Ebony Povey, 21, a full-time mum, lives in Bristol with partner Deej and daughter Nylah who turned one on 3rd April (DOB 03/04/21).
I like to joke that Good Friday last year really was a good Friday. That morning I’d woken up to rays of spring sunshine peeking through the curtains. I remembered I was about to meet my baby, and felt a rush of excitement. Closing my eyes, I willed my body to go into labour. The previous day my waters had broken and after being checked out at hospital, I’d been sent home to wait for things to progress.
The contractions I’d expected hadn’t come, and my hopes for an extended family Easter were starting to fade. We have an annual tradition where my siblings, parents and cousins meet at my nana’s house for a big Sunday roast and a chocolate egg hunt. This year, I’d been secretly hoping to bring my new baby along – our very own Easter chick!
I’d been booked in for an induction at lunchtime on Good Friday, but I was hoping that wouldn’t be necessary. As I pottered round the house plumping cushions – what I now realise was nesting - I started to accept a scheduled hospital trip was on the cards. Later that morning I waddled round the supermarket with my partner Deej, stocking up on chocolate eggs for the family. Despite the change of labour plan, I stayed calm and positive.
As we travelled to hospital, it lifted my spirits to see the blue skies and spring flowers. Remembering my hypnobirthing training, I took slow and steady breaths. It was all part of a plan to keep my birth as calm and intervention free as I could. I felt confident that was possible, even with an induction.
At hospital we were shown to a ward, and a monitor was strapped to my bump. It showed I was having regular mild contractions, although I couldn’t feel a thing. I was asked to lie back so I could be examined. It was a relief to know I was already 2cm dilated. When the midwife inserted a pessary to kick-start contractions, I felt hopeful my body would respond.
To help things along while the pessary took effect, Deej and I went for a walk in the sunshine. Back on the ward we were shown to a private room where we sat and waited. Before long I started to notice a tightening sensation in my back and lower belly. In the next few hours those twinges got stronger, and I focussed on breathing calmly through each one. As the pressure increased, it felt reassuring to have Deej beside me.
With COVID restrictions I knew he couldn’t stay forever. By 9pm we were gently told he’d need to go home. After I reluctantly said goodbye I noticed my contractions were losing momentum. They continued on and off, until they eventually petered out.
My confidence was very nearly shattered when I nipped to the loo and realised my pessary had somehow come out. I rang the buzzer, and when the midwife came I couldn’t help bursting into tears of frustration. “Don’t worry, we’ll try again in the morning,” she reassured me, suggesting I relax and try to rest. That calmed me down, and I dropped off to sleep.
The next morning I woke feeling refreshed. A smiley midwife knocked at the door and told me they were almost ready to take me for the next stage of induction. I phoned Deej and told him to make his way back. My positivity was restored, and I felt an even bigger boost when I was showed to my delivery suite room. Its yellow walls were painted with blossom trees and birds. That, alongside the sunshine streaming through the window onto the comfortable bed and chair, boosted my mood.
I was examined again, and although I was still only 2cm dilated, the midwife managed to break my hindwaters. Despite feeling no sensation, the monitor showed I was contracting regularly. I clung to the hope that my body knew what to do.
My phone bleeped, showing a message from my mum. “I can’t wait to meet your little Easter chick!” she texted, and I couldn’t help smiling. Her excitement was contagious!
I didn’t flinch when the midwife struggled to find a vein in my arm while trying to insert the cannula. I was being hooked to a drip which would give me a synthetic hormone to encourage contractions. Although this wasn’t my ideal birth scenario, I felt calm and encouraged by the midwife. They’d increase the hormones gradually, she explained, in order to mimic natural labour.
By 8.30am Deej was by my side as I rocked on the birthing ball. Gradually, I noticed the tightenings starting up again. By lunchtime they’d gone from mild period cramps to intense contractions. From this point everything was a blur and I stayed focussed on my hypnobirthing breathing. Inhaling through my nose for four counts, then out through my mouth for eight, calmed me down and gave me a sense of control.
I stayed in this relaxed zone, moving between the bed and the birthing ball for the next few hours. A codeine tablet took the edge off my discomfort and allowed me to doze between contractions. I was examined again at one point and found to be 6cm, which was a boost. But by 4.30pm my mood suddenly changed. “I just want this baby out!” I shouted, feeling for the first time like I couldn’t continue.
Deej, bless him, remembered what he’d learned in those hypnobirthing videos. “Don’t worry, it’s just transition,” he whispered. While the midwife left to get the pethadine I so badly wanted, I nipped to the loo. As I lowered myself, I felt an overwhelming urge to push. Deej shouted the midwife, who agreed to examine me. No sooner had I climbed on the bed, she took one look and confirmed I was ready to push.
For the next 20 minutes I sat back next to Deej, bearing down with all my strength. There was no time for pain relief, but that didn’t worry me now. This final stage of labour felt empowering.
“There’s so much hair!” Deej smiled. He couldn’t resist taking a peek, and it was the encouragement I needed. Completely focussed, I gave one huge push and felt overwhelmed by pressure, which eased as the baby’s head slid out. Then, in the final push, the body followed, and I was flooded with exhaustion and relief.
Our beautiful baby Nylah was quickly rubbed down, then placed on my chest. Looking down and feeling her skin on mine, I felt grateful, proud and completely amazing. It was the best feeling ever.
“Congratulations on your Easter baby!” the midwife smiled, and I remembered the significance of the day. There was no better weekend to welcome a new life into the world. When I Facetimed my mum and sisters they gasped, cried and raised a bank holiday toast to their new relative.
Because of the length of time since my waters had broken, I needed to stay in overnight, which meant missing the family Easter meal. That didn’t bother me one bit; I was just happy to have a peaceful first few hours, just me, Deej and Nylah. Back home the next evening, on Easter Day, Mum visited laden with chocolate eggs. After a long but amazing labour, nothing could have beaten lying in bed and nibbling Easter eggs while cuddling my new baby. I couldn’t have asked for a better Easter weekend. And Nylah really is our perfect little chick.