Amelie’s Birth Story: Ten Month Momma

Amelie’s birth story: Ten Month Momma

Amelie’s birth was a true gift. I wrote the birth story nine days after she was born. Since then Richard and our doula Sallyann have also written their versions which you can read here.

My first daughter Katie was (still)born by c-section at 28 weeks +3 days on 12th December 2000 (see Katie’s birth story).

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I had since met & married Richard in 2005.  We sadly experienced a miscarriage in 2006 at 10 weeks +3 days. I became pregnant again soon after. 

The start of my third pregnancy was heavily monitored; we were glad for regular reassurance scans. We were tentative about celebrating too early.
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The first half of the pregnancy however turned out to be textbook, with every scan showing normal growth and activity. With every week which passed we got closer to having our dream coming true. 

At 23 weeks we were told we were having a little girl. I couldn’t believe things were actually happening.

It wasn’t until I got past 28 weeks (the gestation of pregnancy which I had Katie) I breathed a sigh of relief and saw every new day of being pregnant as a step closer to meeting our new daughter.

 
At 28 weeks
We had a 4D scan at Window to the Womb in Nottingham. We came home with a 20 minute DVD of our daughter sucking her fingers and pulling faces from inside the womb. I was finally starting to believe I might actually have a healthy baby in my arms at the end of this pregnancy.
 
At 31 weeks
We hired a doula, Sallyann. We found her details on the Doula UK website. This was to be one of the best decisions I had ever made. I was anxious about the birth for so many reasons. Mainly though because of the loss of autonomy I had experienced during previous stays in hospital. However I knew that this should be a positive reason to be in hospital when baby was born, so finding Sallyann was a positive step towards planning for the birth we wanted.
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At 34 weeks

We attended an NCT Homebirth Support Group in Moseley, Birmingham. We met ladies who had great birth experiences and it got us thinking about what we wanted. We approached our midwife about it who was unsupportive. I wrote to her supervisor the SoM (Supervisor of Midwives) and had a meeting with her at 36 weeks, where we had been having all our scans. 
 
We addressed the midwife’s concerns and anxieties one by one. Having not laboured before, and having had a pervious c-section I did not fit into the normal ‘criteria’ to be ‘offered’ a homebirth booking. It was a very difficult time and a stressful build up to the meeting. Sallyann accompanied us. I was saddened that I felt had to ‘fight’ for the homebirth booking.
 
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At the end of the meeting our new midwife Doreen was very pro-homebirth, upbeat, and supportive. I did not know at the time that I did not need a homebirth ‘booking’ as such. I had every right to labour and birth at home, and if I had called they had a duty to send a midwife.

 
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We were hoping I would give birth in our birth-pool that we had bought after attending the NCT Homebirth Support Group. I knew that in a hospital environment I would not feel able to birth, because for birth you need relaxation and for relaxation I need privacy.

 
From 41weeks
The local policy was to ‘offer’ induction at term plus 10 days. We declined induction and accepted twice weekly scans and EFM monitoring for reassurance in accordance with N.I.C.E. guidelines. We were constantly repeating and having to re-justify our decision to ‘wait it out’ at home – this was unacceptable. Another meeting with the SoM took the form of us having the list of risks associated with ‘post-dates’ babies given to us. Then a tour round the labour ward at Walsgrave.
 
I knew the due date was not 100% accurate, all monitoring showed baby and I were healthy and happy; baby was in the right position, with plenty of fluid and placenta still effective. Lots of support from our doula & the homebirth and VBAC e-mail support groups really helped us ‘stick it out’ despite unhelpful comments from people all around us. Everyone around us became impatient. I decided to go into hiding, my husband was responsible for all calls and texts. I continued to swim every morning and listened to my Natal Hypnotherapy Homebirth Preparation CD.
 

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23rd May – 41 weeks +5

Had a stretch & sweep at home with one of the community midwives. I produced a mucus plug 24 hours later which was very exciting. Looking back it is silly that I felt I had to have a sweep. Why should I not just wait at home and relax for my baby to arrive? 
 

