From Student To Midwife: The First Year

For the past 2 weeks I have had a great student midwife working along side me. Ailish has almost completed her first year into midwifery training and has offered to write a series of blog posts to help answer any questions you might have about starting your training. If you are thinking about becoming a midwife or you’ve already qualified and have forgotten what those 3 years really entailed, these guest posts should help you along on your journey or remind you of how challenging your training was.

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Next week is my last as a first year student midwife. It’s been a long journey getting to this point. The stress, excitement, fear, joy (or any other emotion you could think of) that I’ve experienced over the last year have merged in to a blur and I wouldn’t change it for anything. I’m not saying that it’s been easy, and there have been times I have seriously thought “what am I doing?! Why I am I here?!” but whenever that happens I can step back, take a breath, and realise how lucky I am to be doing something I love.

I’m not one of those people who you encounter at interviews, who put their hands up and declare that they knew they wanted to be a midwife from the age of three. Firstly, because it seems unrealistic that a toddler has the ability to make a valid career choice, and secondly, because it’s not true. At twenty-one years of age I was studying Society and Culture at university, working part time and had possibly less of an idea of what I wanted to do with my life than I did when I was in nursery. Then I fell pregnant and everything changed. I quit university, upped my working hours to full time and desperately tried to get my head around the fact that I was slowly but surely growing a teeny person who would be entirely dependent on me. It was totally overwhelming. My long-term partner was supportive, and I was still living at home with my parents who were amazing throughout the whole pregnancy, but I still approached my due date feeling unprepared and (if I’m honest) completely terrified. I don’t remember a single midwife from my antenatal care – a lovely mentor I have since worked with as a student suggested this was because I hadn’t felt empowered by any of them, and sadly, I agree.

Then in labour I had support from a beautifully kind midwife who changed my perspective entirely. She encouraged without pressure, enabled my independence without deserting me, and created an environment which nurtured the concept that I could birth my baby without fear. Six hours later and 6lb 3oz lighter, I was holding my little boy; still pretty terrified, but more positive and confident than I had felt in the nine months preceding that moment.

Fast forward past nappy changes, sleepless nights, weaning issues and moving to a new flat; I was back at work part time but my heart wasn’t in it. Now don’t get me wrong, I’d been interested in the whole “your baby is the size of a grapefruit” emails as much as the next pregnant lady, but now a hobby which I’d cultivated over nine months became something I wanted to pursue further. I started researching midwifery as a career, using sites like StudentMidwife (www.studentmidwife.net/) and NHS Careers (www.nhscareers.nhs.uk) but they just told me the basics. I applied for work experience placements and got two separate week long assignments full of antenatal clinics, postnatal visits, natural birth and instrumental deliveries – I observed and absorbed it all.

More aware of what I was getting myself in to, and even more sure it was the path I wanted to take, I enrolled on an Access to Nursing course. Working two days a week, studying three days a week and being a mummy 24/7 wasn’t easy. Biology, psychology, health studies, exams, essays, presentations… I could not have got through it without a good support system, passion for what I was doing and huge (no, massive) amounts of gin. I also completed a three day training course as a Doula through Nurturing Birth (www.nurturingbirth.co.uk/) purely as a foundation for research and ideas in to natural childbirth. It was an awesome experience and I met some inspiring people, but it also cemented the fact that I wanted to take the extra step in to midwifery as an undergraduate.

I was accepted in to three out of four universities which I had applied for; choosing which to accept was a personal decision. As a mother, block placement and study (e.g. seven weeks academic block, followed by seven weeks clinical block) did not appeal in terms of childcare or family life. Integrated study (e.g. two days per week at university, 3 days on clinical placement) suited my lifestyle not only for my personal relationships, but for my learning preference. Learning a subject in lecture on a Monday, performing the skill in a clinical lab on a Tuesday, and then applying it all to real-life midwifery the next day works well for me. Choosing a university is difficult for anyone, but for a midwifery student, you have to be slightly more mature (who said boring?!) about your decision. Rather than meticulously working out which student union will meet your musical/drinking/love life requirements, try pondering which hospital you want to train in (busy inner city? Mellow suburban?), how you are going navigate public transport for an early shift at 6.45am or how you’re getting to that home birth when you’re on call at 3am.

