Birth Story Of The Week – Grace and Emie

Today’s birth story comes from a fabulous Mama Grace, who’s website shares all the best beauty secrets for you Mama’s and Mama’s to-be out there. It’s the holy grail for the best pregnancy beauty products available on the market all on one website. So no need to drag your heavy bump and aching legs around the shops. The answers are there from the comfort of your sofa. Genius. ‘I hope I can help you tackle the ante and post natal problems your midwife didn’t warn you about, make the most of pregnancy’s good bits and furnish the nursery with the best baby products. Like Vogue with a Ventouse……’ Amazing!

Blog: The Pregnant Beauty Guide

Twitter: babymamabeauty

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After the initial shock of finding out I was pregnant, and due to have a BABY in September 2012, I went headlong into a fairly horrible cycle of morning sickness (a.k.a. every-waking-moment-sickness), PEP (a charming inflammation of the stretch marks and as it turned out, full body rash), eczema, acne, and about 4 months of being intensely grumpy. I did not bloom, I did not glow, I just counted down the days to when I’d reap all the rewards and the baked bean inside me had sprouted legs, arms and could swim on out.

I was vaguely terrified – I’d heard the horror story that was my own birth on a loop since I was about 9 – but the overriding feeling was ‘get it over and done with’. My bump was so big that at 39 weeks I was being measured, scanned and weighed again, and I begged my gynae to perform a C-section there in her office. The next day I had a cup of raspberry leaf tea, a curry and a glass of red wine. It seemed to do the trick, as twenty-four hours later, shopping for yet another size up in Marks and Spencer’s, I suddenly felt a swoosh inside. I stood stock still, but nothing happened. We hung around for a bit – I heard that you get free shopping for a year if you go into labour in M&S – but I felt fairly normal again. At home, Rich rolled up the cream rug in the living room, still nothing happened.

That night we went to bed, watched Celebrity Juice and I laughed so hard, something inside me popped. A vast gush of ‘stuff’ came out all over the White Company sheets, and kept coming the more I giggled. The usually ridiculously chilled out Rich ran around reading books and googling ‘flash flood in your pants’, shouting, “Stop bloody laughing, this is it!” We quickly realised we’d spent all our NCT classes not listening – he was wondering who we’d be friends and I was wondering if I could pull off Raybans. I sat on the loo, thinking I probably had 36 hours of labour ahead if my mum’s experience was anything to go by, and Rich thundered downstairs to announce it was more like 12 according to the internet. We went back to bed and actually slept. This was the first thing that was entirely out of character for me. I am not a naturally laid back person, I am actually incredibly neurotic, so to be relaxed enough to sleep….well, it was a bit weird. At about 1.30am I started getting what felt a bit like IBS stomach spasms – nothing near as painful as those, I hasten to add, just a gentle churning and tightening. I popped a couple of paracetamol and followed Caitlin Moran’s advice: keep moving

I walked around our tiny cottage, up and down the stairs, around each tiny room, doing circuits of the now rug-less sitting room. Still no earth-shattering pain, no need to scream or swear, just a rolling wave of period pain mixed with a tugging feeling. As the pain started to intensify I bounced on an exercise ball, but still with a sense of calm. Now, I know this sounds smug and possibly a little too good to be true. But I assure you, nobody is more flummoxed than I am about what happened that night. I don’t know how or why I felt so chilled out. Maybe it was some kind of twilight hysteria, a drug-free trip? I hadn’t yet dug out my hypnobirthing MP3s or thought about visualising the opening flower etc. etc. – I thought all that was hours, even days away. I just kept breathing, focusing, and shutting everything out. I didn’t clock-watch, which I think was a huge help. Suddenly it was 5am, and when Rich timed a few contractions it turned out there was only a minute between them. I told him it would still be hours and I was happy at home – the pain just wasn’t bad enough to even think about hospital yet, I was actually quite enjoying rolling about on the ball.

He got progressively more anxious and started looking up how to deliver a baby at home. At 5.30am he made me call the midwife so she could ‘judge how close I was’ by my voice. She told me it sounded like I was still a long way off, and to call back at 8am when the community midwife could come and check on me at home. I got back on my ball and kept swaying. I was making the kind of breathy sighs I thought my neighbours could easily have mistaken as ‘sex noises’, but Rich assured me were not sexy in the slightest. A few minutes later he insisted on taking my temperature and sure enough, it was up a bit, so the midwife told us to pop in to the hospital (5 minutes up the road) just to check it out.