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27th May – 42 weeks +2

Had second sweep at Owen Building with community midwife. Doreen was on holiday. As I was ‘overdue’ Helen preferred to monitor me for HALF AN HOUR using EFM monitoring before she would consider doing another sweep. I was surprised to hear that she had never come across a woman so ‘overdue’ (this is ludicrous now to me – because I know that normal pregnancies can be anywhere between 38 and 42 weeks long). 
 
With this in mind, I didn’t consider myself to be more than 2 days. Every day was like an emotional roller coaster though. Whatever happened to mothers following their instinct and listening to their bodies?
 

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29th May – 42 weeks+4

As a result of the pressure being put on me, we visited an alternative hospital labour ward (Warwick) and met a Supervisor. This helped me stay positive as they didn’t normally suggest induction until 42 weeks at this hospital and even then, they had a more relaxed approach.
 
It was a smaller unit and much more homely. We decided that if we needed to transfer into hospital during our homebirth, this would be where we would go. I was not surprised to hear that I was one of several ladies who had transferred their care from Walsgrave to Warwick, one of whom was in labour when she made that decision! At this point I was considering attempting use of prostaglandin gel/pessary and then going home. However as I was attempting a VBAC, they would only offer one administration before recommending further intervention such as ARM (artificial rupture of membranes) and oxytocin drip. 
 
This was my worst nightmare as I would be less likely to be able to use a birth pool, and more likely to be strapped to the EFM machine on a bed. I would also then be subject to their timescales when in fact, my body had its own already.
 

30th May – 42 weeks+5

Feeling desperate and isolated, I had some acupuncture. I came home with some lower back pains. The regular Braxton Hicks I had been having since 38 weeks were becoming stronger. The positive attitude of the acupuncturist really helped me through this day. I continued to ignore all calls and texts all asking the same thing; ‘is baby here yet?’ For future reference, if anyone you know ever has a baby, do not continue to ask them if their baby has arrived yet. This is something which was meant with good intention by all friends and family but which added to the stress of the “you shouldn’t still be pregnant” attitude coming from the health professionals.
 

1st June – 43 weeks

Had a third sweep at home (with lovely Doreen). Doreen was surprised to find me disheartened, upset and feeling emotionally drained. She encouraged me to keep my resolve and helped me feel that I was not necessarily a ‘freak of nature’, being 43 weeks pregnant. After seeing her I felt much more upbeat about our decision to wait it out at home. At this stage of pregnancy, what people say to you has so much effect…it can really turn things around. 
 
2nd June – 43 weeks +1
Tried taking Castor Oil as it was recommended by many different people, but I knew it might give me the runs and make me feel ill. It did. I had mild contractions from 11am, every 10-20 minutes. I then managed to sleep from midnight until 2am.
 
3rd June – 43 weeks+2
At 2am I woke up with stronger contractions. As I started to time them, they were 1-2 minutes apart. Richard called the midwife and Sallyann. Up until now the bath had provided me with relief, however I found that having a contraction in the bath was not as relaxing as I thought it would be, so got out again and waddled round the house, rotating my hips and repeating my mantra – ‘I trust my body, I trust my baby’. 
 
The midwife arrived at about 3.20am – it was the same lady who had done sweep no. 1 and 2. An examination I asked for revealed I was 2cm dilated with ‘waters bulging’. At 3.40am my doula knocked on the door. I was sat on the sofa and shouted ‘it’s open, come in!’ and at exactly the moment when she walked through the door my waters broke with a huge gush all over the floor and sofa! 
 
I let out an exited ‘Oooooh!’ and waddled off to the loo leaving a trail of clear fluid behind me. I was very relieved to see it was clear fluid – as one of the reasons we had been given for recommended induction for post dates pregnancy was meconium (baby’s first poo) in the liquor (fluid) and meconium aspiration (baby swallowing the poo in the water).
 
Things were really starting to happen and I was so glad because I had got to a point where I almost believed my body didn’t know how to labour or give birth. I was smiling and I felt great.
 
