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The Arrival of Ella

August 10th 2006 saw the much anticipated arrival of 10-day late Ella Rose Hartley.

It was so bizarre how like Rowan’s arrival it all was. Practically the same beginning and such a similar baby at the end of it all!

The first thing Big said was ‘… yeah…. she looks just like Rowan!’

Anyway – I was due for an induction on Friday 11th August and woke at 5am on the 10th with a popping feeling. I actually thought that I needed to go to the loo and went to move around in bed.. whereas with Rowan’s bump I had low fluid, with Ella’s I had high fluid.. within seconds of standing (no mean feat I can tell you)….

… there was just water, water everywhere!! I literally had to run to the bathroom and it just wouldn’t stop coming!


Then it just wouldn’t stop. Hilariously, I’ll never forget that I had to walk round with a bath towel between my legs for about 20 minutes, I changed trousers three times to try to stop looking like I’d just wet myself.

I wouldn’t liked to have been out in public with that one!! 🙂

So, I came back into the bedroom and I was like.. ‘this is weird, no contractions yet so I should probably get some more sleep.’ I knew it could be hours before anything happened and I thought maybe I should try and be sensible. Not like me really.

Big agreed and so I bumbled back into bed and just about got comfy on my side. Within about 60 seconds, I got my first contraction. Ah well, no more sleep for me then. Exactly the same with Rowan. Went to sleep after 1am and get woken up after 4 hours. So, I got up and came downstairs to see my mum. She’d decided to stay with us as we had two friends set up ready to take care of Rowan for the previous three weeks ‘just in case’ but this particular week of course, nobody was available. So bless my mum she came over to stay and quite frankly….thank goodness…!

I was about resigned to the fact it would be the induction on the 11th but mum was right (as they usually are). She was amazed at the change in the bump minus fluid and said you could practically *see* the baby through it.

The contractions started really quickly coming close together and whereas with Rowan they built up length and strength slowly but surely throughout the day, with Ella’s they started reasonably weak, then just got 100x stronger over about half an hour so by the time it got to 7.30am I really was in a lot of pain.

We’d called and ambulance already and Rowan was still in bed. The ambulance was supposed to be at ours about 7ish and by 7.30 I was struggling really. They were pretty intense already and I started to have visions of giving birth on the dining room floor!! 😮

I just know my mum was thinking the same thing. She kept getting up to look out of the window…. you know that thing where if you keep looking for the ambulance it’ll just appear!!

Thankfully they arrived at 7.30 and got us on our way very quickly. I already looked like I’d wet myself again and as soon, and I mean as. soon. as I got into the ambulance I was on that gas and air like I was in love with it! If you know what I mean 😉

The next thing I really remember is being in the delivery room and knowing that I just couldn’t bear anyone touching me. I didn’t know whether I wanted to stand or sit, or lie or walk or what.

So different to Rowan’s.

Sure with Rowan moving around wasn’t exactly comfortable but I certainly don’t remember having this feeling of ‘everyone get away from me, no, come back, rub my back, no don’t touch me aarrrrgh!!’


It got to 9.15 and I wanted more pain relief and having had pethidine before, I knew I got on with it well and decided it was time for that. Let me just say, by this point I had chosen my point of labour to be perched on the edge of the bed near the pillow end, with one foot pushing on the bedside table and the other foot boring a hole through Big’s foot with every contraction. Pushing my toe into his foot seemed to be the only way I could cope with the pain.. and seeing as the bed was so high (and I’m a short arse) I couldn’t reach the floor..

….. I later found out I was minutes if not seconds away from breaking bones in his foot as at one point he tried to move it a little (I was killing him) and I pushed at that exact same time and ended up pushing my entire weight (I think I was 18st by that point) on the inside of his foot as the outside of his foot was pushed against the floor. I was twisting his ankle with pressure… bless him.. He was just standing there waiting for the crack. When I ask him now why he wouldn’t move it.. he says because I needed it.. How great is he?