Poor Rich, for him that meant GO GO GO, but I was so in the zone (whatever that zone is), bouncing gently around the room, that it took a full hour to get me and all the stuff (I had 2 bags….ok, 3. and a ball. and two pillows…) into the car. When we got to the hospital I couldn’t get out the car as the contractions suddenly took hold of my legs. Rich then spent the next ten minutes running to the front doors, pressing the intercom to open them, racing back to me and trying to coax me out, only for the doors to shut tight again. He went back and forth about 10 times while I kept saying, “Just wait for this one to go,” still peaced out like some kind of bloody shaman, much to his annoyance.

Eventually he pulled me out, I hobbled in and we were directed to an exam room with two bays. It was 7am on a Sunday morning and the ‘skeleton’ staff was presumably with another lady – there wasn’t a single soul to be seen and everything was dead quiet. I paced round the room, climbed on and off the bed, bounced on the ball. Everything inside me seemed to be gathering in my vagina – there seemed to be a lot of things in there, heavy things, possibly bricks, dragging everything else downwards. I hung off Rich’s collar (kudos to River Island, it didn’t rip…), trying to ground myself but stay upright. Having sworn I wouldn’t do it, I started mooing and bossed Rich out into the hallway to find a midwife because I was concerned my womb was about to fall out. He couldn’t find one and came back with a receptionist, who asked me to wee in a pot. We hobbled to the loo and then suddenly it was like my labour started in earnest – the pain kicked in, I felt this innate shudder course through my body which felt like the urge to vomit but in reverse, so that rather than everything shooting up from stomach to throat, it was like everything was careering down to my knees. Weeing seemed entirely out of the question and blood started to trickle out into the bowl Rich was trying to hold beneath me. A midwife heard me shouting, “I can’t wee, I can’t WEEEEEEE!” and helped Rich guide me back to the examination room, where I writhed around on the bed, now feeling pain pulsing around my cervix, and she checked me over.

To everyone’s surprise I was 10cm dilated, my baby’s head was crowning and it was time to push. Errrrr, what? I hadn’t got in a pool, or had a foot massage, or listened to my playlist, had an epidural, or even eaten a single jelly baby! I hadn’t spritzed my face with spring water! I hadn’t even got changed beyond whipping my knickers off. I wasn’t ready! Rich stepped in, taking his role as ‘advocate’ very seriously. “Grace would like a water birth,” he told the midwife. She replied that she’d start running a bath for afterwards if he liked but there wasn’t time to get to the birthing suite. The best we’d manage now was a delivery room. I bellowed “I’m not ******* moving!” and so the midwife wheeled a cot and other equipment into the exam room while out-patients started milling about in the corridor waiting for their check-ups.

I started pushing – stopping only to fling my very expensive t-shirt which I had NOT planned to give birth in across the room – and made good progress I think. At 8am the midwife’s shift ended but I held onto her for dear life (by the breast, poor woman) and despite it being her wedding anniversary, she agreed to stay, working alongside her replacement. Then the baby’s heart rate dropped and my energy levels with it. A registrar came in and performed an episiotomy (which, with no drugs definitely smarted a bit – I shouted two of the worst swear words there are at that moment) and after the initial sharp assault of the cut itself, I was no longer in pain, just under an intense pressure. One suck of the ventouse and the head was out, one more push later and my baby slipped and slithered out at 8.25am, onto my chest. A pink hat was snapped onto her red little head, and she started to suckle like she’d been reading ‘breastfeeding for beginners’ in the womb and was already a pro. Noémie Rae, all long fingers and big black eyes, was out.

