I love sharing birth stories and as this little lady's first birthday approaches I can't think of a better time to share how Ella came into the world. Her mum and I just clicked at my Doula interview and she knew exactly what she wanted from her birth experience. She had researched, she has taken time to learn and she knew her rights. I hope you enjoy reading this and if you have any questions then just drop me a line....
Ella's birth story as told by her Mummy Philippa:
It's sounds weird but for a long time, probably from around week 32 of pregnancy, I had a very strong inclination as to when Ella would arrive. That feeling became stronger as the weeks went on and I was adamant that I knew exactly when she'd arrive! Funnily enough I was right!
Friday 25th October, was the day we had a wall being knocked out in our house. I was nervous about all the dusty work and this was the biggest thing to happen (dust wise!). The wall came down, (yes!) and I went off to have the most amazing reflexology massage in the afternoon. My husband James and I had a lovely dinner out with friends that evening and during dinner I 'didn't feel right'. I couldn't put my finger on what was going on but I knew something was different.
When we got home, I still felt a bit weird, but said nothing because I didn't want to get my hopes up - after all, surely I couldn't be right about the baby coming that very weekend?!
We sat at the dining table to have a cup of tea and all of a sudden I felt a gush of water in my knickers. I knew I hadn't peed myself and it was something else. As I walked to the bathroom it happened again and when I got to the bathroom there was blood - the bloody show had arrived!! So I texted our lovely doula Jemma to let her know.
The next morning, Saturday 26th, I woke up still not feeling right, and when we were both downstairs in the kitchen I suddenly had this overwhelming and involuntary rush of emotion come over me that made have my first, light, surge. The baby was coming!
Being in constant contact withJemma helped us keep calm and know that everything was fine and as it should be, we went about our day normally. We watched the rugby semi final in the morning with me bouncing on my ball, doing my breathing exercises whilst having surges. We went to Waitrose to stock up on food and snacks with me having surges in the food aisles (haha!!). Throughout the day they were slowly getting stronger, for longer, around 40 seconds, and about 6 mins apart. My husband James blew up the pool just so it was ready.
Jemma popped over in the evening to check on us, and the moment she arrived, all my surges came to an abrupt halt. It really is true what they say about your environment being your sanctuary. I felt comfortable with Jemma and even her arrival was enough to slow things down. She sat with us for a bit and left. She said things tend to ramp up in the middle of the night so advised I go to bed early.
By 2am I was having, what felt to me, as very strong surges that I found a little more uncomfortable laying down so I had absolutely no sleep! Instead I was up on the bed on all fours doing lots of the hip and spine rocking that I learned from pregnancy yoga.
Jemma told me I'd know when to call her, so by 2.30am, we called and she arrived at about 3am. Things slowed a little when she arrived but it all quickly came back after she'd been with us a short while. Being in bed had made things much more uncomfortable, whereas being upright help. She helped me with extra positions and she put pressure on my lower spine/hips when a surge came which really helped release tension, as my baby was suspected back to back.
We sat on the loo eating porridge, having surges and chatting at about 4 am and this is when I went into established labour; i began to go off into my own world and wouldn't really speak or say much in between surges. Not because they felt more powerful and that inhibited me, just because that's what happens. It's the strangest most natural deep feeling. Sitting on the loo is the BEST position!! So Jemma asked my husband to call the midwife and let them know what was happening so that we were on the radar.
By 6am, things had progressed even more. I was doing all my up breathing learned through hypnobirthing and lots of things from yoga too. I used the tens machine we'd hired when a particularly intense surge came which really helped although I have to say, everything felt completely manageable. Labour 'pain' isn't painful or like pain you'd associate with breaking a leg. It's so hard to describe but if you let yourself go, welcome it and breathe properly, it really is possible to ride it.
At this point, 6:30am on Sunday 27th, Jemma suggested that we call the midwives and ask them to come now. Had she not been there we'd have called them on Saturday evening when she first came to visit us and we might of waved goodbye to our home birth!!
