THE AMAZING BIRTH OF BABY H
When we found out we were having a baby we were so excited.
I was so excited, I went to the doctor as soon as possible to find out what
happens next. Naively I assumed everyone from doctor to community midwife would share in our excitement but as I soon found out that wasn’t how it worked and I went from being mildly insulted to merely a statistic with a real fear of the rest of my pregnancy. My excitement was eroded away at every touchpoint until I was left so upset, anxious and extremely apprehensive about the journey ahead: and when the slightly inexperienced midwife wouldn’t even give me a forum to discuss any concerns, I realised I had to do something to regain control of what should be the most empowering time of my life. All I wanted was to be
treated as a sensible, intelligent, individual person, not given an inaccurate
label that would shape the journey out of my control.
I googled ‘Independent midwives, Hampshire’ and Wessex Independent Midwives came up. I read through the website and there were a
couple of things that jumped out: there was just a warmth to all the pictures
and I noticed a picture of twin babies that I recognised as those of a friend
of mine. This familiarity urged me to pick up the phone, I will forever be so
glad I did. After a very long and tearful chat with Caroline, mostly because
she was simply so kind to me over the phone, we agreed that Erika would call as
she was closer and she had availability for my due date. When I say Erika was
closer, I remained very conscious for the rest of my pregnancy that I was
probably as far as Erika and Caroline would come but come they did to every
lovely appointment in our own home.
Erika was simply amazing, she treated me as the intelligent
woman that I am and throughout my pregnancy she explained all the options to
enabling my husband and I to discuss, come to conclusions and confidently make the right decisions ourselves for our family. Slowly I began to regain a bit of confidence that giving birth could be the empowering experience that I had
assumed it would back at the outset. I was able to voice all my concerns and
anxieties and I did remain anxious all the way through, but with Erika’s gentle
encouragement and reminders to trust my body to do what it was designed to do, I was able to manage those worries.
I didn’t really know what I wanted from the birth, I didn’t
really know where I wanted to be and I didn’t really know what was best. It
became hard to filter what we wanted when everyone you meet has an opinion.
Refreshingly and professionally of course Erika didn’t voice hers, but listened
patiently as I changed my mind and talked through all the options. The only
thing I knew for sure was that I didn’t want to end up at Southampton hospital.
My husband and I looked at the New Forest Birth Centre, and for a long time
that was where we wanted to be but we came to realise there was nothing they
could do there for me that Erika couldn’t do at home, and besides, the
statistics were stacked against me for a transfer to PAH, and the more I
understood the more it seemed important to let the hormones do their thing and minimise opportunities for adrenalin to kick in, like travelling to a birth centre about as far away from home as I could manage in the midst of labour. I looked at Winchester hospital, which was lovely but part of the tour was to show us the theatre, in the event of needing a C-section, which freaked me out. At that point I decided I wanted to be at home. It all fell into place and felt like the right thing to aim for. I am pretty sure both Erika and Caroline were
delighted when I said this was what I wanted, but at no point had they steered
my decision. I think this is important, my husband had listened to me go round
and round in circles and we had gone through all the options over and over
again but it really did feel like I had regained the right level of control
over the birth when we told Erika what we wanted. For sure I am 100% certain,
despite Erika’s protestations, that I couldn’t have done it at home without
Erika and Caroline’s support though.
H’s journey started a week early, which caught us a bit off guard especially as we had all convinced ourselves that he would arrive
two weeks late! (we ordered the pool liner, express delivery and it arrived 8am
the following morning, about 8 hrs too late and an hour before our son
arrived!) My husband and I had planned a quiet spa day, but I thought my waters
had broken when I got up that morning so we stayed at home. Erika said to just
have a quiet day and rest and then she came round early evening and dropped the pool off: her excitement was infectious, but prepared us for both eventualities (“either we’ll have a baby by the morning, or it will be a bit of a false
start, which can happen too, especially with first babies”) I had been very
sick throughout my pregnancy so I was really concerned about going through
labour sick and exhausted, we had prepared for this with a prescription
anti-emetic that Erika could give if required. We talked this over again, and
she headed home. We tried to have a normal Monday evening: but by the time
University Challenge came on TV I was pacing around and totally unable to
answer any questions! We spoke to Erika and she suggested we inflate the pool
and go to bed. By this stage sleep was out of the question for me and by
midnight my husband spoke to Erika, who listened to me in the background and
then came straight round. She cajoled me into the pool around 2am I think,
where I remained until our son was born 7 hours later. Those 7 hours are a bit
of a blur for me, but I do know that Erika’s unobtrusive reassurance and encouragement were so important to both my husband and I. And I think it also gave him the confidence to be able to focus on supporting me so well even though apparently I nearly broke his fingers! The whole experience was full on, super intense but also just amazing. I have absolutely no doubt that things would have been completely different had we not had the support of Erika and Caroline, who we had come to know and trust. (Out of a group of seven friends, who gave birth around the same time, I was the only one who had gone down the route of an independent midwife and the only one with a positive experience to share)
Immediately after our son was born Erika and Caroline looked after us all so well. Ever so gentle encouraging those first moments with our son, curled up on our own sofa in our own living room. Someone made me toast and honey to regain some energy which became a staple over the next few weeks and the perfect snack at the time. I had some difficultly delivering the placenta, but Erika and Caroline patiently waited for nature to take its course, without pushing for medical intervention. After some time, Erika sat down to explain the options to me if I couldn’t deliver the placenta naturally. I began to panic… we had come this far without going to hospital – the absolute last thing I wanted was to end up in surgery, my biggest fear, after going through an amazing homebirth. We
talked over the options and tried a few things and ultimately the injection
fortunately worked. It wasn’t the natural third stage of labour I had hoped but
by that stage I desperately didn’t want to have to go to hospital. With
hindsight, I think Erika and Caroline's confidence and experience enabled me to
take perhaps more time to make the decision to have the injection that I might
otherwise have been afforded. We were all hugely relieved and my husband, Erika and Caroline just quietly cleared everything up as Harrison fed for ages then fell gently asleep, in the comfort of our own home.
We had a small blackboard in the kitchen, next to where the
pool was set up in the living room that we wrote lists and notes on in chalk:
at one point during my labour Erika wrote: ‘Corrie is a phenomenal birthing
woman’: 8 months on it is still there and no one is ever allowed to rub it out.
Erika, we cannot thank you enough and along with Caroline’s
support H had the most wonderful journey into the world thanks to you.