I don’t remember delivering the placenta or being cleaned up, just the midwife offering me gas and air for the stitches. I didn’t see the point when I’D JUST PUSHED A BABY OUT WITHOUT BEING OFFERED ANY (I also have a fear of vomiting and didn’t fancy adding that to the mix), so I just fixed my eyes on the suckling baby, jerked around a little bit, and within minutes the registrar was done. And that was that. The midwife said I could leave after a quick bath. I asked them to let me stay so Rich could go home for some sleep and I could at least have a little of the hospital experience I’d been gearing up for (and had packed 3 bags for. ok it was 4), so Emie – as she became known – and I lay in bed all day, she asleep, me munching on jelly babies, until it was time to go home, just 12 hours after we’d arrived. It was a whirlwind, nowhere NEAR as bad as I’d imagined it would be, and all in all the most satisfying experience I’ve ever had to date – a strange word to choose perhaps, I know most use ‘beautiful’ and ‘magical’, but satisfying is what it was. All the more satisfying when I look at this awesome kid that popped out that morning. I keep thanking her for being so cool en route to the world – she got into position, wriggled down and perhaps knowing I was a bit of a wimp, did most of the hard work for me. What a little legend.


It’s Been Emotional

To say the least. I feel drained, emotionally and physically. I haven’t felt like this in a while but it was bound to happen soon, it was my time to feel the smash, bang, wallop. My job, my role as a midwife pushed me pretty hard on Monday.

My woman, my couple finally had their baby on Monday evening after a gruelling 3 day stop-start labour. For her, for them as a couple it was as difficult as labours can go. They worked together like the A Team, supported each other every step of the way. It was amazing to watch.

The labour went on longer than expected, I missed putting my girls to bed that evening to see this baby be born. My husband (the silent hero) dealt with bath and bed time as he knew I couldn’t leave. Thank you Mr H for holding the fort and making sure the girls brushed their teeth and were tucked up warm and cosy in their little beds.

And finally when their baby arrived that evening, my heart which had been in my throat, exploded and my eyes filled with tears of relief and joy. He was pink, a little cross with his exit route but he was perfect. The emotion wasn’t helped by Adele’s Make You Feel My Love coming on the radio the moment he was passed to me by the surgeon. Handing them their little man was a very proud moment.

No birth is ever the same, and sometimes things aren’t ok at different points of the labour. Supporting couples when this happens is tough because you want to tell them everything is fine but you just don’t know. Reaching that end point on Monday and seeing my couple gazing at their brand new baby was the best feeling in the world. I left feeling exhausted but hugely satisfied.

And when I got home to a delicious meal cooked by Mr H, I tip toed into my girls bedrooms and sniffed their sweaty little heads and thanked them for being such angels and understanding why Mummy wasn’t there this evening.

Being a midwife is much more than just delivering babies but I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Birth Story Of The Week – Helen and Alba

This weeks birth story comes from Helen founder of Lionheart magazine and new Mama to Alba born in September.

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“It started with a gentle jolt at 5am. It was the tightening combined with twinges that I had been waiting 13 days for. 13 days is a long time when you know something life changing is going to happen, maybe-possibly-imminently. Of course like many expectant mothers, I didn’t know exactly how the process would go, but I was ready. I’d done the classes, eaten the cake, said goodbye to the colleagues and stretched like a pregnant yoga cat. Gosh, you and everyone you know are so darn excited for you when you hit that golden due date. So ready, ready, ready to meet this little baby. A day is fine, so is a week, but the golden due days start to shine less when 13 of them pass and nothing happens. That ‘imminence’ you felt at your fingertips you realise, wasn’t there at all. It’s actually over yonder up that mountain, laughing on a cloud.

Needles stuck in me. ‘Acupuncture has triggered labour that evening for some ladies’. Raspberry leaf tea with pineapple chasers, fire curry for starters and sad movies for dessert. Chocolate baths and marathon walks. The entire first season of Orange is the New Black. Surrounding myself with newborns due after my own. Baby being monitored. Stretch and sweep times three. ‘They do tend to come when they’re ready,’ on repeat. Our induction was booked for day 14 and the poppet; oh treasure my love, made her first gentle movements to leave her haven on this, day 13.

I wasn’t scared of birth, just intrigued and thrilled at the prospect of meeting our baby. I’d also heard and read some amazing, positive birth stories. That’s why I had opted for a home birth. We had everything ready for our glorious birth at home; the pool, lots of white towels, snickers bars, tea and biscuits for the midwives, candles ready for the light and flowers on the mantelpiece. All the taps were also shiny clean thanks to my incessant cleaning – a necessity – and the cats groomed. However time continued to pass on day 13. During the slow but exciting passing of the hours, we went for coffee, ate good food and wandered around. All the while, my contractions were every nine to 10 minutes apart.