I’m making it sound a bit rubbish, aren’t I? It’s brilliant, honestly. On every single interview day I went to for uni, the opening line was “you can still have a social life and be a student midwife!” and it is true, I promise. I have friends training as midwives in numerous other universities and the set up for first year seems pretty standard, so let’s break it down:

First term – going crazy at Fresher’s fortnight, am I right?! Ummmm, no, not really. The first five weeks are 9-5 with a mix of mandatory training, lectures and time in clinical labs learning skills such as abdominal palpations and taking a blood pressure. You can try doing this hungover (quite a few did), but by the third week most of us had settled in to a routine and accepted that this was just not going to be the carefree, waking up at midday, strolling to a one hour lecture existence that had been advertised. Anyway, as a mama to a toddler, it was mainly a case of organising childcare, then arranging back up childcare should your first let you down, and then arranging a back up for your back up JUST IN CASE. Social life wasn’t a priority – by the time we had started integrated study in week six I was happy to come home from a twelve hour shift, neck a stiff cup of green tea and fall asleep whilst reading a good book (Michel Odent or Ina May Gaskin, natch).

Second term – by this point, I was feeling a bit more in control of both my home and professional life. Lectures were interesting, skills labs were becoming more complex and placement was something I looked forward to (most) days. I’ve had shifts where I have met amazing, strong women and been given the chance to input positively in to their experience of pregnancy and childbirth. Mentors I worked with inspired me to be a better student and take advantage of every single learning opportunity. Saying that, I also had shifts where I had to go and have a little cry in the toilet because I felt so overwhelmed and incompetent, and I’ve worked with midwives where our ideals and ways of practice have clashed. It’s such a rollercoaster, and was so important for me to have a supportive partner and friends to sound off on particularly after the bad days, but also after the good ones.

Final term – did I say I felt more in control?! Exams, essays and a whole summer of full time placement rounds off first year. My little boy has both started and finished his first year at nursery and I can count on one hand the number of times I have been available to drop him off or pick him up. I am attempting to cram eight months of biology and medicines management for exams in to a frazzled brain whilst having two essays on the go. My student loan is going down, whilst my responsibility on placement is steadily going up. Friends the same age as me are getting married, travelling the world, buying houses, and are established in their careers. I however, am grunting at my boyfriend, travelling on the 8am train home from my third night shift in a row and establishing the rule that pot noodles are an acceptable dinner to eat from my rented flat.

This week is my last week as a first year student midwife and I can’t wait to start my second. As hard as it has been on me, it has been just as hard, if not harder on my family. I’ve kept going throughout for the one reason that I know, deep-down-in-the-gut-KNOW, that midwifery is what I should be doing with my life. Women’s bodies and minds are astounding – conceiving, growing and birthing new life is an incredible occurrence that I have the privilege of being part of on a daily basis. Training for me is not just about juggling workloads or meeting pass rates – I want to be the type of midwife who could also one day empower a scared new mum and stir up a passion in her to start this same journey. I’ll just remind her to stock up on the ginbeforehand.

Birth Story Of The Week – Lisa and Oscar

‘I’m not a closed book kind of person. Most of my friends would agree (I hope)  that I’m fairly open with them. I think I’m happy to share most things (although I sometimes find it hard, we know that!) However I have been overwhelmed with the ease at which I have been able to share my birth story. Oscars birth was a deeply personal and intimate experience in my life and yet I have been completely open about it, offering up information I would never have dreamt of sharing before I had him. And do you know why? It’s because everyone does it! We seem to wear our birth stories like badges of honour. And whats wrong with that?

So if you’ve heard this already I’m sorry – but here it comes again!

My pregnancy was pretty text book really. I didn’t have morning sickness, although I did spend a few weeks feels nauseous ALL BLOODY DAY! Morning my arse! Anyway that cleared up at 10 weeks, and everything else was pretty standard.

I was under a consultant from day one, partly due to my high BMI, partly due to my epilepsy, so was monitored fairly closely. I never had any problems and the gestational diabetes and larger than average baby everyone kept predicting, never materialised. Take that obstetric generalisations!

It was at a routine midwife appointment at 35 weeks, they noticed that my blood pressure, which had been falling throughout my pregnancy had suddenly shot up. This lead to a week in hospital and much worry about suspected pre-eclampsia and whether this baby would make full term. An NCT friend had been diagnosed with severe pre-eclampsia the week before and had to deliver her baby by C Section at 35 weeks, so I knew all too well how serious this situation could be.

I could write a whole post about this experience, but as this a birth story, I’ll leave that for another day. Suffice to say that after a week of trying, the hospital managed to stabilise my BP with drugs. I practically cheered as we left, with my tiny baby still safely tucked away.