The next few hours were spent upright, stopping for contractions and blowing the pain away. Richard or Sallyann would meet contractions with massage at the bottom of my back which really helped and soothed me. We stayed downstairs for about an hour then went up to our bedroom for a while.
 
I had a selection of my birth music playing. I had spent weeks listening to it and relaxing in the bath, now I could recreate that relaxation but whilst in labour. I felt I slowly became more vocal, and eventually did not need to tell anyone that I had a contraction coming. It took a while to get used to the fact that a contraction made me feel like I needed the loo due to the pressure. I therefore spent most of my time not too far from the bathroom. 
 
Richard filled up the pool and I started asking for gas and air. Sallyann urged me to save it for towards the end of labour which kept me going for a while; I found the contractions to be more intense and felt that I really wanted to try something to take the edge off. I found out later that Sallyann did not realise just how strong the contractions had become. Sometime later, I tried the gas and air whilst leaning against my bed, it made me feel a little drunk and hazy, but did seem to take the edge off the contractions.
 
I felt I wanted to get in the pool at about 8am, as it might be enough relief for me to get through the more intense contractions.  I was being guided by my instincts, and what I felt was the right thing to do next. On examination just before I got in I was told I was 4 cm dilated. This was fantastic encouragement for me.
 
The pool was in the corner of our little living room. The birth music was playing in the background. I asked everyone to leave the room apart from Richard. I stripped off apart from my bra and jumped in.
 
The pool was heaven. It made me feel I had more privacy to birth. I imagined that you could not see through the water, and felt that I could let go once my bottom half was submerged. I felt lighter and more flexible than I had been on dry land. I spent a while getting used to the pool before I found my comfort zone with my back to everyone. I was facing the corner of the room. That way I couldn’t see what was going on in the room around me. Sallyann and Richard squeezed into the space between the birth pool and the wall and held one hand each; I held the mouthpiece with my teeth. I found it helpful to bite down on it. Things were relaxed. It was like having friends over for coffee except one of us was in the corner giving birth.
 
I closed my eyes during contractions, when I opened them it was like waking up.
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Sometimes Sallyann had her head down leaning on our hands clasped together. I really liked this as it made me feel less observed but still supported. I remember thinking about Sallyann ‘crikey you are one hell of a lady having birthed 4 babies, 3 of them at home in water with!’ Sometimes I crouched, and other times it felt good to spread my legs back straight behind me floating in the water. I think this really helped Amelie move down the birth canal.
 
I was more focused and determined than I had ever been in my life. I said to Sallyann once I was in the water ‘I think I could really do this in the pool you know’ to which she replied ‘you could do this anywhere’. I have learnt that if you have someone who totally believes in your ability to birth, you too soon learn to trust your own body to do this. It is no wonder that having a doula with you reduces the need for pain relief and also reduces the chance of a c-section by a whopping 50%.
 
Sallyann has since said that I was like two different people in labour. One was during contractions, I would allow the release of energy from my body by taking big deep sighing breaths, these soon changed into moo-ing type noises. It felt so good to make those noises! I had my eyes closed through each one. She likened me to some type of porn star because I was wearing nothing but a black silky 
bra, and was sighing and moaning whilst experiencing these rushes of energy. Then she said the other person, was when I had finished experiencing a contraction, I would open my eyes, smile and look up, and in a soft calm quiet voice, ask my husband Richard if he was ok.
 
Labour progressed well (although I didn’t know that) I was just concentrating on getting through each sensation, each one leading me closer to finally meeting our precious baby girl. The order of what I remember is a little jumbled up now. But here are a few things which have stayed with me; 
 
in between deep breaths of gas & air I breathed out noise almost like a long loud sigh. I think they got higher with the intensity of the sensations. Eventually they turned to almost growl like noises. I said ‘do you think we should knock on the neighbours’ door in case of the noise?’ To which I got the reply ‘what noise?’.
 