By the evening, I felt they had really intensified and were every five minutes apart, so I rang the hospital to see if a community midwife might be able to pop in. Maybe we would meet our baby tonight? Nope. Not strong enough or regular enough. ‘Go and get some rest,’ said the voice at the end of the phone. I sort of knew this would be the case, but didn’t want to settle down for a kip. I wanted to be moving forward. It was tricky. I was convinced every minute of shuteye pulled the contractions further apart. So I had a bath and draped myself over surfaces as each contraction hit. Put on an old film and hummed a little as I paced the lounge. I told Charlie to go to bed for a bit. He slept like a giant panda until the morning sun rose and he found me walking the stairs and chatting to the cats, like they were my whiskered little birthing partners. It was Charlie’s birthday, so today had added oomph. ‘Wahhh, happy birthday, my love,’ I softly wailed.

The midwife popped in at 11am. ‘You’re 3cm’. Disastrous. How could this be? She continued: ‘I think something is stopping your progress. You should all go to the hospital, just to check everything’s OK, as baby’s now 14 days late. Then you can come home again if you’d like.’ The bag packed for this scenario, it was flung into the car and we drove down the road to the hospital. I knew I wouldn’t be leaving this destination as soon as the community midwife had said she wanted us to pop in. This was going to be where I met my baby. I think it was because of the 14 days, the 30 hours of little progress and just because something felt right and I wanted to trust my unbroken waters housing the cherub. I don’t know. I just couldn’t leave.

Rather than the monitoring, we were able to go to the midwife led unit, a luxurious hotel of birthing, complete with enormous pools, beds, floor pillows, birth balls, private bathrooms and fairy lights. An industrious blonde permed midwife met us at the reception and we waited in the lounge with Kirstie and Phil on the TV circa 1999, so they could clean the room we were aiming for. As I stared out the window complete with those cosy window spikes, to the city and hills beyond, I heard a baby cry as a lady walked past with her newborn in a car seat. Done and dusted, she was on her way home. Well done her! I thought. Now, what on earth was before me? An hour or two passed in the lounge, with Kirstie and Phil on a back-to-back extravaganza.

I needed to hear the pool filling! I needed the pool, please!

Eventually, after a true eternity of house searches, we were beckoned into our room. Calm, tranquil music and low lights greeted us. I was told that the pool is a source of pain relief, as was the gas and air, so it was best to hold out as long as possible to utilise both of them. After an initial gasp of horror, I stripped off and bounced on the birth ball while clinging on to Charlie’s belt, very quickly an imprint of the buckle soon formed on my forehead – nice. I became very attached to that buckle. Time melted and the world became deep and wide (interesting in retrospect!), focus hit me and carried me on its meditative chariot.

God, I didn’t have a care. Just this baby, just this intense, empowering experience. My entire body was being taken over with its own innate superpowers. Women are amazing. The human body is a wonder. I have a vague recollection of a junior doctor coming in with the midwife ‘to see what a normal, happy labour was like,’ as she put it. I remember agreeing for him to see our baby born, when the time came. I really was off and away, smiling from under a canopy of hormones and focus. The midwife could have told me that Wispa Golds were raining down outside and Ryan Gosling was in my birth pool and I would have simply smiled, nodded, closed my eyes and furrowed my brow. She said she thought we had completed a hypnobirth class, as I was so in the zone. I remember drinking in all the praise along with the awful Lucozade. I think it was the pregnancy yoga that zoned me. Who knows – maybe some fairy godmother made a trip to see me. Anyway, I was finally allowed in the pool – hurrah! – at 5cm.

Dear Pool, I think I forgot to tell you that I thought you were just marvelous that day. You’re so clever, comforting and…well… fluid. Such a shame it ended the way it did. However, I still talk about you with great fondness and have recommended your services to many others.

The pool. Heavenly, floating, gorgeous, brilliant pool. I loved the pool. Can you tell? However, after an hour or so, my baby did not like it in there and the squirrel’s heart rate zoomed up. So much so that I had to get out of the watery haven and lie on the bed to have my waters broken. The breaking signified change. A door opening to a hard, fierce place, it was raw and cold, Post break my hands tingled, I felt dehydrated, exhausted and actual pain really hit me for the first time. What’s more, the worst bit, I hadn’t dilated any further – the midwife said in actual fact, I’d gone down to 4cm. Added to this, the baby was stargazing, hence why everything was taking so long… and it might hurt more.

