So, after 6 weeks, I am finally finding some time (time to myself is nearly non-existent with 3 children!) to write about my third birth, my second with One to One and first water birth! I have always wanted a water birth, but with my first in hospital there were no pools available as they were very busy, and with my second he came so quick at home we didn’t get the pool filled up in time! It became my husband’s mission from day one to give me the water birth I had always dreamed of.

There was no hesitation only excitement about being able to call upon the services of One to One once more. The care I had received in my last pregnancy and birth from Ellie had been outstanding and although Ellie had moved away from the area, I requested Tom this time who had been my second midwife in the last pregnancy. Although I had only met him two times during and after Freddie’s birth, I thought he was a very kind and caring person as he had helped me a great deal through some painful feeding sessions. As soon as he came to the house for the first appointment, it was like seeing an old friend again. It was all so easy, and I felt I could talk to him and ask him about anything to do with the pregnancy, birth or feeding. He never belittled any of my questions or statements and always put a positive spin on any worries I had. The extent of his knowledge and his obvious love of facts and statistics backed up by research was also impressive!

As the pregnancy progressed, I was fully engaging in using hypnobirthing once more. Although I had used it to some extent last time, the birth had been quite intense, and I didn’t feel like I had done enough practice to use it to its fullest. I likened it to training for a competition, you have to put the hours in to get out what you really want. I had affirmations stuck up around the house, I was doing pregnancy yoga and relaxations, I felt so ready, I was actually looking forward to the challenge! Tom was obviously fully on board with what we wanted, and it became a standing joke between the 3 of us about whether Rob would get the pool filled this time!

In the final 2 weeks, I was starting to get twitchy about Tom’s off duty. When you’ve put your faith and trust in one person, it’s hard to imagine it being anyone else. He then reassured me saying he fully intended to be there no matter what. That meant the world to me and Rob and I entered the final few days feeling confident. My due date came and went, but I was more than happy to go with the flow, in fact one of my favourite affirmations stuck up in the lounge read ‘my baby will be born at the perfect time’. So just like her eldest sister 6 years previous, this little one decided to make her entrance at 40+4.

In the run up to labour I’d had a lovely day with Rob while our eldest 2 were with their grandparents. We’d gone for a gentle walk and a spot of shopping and spent the day quite loved up with each other without the distraction of children! You know how they say the hormone of love and labour is oxytocin, well I’d say it worked as later that evening on the Sunday, it all began! I had my show at 8.30pm and excitedly texted Tom to give him a heads up, I said I felt pumped, as if I was about to play in a final! He told me to do a relaxation and keep him updated. A couple of hours later the surges started but they were manageable, and I carried on watching some Tennis on tv bouncing on my ball. Close to midnight my waters suddenly went. Now I knew it was going to happen! Rob jumped up like a man on a mission, his moment had arrived! I rang Tom to tell him and he told me to carry on and ring him again when my surges were 5 minutes apart, and only an hour later they had ramped up, I rang Tom again and he simply said, do you need me? Yes, please was my reply. I carried on working through the surges on the bed, using my up breathing learnt in hypnobirthing, while Rob kept coming up to give me progress reports on how much the pool was filled! I heard Tom pull up and I felt relief wash over me, all my ‘team’ were here. Tom came and sat with me in the bedroom till I was ready to go downstairs. After a surge in the hallway, I was then able to really take in the ambience Rob had created in the lounge, the pool, the lights, the music; it was a sanctuary. I felt so incredibly comfortable and safe and relaxed, it was just perfect. And there was the pool-full of water!

As soon as I got in, I could see why people rave about water births, it just toned down all the intensity of the previous surges and the feeling of weightlessness was lush. Rob did a little victory dance as he had completed his mission! From then on, I just worked through the surges with my breath and imagery and in between enjoyed cracking jokes with Rob and Tom. It was all building up nicely and I loved the feeling of being in control. After an hour and a half of being in the pool my out breath suddenly changed to the low guttural ‘down’ breath that basically means baby is imminent. Although it was all very powerful, I still felt in control and just listened to Tom’s calm voice helping me to guide her head out. The whole time Rob kept telling me how strong I was and how proud he was and in no time at all her head was out. After a few more surges, no more of her was emerging so Tom took the decision to get me out of the pool to get in to a position to help her shoulders out. Because he was so calm, I remained calm and climbed out, albeit slightly tricky with a head between your legs! With the new position, on the next surge the rest of her body popped out and she was brought straight up on to my chest. Although she needed a little stimulation to get some proper cries out of her, she was soon letting us know of her presence! After the golden hour of uninterrupted skin to skin we found out the reason why she may have got slightly stuck; she weighed 9lbs 8oz! We were all shocked, including Tom, who joked that he wasn’t sure where I’d been hiding a baby that size as I had a very average sized bump.

Tom stayed with us till I was showered, she was fed, and we were both settled in bed. I gave him a big hug and thanked him for being such a calming influence and helping me to achieve the dream birth I had always wanted in the water. Being able to Introduce her to her big brother and sister later that morning in our own home was a memory that will stay with me forever. Tom came back later that evening to check on us, while he was still supposed to be off duty-that’s dedication for you. And his unwavering support and care has continued all through the past 6 weeks, through the feeding, the wobbles and the tears (usually mine and not the baby’s!) Alongside Rob, he has been a rock to me.

I, Rob and baby Francesca will always be eternally grateful to him. I was devastated to say goodbye last week as he has been a massive part of one of the best experiences of my entire life. Any women who get Tom as their midwife are incredibly lucky.

So once again, a huge thank you to the rest of the One to One family, to Amanda our MaMA, who was always on hand to help with feeding, Lucy our second midwife, Aimi for literally rescuing our family holiday by emailing a fit to fly letter to Manchester airport as we were boarding a flight! And Kim for doing Francesca’s newborn check. You all embody everything that makes One to One so special and unique and prove how maternity care can be delivered. Thank you. And although we said Francesca would be our last, we’re now saying never say never, so maybe in a couple of years I may be on here again!