One of the songs on the birth music collection was Flowers in the Window by Travis. At the time of its release I had not long lost Katie. In the music video, the band Travis are seen walking round a new town, every inhabitant of which was a heavily pregnant woman. I always thought of it as one of ‘her’ songs. I somehow in between contractions managed to tell this little story to Sallyann and Richard. From that point on I felt like I could really let go. I think if you let go of whatever feelings you are holding onto, birth without pain becomes a possibility.
 
I also have two pencil sketches of Katie framed on the wall I was facing. I stared at them hard during one contraction and apologised in my mind to her for not having laboured, but opting for a c-section when I had her. It made me feel stronger inside. Another song on my birth cd was an Annie Lennox song called Stay By Me, the lyrics to which are ‘come on now baby’ which I had sang to my huge bump in the bath many times before, so listening to it in labour felt so right. I was on a complete mission.
 
Other mantras I said in my head which were helpful were;
 
‘Pressure, warmth and power’ (from the natal hypnotherapy cd) and ‘Blow it away’.
 
I also concentrated on the images of other birthing mothers from the birth videos I had watched through my pregnancy. The main one was from the NCT DVD ‘Happy Birth Day’ of a lady who had a home water birth using gas and air, and made her own video diary leading up to, and through the labour. The other was an unassisted homebirth of twins (one breech) which I had seen online. Both had inspired me to stay focussed.
 
Once the second midwife arrived things changed slightly. She was older and more vocal than the first midwife. She seemed to want to take over a bit. Whereas H was very hands off and just quietly monitored me intermittently, E approached me in the pool during a contraction saying ‘what do you want to do about the 3rd stage Rosie?’ I remember thinking have you even read the birth plan!?! (It was up on all the doors). But I ended up replying with something along the lines of ‘let’s wait until we get there’.
 
Half way through a contraction the conversation between the midwives got too loud. They were rustling a paper bag or something. I shouted ‘too loud!’ to Richard and Sallyann. They asked the noise be kept to a minimum and then things seemed to get back to how they were before Elaine arrived – hands off. I remembered what Sallyann had told me about ‘finding my voice’ in labour and felt good I had been able to do this.
 
At one point Richard commented I hadn’t sworn once. I was struggling to express and vent the sensations and so gave it a try, shouting a loud ‘F**K!’ at the height of one of the contractions. It didn’t seem to help so I didn’t swear again. Richard later said it sounded unnatural, as though I “felt” I should swear; I went back to my growling. It was great to growl. It made me feel quite powerful. Looking back, this was the result of me respecting my body to do what it was designed to do.
 
I asked for the meptid at 9am, which we had in the fridge. I had been in the pool for 1 hour. It felt like there were hardly any gaps between contractions. I later found out that this was because I was in transition. Richard said things which really encouraged me like ‘just go with your body’. It was not long after this that my body decided it was going to push whether I liked it or not! I was so shocked that I was pushing with seemingly no effort on my part.
 
I tried to relax through it and asked for meptid again. Sallyann reminded me that it would make my baby drowsy. The midwife suggested I have another examination. I was told that there was no cervix at all, I was fully dilated and our baby was ready to be born. There would be no point in meptid now as it would take twenty minutes to kick in and I was so close. I was so shocked as it felt like I hadn’t been in labour that long, and as it was my first labour I was expecting a long drawn out affair.
 
Second stage lasted about 30-40 minutes. Someone said ‘do you want to just reach down and feel the head….’ To which I replied ‘NO THANKYOU!’. I needed to focus on the sensations, and I knew my body would do the rest. In the background I could hear someone saying ‘she’s looking at me, I can see her eyes’. I didn’t realise her head had been born!
 
With the next contraction I decided to push too when my body pushed. I was scared of tearing which might have been why I was holding back from pushing. It felt like someone was pushing a brick out of a brick wall, like grinding hard surfaces together. With the next push she was out. She shot out behind me, and I had to lean right back in order for her to be lifted through my legs and onto my chest. I was asked if I wanted to lift her out myself but I still felt like I was coming down off that last contraction and a little shaky so asked the midwife to do it. 
 
She came out of the water all dark pink and big blue eyes. I was saying ‘I did it, I did it’ in disbelief. 
 
