The bit with the baby…

Happy Thursday, one and all. Firstly, allow me to apologise for the bonkers length of this post. Sorry. Secondly, what with it being Easter this week, we’re taking a wee break and eating All The Chocolate over a lovely long weekend. (Stella and I are going to see Anna and Mr K. *excited face* We’ll be back on Tuesday with so much more incredible content for you – have a fabulous Easter, readers.


After calling the maternity unit to let them know we were coming in, I had a MAJOR freakout. I didn’t want to get there and them tell me I was still 2cm and that there was still a long way to go because a)no way had the last, super intense 6 hours been for nothing b)they could poke it if they thought they were sending Phil home and keeping me there alone (partners aren’t allowed to stay overnight unless you are in ‘active’ labour – so, 4cm dilated or more in our hospital) and c) if I was going to torture myself by sitting in the car then it had better be for a bloody good reason. (Phil: ‘um…the baby? Is she a good enough reason?’)

By the time we made it to the car it was nearly 10pm. The bags and 2 pillows were already in the car so all we needed was ourselves and our phone chargers. I’d massively recommend being All The Organised – get those bags packed (and unpacked and repacked by your birth partner so they know where everything is) and in the car as early as possible. The journey to the hospital was every inch as terrible as I had anticipated. I found the pain unbearable whilst sitting and with nowhere to go as it took over, with each contraction I got more and more stressed. The minute we pulled into the parking space at the hospital I practically fell out of the car and breathed my way through my next contraction on all fours. In the middle of the night, in the middle of the car park. Classy to the very end.

We had to wait outside the maternity building doors for 15 minutes before anyone was able to buzz us in. That was fun. Once in, I found myself BEGGING for an internal examination. I had toyed with the idea of refusing internals once at the hospital, there’s a school of thought that suggests if you’re not as far along as you thought you were/expected to be, that it can demotivate you and actually slow your labour down even more. In the moment, however, SOD THAT. I needed to know what was happening and I needed to know now, so put your gloves on lady and get to it. 2 minutes later, I was ready to call it a day, ‘sorry, there’s been a mistake. No. I’m not having a baby. Bye now.’ 3cm dilated. THREE. 8 hours since the sweep and 6 hours of incredibly intense contractions and ONE BLOODY CENTIMETRE?! I did some quick mental arithmetic and worked out that at that rate I would need to be in labour for another 72 hours before the baby came and ohmigod there’s no way on earth… the midwife reassured me with an admirably straight face (whilst Phil snorted in the corner) that it didn’t actually work like that and that she was sure, if we went for a walk, things would speed up and we could move to the delivery corridor (4cm or more people. FOUR). The main hospital has a half mile corridor running through it’s centre so Phil hauled me up and down that 3 times and by the time we made it back to the maternity ward, the contractions were every 3 minutes and still kicking my arse, though they now felt like they were doing something – I felt productive rather than a nuisance each time I stopped to huff and rock my way through them. Another internal and we were at 5cm! FIVE! I felt much better now and only slightly embarrassed about my mathematics related outburst.

11pm. The adorable student midwife that we’d spoken to on the phone came round to take us to our room  and when Phil asked about the pool room, we were told that a baby had just been delivered in there but the family were on their way to the postnatal ward and so once it was cleaned up and the pool filled again we could move into it. For the interim we would be in a standard room. It was at this point that my ‘need’ for a waterbirth changed magically into a ‘would be nice’. My baby was coming and if she didn’t hang on long enough to make it into the pool then it just meant we’d get to meet her sooner. We’d win either way. I changed into my ‘labouring nightie’ (I am hugely smug about my hospital bag – I make no apologies. I used every.single.thing I packed for exactly the reason I packed it. If anyone wants any more super-interesting info about the mystery of the hospital bag, email me) and the quickest 4 hours of my life began. I had specifically said in my notes that I was more than happy for a student to be present – how else are they meant to learn? – and our midwife Trudy and student Kim were without a shadow of a doubt the two greatest human beings on the planet. Ever. They left us to it for the most part, interrupting only to listen to Stella’s heartbeat and only speaking when I puffed out the words ‘I.CAN’T.DO.THIS’ during contractions. ‘Of course you can, you are doing it, you just did it, look at you go,’ over and over again in the most peaceful of voices. To their credit, when I muttered to Phil between contractions things like, ‘this is BULLSHIT,’ and ‘I’d like to go home now, please,’ without a hint of irony, they didn’t say a word.

