CORINNE & THOMMY
Sweet sweet Thommy.
Where to start? I guess T’s Birthtale started with the birth of my first daughter – a classic birth of a “cascade of interventions” leading to a birth trauma and then a further, more
positive, cascade of experiences finding myself drawn to working in this “birth world”. Yes
with a view to help others avoid experiences like mine but also, selfishly, I think in a way to
heal myself. Second pregnancy and Birth– this was going to be different – no pressure hey ?
I’ll skip the 4years in between and land us 2months prior to due date. My pregnancy was
easy and “low risk” however my previous experience had seen me and body labelled “high
risk” for the actual birth. In the months preceding I had been told I must birth on the
obstetric ward by a local hospital . I was desperate to avoid this, not wishing to take any
steps towards repeating what happened with my first birth. I also wished my Daughter to be
present for the birth of her Sister, to bond them together and also instil in both that Birth
was a beautiful gift, not an experience to endure or fear. I wanted to birth at home feeling
safe and supported by loved ones.
All of this lead to a decision to change care provider to Lewisham hospital who were a little
more on-the-fence regarding my options. My community midwife had been reluctant to
engage however through a twist in fate, a senior community midwife covered the clinic one
day and with empathy and respect listened and said the magic words “ We will support you
in any way and anywhere you wish to birth this Baby”. What relief – finally! A referral was
then promptly made to Home Birth community midwives – specifically the Poppie Team –
who specialised in past birth trauma.
In the meantime though, the box checking had to be completed by Obstetric Team.
Appointments made with 2 separate registrars, an Obstetric Consultant and a Consultant
Midwife. All of which were to educate me of the risks I was taking regarding my body and
life. Dramatic statements thrown about – very politely mind – stretching the definition of
“informing consent” but this was their medical experience and their job to keep me safe. In
short, the statistics of a subsequent birth following a haemorrhage was that there was 14-
18% chance this would happen again. I was opting for the 82% chance that it wouldn’t.
A shield was needed in all this; someone to offer sense, experience and protection. This was
Charlotte. Writing this, I well up as I recall her support; patiently talking me through options,
the cups of tea as I agonised over my decision out aloud, the appointments she attended
with me, the literature loaned and signposted to ,and the month she would have had to
curtail any fun evening plans to be “on call” should I go into labour.
Through all of this, my stance was that there was no point in choosing a home birth if my
midwives were not confident or on board with such a decision. To feel safe to birth, my care
providers also had to feel safe and confident in the care they were providing. Enter here,
Poppie Team midwife Manuela. This woman turned everything around. Manuela believed in
physiological birth and believed that my body was capable of it. Of course back up plans had
to be made, a managed 3 rd stage, cannulation during labour, IV fluids on hand at the house,
– a robust birth plan put in place. Manuela was confident - we were good to go.
So much build up… so much pressure that this had to go right.
And right it did.
At 41 +5 Birthtale’s Anna came over for some acupuncture. An acupuncture session with
Anna is an all-round birth therapy session. You talk, you learn, you feel loved and needles
are applied to ease anxiety and encourage the body to birth easily. My appt was 7.30 and by
7.45pm the first of the surges washed in. I didn’t share this with Anna, not wishing to cause
a fuss, and she kept with her needling and left with well wishes and gifts of oils to see me
through. By 10pm, I decided I would call Charlotte just to hang out and see if these
contractions were the real thing. I was already contracting every 3 mins but clearly in denial.
Charlotte arrived and that’s when I handed over to her – I was finished thinking. Charlotte
set my Partner Max to work to fill the pool and I retreated to my bedroom with my birth
ball, TENS, music and lost myself to my breathing whilst Charlotte held my hand or applied
counter pressures through each surge.
At midnight Charlotte asked whether we should call the midwives. I still wasn’t sure this was
the real thing so thankfully Charlotte just called through anyway. Max was doing well with
the birth pool downstairs and would pop up to see if I needed anything, playing runner for
coconut water, straws, an iced muslin and at one point returning with a block of ice - he and
Charlotte both confused by this request on a cold December night (an “ice block” in
Australian is an “iced lolly” – lost in translation).
The Midwives arrived around 1pm and Babe’s heart rate checked. All going well. Cannula
inserted and pool inspected, and with the TENS no longer working its magic –it was time to
head downstairs for the action. There was a small wait to get into the pool at which I nearly
lost my rag – (midwives needing it cooler and deeper, Max arguing displacement physics
and my liking of very hot baths) and I was in – what relief!!! So good that all was forgiven
and Max invited into the pool to enjoy with me.
And it was here I found the “rest and be thankful stage”. Surges less frequent and easily
manageable. My body fully present as I felt the pressure descend and my body open. I
resisted the urge to push and just let Babe come forth. Charlotte, knowing, our wishes for
my elder daughter to be present for the birth, asked my Mother to wake her and our bleary
eyed but excited 4yo came to welcome her sister. With a wave of a surge, I pushed my body
into Max’s and out Thomasin presented her little face + a fist by her cheek. Another surge
and with the midwives encouraging a push. Thomasin’s body followed and into my arms.
I wish at this point I could say we were all overcome with the emotions that a new life brings
however this was the point of greatest risk of haemorrhage so all of us were tense. The
midwives calmly helped Thomasin and I out of the pool and onto our sofa. Syringe drawn
and an active 3 rd stage completed with a gentle tug of the placenta and we were done. No
bleed. No perineal trauma. A Healthy beautiful chunky Babe – tipping the scales at 9lbs
The evening closed with cups of tea all around, the midwives documenting, Max and Mum
clearing up, Charlotte guiding early breast feeds and my daughter Frankie nuzzling into her
I am so incredibly grateful for all the support that empowered this birth to unfold as it did.
My body birthing my daughter exactly how it was made to do so. Present, loved and healed.
Thank you to every beautiful person who had a role in bringing this to pass.