Finding out I was pregnant with baby number 3 was both wonderful and absolutely terrifying. My second baby, my daughter, had passed away from a genetic condition 5 month’s previously and we wanted to have this baby tested to see if they had the same condition. I knew that I would need extra support during my pregnancy, so I contacted One to One on the recommendation of a friend.

Best decision I ever made! Kelly called me less than 24 hours later and we had a long chat on the phone and she made a booking in appointment for a few weeks later.

I had to have a couple of early scans at Leighton in order to schedule the Chorionic villus sampling procedure at Liverpool Women’s hospital when I was 11 weeks pregnant. Kelly fully explained the procedure and took the time to help me with my emotions, which were all over the shop. She called before and after the procedure. Thankfully, the results came back clear, and we found out we were having a boy at the same time.

Having all our appointments at home and all our scans at the One to One “shop” in town was so convenient. Kelly was always so wonderful with my little boy who was 4 at the time. She answered all his questions and he became her little helper during appointments which he loved. All my check-ups felt more like a catch up with a friend except they started with me weeing on a stick. I felt like all my concerns and queries were answered and discussed and this allowed me to make informed decisions. We opted for a home birth in the pool. My husband was a little reluctant but after he and I talked it through with Kelly his worries were eased. Kelly even offered to talk to my Mum who was quite against the idea of me having a homebirth. We also signed up for the One to One hypnobirthing course which was absolutely brilliant, so informative and really useful!

I was absolutely gutted when Kelly told us that she would be relocating just 2 weeks before my due date but after my “hand over” appointment with both Kelly and my new midwife Lucy all my concerns went away. We had a long chat, a giggle and I felt like Lucy was the perfect match.

The day before my due date I had an appointment with Lucy and despite my best efforts I had resigned to the fact that this baby would probably go past his due date (I had been induced with my previous pregnancies, so this was the most pregnant I’d ever been). I had tried everything to naturally encourage the baby to make an appearance but other than a few niggles, I’d had nothing! Lucy mentioned that she was taking her children to the Just So festival that weekend and that she would need as much notice as possible if I went into labour. We had a joke and a giggle that I would try to keep the baby in over the weekend… I woke up at 4am on Saturday morning to cramping that kept coming and going. It took me about an hour to notice that the cramps were quite rhythmic and were coming about every 10 minutes. The contractions continued through breakfast. They were bearable, I could talk through them and they were still quite erratic. My husband, Joe, and my little boy, Dylan, went out to town and I went back to bed for a bit. I managed a couple of hours sleep and then lay in bed for a bit timing contractions and listening to podcasts. I called Lucy to give her some warning and to apologise for ruining her festival fun and then called my parents to come over to watch Dylan.

I dragged myself out of bed and made myself some lunch. I figured that while I could eat, I should eat. My body had other ideas about the food and I ended up throwing up about 20mins after I finished it, not ideal. The contractions were still coming along every 7mins or so and they were getting more intense. Dylan and Joe came home, and Dylan really wanted to go to a festival on at the local park and I decided that I would go with them, I think I didn’t want to be left home alone and also, I really wanted to have a walk. I got myself dressed and we all piled into the car. What I hadn’t realised that the fair was also in town so as we pulled up into the car park a very excited Dylan started chattering about all the rides he wanted to go on… I was just after a quick walk around a craft festival, not a full-on visit to the fair!! Anyway, we persuaded him to go to the craft fair first. We walked around the park, Dylan held some animals and went on a caterpillar rollercoaster. My contractions were coming about every 2-3mins and lasting 30 seconds, but I was still able to walk and talk so they weren’t too bad. Just as I thought they were regular, they’d slow down to every 10 minutes for a few or jump to every 7 minutes.

After the fair we got into the car to drive home. I wanted to go to Aldi to grab some things from their “Baby Event” so I ran in, still contracting, I grabbed some baby towels and 2 packs of muslins. Looking back this all seems like crazy behaviour to undertake! Haha. I was wiped when I got home so I went back to bed for a little while. I took 2 paracetamol and tried to get some shut-eye. I had a little doze, but the contractions were getting stronger, more intense and I was struggling to do anything during them. I called Lucy again and told her about my progress and she said that I sounded like I was doing really well and to try to get some rest. She was so calm and positive. I tried to nap but I was in too much pain, I was writhing a little bit and after lying there for a while, maybe 45 mins, I decided to go and sort out the “birth room”.

My parents had arrived and were having dinner downstairs with Joe and Dylan. I started lighting my candles and turning my fairy lights on and I popped my labour playlist on my phone. I alternated between bouncing on my gym ball, doing hip rolls on my gym ball and leaning on my gym ball. It all helped but the contractions were getting a lot worse. I was doing quite a lot of moaning and groaning at this point. I was still timing my contractions, but they were still erratic, going between 6-7 minutes apart and 2-3 minutes and varying between 30 – 70 seconds long. My Mum came up to see me and we had a little, painful, chat. Dylan kept coming to give me kisses and cuddles which was lovely. My Dad popped up to see me to check that I was ok, he looked so worried!! Joe came up and stayed with me. He gave me a few back rubs and looked after me. Joe started to fill the pool up about 30mins later and then I asked him to call Lucy who said she was on her way.