As far as a birth plan, we were fully committed to doing whatever it took. I had only one rule, and that was no pethidine. I’d been given it during an operation last year and had hated the way it made me feel so for me, it wasn’t an option. In terms of pain relief, that left me with gas and air or an epidural. I was happy to try gas and air, and did so for one contraction, but it made me feel HIDEOUS and when I launched the mouthpiece across the room in disgust it was taken away and I didn’t see it again. (#spoiltbrat) I knew that most women request an epidural when they get to the ‘transition’ stage – around 8cm. I’d also read that the intensity of this period can make some women vomit and as Kim held my hair back as I vomited at around 2.30am, in a surprisingly rational part of my brain I realised that we were nearly there… and whilst throwing up usually devastates me and makes me cry for hours, when another midwife popped her head around the door to say that the pool was filled I jumped off that bed and charged down the corridor to the pool room before Phil could pull my nightie down.

In the comparative chaos of moving rooms, Phil took the opportunity to pop down to the car to get Stella’s bag, as it was looking likely that we’d need it by breakfast time. I ignored the mini steps next to the pool and the bikini I’d packed just in case and more or less launched my ginormous naked self over the side of the pool. Aaaaaaaaaand *relax*. The difference in sensations in the deep, warm water was incredible. When we dissected the experience the next day Phil said when he came into the room after having been to the car, it was like coming back to a different woman. All my muscles relaxed and as well as feeling productive and positive I now felt driven and focussed and like I was there to get something done.

3am. I had my first contraction in the pool and nearly laughed at the difference. The pain had gone from 9/10 to a 7/10 and as far as I was concerned, that was winning. 2 minutes later, another contraction. But this one was different. With this wave of pressure, my body did something incredible entirely of it’s own accord. It pushed. I kept quiet and wondered what on earth had happened. Then another contraction. And the same thing. I asked Trudy and Kim ever so politely if it was ok that I was pushing? Again, all credit, they didn’t laugh. And again, Phil, sniggering in my ear. (I’m never that polite to him apparently. Pfft.) I can’t describe where the urge came from, it was simply completely impossible NOT to push with each contraction. There was no more pain, just incredible pressure and the most amazing increasing awareness of Stella. Literally, with each push I could feel more and more of her and feel her moving downwards. Between contractions I tried to keep pushing – I was just so excited now that she was nearly here – and discovered that it’s totally impossible to do so. Interesting. So instead, Phil and I chatted and made giddy noises and pondered out loud where my waters had gone. Trudy looked up, looked down at my notes, flicked through them a couple of times and then asked us had I not noticed my waters breaking? I was certain that they hadn’t, though now I was in the pool I had no real way of being sure. With that, another contraction took over and to everyone’s shock, I began to push out Stella’s still-sealed bag of waters. Trudy told us that in her 15 years of midwifery she’d never witnessed a baby being born in their caul and Kim could barely contain her excitement at seeing it happen in just her second year of training. (Bella has since informed me that Lord Byron was also born in his waters. Also Kim, from ‘Kim and Aggie’…but we’ll gloss over that one.)

3.40am. Stella began to enter the world. The best way I can describe the sensation of crowning is that it really f*cking stings. But like anything that stings, lemon juice in paper cuts, shampoo in your eye… it’s over pretty quickly. I could feel the stinging with the most insane clarity and the sharpness of the pain really cleared my head after the 5 hours of active labour. I was aware of two things. One, our lives were about to change. Two, I had a baby coming out of me and if I pushed too hard in my excitement I could tell I was going to cause some damage. So I tried, so hard, to relax and to let her come in her own time. It worked, the stinging ceased and Kim guided my hand down to help me break the membrane surrounding Stella’s head. I couldn’t see her very well, but Phil could and I settled instead for watching his face light up and his eyes fill with tears. One more completely involuntary push and I caught our baby as she slid into the pool like a mermaid.

Ridiculously, there’s going to be a part 3 next week. I know, shut up already about the childbirth! Even if no-one reads this though, it’s been the most wonderful experience writing it all down. It was the most intense, incredible 31 hours of my life and I’ve said this many a time to many a pregnant woman recently, but I’d do it all again right now. Twice.

Because if you read all of that, you deserve some Cute.

Categories: Becoming a Mother, Written By Aisling
33 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted March 28, 2013 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Loved the emotions, loved the facts & will email you for your hospital bag list. Happy Easter everyone x

  2. Steff
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    I’ve been quiet for a while but I actually couldn’t not stop by for this. Absolutely bloody amazing! You are superwoman, I’m totally convinced of it. Having had an elective section it’s really interesting to read all about labour and you write so vividly that it feels like we were all there with you, it’s quite a talent!

    And that little face? Just melts your heart!

    On the edge of my seat for part 3!! Xx

  3. Louise Macpherson
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Loved reading this, thank you for sharing. I also asked if it was ok to be pushing, you just don’t expect it to happen without being told to!