Anyway. I had pethidine. It was OK but nothing like as effective as I thought I remembered from the last time and at 9.50 I remember looking at the clock and thinking, right.. so that’s wearing off now and I can’t have any more for another 3 hours at least. I’m in agony. I can’t even breathe hard enough to get the amount of G&A *in* that I think I may need in order to deal with this pain. And then I get the urge to push. I start to push uncontrollably. My body just decided to push the baby out.

It was like ‘yeah – we’ve had enough of this dude – it hurts and .. well… it needs to go’

The midwife says.. ‘ooh you’re not pushing are you? We need to get you examined and see what’s going on. Could you just lie down for me?’

I love the way they say this like ‘really you’ll be being quite unreasonable if you don’t because I have a job to do’.

Let’s just say.. I didn’t really like this midwife.

6.5cm. And that was generous apparently. It seems my cervix was misleading my body. Don’t push. Just control yourself and your breathing and when you get the urge to push just breathe through it. I was inflaming the cervix apparently and if I do that the labour is only gonna be longer and more drawn out and I may bruise the baby’s head.

I try to explain. I’m not pushing. My body is pushing. I can’t help it. I have the need to push and I can’t stop it from happening. I valiantly tried to stop pushing through the next contraction but I hoped even *she* could see it wasn’t possible. I had this weird surge in my back every time I had a contraction and it seemed to be bending me and making me squeeze.

I knew I couldn’t go on this way. I was knackered just 4.5 hours in. My contractions by this time were 60-70 seconds long and 10-15 seconds apart. It was absolutely unrelenting. I wasn’t getting any chance to recover between them & then they were so long that I was struggling to stay focused through them. I want an epidural.

Then I said it out loud. ‘I want an epidural’.

She asked me if was sure because [get this] it wasn’t on my birth plan.

Are. you. kidding?

Who cares about the ******* birth plan? I’m in ******* agony! The birth plan was the dream. This is the reality. That what was I wanted – this is what’s happening.

I had to take the times between agony to calmly and rationally explain that I wanted one. I even had to persuade her that I wasn’t asking for it in a panic. I was asking for it because I knew I was in the kind of pain I was in when I was 10 seconds away from delivering my first baby (if not worse pain to be honest) and here she was telling me that I could have another 3 or 4 hours to go. Let’s face it. *Who knows?* No body does. It could have been another 20 minutes but no one can tell you that.

I was screaming practically with the contractions and with Rowan I don’t think I ever got above a very loud grunt with the last two or three when she was actually delivering. Granted she didn’t know that … but seriously… the birth plan. Jeez.

SO snotty Mrs Judgey McKnowit-all proceeded to phone for an anaesthetist only after.. oh yes.. only *after* she sat down primly in her chair 10 ft behind me and explain all the downsides of having one.

Could I hear her? Errr.. no.

Did I care? Errrrr… no.

Not to this day could I tell you any of the stuff she came out with in that 60 seconds whilst I laboured through another contraction that felt like it was ripping humanity apart.

Yes yes yes I said as she finished, just call a doctor who has more drugs than you. Off she toddled. She wasn’t the same after that. She had been fairly abrupt and matter of fact anyway really but after that she kind of treated me like I’d been a pain and that I’d given in to the *easy* option. I was a quitter apparently.

So the anaesthetist arrived. I loved him. He saved me. He put the lovely needle in my back and took it *all* away. Nice man.

The shifts changed thank goodness and we got a new midwife and a new student to replace my dippy student Emma and judgemental midwife – can’t even remember her name to be honest. Who cares anyway?

Maureen and student Amy were lovely, just what the doctor ordered – so to speak.

Friendly, calm and very easy to be with. They performed the next examination which is where we found out that the epidural I *awkwardly* and *defeatedly* requested was what saved our natural delivery.

Ella was presenting face first and upside down. She was back to back and pushing the back of her head onto her own back as she came through. Maureen informed us that had this been found when I was still without the block, I would have either had emergency intervention under epidural or whatever the other worse option would be which we didn’t really go into.

So. I had done the right thing. Inadvertently maybe but I like to think my instinct saved me. It had been oddly painful – I had been right.