I went home, I tided, I hoovered the ceilings, I slept on the sofa. I had a week of maternity leave and I loved it.

After another week or so I had a routine appointment with my consultant, the wonderful and no nonsense Lesley Roberts. She took one look at my BP and said, “I’m sorry Lisa you can’t go home today”. I burst into tears. I was taken back up to the same ward I’d just escaped, given more meds and resolved to try and get this sorted. When they checked me they said I was no where near ready to give birth, so wouldn’t attempt an induction. However, my BP would just not play ball and kept rising, spiking in the middle of the night, when I was asleep of all things!

I felt so frustrated. This baby was 38 weeks gestation, plenty cooked enough and here I was taking more and more drugs that seemed to do nothing. Eventually, a canny midwife saw just how frustrated I was and took me aside. Quietly, she told me that if an induction was really what I wanted, then the next time I saw the doctor I was to cry. Simple as that. So, I did as she said and do you know, it only bloody worked! It seemed getting emotional worked where being rational had failed. I was given a pessary to start things off.

I wont bore you with the next two days, as very little happened. I got some twinges, like very mild contractions, that then stopped. On day three they decided that if they could break my water I’d be able to start a proper Scyntocinon induction. Only, they didn’t tell me this is what they were doing. I thought it was odd that they gave me a gas and air pipe. Ahh then I knew why! It was the most painful thing I have ever experienced. They were right, he was still really high up and to reach him felt like I was being set on fire. I went into a zone, where I felt like I put myself on a shelf and could only hear every third word being said. It was awful and amazing all at the same time. Then I heard her say no she couldn’t do it, so I took myself of the shelf. Then she said oh hang on and finally I felt a whoosh as my waters broke. Finally we were getting this party started.

I was hooked up to the drip and given an epidural, as induced labour can come on very hard and very fast. Although not in my case. I was there for 24 hours and he moved a centimetere. Seriously! I knew it was looking dodgy when the midwife suggested at 3 in the morning that it was best not to eat anymore. I think we could all see the writing on the wall. The induction I’d cried for had failed. It would be a C section now. I was a tiny bit gutted as I really wanted to go through the whole process we’d talked about at such length in my NCT group, but actually I just wanted this baby with me and my BP to settle down.

At 9am on 2nd April ( yeah I know – I think Oscar hung on for fear of being born on April Fools Day!) it was declared that an emergency section was needed and I was in theatre within 20 minutes. I remember the table I was lying on was at an angle so I felt like I was going to fall off. I remember the anesthetist running ice down my shoulder to see if the spinal block had kicked in yet. I remember Adele and Otis Reading coming on the radio. I remember feeling like I was being jumped up and down on but feeling no pain (weird in the extreme). I remember hearing him cry before I felt them lift him fully clear of me. I remember crying and crying and crying with relief. That he was here, that he was strong and that I’d done it.

They weighed him and gave him to me, but I couldn’t see his face so had to give him to Ben, so I could take a proper look. He was just so beautiful.

Then they took him away for tests and I started to feel sick. I managed to shout out in time and the quick thinking anesthetist whacked some anti emetic in my line. I felt better, but my mouth was unbelievably dry. I was given ice to suck. And then I started to pass in and out of consciousness for about an hour (I think). I was told after I was in there for two hours. I thought I’d been in there less than half that.

Next thing I knew we were back in the delivery suit and beyond happy. All the worry was gone, he was here and he was really strong. Much smaller than I’d expected at 6lb 6oz, but perfect. Although I do recall thinking – blimey hasn’t he got enormous thumbs! He still has today, along with his huge feet!

And that’s my birth story. Obviously I could go on and on. About my time in hospital after the birth, about how my BP practically dropped over night, about the trouble we had with feeding. But I think I’ll leave it there. For now.’ 

mrssavageangel.wordpress.com 

Birth Story Of The Week – Steve, Lorna and Wil

Steve blogs all about his life over at Rainbow Dad and tweets @1Rainbowdad.

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“I really can’t believe that it’s been almost 5 years since our first born, Wil, came into our life. I remember it like it was yesterday. What a day. Changed our life forever.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The excitement started when we found out we were expecting our first child.

Our story begins a bit differently. You see we’re a gay male couple, so it’s not so easy for us. My amazing sister, Lorna,  volunteered to be our surrogate. Something that we will be forever thankful for.