  4. Posted March 28, 2013 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Amazing. Just amazing.

    What an antidote to a super sad One Born Every Minute last night

    I could read this story again and again and again, so can’t wait for part 3

    Congratulations (again!) xxxxx

    • Posted March 28, 2013 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      Oh OBEM… I have to say it was sad but that couple were so so incredible and inspirational. Their attitude and strength was amazing.

      It really strikes me from reading and watching these stories that you just have to go with what you know you can do and handle. And not what you think is the ‘right’ way to do it. You just have to know your own body.

      Aisling you make me want a baby. Your joy through the process shines through. You’re amazing. xxx

  5. PiriyaP
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Thank you for writing this. Still in shock at Stella being pushed out in her waters, never knew that was possible!

  6. Posted March 28, 2013 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Yeay, part 2! So lovely to read on a (finally) sunny spring morning. I love that I can picture the whole scene through your words, I feel like we were all there with you. It also makes me realise how amazing the human body actually is, that you have to go with how it feels to you and not with any idea of how things are ‘supposed’ to be done. I’m already eager for part 3!

    Also the kid in Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’ is born with a caul over his face, it’s apparently what gives him his second sight (yes yes I know it’s complete fiction but it’s the only example I have ;-) Go with Lord Byron instead…

  7. Posted March 28, 2013 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    I love every sentence of this! Woman, you are an inspiration, I’ve been in suspense since reading part one and this was just beautiful. I too am in fear of being disheartened by slow progress so it’s good to know that you can make quick progress if the setting is right. Every time I look at little Stella I get more and more excited to meet our little one. You guys are the cutest.


  8. Zan
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Am sniffing over my cup of tea! I read this like I couldn’t possible stop until I reached the end – it’s written so wonderfully. And always nice to to hear a birth story that isn’t all about trauma (although maybe they’re just the ones I remember?).

    Also, that ridiculously cute photo of Stella – totally made my ovaries twinge!

  9. Liz
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Such a positive, beautiful story! I also had a water birth and would recommend it so highly. The feeling when you get in is magic, your cumbersome body suddenly feels weightless so you can relax between the hard bits and then really concentrate on doing something with the contractions. I felt like it was my own private cocoon! There are so many stories of birth that just sound scary that I think it is so beneficial to share the beautiful ones like yours so that others can approach it with a positive attitude and stand a better chance of getting their own wonderful birth story. X ps Stella is so super cute!

  10. Posted March 28, 2013 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Aisling you are officially my idol. I get very bad menstrual cramps (though I manage to control them with Ibuprofen and a bag of warm water) and so I am very afraid of pain (but reading stories like yours make me realize *I can totally take it and I will*).
    I have always felt in me that as much as a natural childbirth would be great, if needed, if I can’t take the pain, I will be like: “just give me the drugs”. Reading your story of the pool has got me thinking…maybe this could be an option for me (as when I get really bad cramps the warmth of a shower soothes and helps me).
    Thanks for sharing this, thanks for being so honest. And I am so incredibly happy for you.

  11. Sarah
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Eeeek! I’m devouring every word as some sort of manual for the next few weeks (due on 26th April)

    You sound very focussed and controlled Aisling. I just can’t believe how long it all goes on for! Obviously so worth it, Stella is magical. Congratulations again

    Ps. The thing that is currently really worrying me is packing the hospital bag! Ridiculous! Also have been googling ’what to wear during labour’ event though I’m constantly being told I just won’t care.

    Were you serious about emailing a list?? XX

    • Sarah
      Posted March 28, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      Aw, thanks Becci! I’ve just bought some rather lovely maternity pjs which I’m planning on saving for afterwards – perhaps I can class them as ‘loungewear’ and go home in those! x

    • Posted March 28, 2013 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

      Sarah – if you want the list, it’s yours. I’ve just this minute sent it to Penny, so she’s my guinea pig for how mental I come across… I shall send it to you this weekend!


      • Sarah
        Posted March 29, 2013 at 11:02 am | Permalink

        I’d love the list thank you! I so far have a forlorn and empty hospital bag, so a list might be the motivation I need!xx

  12. Peabody_Bites
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    What a wonderful, beautiful piece of writing. And thank you also for sharing so much detail – there are so few positive birth stories out there that it is easy to build the idea of giving birth up in your head and freak out well in advance (as in, so far in advance that I’m not even pregnant), and this level of detail really demystifies it. Information is power….

    Plus – Stella is utterly gorgeous.

    Happy Easter.

  13. Posted March 28, 2013 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    When I grow up, I want to be Aisling. That is all.

    K x

    :P S: It’s not all, I also have to say… SMUSHY CHEEKS.

    • ClaireH
      Posted March 28, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      Ha, I was thinking exactly the same thing! (Re being like Aisling, although yes, Stella’s cheeks are very smushable.)

  14. Posted March 28, 2013 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Just amazing!! Tears in my eyes :)

  15. Hannah
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Weeping in the office. Classy.

    I too will be emailing for the hospital bag, please!