The home birth midwife, Shirley, casually rocked up at 8am, an hour and a half after we called! I think she assumed as we were first timers we'd probably called too early. In truth, I was going through transition when she arrived because I remember laying over some cushions (so that I was propped up on all fours but could rest) and crying. I started to wonder if I had it in me to get through it, but I also instantly recognised that this was transition and the next phase would start soon! I was alone though while they went through my birth preferences and couldn't tell anyone.
After 20 minutes or so after Shirley's arrival, Jemma came in and explained what had been suggested as the next steps. I'd opted for no internal examinations unless absolutely necessary to check on the baby, but at this time I agreed. Shirley came in and she asked if she could examine me to see where we were at but also to check on the position of the baby as this was important due to her being suspected back to back.
During the VE my waters broke and I wasn't quite prepared for the jump in intensity that my surges went to after this happened. It felt like they went from 0-100 instantly! I panicked and the first few were very uncomfortable and I can completely sympathise and understand why some women ask for an epidural when they feel like that and you're not prepared. James and Jemma were amazing and both came to the rescue. James was at my side counting my breathing out loud and Jemma was talking me through hypnobirthing relaxations. Both managing to calm me back down again, and although the surges intensity was still there, I was able to manage and ride the wave more easily with the right mindset and breathing. I will say though, I could tell something wasn't quite working as well, because from the moment these surges came, I immediately felt the need to push due to the instant pressure on my bottom - and although I'd been checked not long before and was 8.5cm dilated, I'm pretty sure I'd jumped to 10cm in that moment, especially as I knew I'd already been going through transition. I still don't know if the midwife realised or not and I couldn't physically tell her at the time
Thankfully it wasn't long before I could get in the pool which felt AMAZING and was the biggest relief. I got in, the midwife checked and she was surprised to tell me that I was fully dilated already and could start pushing. I wasn't surprised.
This was the best and most tiring part of the whole thing. The moment I felt a surge coming, I would push, and in doing so didn't feel the surge at all! There was no 'pain' like before, just lots of hard work and the feeling of pushing as hard as possible.
I was then pushing in the pool, lying on my back which was a position I didn't really like but had been guided into by the midwives. I tried like this for an hour and ten minutes. I was really struggling to get the baby down because my feet weren't on the ground so I wasn't able to use the force of solid ground or gravity to get her down. After this time, you could argue that I was getting tired as I was struggling to get her round the U-bend, although each time I was getting a little bit further and further, but it was taking long than ideal. so the midwife asked me if I'd mind getting out the pool, I got onto the floor where we had cushions and a mattress set up. Once on the floor I start to make much more progress.
But then suddenly, my midwife was telling me that she was going to give me a local anaesthetic to help soften my perineum, to which I started shouting no no no, because I had a dreadful thought that I knew what this could mean. She told me not to push when a contraction came but I disobeyed and every time she came near me with the needle I shouted that I needed to push. Up until now my surges had slowed a little from being so relaxed (and tired) in the pool but magically since the fear of what may happen hit me they started to come faster and tactfully would start the moment she'd come near me with the needle!
There was then a moment where she sent her assistant off, and I KNEW she'd sent her to get scissors so with the next push I managed to get Ella's head the furthest I'd got her, about a third through!! Jemma made sure of it too, by encouraging me to look. I knew I was nearly there as I felt what I read being described as 'the ring of fire' (although it was honestly not as bad as I imagined at all!!!). I had written on my birth preferences that I didn't want to be cut but I was happy for massages or hands to get in to help. So luckily, that's what Shirley did with the next contraction, with her help of a small natural pull and me pushing, we got Ella's head out without the need for a cut. The body followed shortly afterwards (which felt like a slippery seal flopping out!).
And there she was! Placed on my chest and she slowly lifted her little red frowning face up from under the towel to look at me ️- Ella was born at 11:35am Sunday 27th October.
Having Ella at home was honestly amazing! Afterwards, I got to eat our food, and go up to bed with her in my bedroom. No doctors or machines in sight. Her calm delivery into the world and the calm surroundings afterwards have made a huge impact on her character and my speedy recovery. I completely put down my experience and birth being how I'd hoped because of all the practice and preparation I did, with yoga, hypnobirthing and the guidance of our Doula.
Philippa is a lifestyle and wedding photographer - you can find out more about her by following her instagram here or visit her website.