The thrill and joy we felt, when Lorna suprised us with the positive pregnancy test, didn’t diminish throughout her entire pregnancy. What I wasn’t expecting though, was just how scared and fearful I’d be throughout the entire thing. Scared that something would go wrong. Scared that the baby we wanted so much would be hurt. Or worse. Scared that we would lose the child we already loved. I wasn’t used to such an irrational fear. I had always been level headed and optimistic. After all, my head knew that Lorna had already carried two healthy children. Why would it be any different this time? I just couldn’t help it. Never had I wanted something more.

It was odd for us. Lorna lived 2 hours away from us in Sussex, so the time we could spend with her was limited. We made sure though that we attended every pre-natal appointment with her. The first time we heard Wils heart beat will stay with me forever. I’d almost convinced myself for no reason that it wouldn’t be there. Deep inside I think I couldn’t believe that we deserved this opportunity and therefore it was clearly going to end badly. We walked into the room and my heart was in my mouth. All the tension and fear I felt though melted away when we heard his heart beat . Strong and loud. Like a train chugging proudly down a track. I couldn’t help but look at Ivan and cry with relief.

Strangely it didn’t get any easier for the subsequent scans and remainder of Lorna’s pregnancy. There was never anything wrong. We had a strong and healthy baby growing. Every scan, every appointment proved just how silly I was being. I just couldn’t help it.

I must have bugged the he’ll out of her calling all the time and asking how she was. Trouble was as we weren’t with her often so I needed constant updates to feel involved. The scans were amazing. Overwhelming. Unbelievable. I was so proud. Proud of Lorna. Proud of Ivan. Proud of us. We had a 3d scan too in order to see Wil again. It was the most amazing feeling seeing him on that screen.

When we weren’t with Lorna we just spoke endlessly about how it would be when we had our son. At the 20 week scan we found out he was going to a boy. We were so happy. If only for the simple fact that we’d both easily agreed on the name William. But for the life of us couldn’t agree on a girls name. Ivan had some rather odd ideas as to what was a good girls name. So, having a boy saved a hell of a lot of arguing.

The day we got that phone call was overwhelming. Lorna rang us the morning of 10th July 2009. She had been in labour for a while,  but still early stages. Given the distance we had to travel we agreed that we would head over and stay at my Mums which was only 5 minutes from my sister. We got there late afternoon and eagerly awaited a call to say we should head over. Not only was Lorna bravely having our baby, she also decided that she wanted to have him at home. I didn’t have a sister I had a wonder woman. Perhaps she really is an angel.

We’d been waiting very impatiently all afternoon when we got the phone call. Unfortunately the phone call was to say that labour had stopped. Frustrated we decided the only thing we could do was drink wine at my Mums to pass the time. After all, we were going to be parents. Surely it would be one of our last opportunities.

I had drunk enough to feel merry and forget the frustration of labour when the phone rang again. This time it was to say that labour had started again and was going full throttle.

Shit!  I was half pissed. I couldn’t let my sister know I had been so irresponsible. She was selflessly suffering for us while I sat back and drunk. I put on a sober voice and agreed we’d get our heads down and they would call as soon as it seemed imminent. I guiltily put my head to the pillow praying I would sober up in time.

The final call came a couple of hours later. About midnight I guess. Thankfully the adrenaline completely sobered me and we headed straight over. We arrived and Lorna was upstairs. Her house was busy with 2 midwives and the sound of painful screaming. I would like to say I felt guilty, but all I felt was a bubbling excitement at the fact that we would shortly be parents.

We’d agreed with Lorna that we could be there for the birth but not actually in the room. In Lorna’s words she knew what a bitch she was in labour. I was just massively relieved that I wouldn’t be seeing too much of my sister!

We waited nervously downstairs. We were so excited but so scared. I don’t remember what we talked about I just remembered keep looking at each other when her screams broke the silence. We had to move from room to room as Lorna moved around; upstairs, downstairs, bathroom, bedroom. It was endless. I thought they’d said he’d be there any moment. 4 hours passed and it seemed the midwifes were getting worried. They didn’t say anything, just seemed more serious and had more conversations that we couldn’t hear. Lorna was doing so well,  but was clearly getting tired from all the work she was doing on only gas and air.

