucking on a frozen sausage.

When we got to the hospital, a full medical team was waiting outside for us. Ended up being loaded on to trolley with all bags on top of me.

"Come straight from the station, have we?" said the midwife when we burst, sweating, into the labour room. Trouble was, what with minicab not turning up etc, we had too much time to decide we needed more things, as if packing for rain-sodden mini-break in Lake District. This is what have ended up bringing:

4 overnight bags containing clothes, toiletries, tennis balls etc

1 set Scrabble

1 set Boggle

1 pack playing cards (so Daniel can teach me poker during labour)

1 portable DVD-player

Bag containing 5 hardback books, 8 magazines, 2 dozen DVDs

1 laptop (for e-mailing during labour)

1 iPod (unopened, plan being to learn how to use and load with CDs during labour)

1 bag CDs to load on to iPod during labour

1 stopwatch (unopened)

1 can foie gras and crackers (Daniel's idea)

1 bottle champagne

1 bottle 1982 claret

1 corkscrew

1 box Milk Tray

8 cans Red Stripe

1 chart of World Cup matches (in cardboard tube)

1 England World Cup flag

1 bag frozen sausages

Nurse was just asking if I wanted drugs or a natural childbirth - at which bellowed, "Drugs! Drugs! Give me the drugs!"- when there was a commotion outside, followed by bloodcurdling cries and woman shouting, "You're hurting me, you're killing my baby!".

"Nothing to worry about," purred the midwife, smilingly, then shot out of the room. Split second before door closed revealed several figures in scrubs hurtling along corridor.

"How charmingly reassuring," murmured Daniel. Then suddenly, tears welled up in his eyes. "Oh, Jones," he said, grasping my hand all clumsily. "I can't believe this is happening. We're having a baby. Don't die in childbirth or anything, will you?"

When the midwife eventually returned, unreassuring explanation for furore was that mentally disturbed patient had broken in from another bit of hospital. "Now!" she said, brightly, "This drug, some patients call the Margarita. On a scale of 1-10, what would you say your pain was?"

"Nine and a half?" I said, hopefully.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. At last am going to have calm and poised birth experience have dreamed of.