I went heavy on the gas and air. My smug little Zen space had officially exploded and I was standing in the chilly, industrial middle ground. No more fairy godmother whizzing around. The belt buckle sadly, was also now redundant. I wondered how and when I would meet this baby of ours, right at the same time I said hello to the anxiety that had quietly tip toed in. I told the new midwife how I felt, after the talked of one – the lovely one who had previously given me at A+ – went home, her shift complete. ‘You’ll have this baby tonight, don’t worry!’ she said brightly before she left to return to her warm home, roast potatoes and Sunday night telly. I smiled… but I was weak. The Drama Queen was awaking in me and with a baby labelled ‘Diva’ by all the sonographers and midwives since week five; I was worried about our combined drama potential.

The new midwife was very nice indeed. She understood my concerns. It felt like nothing phased her. After our introductions for some reason, I went on to tell her I wanted to push. She said, go on then. I pushed. It was clearly pointless, I knew it was, but I wanted movement, no idea what I expected to happen. She left, popping back every now and then. Time floated before me, like I was in the Labyrinth film’s limbo, which incidentally is a movie I find equally terrifying and excellent. It was all just… melty. I demanded Van Morrison on repeat, as I thought it would bring back my old mate Zen, but the scallywag was gone. Charlie demanded I eat. I couldn’t think of anything worse. The only thing that appealed to me was gas.

After four hours or so of new midwife time, new midwife told me that I had not progressed at all. I have no words to express how this felt. It had been 40 plus hours since that first contraction. And yes, I know I wasn’t in established labour and that only started 10 hours before or something, but… I just wanted to meet our baby. Ya know! The midwife suggested that we move things forward and go downstairs to The Drip. Or we could continue to wait, but she was concerned I was shattered, which I was. So the decision was made to pop along downstairs to the delivery suite, all jolly and bright. Previously I had in my mind that downstairs symbolised all that I didn’t desire for my baby’s birth, but instead at this point I guess it became exactly what I needed. So, as we wheeled down to the suite, knowing we had to now make this new, clinical space our sanctuary I was aware I needed to relax. I could do this before, but now I just felt so tired. So the words tumbled out of my mouth: ‘Please can I have an epidural?’’ Bleugh. Out. Better. The midwife replied that with the drip speeding up contractions, it would be wise and I would need my energy for pushing. Gosh.

The lights dimmed, just an angle poised lamp on the midwife’s notes. Bill Callahan playing softly, a view of the city’s lights. Charlie snoozing on the floor and the sweet, regular sound of our baby’s heartbeat. This was a different place, one of calm and a gathering of thoughts. This was the epidural I thought I would never have. And frankly, in some (many) ways it saved my experience of the birth of our baby, as it pulled me back to where I needed to be. It gave me rest, peace and that wonderful focus back again. I guess, a drug induced path to Zen. I told the midwife I was so sad it had come to this, I had wanted everything to be natural and she said that in no way should I feel bad about my circumstances or decisions – there were many factors involved and soon we would meet our baby and that’s what mattered. Emotion.

After a few hours of dozing and chatting (her husband works in magazines, she met him in London as a student in the 90s, they have two kids – I was interviewing) I was 10cm and ready to push. I made sure to stop the epidural switch earlier than this to hopefully feel as much as I could. I was soon instructed to puuuush with all my might, taking short breaks to take in more air. Again and again, I pushed and imagined holding my baby in my arms. I could feel the baby coming. I absolutely loved this very active part.

It took just 10 minutes for this beautiful, crying, wriggling, eyes wide-awake baby to emerge. The midwife unwrapped the cord around the baby’s neck and handed our baby to me, whereupon my body absolutely flooded me with hormones and love. I didn’t know if it would come straight away, but I was utterly devoted and loved poured from me immediately. It was incredible, like nothing I have ever experienced before. I also quickly noted that this ‘boy’ (I was sure the baby was a boy, as was pretty much 99% of people we knew), looked very pretty. ‘She’s pink!’ said the midwife. Oh my goodness.


