Ellie and Drew attended the November group hypnobirthing course and I so enjoyed getting to know them. They were curious, open, communicative and so keen to gain the skills and understanding to approach birth with confidence. Their story below is sweet, funny and brilliant to read. The main point that it highlights is that every birth is different and it's impossible to predict or generalise how things will unfold. There are no 'givens' when it comes to birth. So comments such as "oh, first births always take a while" are not helpful and not accurate. For Ellie and Drew, their daughter's arrival was swift and positive.
My waters broke at 11:50pm on Wednesday 13th February. I remember thinking, I hope this baby is born in the next 24 hours!
I had a shower and hoped I could get back into bed and get some sleep but I was suddenly very awake!
We tried to distract ourselves with some Netflix but laying down wasn't very comfortable so we moved into the living room and I started bouncing on my birthing ball - thank god for that ball! For the first hour the contractions were completely comfortable and I bounced and chatted through them. Then they stepped up a notch! It took a lot more concentration to get through them, definitely less chat coming from me!
I moved to the bathroom where Drew had run me a warm bath. Being in the water helped but the contractions were really coming thick and fast now. Drew was amazing at reminding me not to fight the surges and to just go with it. That was easier said than done but it was a great reminder to relax my jaw and fists and just try to breathe through them. After 30-40 minutes in the bath I felt the need to get out and start moving again. I was really struggling by this point and starting to dread the next contraction even before it arrived. They felt quite relentless. Looking back on the contraction timer we used there wasn't ever a very clear pattern to them which made it quite tricky to tell where I was in my labour. I was really struggling to get comfortable and I felt so restless. I was wondering around the flat aimlessly looking for a comfortable position. The birthing ball once again was amazing! A squatting position was really all I could manage.
After another couple of hours I was mentally finding it quite hard to cope and I remember thinking how can I possibly get through another 12 hours of this, possibly more! I'd read enough to know that first babies can take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours plus! That had really stuck with me so I was feeling a little frightened to be honest. Once again Drew was brilliant at keeping me calm and telling me how well I was doing. I am forever grateful that Drew was so open to hypnobirthing and enjoyed the classes as much as I did. It's just as important for your birth partner to learn the techniques so they can keep you going and you're both on the same page during labour.
I went back to the bathroom, it felt quite cosy and comfortable to be in there. I actually sat on the toilet for a while - so glamorous! Whilst I was there I had a real urge to push. I think at that point Drew was very keen to get me to hospital. I remember thinking that I definitely did not want to leave the house. I didn't know how I could possibly get in a car and get to the hospital, it felt overwhelming and impossible. I told Drew that he would have to phone for an ambulance! I think he was tempted to! Once again he was great at reassuring me and getting me out of the flat. He was calm but assertive which is exactly what I needed. The car journey took a swift 11 minutes! It was about 5am on a Thursday morning, great timing from this baby! I can't imagine what rush-hour would have been like! I was on all fours in the back of the car at this point. I demanded all of the windows to be down and Drew told me later that I was moo-ing out of them! I feel sorry for the early risers of Camden who may have witnessed this!
We arrived at UCLH and made our way to the maternity department. I had to drop to the floor a few times to cope with the contractions and I was also having stronger urges to push by this point. A midwife called Francesca appeared, like an angel! Drew spoke to her as I basically started to take my clothes off and mounted the bed! She reassured me that this baby was definitely well on its way before examining me. I can't even begin to explain the relief of hearing her say that! I think in the back of my mind I was worried she'd tell me I was at 2cm and there was a long way to go! I don't remember her telling me how dilated I was but before I knew it she'd handed me the gas and air and I was pushing the baby out. I was momentarily disappointed when she told me there were no free birthing pools but to be honest I don't think I'd have made it! There was no dimming of lights or putting our birthing playlist to use (10 hours of songs that my husband had been lovingly working on since November!) That really didn't matter though, I was just so grateful that it was nearly all over!
When Phoebe came out Francesca put her straight onto my chest and Drew told me she was a girl. That was such a special moment! We'd decided not to find out the sex so having him reveal it to me after such a long wait was magical and exactly what I'd asked for in my birth plan (which Francesca must have had to speed-read in the space of about 5 minutes!)
Phoebe arrived at 05:56 on Valentine's Day: we share the same birthday! It had been a six hour labour. Every midwife I saw that day (and since) commented how fast it had been and how well I'd done! I felt very empowered but also very fortunate and grateful that my body had allowed me to do this and that Phoebe was born healthy and strong. We left hospital the same day at about 6pm and we went home to fish & chips, birthday cake and a glass of champagne! It was surreal and wonderful! I couldn't quite believe what had happened in the previous 24 hours!