ANNA & GAIA
I got pregnant at a time of great sorrow in my life and I struggled with this grief throughout my first pregnancy. It was not what I had envisaged my pregnancy would be like, I was emotionally fragile and on edge. Having been surrounded by pregnant women for over 15 years as a midwife I had been so overexcited seeing them walk into my room for antenatal visits, or meeting them for the first time in labour (a bit like a boisterous puppy). I marveled at their bodies and felt in awe of them. For me I didn’t bond with my baby. Pregnancy was overrated.
Despite this I didn’t question having a homebirth. I felt safe at home and however lovely your colleagues are I didn’t want to see any of them in labour.
I was very blessed to have two close friends look after me. Verona and Kirstie offered; and that continuous reassurance and unconditional love and acceptance was healing in itself.
I started acupuncture at 35 weeks and hoped it might help to turn my breech baby. She turned after 36 weeks so I continued the acupuncture in the run up to labour.
My husband, Romi is fantastic when it comes to anything practical so he sorted out the pool and had everything planned in regards to logistics. The other most important birth support was my Mum. She has always told me my birth story on my birthday since I was old enough to remember (on. Every. birthday). I couldn’t imagine her not being there. She came up from Cornwall around my due date. On the day that I started having contractions we went for a long walk trying to find her a copy of ‘Woman’s Own’. Nowhere seemed to stock it in SE London. I can’t even remember if we ever found it but we walked for a few hours in our search anyway.
In the evening I sat on a birth ball or chilled in the bath wondering if this was ‘the night’. Rom went out to see a friend and when he got home around 11 my lovely Mum came to tuck me in. Quite comical really as I was about to turn 37 and about to become a mother myself. Rom was asleep fairly fast but as the contractions continued I found out after trying to lie down during one that I was not going to be sleeping and I was never going to lie down again during a contraction.
I snuck back into the bath, such bliss, leaving Rom to sleep and hoping not to bother my Mum. I must have dozed in between contractions for a few hours but even the bath wasn’t going to cut it by 3 am. My Mum put the TENS machine back on and I thought I was going to pull the radiator off the wall. I had also expected that I would love to be massaged but touch was too intense and I couldn’t tolerate it.
By 5 am my Mum’s suggestion to call V was finally accepted. This was the only time I had had my midwife brain engaged. I didn’t want to call her too early nor wake her up unnecessarily. Funnily enough when she arrived half an hour later she said she had been up waiting for me to call (lots of witches in our profession).
Verona took one look at me and dispatched my Mum to wake up Rom and fill the pool. My waters broke a few contractions later and Verona went to call Kirstie. She told me I needed to wait for her before I gave birth. Birth? Soon? I was having trouble understanding what she had just said.
Rom had got the pool run and I was ‘mooing’. I heard him say to my Mum that I would need help getting in. Like a games contestant in the final moments I ripped off the TENS and high jumped into the water in a heartbeat just in time for the next contraction. I was in the most perfect place, the pain was bearable in deep water. I wanted to propose to Romi although we had just married the year before.
It wasn’t long until I heard Kirstie’s voice somewhere in the room. My Mum and Rom were by my side. I had no pressure in my bum as I expected and had told women about countless times. All the pain was in the font of my pelvis when I pushed the pain disappeared.
Gaia was born after twenty minutes of pushing apparently. I couldn’t have put a time on anything in labour. I opened my eyes with Verona and Rom bringing her up through the water to greet me. She has such long eyelashes and was smothered in vernix so her eyelashes were stuck to her cheeks. I look back on her birth with great pride and happiness. It marked the beginning of a new relationship that started to unfold slowly. For me it wasn’t an instant, crazy love but a gentle understanding that I had been entrusted to mother this child and I hoped that I would be able to do it.
A picture tells the story much better than my clumsy words. I asked Verona and Kirstie if they would mind me posting this first. I simply love this photo moments after Gaia arrived earthside. Kirstie has always been a bit of a softie and who needs tissues at a birth when a tea towel will do.