 This was our little, gorgeous Alba Elise. A bundle of pure love, joy and inspiration from the very moment her heart started beating. She smelt amazing, her skin felt so soft and her cheeks were so plump. We had skin on skin and cuddled as a family, chatting to her, telling her how brilliant she is and that we love her ‘soooo much’. Slightly annoyingly, I had quite a lot of blood loss and a couple of other complications post-birth, but the medical staff were fantastic, as was Charlie, who after voicing how much he despised the birth partner chair, lay on the floor and napped with Alba. Then had a few rounds of tea and biscuits, Alba had some more colostrum, I had a blood transfusion, Charlie gave us an inflatable tiger balloon and everything felt rosy. We were floating on a cloud.

We love our little Alba so much, she has taught us an endless amount about loving and our capacity for love. Everyday, I feel like the luckiest person in the world. Our baby girl is a joy to know and has the sweetest, kindest eyes and the most glorious, wholehearted smile I’ve ever seen. We are truly blessed to have this little addition to our family. Our love, love, LOVE – grows with each precious day that passes.  My sweet, wonderful, determined, happy, beautiful tiger”.

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Hels is the founding editor of Lionheart Magazine – a lifestyle magazine full of interviews, fashion, illustration, stories, photography, craft, recipes and way more – an independent publication that’ll make you feel peachy good! Buy issues one to four, right here:

What I Learnt From Giving Birth


You would think being a midwife gives you a sort of special pass or ‘access all areas’ into what your own birth is going to be like. Well in some ways yes it did, but in many ways it really didn’t prepare me at all. After all I was just a woman giving birth. Here’s some things I learnt from giving birth and how it changed my practice as a midwife and what I tell women.

I wish I had stayed at home longer…..This is such a classic mistake all first time mums do in early labour. My husband was making the house all cosy with candles and music but for some reason I just wanted to get to the birthing centre. It’s like I felt I needed to be there surrounded by the midwives I love and trusted and to be given the permission to know I was in actual labour. Even though I knew an examination might not always tell me how long my labour was, I had to know. In fact I was 5 cm which in theory is established labour but my contractions were crap, 2 in 10 and never got closer together all day. The examination isn’t always representative of how long your labour will be.

I wish I’d known that having your waters broken isn’t such a bad thing…….I held off having my water’s broken because I wanted as little intervention as possible, but after 8 hours of still only being 5cm I was tired and frustrated so I asked them to be broken and what a change that was! The contractions very quickly became 4 in 10 bang bang bang! Like a huge hammer was being smashed against my back, I thought ‘oh no the baby is in the back to back position and I’m going to need an epidural’. The contractions were so full on like nothing I had expected and then all of a sudden one felt different, more expulsive and I felt the pain in my back move further down into my sacrum and pelvis like my pelvis was widening. All the time my midwife head was thinking ‘the baby is OP and I’m going to want to push way before it’s time’…… Time was so apparent throughout this labour, at one point my midwife took the clock off the wall as I was becoming obsessed with the time which was preventing me from ‘letting go’.

Listening to my body and having a sleep at 10cm……..Waiting and letting my body rest when the contractions went off a bit in transition was brilliant, my body was tired and was preparing me for the next big part of labour, pushing! I laid on my side on a bean bag and mat I slept for a 15 minutes. There was no rush to get me mobilising, I now really listen to what women say to me at this point of their labour. Always trust the woman; she will know her body better than anyone else.

Howling and screaming is not a sign that I wasn’t coping……..Hearing women make noises was something I was use to as a midwife but hearing the animal sounds coming from my own lungs was quite empowering, like a lioness I roared as the urge to push became overwhelming. It wasn’t a case of ‘oh she’s not coping that’s why she’s so vocal’ it was a case of this baby is coming no matter what! My midwives said to me ‘your body will push your baby out you don’t even need to think about it’. They were so right, I had no control over my body and each contraction pushed her further and further down. The sensation didn’t feel like I needed a poo at all (which is something I use to say a lot to women) but like a brick was being pushed against my pelvic floor.

