Sorry that it’s taken me so long to get this to you! Funny how time flies when you have a little one. I just wanted to jot down some of the details of Archie’s birth – I know that I found reading other people’s birth stories really useful, when I was pregnant. Hypnobirthing worked really well for me and, although Archie’s arrival didn’t go exactly as planned, it was still an overwhelmingly positive experience. Thanks so much for the lovely cd that you sent too – I haven’t been able to listen to it as much as I’d like, but it’s a real treat!
The whole birth process started when I was about 36 weeks pregnant. We’d been to the final Birth Centre info session that evening and had a bit of a laugh about how I was only a few days away from the 37 weeks at which you are able to give birth, at the Birth Centre. Then, at about 1am, I woke up, and felt the ‘pop’ that I’d heard about, that evening – yes, my waters had just broken. I didn’t have any feelings of being in labour though, but called the hospital and, as the Birth Centre was shut that night, was advised to come in to the labour ward, with my bag (we had been meaning to get the bag ready, but of course hadn’t got around to it). After a bit of monitoring, it was clear that I wasn’t in labour, so we went back home. This set the pattern for the next 5 days, when I went into the hospital to check the baby’s heart rate and any contractions I was having each morning, but, thanks to the great midwives at the birth centre, was able to just wait for labour to start naturally (lots of walking, curries, pineapple, the odd glass of wine, and lots of listening to your great birth rehearsal cd!). On the 5th day, one of the fantastic midwives at the birth centre decided to check for sure that it was my forewaters that had broken – yes they had, and I was about a centimetre and a half dilated without even knowing it.
That evening, by about 10pm, I told Ali that I wasn’t coming to bed as I was having some contractions and wouldn’t be able to sleep. We then hung out at home for about 3 or 4 more hours, during which I had a nice long shower, listened to the CDs and spent a lot of time on all fours. During this time, I realised that by swinging my hips and practicing my breathing through the surges, they were very manageable. I found that the sleep breathing technique worked for me more than the balloon breathing; so stuck to that. When we got to the hospital, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to know how dilated I was, in case it was a disappointment. I was persuaded that it was worth checking and was already at 8cms – so I got really excited about the prospect of meeting my baby in the very near future. I got into the bath and that was the best time of my labour – it was so peaceful and I was able to sort of gently bounce up and down in the bath. Unfortunately, I then started to get a bit hot and Archie’s heartbeat got a bit faster and, as my waters had been broken for so long, the midwives were concerned about the possibility of some sort of infection. So out I came and at that point everything came to a grinding halt. Neither standing up nor walking around would get things going again and, as it was now about 6am and I was getting a bit tired, I decided to go across to the labour ward for a drip to get things going. Through all of this, I was able to stay chilled-out and even see the amusing side of things with this baby that kept changing his mind about whether or not he wanted to come out.
We had a great midwife in the labour ward who totally understood what we wanted with regards to keeping a calm environment and, even though I was hooked up to a heartbeat monitor and the drip, I was able to get into my own space up to and during the first part of the second stage. Unfortunately, the lip on my cervix meant that I had to move onto my side from all fours, for the final stage – when I wasn’t able to move, I did find that a bit of gas was handy for the big surges. By this stage, I was quite keen to see the baby and have a rest, so I found it impossible not to push – Archie was then born at a quarter past 12 after 14 hours of ‘proper’ labour to great joy all round! I did tear, but to be honest, didn’t notice it happening, and remember quite a jolly atmosphere as I was stitched up. The midwife from the labour ward reckoned that I’d done a great job and, up in the maternity ward, the nurses seemed quite surprised at the contrast between the description of my birth on the notes, and my description of it as a good experience – which it really was, and I know that it was the exercises, before and during the birth, that made it that way. Ali was also a great help – really looked after me, and was also quite exhausted after having to hold my leg in the air for 2 hours when I was laboring, on my side!
Although Archie was quite jaundiced and sleepy for a few days after the birth, he soon started feeding well and has been in rude health ever since. He’s such a good baby and is giving us a great introduction to being parents – slept through the night from about 3 months, and is generally a jolly, beautiful little fellow.
Thanks so much, and I’ll hopefully see you during my next pregnancy for a bit of a refresher! Here’s a little picture of Archie after his first swim (he loves the water)!
Ellen, Ali and Archie xxx
Ellen has also had a second baby boy named Harry. Click here to read Harry’s birth story.