HOLLY & RITA
When I got the dough out of the fridge on Monday evening, it gave off a powerful pong! I went all light-headed and had to sit down. I called Anselm – was this a sign that things were starting to happen? I was 2 days shy of my due date. I went to choir as usual, since there’s a lot of joy to be had singing Haydn’s creation (“a new created world, a new created world, springs up, springs up at thy command!) when you’re expecting a baby!
I woke at 4am on Tuesday for a wee noticing some darkish red blood when I wiped. I went back to bed to try to rest but I was up and down to the loo a lot, emptying my bowels! The events of the day were unfolding in my mind, if I was going into labour could my brother come over and be with the children? Would I make it to the scan I had booked for today? Mild contractions began, measured and manageable, and I was getting through them by strongly squeezing my partner’s hand (he was asleep!) and making mental lists…changing to counting when making lists became too effortful! Even though this was my fourth child I wasn’t sure this was it, or just a false alarm. I was aiming to stay horizontal until 6am at which point contractions were every 5 mins. Then I got in the shower and washed my hair (I was desperate to relieve the itch at the nape of my neck) and then the contractions were getting stronger and the pressure was mounting – downstairs for painkillers, keep rubbing my back with almond oil, curl my hair between contractions! Then Iris was there, seeing me agitated, it was very intense. I didn’t want her to see me in this state – I went back upstairs and she was asked to be in charge of getting the younger two dressed and breakfasted.
Now the contractions were at their most powerful. The gap between contractions had gone, though I did try to get the clothes horse down and the washing off it, to make a bit of space! In this heightened state with blood dripping out of me, and a very overwhelming physical thing happening to me, I was leaning over the bed gripping the bed frame, scrunching the bedsheets, biting the duvet. I felt short of breath, but I held on in my head to ‘this is how you will get to meet your baby’. As all this was happening, Anselm had phoned the home birth number but the recorded message said…number unavailable. When he tried again, the very laid back clerk told him we’d get a call from the on-call midwife. I could feel a great big weight in my bum that I wanted to push out, but could not hear the phone ringing. I suddenly remembered that of course the midwife would phone my phone, which was under my pillow on silent! There were missed calls, which Anselm rang – Tina – who lived twenty miles away and wasn’t going to arrive in time. She told Anselm to hang up and phone 999. We also phoned our friend Rachel, a midwife, whose phone was also off, but the voice message he left was enough for her to know that we were about to have a baby! I was adamant I didn’t want to go to hospital and had this agitation in my head and this huge bearing down weight in the bum. But it was a relief to hear the 999 woman’s voice on loud speaker, to have the solid base of Anselm’s feet to stand on to anchor me, to hear Anselm saying ‘I can see the head’ and to receive
instructions from him. I pushed out the head, then I pushed again. And Anselm was there to do the catching. ‘It’s a girl’ he said.
I had an awareness that Juno was in the room, Anselm was responding to the 999 woman’s instructions, but everything was happening behind me; the heavy tug of the umbilical cord a reminder that the baby was attached to me, but it was a relief to flop on the bed and let the action happen around me. Juno was in and out of the room as per the instructions, fetching towels for the baby, and for mum!! Then she needed string to tie around the cord and came back with an assortment of ribbons from the ribbon box! Just then, Andrew the first responder paramedic arrived and Iris let him in. He walked into our bedroom in heavy boots and uniform, me with my bum in the air, Anselm holding the baby and 3 children, wanting to turn the light on (‘don’t turn the light on’ I insisted!) but he was very respectful, took control and asked Anselm if he’d like to cut the cord. Corin’s reaction to the baby was ‘he is a she’!
2 more paramedics arrived, Mandy and Rob, more clomping boots and kit but Aussie Maddy was super great and took loads of photos of us with the baby. Iris, Juno, and Corin read to the baby while we waited for the placenta. “ I used to be a baby Corin told the paramedics. Happily, the placenta plopped out, (Corin was very interested in it – “looks like poo”) and so down went the paramedics and the children for paperwork, cups of tea and general entertainment (the puppets these guys made with latex gloves were hilarious!) By now, Lorna, the midwife from the Whittington, had arrived, and Rachel came soon after. What a contrast of reactions! Lorna, business like, oddly not maternal, with broken scales, so unable to weigh the baby; Rachel was kind, joyful, enthusiastic, and extremely helpful; she changed the bedcovers, mopped up the blood on the bedroom floor, made tea and took the children to school. The paramedics came up to say cheerio, well done, shake Anselm’s had and get a photo with the baby. They’d passed on our thanks to the 999 woman, and said she’d get a stork badge on her name badge for what she did for us.
And then….everything was lovely. The sun lit the room, my sister arrived as did other very special people, and Anselm finished off the pongy dough duties, so we could eat the delicious bread for lunch.