Pushing a melon out of an opening the size of an orange is totally fine…….The pushing bit is definitely easier than the contractions, your body takes over at this point and even when you can feel the head rocking back and forth just before it crowns and you think ‘oh my god if I have to do one more push I’m going to die’ and suddenly the head is out! And the burning and stretching wasn’t so bad. I was so impatient I couldn’t wait for another contraction so I pushed and her shoulders rotated then the rest of her wet slippery  body followed! It was amazing, totally unreal and so empowering. ‘I did it’ I kept saying over and over as I looked down at this dark haired pink squidgy baby.

Birth Story Of The Week – Judith and Clementine

photoA little vintage birth story for you hungry readers this morning. Following on from my Mother in-law sharing my husbands birth back in September, my Mother wanted to do the same. And what better time than to share her story than on my birthday (well 2 days late). So happy birthday to me and happy birth story to my wonderful Mama! She has climbed some enormous mountains in the last few years especially after my Father died but yet still remains amazing in every single way possible. Thank you Mama for being so ace and sorry I was 15 days late, ironic really as I hate being late now xx

Well how did that happen? My ” baby” Clemmie was 29 on Saturday, mother of two and of course a midwife.
So my mind goes hurtling backwards to her birth. A much wanted and planned third child for Rog and myself but 6 years since her sister had been born and 9 years since her brother. Due date was 25th October and after a perfect pregnancy – literally no problems, we all were excited awaiting the baby’s arrival. No idea what sex it would be. So the food shop was done, suppers in the freezer and ironing completed. But on went the days which turned into weeks and nothing. I became embarrassed on the school run with mothers saying “Oh you are still here” . In fact I began to be feel a bit of a freak of nature. Maybe it was a phantom pregnancy  After all I hadn’t had any morning sickness, no indigestion and still felt full of energy. Not bad for what was then in 1984, quite an old mum to be at the grand age of 34! 

Halloween and bonfire night all came and went. And so eventually at Queen Charlottes they offered me 2 options. Either drive daily for a heart trace or be induced on November 9th. As we lived a good hour away by car I regretfully opted for an induction. We didn’t tell Sam and Prue the plan who went off to school happily on the Friday morning and then Rog drove me to the hospital and went on to the office, all of ten minutes away from the hospital. 

I was put in an antenatal ward I was given a pessary. Nothing. Four hours later a second one. Again nothing! So at 4.00pm I walked upstairs to the labour ward, magazines under my arm feeling somewhat surreal and where they broke my waters. Contractions then began. I must add that my previous 2 deliveries particularly the first ,had been fairly tough and post deliveries I had had postpartum haemorrhaging. The first time at home when Sam was 10 weeks old. Scary stuff. Blue light emergency in the middle of the night. So a classic birth with no epidural was my aim but could I cope with the pain? Well the simple answer was – yes. I cannot really explain it even to myself, but it was something I so wanted to experience with no dulling of the senses. I went into bossy “This is my labour” mode. Me bossy? Mmm. Ask my family.

I walked around the delivery room and stopped to rest my upper body over the bed with each contraction. I gazed at the West London skyline through the windows as darkness fell and had no pain relief at all. My midwife was fantastic. She allowed me to be in control but as for the Dr who “popped” in from time to time, it was a different story. On his first visit he suggested that I might want my loose gown tied up tighter at the back to save my modesty. What!? I was about to give birth so a glimpse of my backside was the least of my worries. With a clip on the baby’s head to monitor the heart beat I did agree after 2 hours to get back on the bed and as the second stage of labour arrived, this Dr returned. “Don’t waste a contraction” I heard him say. The arrogance of the man! So I confess as the pain hit its peak I recall I bit his hand. Still rather proud of that I am not really ashamed to say. I think he backed off after that and I delivered this baby with my wonderful Irish midwife whose hand I squeezed ever tighter. Only after the birth did she tell that she had burnt that hand on an iron earlier and unbeknown to me I was really hurting her. 

And so Clementine Amelia arrived at 7.39 pm weighing in at 8lbs.10 1/2 oz.. Her father, a professional photographer, took amazing photos of her only seconds old and although resembling a prize boxer who had fought 8 bouts in the ring she very quickly became a beautiful baby, toddler, child and dare I say it adult. And did she scream – in fact she was so overdue she was born hungry and she continued to scream for 5 days until my milk came in . There goes baby Howard again the midwives continuously said.

And now of course 29 years on, Clemmie is herself a midwife delivering other women’s babies and I am one extremely proud Mother.