The contractions were getting really bad, to the point that nothing I did was making them any better. I was starting to freak out a little bit as the pain was getting to me. I was convinced that I wasn’t in proper labour, that as my contractions were so erratic that it was going to be hours and hours until he was going to be here. I was trying to remember all the hypnobirthing techniques, trying to keep positive and, when I remembered to do it, the breathing techniques were really helping. Lucy arrived at 20:15. Dylan and my parents left to take Dylan to a firework display that started at about 9:30. Lucy checked me over. She listened to the baby’s heartbeat, took my temperature and then asked me to remove my pants so she could check to see how I was getting along by checking to see if a purple line had appeared above my bum. As the cervix dilates a purple line above the bum crack appears, the longer the line the more dilated. Clever, eh? No uncomfortable internals for me, yay! She said that the line was there, fairly long and quite dark. Yay! I was so uncomfortable, and the contractions were getting a lot closer together and a lot more intense. I was unable to think clearly during these surges. Lucy suggested that Joe should fill the pool up properly for me to get in.

At about 20:30 I got in the pool. Oh my goodness, it felt so good. The contractions didn’t slow at all, in fact as soon as I got in I had a huge surge and I started to feel the urge to push. I was making some pretty odd, guttural noises. I was quite warm, so I asked Joe to grab the fan from our room and we opened the window a crack which felt lovely. A few more contractions came and went and I felt more and more like I wanted to push. I was leaning my head on the edge of the pool, Joe rubbed my arms and back and Lucy sat in the corner watching over us but leaving us to it. During the surges she would say positive things about breathing through the pain, which helped as I was screaming a bit at this point and being reminded to concentrate on breathing rather than wasting energy on screaming was what I needed. I made a lot of noise during labour I thought but Joe said that I really didn’t. I was quite worried that my neighbours (or passers-by) might call the police thinking I was being assaulted or worse. It was at this point that I realised that I forgotten to tell our next-door neighbour that I was having a home birth… Whoops! (Luckily, he didn’t hear a thing!)

During my other births I really did zone out as I delivered the baby, I managed to completely switch off everything around me so I really don’t remember very much of it and I kept my eyes closed through most of the pushing phase. Being at home and being in water seemed to help me stay present in the moment and I can remember a lot about the birth. I felt so comfortable and relaxed, it made the whole experience much more pleasant. I could feel the head coming with each contraction. I started to push but Lucy encouraged me to just keep breathing, to breathe the baby out. In the end I think I half breathed him out and half pushed. As I started to actively push a bit more my waters broke, finally! It felt awful, like something exploded and I freaked a little bit and Lucy said “that’s just the waters” and that everything was fine. Lucy encouraged me to see if I could feel the top of his head which I could and after each surge I would check his progress which was really lovely, if not a bit icky. As the next contraction came I felt that the top of the head came out but then in between the contractions it went back again. With the next contraction his head was out and here is the weirdest thing, I could actually feel him turn his head to get his shoulders and body out. It felt really really odd. I had asked Joe to photograph the baby’s head once it was out, which he did but the photos were a bit rubbish due to the lighting and the swirly water. At some point, it might have been just before I started to push or after the head was out (who knows!), I had a little music based panic. I asked Joe to put on my calmer “birth” playlist rather than my more aggressive, rocky “labour” playlist but after “All you need is love” –skip-, “All the young dudes” –skip- and then something depressing by Embrace, I told Joe to put the “Labour” playlist back on.

With his head out I waited for the next contraction, eager to meet me new little man. I asked Lucy what to do when he came out and she said that I should just lift him to the surface and put him on my chest. As he came out I reached for him and carefully lifted him out of the water but as I went to put him to my chest Lucy stopped me “Emma, the cord is round his neck”. She was really calm. Me not so much. I was paralysed by panic. But Lucy careful looped his umbilical cord off him and then I held him. He screamed. A lot but that might have been due to him making his appearance in the world to “Being a Girl” by Mansun, poor kid. It was so amazing and surreal to have him in my arms. It was still slightly twilit outside and in the candle light everything had a magical glow about it. I just remember beaming with happiness and pride.

After a while we could hear the fireworks that Dylan was watching but otherwise everything was really calm and quiet. Evan James floated into the world at 20:49 on 19th August 2017 weighing 8lb 6oz. I had opted for a natural third stage of labour, for reasons that now escape me, so we waited for the contractions to return to expel the placenta. While we waited Joe had a tethered cuddle with his new son and Evan had a bit of a feed. After a while I had some more contractions, which were bloody painful! I had gas and air to get the placenta out and gently tugged on the umbilical cord to help it on its way. The placenta was born at 21:41. Lucy floated a plastic tub in the pool with me and popped the placenta in it as we had to do a spot of “Lotus birthing” as we waited for Dylan to return home to cut the cord. As soon as Dylan and my parents arrived home Dylan shouted “Mummy I have something really exciting to show you!!”… Ditto dude!! He came running up the stairs and into the room holding his winnings from the fair and then stopped at the doorway, taking in the scene. His face then lit up and he rushed over. It was beautiful. Behind him came my parents with shocked, awed expressions on their faces. It must have looked a bit of a scary scene. Naked daughter in a bloody pool!! (I was well covered with a towel!) We introduced them to Evan and then asked Dylan if he wanted to cut the cord, which he did. Dylan asked a lot of questions and was really worried that he was going to hurt Evan but Lucy was brilliant with him and talked him through all the different bits of the cord and the placenta. Dylan cut the cord and then him and Joe were able to give Evan some cuddles as I prepared to get out of the pool.

Being at home for his birth was the best decision. It was so calm and chilled. It was relaxed. Lucy was great throughout. She made me feel empowered and comfortable, she wasn’t pushy or overbearing, she allowed me to make all the decisions. Hypnobirthing helped too. I didn’t use it all but the breathing was so helpful and Lucy used a lot of the positive language and affirmations which made me feel very able to get through the harder bits. I am so happy that I finally got the birth that I have been planning since my first pregnancy. With Evan’s birth I was able to do it on my terms and that feels pretty bloody incredible.