I didn’t have to say anything to Ivan to know he was as worried as me. That delightful feeling was starting to sit as a knot in my stomach. We moved closer to each other and held each other in silent support. Then the moment came that the midwife told us that they were going to move Lorna to the hospital. She had made no progress for a few hours and was physically drained. Lorna needed assistance that they couldn’t give her at home.

Lorna was on her own in the bedroom whilst the midwives made arrangements for an ambulance on the phone. One of the midwifes went back into the bedroom and I heard a cry of “we’ve got a baby”. In one desperate effort whilst on her own Lorna had managed to deliver our baby. The midwives helped fully deliver him and laid him on her chest before calling us up. I looked on overwhelmed with love and amazement as Ivan cut the cord binding my amazing sister and our precious son William Campbell. We had a kiss and fed him, lost in the amazement of him. He was perfect. A beautiful bundle that was to be the start of our real journey together.

William Campbell was born on 11th July 2009 at 05:09hrs weighing 9lb 6oz. And he was perfect.”

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Birth Story Of The Week – Becky and Amelie

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“Somehow I never felt at all worried about or scared of going into labour. Every negative birth story I heard went in one ear and out the other, I truly believed I would have a very straightforward birth. My husband, Phil, often remarked on how relaxed I seemed about the impending pain.

Despite feeling really well during pregnancy, eating a good diet and doing regular(ish) exercise, I developed gestational diabetes at about 32 weeks. The initial shock of getting it was huge and I felt upset and even embarrassed. In reality, I was able to manage it well with diet alone and it didn’t really cause any problems… Even if it did mean saying no to cake at a time when you imagine you’d have the best excuse ever to eat it in abundance.

Because of the diabetes, I was told that I would be induced if the pregnancy went a day over 40 weeks. Desperate not to be induced, my midwife (Clemmie) and consultant both suggested sweeps from about 37 or 38 weeks. At 38+2 I thought that I maybe had a bit of a show in the evening. At 38+3 I had a sweep in the morning, at which Clemmie surprised me saying that I was already 3cm dilated… Although I felt ready and had always imagined that I would follow in my mum’s footsteps and labour early, I still couldn’t, and didn’t, really believe it. Of course I ignored Clemmie’s advice to rest that afternoon and instead spent 5 hours in Sainsburys trawling every every aisle, buying cake ingredients, magazines and tens of quick cook meals for us during the days of quiet labour that I assumed we had ahead of us. I recollect feeling vaguely ‘crampy’ that afternoon and perhaps had more Braxton hicks than usual (though I’d been having pretty strong and regular BH since about 20 weeks).

I didn’t mention to Phil that day that I was already 3cm dilated as I was sure that you could be 2 or 3cm for a few weeks before actually going into labour and I didn’t want to worry him or get him prematurely excited. So, as planned, he went out for drinks after work that evening and got back home at about 10.30pm.

I think he knew something was up as soon as he got home. I was quieter than usual and said I was just going to head off to bed. Rather than finding some sport to watch on TV, he came into the bedroom, lit some candles and put on relaxing music. He lay down on the bed beside me and stroked my hair whilst I tried to fall asleep. Sure enough, at 11.30pm, I had my first proper contraction and, unable to stay on my back, I flipped onto all fours on the bed. Phil immediately opened the contraction timer app we had downloaded and started timing…

After that first contraction I anticipated a long break until the next, but they were immediately 2 minutes apart and about 40 seconds long. I went through various different positions and found I enjoyed using a ball to support me through them. We had been advised that once the contractions were 3 in 10 to let labour continue for a couple of hours before calling the midwife but I knew after 40 minutes that I needed someone sooner.

At around 1.30am, another midwife, turned up. I was 7cm dilated when she examined me and happy to be told I could get into the pool. The pool felt AMAZING. The warm water felt so supportive and soothing after being on dry land and eased my aches and pains.

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I spent about 2 hours in the pool until I started to feel too hot and Amelie’s heart rate went a little too high. After a couple of high readings, so the midwife decided we should transfer into the hospital to be on the safe side. As it was, as soon as I half clambered, half fell, out of the pool, her heart rate returned to normal but at this point I felt more comfortable heading into hospital for the final part.

Coming out of the pool, I had no clothes on except a crop top and wanted to stay this way – as far I was concerned at this point mid labour, I had no worries about the whole of south east London seeing my bare behind! Obviously more concerned for my modesty (and I am thankful in hindsight), the midwife insisted I put some clothes on and began pulling my knickers and trousers on despite my many protestations. I don’t remember much of the transfer, as by this point (at 9-10cms) the contractions were very intense, except that on arriving at King’s hospital none of the lifts would work. Eventually we found one that did and once in our room, Phil set about getting the music on whilst the midwife set up a mat and ball on the floor.

