I was delighted when I found out I was pregnant with Lucy. We had been trying for over a year and the disappointment each month was devastating. This was quite a new experience for us seeing as our first baby was conceived in one of those ‘lets chance it’ moments early in our marriage! I had just started investigations to see if something else was at play when, around 18 days post ovulation, I was DELIGHTED to find myself feeling ill by the smell of raw meat walking past our local butcher! I ran into the chemist and drove home as quick as I could to pee on that stick! And pee on a stick I did….. 6 times…. JUST TO BE SURE THOSE PINK DOUBLE LINES WERE REAL!!!!
I’d like to take a little side step in my story now. To have a little rant. You see I am fortunate enough to live in one of the most beautiful counties of Ireland. I am a farmer’s daughter through and through, reared around lambing. I know the importance of letting the birthing animal feel safe, protected, and unwatched. And this is what I want in my births. To be left unless there is a need to intervene. To be cared for by a midwife using her skills if needs, and if there was no need to watch and support. But living here means that there is no midwife led care options. No birth centre or MLU or even midwife for homebirth. My closest maternity unit is a good hour’s drive and is run by obstetricians. I have nothing against obstetricians – and should I ever need one thank God they are there – but its not what I am looking for in my birth. I don’t understand why there are not MLUs across Ireland. It’s not fair. All the research says I should have midwife led care but my health service won’t provide it. Why should the best care be reserved for only those who live in certain areas? What about us rural mothers? Its a terrible state when the birthing animals get more respect than the women!
I can’t complain really about either birth. I went public on them both and stayed as healthy as I could. I would be fairly active from the farm and the bog and I tried to eat best I could. My biggest mistake on my first was going in too early. It’s that long drive you see, I was so worried about the drive. Its a hard drive you see in the best of times – poor road, difficult to pass out, bumpy, and as I said a good hour in good conditions. Up here the weather can turn quick. Speaking to other mothers I learned that the drive gets even harder in labour. So I went in early, so early that I was barely 1cm! It was a long day spent getting checks, and more checks, and walking, and more checks, and eventually a baby. It was fine. I was delighted that my baby was here but I felt watched and meddled with and I wished I was left to let nature take its course. I found it really hard getting onto the bed for checks. Everything in me just wanted to be up and moving and left unchecked. It was fine. But birth should surely be more than ‘fine’.
This baby I had big plans. I contacted every support group I’d ever heard of. Surely there was another option than hospital? But no. There was not another option. And I found myself booking back into the maternity hospital.
As with my first baby, I was healthy and active and my pregnancy went uneventful. I tried to put everything at the back of my mind but every now and again I would feel a deep sense of regret, pain, and sorrow of how cheated I felt – its a feeling I don’t think anyone can understand unless they have been through the same. It just felt so desperately unfair. On those days I would furiously write. I’d write to James Reilly. I’d write to the HSE. I’d write to my hospital. I’d curse, and vent, and cry. It was only when I contacted AIMS that I felt any sense of validation for what I was feeling.
Eventually, I hashed out a plan. I was going to take control of this and bind up all that emotion to use it in my favour. I wrote out what was important to me and I had a good chat with my fella. This time I would not go in too early. This time I would take control. I felt the best way of doing that was to keep moving freely and to be very clear that I would not be having checks. So I arrived down to the clinic and I told them my plan. Well, the midwives were fantastic but my God did the consultant throw his toys from the pram! But I stuck to the plan, clear and calm, and thought to myself ‘try to stop me’.
It was a cold crisp day and I had just lit the fire when I felt different. Nothing particular, just different. I got a little shiver and tended to the business. Few hours later I noticed I felt a bit heavy and slightly crampy. When I went to the loo I noticed a wee bit of show. Excellent! Nothing stirring so back to work! Few hours again my mam arrived down for tea. It was only when I was still did I notice the cramps were a bit stronger. I went off to feed the little one and my chores. My fella came in for his tea a few hours later and again, once I was still I noticed things felt a little bit stronger than they were before. At that point I said to my mam she might take the little one as I thought I was starting. Keep to the plan, keep to the plan!
It was really hard not to rush in. I really had to keep reminding myself to stick to the plan.
We had a stunning secret as part of our plan but I wanted to be in my home as long as possible so I kept pottering around until there came a point where I just wasn’t comfortable anymore with being at home. I told my husband that we needed to make tracks. I heard him on the phone and felt relief and excitement!
The drive was not fun, I won’t tell a lie. I knew I still had a ways to go but I was very aware of what I wanted to be doing and how I couldn’t do it sitting belted in a car! We got to the town and it was very still and my husband went into the hotel to check in. I walked the carpark breathing in the cold night air and saw the twinkling lights of the hospital just over the hill behind us an easy 5 minutes drive away. The plan, THE PLAN!
We went into the room and drew the bath, dimmed the lights, and put on some music. The warm water soothed me and the music gave me strength. The minutes and hours melted into each other until I felt it was time and we headed to the maternity hospital.
We phoned on the way to say we would be there shortly and that I was quite far along in labour. When we got there I told them that I would not like to be checked and that I did not want to be on the bed. There was a bit of ‘well how are we meant to know how far along your are’ but I just kept moving and the midwife checked the baby’s heartrate which was perfect and I just kept moving. As I moved about swaying I felt this incredible pressure building inside me and then nearly immediately my waters broke, which were all clear and I kept moving.
Do you feel like you might need to push? Not yet. And I kept moving.
And then it happened, the pressure started to build and it felt different and I knew from my first baby that we were nearly there. I started to shake and so I got on the bed on all fours. The pressure is so immense the only way to ease it is to bear down and I did with running commentary ‘I can see hair, head, nose, face, chin, nearly there, heads out’ a little lull and then body. Lucy was handed up to me and it was just lovely. I felt so brilliant, and proud, and happy. We stuck to the plan. It was not fine. It was better than fine, it was simply amazing.