Having had a miscarriage a few months previously, I was very apprehensive about planning the birth of my first child and so made the decision to get extensive support and continuity of care in the form of Eleanor.
When we first met, I had very little confidence in my ability to have a natural, normal birth - I was particularly scared about the pain of childbirth and as such was convinced that I would need all the pain killers available - starting with an epidural!! With this in mind, my primary concern was having someone who would represent my wishes to have a totally "pain free" birth in hospital.Over the months that I got to know Eleanor and build a close relationship with her, I gained more confidence and attended lots of classes recommended to me by Eleanor such as NCT, yoga and listened to relaxation CDs etc which all helped! Eleanor also provided invaluable support in the early weeks when I was still apprehensive due to previous experience. By the time it came to 40 weeks, I was mentally prepared for the fact I was going to have a baby but still apprehensive about the possible pain involved and pretty sure I would need lots of pain relief.I woke up on Thursday morning with what felt like tummy ache and wasnt sure whether or not this was it!! the pains I was getting were irregular and so by about 4pm I was writing them down and rating the pain out of 10. I had been to a few classes where labour was explained extensively so knew that I was probably only in the very early stages of labour and Eleanor had prepared me that I would not be in established labour until I was having regular contractions close together. So I kept recording the contractions - we even went out to dinner and got some funny looks with my pen and paper - when I explained what I was doing the waitresses flew into a panic and were at the ready with towels! I explained there was probably not going to be a baby for a few days and so we went home and to bed. I couldn't sleep all night and the contractions continued to be fairly mild, so I occupied my time by having a bath and using a hot water bottle. They were also very irregular so I mistook them for tummy ache from the night before! I waited until 9.15am the next morning to call Eleanor as I was still a bit unsure as to what was going on. Eleanor came over and agreed it was very early stages, but suggested a sweep to move things along, however, when she examined me we found I was 7cm dilated - much further along than we thought! It still hadnt really dawned on me that I was about to have a baby but by then it seemed imminent! My husband was about to go to work and so we hastily packed our things and apprehensively journeyed to the hospital!At 10.15 we got into the pool room, I paced around for a bit and then decided to get in the pool, my husband using various distracting tactics like offering chocolate brownies and sandwiches around to all!! Although I found the pool quite relaxing, I couldn't really get in a good position and wasnt really very comfortable. Unforeseen circumstances also meant I had to vacate the pool. I still felt like labour wasnt really progressing as the contractions didn't seem to intensify and felt like they were irregular. So at 1:45 I was examined again and found I was 10 cm. I was asked if I wanted to have my waters broken and I agreed but was scared that it would mean I would be in a lot of pain with contractions intensifying. Luckily this wasnt the case, but I still wasn't totally convinved I was in labour when Eleanor told me I needed to start pushing. I wasnt really sure what to do and reached the stage where I felt I couldn't carry on, but Eleanor encouraged me all the time and spurred me on! We moved into a cooler room in the hospital and I found a very good position to start pushing in earnest. At this point I took full advantage of the gas and air and it wasn't long before Eva was born at 3.40pm, with the third stage over very quickly in around 20 minutes. I then met my wonderful daughter and felt relieved and proud of what I had achieved.In the 2 weeks after the birth, we could honestly not have survived without Eleanor - we would be awake in what seemed like endless nights, just knowing if we could hang on til morning there would be a friendly face full of wisdom and encouragement to greet us. Unfortunately Eva and I had problems breastfeeding and in the end we had to use a bottle. Eleanor was very supportive of this and helped me to come to terms with what I felt was a real loss. Now we are at 6 weeks and Eva is full of life and new things to amaze me with every day. I still can't believe what a positive and wonderful experience my birth was and how I will remember that day with great happiness and fondness for the rest of my life - Eleanor was largely responsible for achieving this result and I look forward to her delivering all my babies to come - I am even confident enough now to consider a home birth next time!!