My due date was on the 8th May 2016. Bags packed, toenails painted, hypnobirthing cd on replay. We were so ready and couldn't wait for things to begin. My labour began on the 10th May after seeing my midwife for a sweep, she confirmed I was 2cm dilated. Later that day labour started with a show and mild contractions which were 15 minutes apart and quite manageable, so manageable in fact that we decided to go to the local pub that night for dinner as I knew things can take a while to kick in.

The contractions eased up the next morning so started bouncing on my physio ball sniffing a bottle of clary sage whilst sipping raspberry leaf tea.  Jason massaged my lower back and attached the tens machine (incredible at this stage!!)  By 2 pm the contractions were 8 minutes apart and becoming more intense, by 10pm the contractions were far more intense and coming every 4 minutes. It was time to head to the Stoke Mandeville birthing centre. Feelings of excitement, anticipation and the unknown took hold of both of us whilst driving down our bumpy lane (twice as Jason forgot if he'd locked the front door).

On arrival I was examined and disappointedly had not dilated any further, the midwife did a sweep and stretch (ouch!) and suddenly my contractions became intense and all consuming.  She then told me we could go home, I knew I wanted to stay in hospital as I felt so safe and calm there so they agreed we could.

It was so busy that night so we headed up to the postnatal ward. Walking became impossible so I was wheeled to a cubicle to await imminent dilation. This was the strangest part of the labour for me, my contractions were coming every minute, almost feeling like there was no break between them and all I could have was paracetamol until I had got to 4cm. We were in a room with sleeping new mums, brand new babies and another lady that seemed so in control of her labour, all I knew was I felt so uncomfortable to make too much sound. The environment made such a difference to the way I felt I could cope. The overwhelming waves of labour at this stage meant I couldn't relax which made my body fight what was happening. After 2 hours on PN ward they ran me a bath, this helped a lot as we finally had a room to ourselves, the contractions at this point were becoming frequent and far stronger.

Everything slowed down at this point,  in fact I almost feel like it was a blur through these few hours.  After what felt way longer than 4 hours I was examined, I was finally 4cms and ready to head to the birthing centre. I'd had a strep B test come back positive so I needed IV antibiotics, The midwives helped me onto a transformer labouring bed where they put a cannula in my hand, it took a few attempts but finally started to administer the antibiotics whilst taking gas and air. Relief.

The hypnobirthing really helped at this point, I couldn't panic, I had to surrender to the pain, I had to trust my body and wow our bodies are amazing. Jason was so supportive and was in constant discussion about what was going on, this made a huge difference as I had a voice that knew what I wanted. The room was bright and not the place I wanted to give birth so I asked if the water pool was free yet, it was and a midwife ran in to let me know they were running the bath for me. My contractions then changed and felt quite different, expulsive creating a feeling of wanting to push,  the midwife reminded me I would have to wait as the antibiotics needed 2 hours to work. An impossibility, my cervix had dilated completely from 4 cms to 10 cms in an hour.

We arrived in the birthing pool room, it was dimly lit, relaxing music playing and the water felt incredible. After a long wait I was finally in the pool, Jason was right by me and I finally could let go. I think I roared like a lioness, my waters broke and I started to feel pressure, it was her head. Jason started to cry as he saw her little head full of jet black hair emerge. It was all I needed to see to keep going, I kept saying is the midwife here she has to catch the baby as I'm pretty sure they were quite shocked as to how quickly it all happened. With a few more roars our baby appeared, the midwives caught her and placed her on my chest, there she was my gorgeous baby girl it was incredible. Jason was so emotional and we both stared at her in amazement.

After a few moments Jason cut the cord, held her in his arms for skin on skin and I climbed out of the bath to birth the placenta. I needed a couple of stitches but they were really no problem. All exhausted, Eleanor Primrose Pearce had arrived on earth. We were totally in love. The midwives and support enabled me to have my dream birth and I'm so incredibly grateful to the team at Stoke. She weighed a healthy 7lb1.

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