My Birth Journey - Elsie's Birth
Today was Elsie's 7th Birthday. I can't quite believe how quickly the time has flown. Every year since she's been old enough to listen I have told her about her birth, and today I was inspired to finally get in down on paper (well, typed up on here at least!). So this is Elsie's birth story - The most amazing day of my life - I hope you enjoy it!
It was Saturday 4th February 2012 – I was 4 days over my estimated due date. After having a very emotional morning, crying and bouncing on my birth ball, my partner decided, for my sanity, that we needed to get out of the house. We got in the car and started out to Padstow. Within 10 minutes of being in the car I said that I didn’t feel right being that far away from home, something was just telling me I need to be near home, so we headed to a local shopping village.
Arriving there at about 2pm I felt like I was going to have a bad tummy, so headed to the public toilets and found myself camping out there for quite a while. At this point my brain clicked in to gear – stupidly emotional, wanting to say close to home, and now a bad tummy! I think I know what this means, and right on cue as soon as my brain registered what was happening I experienced by first surge. It was very light and only lasted about 30 seconds, but it was very exciting and I knew that things had started. We continued to walk around the shopping village and then headed to Morrisons to shop for supplies (we were planning a home birth so wanted to make sure we had everything we needed).
We arrived home at about 5pm, surges were coming every 10 ish minutes and lasting about 1 minute. My partner got to setting up the pool and I settled down on my birth ball with my hypnobirthing tracks on. At one point I had tried to lie down on the sofa but the surges were 100 times worse whilst lying down and actually really quite easy and manageable when I was up and moving around or on my ball. Around 6 pm we called the midwife to let her know that things were speeding up a bit. She said that I sounded very relaxed and in control and that although labour had begun that it might be a while yet and to call back later. We continued to get the birthing pool inflated and around 7.30pm I felt like I was ready to get in the pool. This is where plans changed a little bit!
So at the time we lived in a top floor apartment and the moment that we plugged the hose in to the tap and tried to run the water through to the pool it soon became very apparent that there was no way the water pressure was enough to let that happen and fill the pool. Water started spraying out all over the kitchen! This sent me in to a bit of panic as my heart was absolutely set on a water birth but there just seemed no feasible way to get the water in the pool. We called the midwife and explained our situation. This was about 8pm. She said she would call forward to Penrice Birth Centre and see if they had a pool free so I could have the water birth I so desperately wanted, but that obviously this would be kissing goodbye to the home birth side of the plan.
At this point my surges were coming every 4 ish minutes so I knew I needed to make a decision quite soon. After a brief chat we decided to head to Penrice Birth Centre. My dad had come over to drive us there – I positioned myself over the back seat in the car with my head on the parcel shelf. It was the longest drive ever as my dad thought 20 miles an hour was a safe speed considering the precious cargo!! I listened to my affirmations at this point to keep me calm and my partner was in the back with me reminding me to breathe and relax my shoulders.
We arrived a Penrice Birth Centre at 9.40pm. Annoyingly my dad had parked at the wrong entrance and we had to walk all the way through the main building to the birth centre – my surges coming every 2 minutes at this point so the 100 yard walk took about 10 minutes with all the stops and starts. The wonderful midwives were expecting me and had run the pool ready for me to get straight in. The midwife asked if she could examine me to check I was in active labour before getting in the pool. I consented to this – mainly as I was so keen to get in that warm water – and as I went to get up on the bed my membranes released. And to my joy I had the big ‘Hollywood’ gush of water that I was hoping for! Don’t ask me why I wanted that, I had just visualised it and thought it was pretty awesome if it was to happen!
At 9.50pm I was examined and was 5cm open and assisted to get straight in the pool. The water was absolute bliss. At this point time kind of stood still and flew by all at once. I know that my partner had given the midwives our birth plan and also a copy of the hypnobirthing book and our resources pack. They sat over the other side of the room, quietly observing and reading all the bits and pieces. I vaguely remember having Elsie’s heartbeat monitored intermittently, but the midwife was so stealth like and respectful that I can’t actually say when this was happening. I remember her using our hypnobirthing words and thinking to myself how supportive she was and how she must have really taken on board our birth plan. This was such a reassurance to me. I had my Rainbow Relaxation and Birth Affirmations playing out loud in the room, my partner was supporting me at the side on the pool, I had found a position that felt comfortable (on my knees with legs open, leaning over the side of the birth pool) and I remember feeling like I could handle every single surge as long as I had a cool flannel on my forehead. The midwives kept rotating them as soon as they got warm – this was honestly a total god send!
Most of the time in the pool was a bit of a blur, I was so relaxed and as my surges got more intense, I definitely went in to myself and just switched off and focused on my breathing. I remember the point that my surges changed, and they felt different. At that point I looked up out of my ‘zone’ and said, ‘I think I need some gas and air or something as I’m not sure I can do this’. This had literally come out of nowhere and even though I knew what that meant (I had learnt it in Hypnobirthing), I really needed the support of my partner and my midwife at that point to talk me back down. The midwife smiled at me and said ‘I’m just off to get my gloves on’ as she knew that my baby would soon be here! It was such a reassuring smile!
It wasn’t long after this that I felt my natural expulsive reflex kicked in and I had an overwhelming urge that my baby was coming down. From the depths of my belly a sound very similar to a moo came out of me (I like to think it was a roar – but my partner assured me it was most definitely a moo!!) and I remember going upright on my knees and leaning back and with a few more downward surges Elsie came out like a bullet out of a gun! I looked down in the water and there she was – floating like a little start fish and I remember saying ‘she’s out, she’s out’ and the midwife saying, ‘well reach in and grab her then!’ and we all laughed. Elsie was born at 12.50am on Sunday 5th February. 11 hours after I realised I was in labour!
I stayed with Elsie skin to skin in the pool until the cord had stopped pulsating. I think this was about 15 minutes. I was supported out of the pool and on to the bed in the same room where I then put Elsie to my breast to feed. My placenta made its own way out after some walking around and toilet sitting. I was absolutely fascinated by my placenta and my midwife showed me it and talked me though it.
One of the midwives had emptied the pool, cleaned it and filled it again with warm water so I could soak in it for a while after Elsie had fed. We were given the obligatory ‘tea and toast’ and allowed to just spend some time just the 3 of us. (The toast you are given after birth is literally the best toast you will ever eat in your life!)
After a fair amount of time had passed, I think a few hours, Elsie was weighed (6lb 14oz) and dressed, and I was examined. No need for any stitches, perineum intact, and only a light graze at the top. We had been religious with the perineal massage and I believe that and the water had worked wonders, especially as she flew out so quickly! We then moved across the corridor to the ward and were able to spend some more time as a 3 and try and get some sleep – this didn’t happen as we were just too excited and couldn’t take our eyes off our daughter!
The midwives at Penrice were honestly and truthfully so totally wonderful. It wasn’t the homebirth we were planning – it was better! I would not have changed anything for the world. We had the best birth experience, I felt supported, listen to, and respected throughout. Hypnobirthing wasn’t an overly common thing at that point, and some of my requests might have been seen as quite different at the time, however not once did anyone try to coerce me, try to change my mind or be dictatorial. The support and care I received was of the highest standard and I am so grateful. Penrice Birth Centre and the wonderful midwives there hold a very dear place in my heart.
If my Birth Journey has inspired you to find out more about the wonders of Hypnobirthing please get in touch and we can chat :) Email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or leave me a comment below.