I felt vindicated learning that I had extra-ordinary back pain. She was back to back *and* pushing the widest possible part of her head against my insides in *all* the wrong kinda ways!!

Bog off Judgey McKnowit-all!! Cos ya didn’t know it all – at all!! 😛

So they tried to rearrange Ella from the outside by pushing her around. They managed to manipulate her by shoving her up and pushing her chin back I think. Her heart rate started to misbehave with contractions and so it was foetal scalp monitor again which wasn’t so bad.

The next snag was really when Maureen decided that I had been fully dilated for about an hour or so and that the head had descended far enough for me to have a go at pushing. We’d already had the alarming drop in blood pressure incident – the student took it only to discover my bp was 25/40.. oops more fluids needed maybe? That was funny 🙄

So. I had a think about pushing with the epidural. Really, how *do*you push when you can’t feel anything from the boobs down? It’s not easy let me tell ya! What *I* did, was to think about what you do with your body when you push i.e. arch your back and pulled my legs up so I was kind of squatting but on my side. It was interesting, funny almost.

Nothing much was happening and I really thought that I was trying as hard as I possibly could. I had already been told that I would be given an hour. Ella was getting tired, I was knackered and due to her position a gynacologist had been called anyway and was waiting for a page to come in.

I’d bee moved onto my back by now and had my legs in stirrups. Never thought I’d be in a room with ‘8 people I’d never met before in my life looking up my flue’ as Maureen quipped. I just didn’t seem to be able to get her to move down and *stay* down.

I had already been told just shortly before that the options were, push for an hour, ventouse, c-section. Little did I know that these options had been changed once the Gyn-y had found out that Ella was coming out face first. There was no guarantee that she wouldn’t. I think everyone in the room knew this but me.

Maureen looked at the doctor and asked if I would be allowed one last try. 15 more minutes to see if I could do it. ‘ok’ she said ‘but if I’m going to intervene I’m going to do it in theatre’. I *still* didn’t get it. I thought she just meant that would want to do ventouse in theatre because that’s where she would be more comfortable.

Maureen looked at me. Pointedly. ‘Do you understand what’s being said to you?’

Light dawned on marble head (Sorry – *so* nicked from Cocktail.

Ah. Well then. I’d better try hard then.

I just got a second wind. Just like that. I thought I had been trying hard until they told me that I was 10 seconds away from a caesarean. I cheated though. Totally. When I pushed, I pushed on Ella’s bum at the same time. What? No-one told me I couldn’t. 😉

The head crowned, the doctor looked at Maureen, kind of shrugged her shoulders and left the room. YAY!!! I win!!!

The head was out. Then nothing. I mean it. Nothing. I just waited. Maureen said to wait for the next contraction. SO I was. But where was it? I was kind of sure that I could have pushed her out without one but there was no contraction, I was told to wait for the next one. So I waited.

It seemed to become a problem. They all (next shift midwife, new student, my midwife, student, paediatrician, assistant) started to look at each other. So I started to feel a vague contraction and pushed. She was here.

She was incredibly floppy and not that interested in waking up. Her eyes were open but starey. We rubbed her back and scrubbed at her with a towel and finally she mewed.

I was happy to let the paediatrician take her and I saw she was given some oxygen and checked over but she was basically absolutely fine.

They called her Stargazer. She came out looking at the ceiling and didn’t turn which apparently is quite unusual.

Ella Rose Hartley 21.34 10th August 2006.

My final thoughts. Epidurals. Pretty good. You can still feel enough at the end as they turn it right down but not exactly pain. Pressure really, that is bearable seeing as you’ve felt nothing for however long.

Anyway Ella arrived after a longer labour than her sister’s. 16.5 hours of agony then boredom then perfection. I was disappointed at first that I ‘failed’. Yes yes. All of that I didn’t do it as well as I should have stuff but now I just look back with appreciation of a totally different experience. Everything was OK. She was OK and she might not have been.

I would never shy away from epidurals again. I never wanted one but if I ever have a third I wouldn’t hesitate to do it like this again if I felt it was necessary.

My creation

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