To me, the thought of being pregnant scared me. In all honesty, the thought of it was absolutely petrifying. Yes, your life’s going to change forever but my real fear lay in the labour. To me labour was about the following: A clinical room where I’d be lay on a plastic sheet, legs in stirrups, monitors strapped me whilst being told to push till I was blue in the face. That to me was my vision of it all, until I met my midwife Vikki and what a total dream she was.
Rewind 6 months and I was under the care of the NHS community midwife. When I told her, I was contemplating a homebirth and she shrieked with panic, that’s the moment I knew I needed to contact One to One. The queens of home birthing. Anyone I spoke to who had been under their care had nothing but amazing things to say about these women revolutionising women’s pre-conception of childbirth.
So at 6 months pregnant my mind was made up, I wanted a homebirth. I contacted One to One and a few days later Vikki came to visit me at home. I clicked with her instantly. It was so crazy, of all the people I’d spoken to about this potential homebirth (my husband, my family, my closest friends) nobody made me feel like I could do it more than Vikki. A woman I was only 20 minutes into meeting, yet already had made me feel like a total superwoman who was totally capable of smashing this homebirth. I was sold. The only downside to my angel from above was that she was due to go on holiday just days before my due date which was December 14th. Surely my baby would have arrived by then anyway?!
My pregnancy was textbook. No sickness, no problems, no worries. Vikki came every 2 weeks to see me, checking urine, bloods, baby’s heartbeat and everything else in-between. She was never more than a phone call away ,constantly keeping in contact with me.
My due date was creeping closer and our chats turned serious. Time to talk homebirth logistics – and to face facts that if Vik was away by the time I went into labour, who would be delivering my baby. Could anyone else make me feel as much of a superhero as Vikki did?
In came Ellie, Vikki’s ‘buddy’. Vik had spoken about Ellie since day one, keeping her in the loop with my progress ect. This is the brilliant thing about One to One, you envisage one big family of midwives. All keeping one another in the loop regarding their mamas to be. You aren’t just a number, they know who you are and all about you.
December arrived, 14 days till due date and Vik wanted me to come into the PAC to meet Ellie and all the other midwives. It was their Christmas party and I sat with Ellie eating cake talking all things homebirth. She was a dream, so easy to get along with, super calming and gave me all kinds of zen vibes. I was introduced to all the other midwives and they were all aware of my impending festive homebirth.
Vik was in contact daily now and I persuaded her to give me a parting gift before she left for her holiday, a sweep. It did nothing. She went away and Ellie took over, staying in constant contact. 3 sweeps passed and so did my due date.
9 days past due date Ellie came round to check everything and talk about the possibility of an induction. I was absolutely devastated, where was my baby?! We booked my induction for December 26th, 12 days post due date. Ellie kept telling me it was optional, I didn’t HAVE to be induced. It was my choice and as long as everything was ok with me and the baby we were fine to play the waiting game. So we did.
Christmas Day came, 1 day to go till the induction meaning 1 day to get this baby out naturally. I had tried everything, I’d gone through 2 whole bottles of clarysage, walked at least 1 million miles, gone through my whole Indian takeaway menu, massaged my own nipples, spent more time on my ball than I did on the couch, had lots of (very uncomfortable and awkward might I add) sex,4 sweeps, meditated, watched every feel good film possible and nothing. Nada.
Morning of the induction came and I lost it. This strong, I got this, namaste woman was nowhere to be seen. My head had officially fallen off. I rang Ellie, who happened to be on her day off so I was diverted to another midwife Kirsty (who Vik had introduced to me to at Christmas). I had a huge hysterical meltdown on the phone and told her I couldn’t do it. I didn’t want to be induced and I wanted to hold off a little longer. Say no more she said, I’ll sort everything for you. She rang me back and told me it had been rearranged for the 28th, meaning 2 more days to get this baby out naturally. EASY.
Ellie was my therapist for the next 2 days, she knew how desperate I was for this homebirth and was doing everything within her power to help me get it. She told me to argue when I get to my induction and ask for it to be an outpatient one, I didn’t even know this was an option? I was past the hospitals guidelines as I was now 14 days over. However, miracles happen and they agreed to do the induction, let me go home for 24 hours and if nothing happened I had to return the next day to labour there. I rang Ellie as soon as they discharged me literally crying with happiness. My face was holding more water retention than Niagara Falls, I had piles the size of satsumas, but I didn’t care. I had 24 hours to let this inserted pessary do its thang….and it did just that.
Contractions started at around 9pm that evening (just as I’d finished off pretty much the entire contents of a family size tub of roses – my weekly treat) By 11:30pm those contractions were coming and they were coming strong. My waters broke all over the bedroom floor and I knew it was show time. I had this. My husband turned to me and said,”Charl, you’ve done it. You’re having her at home. This is it”. The realisation kicked in and I namasted my way through around 5 hours of contractions – the whole time my husband in constant contact over the phone with Ellie. A contraction had come to an end and I remember turning around and seeing Ellie in the corner of my bedroom knelt down. She wasn’t intrusive, she wasn’t loud, she didn’t barge her way through. I didn’t even know she’d arrived. She checked me and I was 5cm gone. She went downstairs with my husband and they set the pool up (finally his time to shine, so he said) around 45 mins later I got into the water, my candle collection was lit, Christmas tree lights were on and I was ready to smash this.
Ellie was amazing, she sat in the corner of the lounge leaving my husband Phil to be the one to guide me. She checked me when she needed to but ultimately this was about me and him. It was the polar opposite of what you see on TV. She wasn’t screaming at me telling me to push till I was blue in the face, she wasn’t telling me we were running low on time and that the ambulance was on standby. She made me feel I had all the time in the world to deliver this baby. She had called for the second Midwife Georgia and told me this baby would be arriving soon. When people say “trust your body, it knows what to do”, it really does. Not at one point did Ellie tell me when to push, she just told me to do what felt right. She didn’t tell me how far along I was, I didn’t want to know. My body just moved into the positions it needed to, I didn’t have to think about it. My body was just doing it for me. With each push Ellie used a mirror to see how I was doing. I wanted my husband to be the one to carry me through this, I didn’t want him to feel pushed out by a load of strangers in a room like you see on TV. He was amazing, I remember the head crowning and I literally squeezed his hand so hard I heard a knuckle crack. That’s what they’re there for, right?!
12 hours after my contractions had started she was here, little Florence Isobelle had arrived into the world in the comfort of her own home.
I could end it here, but we have to be realistic. If you’re going to push a melon out of a small hole there’s going to be consequences. Ellie needed to check me over as I was losing a lot of blood, my placenta wasn’t coming out. Not at one single moment did I feel scared, these women were amazing and I trusted them with every inch of me. Ellie had called for another midwife Kirsty for my ‘repair work’. She talked me through what had happened and exactly what she was going to do to me, by this point I didn’t care. My baby was here, I’d smashed the birth and the aftermath was irrelevant to me.
It just re-affirms how incredible every single midwife at One to One is. It would have been easier for them to call the ambulance and have me shipped off and stitched there, but they didn’t. They saw me through to the end. Writing this I feel so emotional, if it wasn’t for these women at One to One my birth story could have been something I look back on as traumatic and just as it’s portrayed on TV.
One to One empower women, they give us a choice when it comes to labouring our baby. Never let labour become bigger than you, you are in control always. Trust your body and it will do amazing things. Nobody believes this ethos more than the midwifes at One to One. Vikki and Ellie will never ever understand what they have done for me and how they turned something I was truly petrified about into a moment me and my husband will never forget.
They really will never know just how incredible they both are.