As I write this, the child in question is seven and a half so please forgive me if my memory of her birth is a bit patchy. I had a healthy and uneventful pregnancy but it was a surprise to even me to find myself telling the midwife at one of my checks that I wanted a homebirth with a pool. She was massively supportive and said there was absolutely no reason why not. My partner was a bit concerned but did the research and was satisfied that it was just as safe as a hospital birth so he supported me all the way too. I also think he was secretly glad to be able to watch the telly whenever he wanted.
One Friday morning as I was nine months pregnant I was in a café having breakfast with some friends and I felt very uncomfortable and back-achy. All the friends who had already had children were looking at each other with little knowing smiles and winks. The ones who hadn’t were horrified and convinced it was all going to happen there and then with lots of fluids and panic! Of course, nothing much happened, just dragging and softening pains so I went home and spent an uncomfortable day and night mooching about with the TENS on. On Saturday morning the midwife came out to see me and said I was in the very early stages but would be a while yet. She took some blood to check something with the lab (I forget why now) and came back later in the afternoon to tell me everything was ok and I was five centimetres dilated and could get I the pool YIPPEE!
As I had used the TENS for a good 24 hours I found the first contraction without it in the pool very odd and kept shouting ‘BOOST! BOOST!’ but then the comfort of the water took over and I found the contractions in the pool much more manageable. Then it was a waiting game and I seemed to plod on like that for hours, in fact, at one point we put on ‘Zoolander’ on the telly for a bit of light relief and got into a minor argument when I was apparently ‘making a fuss’ during a contraction and he had to wind it back.
Then it all goes a bit blurry and I went into ‘the zone’ of being completely oblivious to everything around me. Concentrating on breathing and the contractions and generally being exhausted. I loved my pool though and I remember being very grumpy yet surprised when the midwives made me get out the pool to be checked at one point, I hadn’t even realised they had arrived! Luckily everything was fine and I got back into my blissful pool.
In the middle of the night my eyes suddenly burst open in astonishment when somebody let a cow into the room. I looked around for the offending beast and then realised the guttural mooing I had heard was coming from myself. The midwives wanted to check me so asked me to move onto my back, I told them the baby was coming and sure enough she was. I felt amazing at this point, a total powerhouse of womanhood! This was the bit I was most afraid of, the pushing, but when it came down to it though my body took over and kind of expelled the baby with very little conscious effort on my part. At 1.42am on her due date, our little Mia Grace swam out into the world and blinked at us under the water. I scooped her up into my arms and she carried on just studying our faces and blinking. My partner said something ground breaking like ‘it’s a baby’ and the midwives took pictures while we gazed at our gorgeous new daughter, Mia Grace Licciardi.
After a few minutes my partner cut the cord and took Mia to the other end of the room to be weighed and checked and dressed and whatever else they inflict on newborns. To add another touch of the surreal, it was now 2am and the clocks went back, or forward, nobody could remember so my maternity notes were full of crossings out and GMT’s and ‘BST’s to confuse everyone. I got out the pool and lay on a shower curtain on the floor to deliver the placenta. I panicked a bit at this point, what the hell was I doing now? Was I having twins? Had I really just had a baby? I moved my hips about and out came the placenta quite easily. A friend of mine at my baby shower had advised me to look at the placenta because she really regretted not seeing hers so I asked the midwife to show me. She looked at me like I was barmy and then showed it to me, I was totally shocked, I didn’t expect it to be so big! Surely that was a lung or something? Didn’t I need that inside my body for vital survival? Nevertheless I still seemed to be breathing so I got up, put my dressing gown on and cuddled my new yawning daughter on the sofa while the midwives squabbled about the clocks again. I was on such a high, I was expecting screaming and blood and gore but everything was so calm and peaceful and happy. Almost as if everybody thought it would be a good idea for us to actually keep this gorgeous little thing to look after forever, fancy that.