I remember feeling before we left home that I wanted to start pushing – my body must have slowed down during the journey in but I think once we were settled in the room things kicked off again.

Pushing Amelie out felt like the most epic and powerful task. I was using all my might and more and she would only move a fraction of a millimetre and then between each push would move back up again. Mid way through my waters burst like a water bomb. I tried hard to keep focused, think hypnobirthing thoughts and use all my inner strength to get through what I definitely found the most challenging of the labour. I think I pushed for about an hour and 10 minutes, mainly in a squatting position hanging from Phil’s knees with him sitting on a stool behind me.

Amelie Rose was born at 6.07am weighing 5lbs 9oz. Given that she was comparatively small I thought it should have been easier to push her out – but it turned out she had a hand up by her ear, which made it harder and caused a very small tear. I felt completely ecstatic and overwhelmingly happy that my birth had been short, straightforward and without pain relief.

Unfortunately, there were some complications post-delivery. Amelie took a breath upon coming out but then there was a pause and her skin tone wasn’t too great. I scooped her up from beneath me and rubbed and hugged her but it wasn’t long before the midwife took the decision to cut the cord and whisk her off for help. Something was blocking her airway and she was unable to shift it herself so it was suctioned out for her. She had oxygen for a short while and was taken off to SCBU and I sent Phil off with her. I was distraught. Desperate to see Amelie again as soon as possible I opted for the syntocinon injection to speed up the delivery of the placenta. I’m sure it was because I had been separated from Amelie, but this stage felt much more painful than I had expected.

I was unaware at this time that my blood pressure had gone through the roof, and at some point someone must have taken a blood test. In hindsight I must have known that something was up as with one thing and another, very little communication and lots of worry, it wasn’t until 6 hours after I had delivered little Amelie that I was allowed to go and visit her in SCBU.

I couldn’t believe that we had created this perfect little creature. She was delicate and beautiful and I breastfed her then for the first time. I felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility and emotion.

But I had to leave her after just an hour and soon I was being wheeled through the wards to the high dependency unit and hooked up to a magnesium sulfate drip to decrease the likelihood of me fitting. Not only had my blood pressure rocketed, my liver had started to fail. It terrifies me that I still felt so well and would have had no idea that my body was reacting so badly to giving birth. I had gone some way to developing HELLP syndrome, a variant of preeclampsia. No one was ever really able to give me a clear answer as to whether I did get HELLP syndrome or not. Things weren’t right but I think that bodies can do some pretty strange things post-delivery and it’s a little unclear as to whether my body would have righted itself at some point or whether I needed all the medication that I was put on (which made me feel awful) to make me better. Either way, I wouldn’t have taken the risk of not taking it, not now I had a little being who was going to be completely reliant on me.

Hooked up to the drip I wasn’t allowed to visit Amelie anymore. Phil went to and fro between us, bringing me photos and videos, sending her my love, hugs and kisses. He changed her nappy for each one of those first meconium poos! He was absolutely my rock and hero and fought my corner to have Amelie brought to see me once every three hours so I could feed her.

After 48 hours I was off the drip and up in the postnatal ward. Amelie was released from SCBU and just went up there twice a day to get antibiotics, which they gave her as a precaution after the blockage in her airway. We stayed on the postnatal ward for 4 more nights, being constantly monitored. Phil stayed with us, sleeping half on a chair and half on the hospital bed. He went home each morning to make me a fruit smoothie and bring me homemade food. We were shattered from lack of sleep on a busy ward with a new baby. Until finally there was no reason to keep us in anymore but they seemed unable to let us go. In the end I threatened self-discharge and was finally allowed to go home.

Walking through our front door with our precious little bundle was the beginning of everything. I can’t believe that Amelie turns one on 8 August this year and took her first steps without holding my hand last weekend.

Writing about my labour and birth experience makes me realise that actually all I really remember now are the good bits. Whilst I am scared for next time and worried I’ll develop HELLP or preeclampsia again, I do hope that there is a next time. I feel incredibly lucky to have had a fantastic labour, nearly exactly how I wanted it – only 6 hours long, mainly at home, in a pool for a few hours and under the care of some really excellent, encouraging and supportive midwives. Most of all I feel mighty smug to have a little family all of my own.”

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