She’s finally here. No longer an ‘it’, but a her. Our Ettie. All 8lb 6oz of gorgeous squidgy girliness.
One of the things that I really wanted to do before the baby brain fully sets in is write Ettie’s birth story. The good, the bad and the stitches in between. So here goes.
I should start off by saying it’s not a particularly exciting story. Sorry to disappoint. It’s not at all dramatic either. Well unless you count the fainting. But it was everything that I wanted it to be – calm, relaxed and pretty damn quick!
It started in the middle of the night. 3.15am to be exact. I was nine days overdue and as I hauled my yoga ball sized bump out of bed to go for yet another pee, the contractions began. Halle-flippin-luiah. I remember feeling a huge sense of relief that they had started on their own, before anyone could mention the dreaded ‘induction’ word. I’d practiced hypnobirthing throughout this and my last pregnancy, and really wanted it to be as natural as possible.
Without going into the ins and outs of hypnobirthing – this deserves a whole blog post of its own – the very basic premise is to chill-the-hell-out, so I got back into bed and breathed through each contraction for about an hour before I told my other half. By the time I woke him they were starting to feel pretty intense, so he rang my folks to let them know and they began the one hour dash up the M6 to help out with Woody. With them on their way, we switched on one of my hypnobirthing tracks and I got into ‘the zone’. Which, by the way, is not me dressed in a tie die sarong, surrounded by candles and meditating monks!
‘The zone’ for me, was silently pacing between the bedroom and the bathroom in my pjs, as the contractions came quicker and stronger. I’ll be honest when I say that the two paracetamol that I took at this point to ease the pain did absolutely diddly-squat. This wasn’t period pains as some women describe it, this was L.A.B.O.U.R.
We were recording each contraction on an app – how very modern of us – and it was soon screaming Go To Hospital. So with my Mum and Dad now here and the car packed to the brim with all kinds of unnecessary baby shit, we set off. But not before I had two contractions on the drive as the early morning traffic passed us by. Sorry if I put anyone off their breakfast!
We arrived at triage at just before 7am, which was shift change time. Blimmin’ typical. So I was ushered into a cubicle where I waited to be checked over. We’d been warned on the phone that I would be sent home if I wasn’t in established labour, but when my midwife – Michelle – came in to meet us, she took one look at me and took us straight to the birth centre, no questions asked. I may have been calm, but clearly I looked like I was about to drop an 8lb 6oz human into the world!
When we walked into our room, number 3, I felt instantly calmed by the sound of water pouring into the birthing pool. I knew that my dream of giving birth in the pool could be reality. That calmness waivered slightly when 15 minutes later Michelle said that she’d forgotten to put the plug in. You just can’t get the staff. But I quickly forgave her when she told me I was 7cm dilated. No going home for me. In fact, I soon felt an enormous urge to push and Michelle suggested I get in the pool, and fast. And boy am I glad I did. The contractions were intense, but in between was a great calmness, I almost forgot where I was! Well, not quite. With every contraction came a huge wave of discomfort and that dreaded ring of fire. I heard myself shout “I can’t do this anymore” and I really thought that I couldn’t. It didn’t feel like this baby could possibly move any further down. I was trying not to push too much and take things gently as I’d been taught, but when Michelle said the baby’s heart rate was starting to slow, I just went for it.
U G G H H H H H H. Up until this point I’d been relatively silent. But this cross between a growl and a grunt helped to get this baby out in just a couple of pushes. A A G G G H H H H.
And there SHE was. Our girl. We didn’t actually look what ‘it’ was for a few minutes. I was too lost in the moment to even care. It’s amazing to think back now but I literally just scooped her up out of the water and on to my chest. It felt like the most natural thing in the world and as cliché as it sounds, it’s a moment I’ll remember forever.
Unfortunately I didn’t get to stay in the water for much longer as the pool had turned a murky red and Michelle wanted to check me over. So the cord was cut and clamped and I was given an injection to help expel the placenta. This little bugger took a while to come out and ended with a gushing of blood and me fainting on top of Michelle.
But the drama was soon over, and with my girl back in my arms I was examined. That excessive pushing had caused a couple of tears that would need stitching. Ouch. But before then we spent a very lovely hour together, skin-to-skin, just bonding. Ettie had her first breastfeed and we enjoyed some much needed tea and toast. Job done.
All in all it took five hours from the first contraction to having Ettie in the pool. Apparently I was in active labour for one hour and twenty three minutes. It’s crazy to think that it takes me longer to get ready in the morning than it did to birth my second child. But I’m so thankful and proud to say that I did it all on my own. And my way. Heck, I might try a home birth next time. Cue my husband running for the hills at the thought of us having a third child!