  16. Posted March 28, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    I love this, Aisling, thank you so much for sharing it with us. It felt like perfect timing to read this today, seeing as I’ve literally just reached full term (EEEK!), and it’s made me so excited about what’s to come. xx

  17. Katie
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Aisling you are brilliant. How you managed to not push too hard, I will never know.

    I telephoned the hospital about three hours after contractions started, but was told they did not want me in till my contractions were regular. I was told my irregular contractions could last a very long time. Would go from 3 minutes apart to 7 minutes apart. I went into hospital when contractions got too painful, about 7 hours after my first contraction. I was screaming in the car on way in, where my waters broke. I was screaming in hospital reception, bent double, with lots of people looking on. I also had the need to push. I was wheeled to labour ward, as incapable of walking, where I was told I was 10cm dilated and this baby could arrive in less than an hour. It was too late for pain relief, and my way of getting through it was to push with all my might. Gas and air had no effect. Reading your comment on not pushing too hard, makes me wonder if I could have done it differently, and avoided the tear. The tear is irrelevant now though. My carefully packed bag, with a birth iPod playlist, and suitable nighty was never opened. The leggings came off and that was it. Afterwards, I realised I was still wearing my jersey dress and scarf.


    • Posted March 28, 2013 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

      I want to answer EVERYONE because I love you all so much, but had to really quickly say – Katie, don’t second guess yoursefl re how you did or didn’t push. Arriving at the hospital at 10cm dilated and your gorgeous Ava arriving so quickly is an epic adventure in itself – you had far more pressing issues to deal with.

      I hope you’ve healed well and that your lovely family are thriving.

      Much love x

  18. Amanda M
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    I think this is the most positive thing I have ever read about childbirth – I hope it gives a lot of people strength and hope.

  19. Alison
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    Love this story! With my own bundle of joy arriving little over three weeks ago it’s lovely to read someone’s birth story and remember my own.

    I’d hoped for a water birth, no drugs just gas and air and had been learning hypnobirthing techniques all inspired by Clare’s birth story on AOW. When I finally went into labour though (11 days overdue) the pain was all in my back (my son had turned around on me – little minx!) and I was begging for whatever drugs they could give me. Gas and air also made me sick but you couldn’t have wrenched the tube out my hands – it was the only thing I had to focus on. 17 hours later I was in theatre after having an epidural (amazing!) and ended up with an assisted ventouse delivery. I tell my pregnant friends (and AOW readers!) this story not to scare them but to reassure them that whatever labour you have – in the end it really doesn’t matter. I had everything I didn’t want – waters artifically broken, hormone drip to increase contractions, episiotomy – but I didn’t care and still don’t. My 11 pound (yes, 11 POUND!!) son was born safe and healthy and I will always look back on the whole experience as one of the most incredible ones of my life even if it was nothing like the birth I’d imagined.

    • Vivienne
      Posted March 28, 2013 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

      Alison, I planned a home birth but had a sneaky little back to back baby, and after a long labour and 5 hours of pushing, I ended up asking for help and unfortunately it had to be forceps.

      HOWEVER, up until that point I LOVED being in labour, and because I made all the decisions, keeping control of Toby’s birth, I feel positive about the way it went. And I’m dying to do it again!

    • Posted March 28, 2013 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

      Really great comment Alison, I wrote a post with my thoughts that are very similar here

      Congratulations on your baby boy! X

  20. Posted March 28, 2013 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    Without a shadow of a doubt the most beautiful birth story I’ve ever read. Proud to know you Aisling. Beautiful, beautiful words. (And baby!!) x

  21. Vivienne
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    More lovely writing birthy goddess woman you!

    For anyone looking for positive birth stories and are good places to start. Birth might not always be in our control, but it doesn’t have to be scary. There are some fab videos (not too graphic for the faint of heart) online too (try We are very lucky to have choice in the UK – and you have the right to birth the way you want too, wherever and however that may be.

    (If you hadn’t already guessed, birth and babies are my thing with being a doula, so please excuse any over excitement here or on Twitter!)

  22. Posted March 29, 2013 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    I completely love this. It’s such an emotional read. I’ll be taking lots of pointers to my babies birth so thank you xxx

  23. Rach M
    Posted March 30, 2013 at 1:49 am | Permalink

    Gorgeous and fascinating. Xx

  24. Ayesha
    Posted April 1, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Lovely inspirational story. Totally sympathise with the “one bloody cm?!” feeling!

    And I just have to ask. Where can I buy that babygro? It would melt my father-in-law’s heart!

    • Aisling
      Posted April 1, 2013 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

      Ayesha – it’s from Next! That’s exactly why we bought it, it (and it’s I love Grandma counterpart) have come in very handy for photos!

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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