She didn’t cry, or breathe, her eyes were wide open. She just looked around at everything. 
 
I was reassured that she was still getting oxygen from the placenta so I could blow on her face to see if it stimulated her.

After a minute or so of doing this I wanted Richard to cut the cord so that they could get her breathing and then bring her back to me. I wish I had allowed the cord to remain intact though & I realise now that this momentary separation however short was unnecessary. The high sides of the pool prevented me from seeing what they were doing and I tried to relax through a few mild contractions. They had put the oxygen mask over her face and as soon as they did, I heard a cry and I burst into tears saying ‘she’s alive, she’s alive!’.

Looking back this is my only regret but I understand why I became impatient so quickly for her to breathe. Next time I will aim to keep the cord intact until it has stopped pulsating because Amelie deserved to have access to all that good blood in the placenta – it is packed full of nutrients and transfers over to the baby following the birth. I could not have anticipated how I was going to feel seeing my baby so fresh and new and relaxed. 

 
The last time I had a baby of my own was Katie, I never saw her breathing, she was so still. At that moment I needed this baby to breathe more than I had ever needed anything ever before.
 

As soon as that first cry happened she was handed straight back to me in the pool. I was feeling quite wobbly and she was so big. Richard took her in his arms, kept her in the water enough for her to be warm, and rocked her. She quietened instantly, staring into his eyes and listening to his voice.

This was the start of a wonderful daddy daughter relationship. What a moment.
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I tried to breastfeed her for the first time in the pool, but she was so long and slippery, like a big wet pink fish! She was born at 9:45am so I had established contractions for only just under 8 hours. However, all the books say established labour is anything from 4cm onwards, so I was in established labour for 3 hours 45 minutes. 

 
She weighed in at 9lbs 3.5oz and I was so shocked at how big she felt in my arms. I couldn’t believe I had been carrying her for so long. After a few minutes holding her in the water I decided to have the injection for third stage because I wanted to get out of the pool and get into bed with her and Richard. 
 
Six or seven minutes after the injection nothing had happened so with a little help I stood up, and just as I did the placenta fell out and was promptly caught by the midwife in bedpan.

 
I would not do this next time round; this is because with the injection there is a risk of the uterus clamping down before the placenta has been delivered. This is called retained placenta. For a homebirth, this can be sorted by massaging the uterus until the drug wears off and placenta is delivered. However many NHS midwives would simply recommend transfer which would have taken away the wonderful experience which followed the birth. Next time, things like dressing and weighing the baby can wait – they are not important at this early bonding stage.
 
I climbed out of the pool and was helped into bed. Richard had dressed Amelie during the 3rd stage, and we snuggled up.

I had another go at breastfeeding which was pretty successful but took a few attempts to get it going.20131107-054229.jpg

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She is almost on the boob constantly now at time of writing this (9 days old) so we must have done something right. 
 
(Note from author: breastfeeding continues at 20 months – it has been challenging for various reasons but since I’ve had support, it is now BLISS!)
 
(Another note from author: breastfeeding continued until Amelie was four and half years old.)
 
I have been on a complete high since her birth with no signs of baby blues (only tiredness). Everyone who meets her comments how calm and contented she is. I have no doubt that this, my effective contractions and short labour were all down to the fact that she was born in water and at home.
 
After I lost Katie I had tremendous support from a few charities that support parents through loss. I spent a lot of time singing their praises and spreading the word about their good work. Now I feel like I have to spread the word about homebirth and its benefits – and not just for those who ‘tick all the boxes’. 
 
If I had needed to be transferred into hospital for any reason I would have been receptive to any recommended course of treatment either I or my baby might have needed. 
 
I feel we helped make the labour short by being in control and staying calm. The preparation we put into the birth helped me to convince myself I was capable. I got involved with the local NCT VBAC Birth choices Support Group, and our story was published in two national mother & baby magazines, and an NCT book by Mary Nolan about homebirth.
 
***
 
The birth of Amelie Daisy-May – by Richard Evans (Daddy)
 
The build up to the day of the birth was getting more stressful as each day “overdue” passed. For every “any news yet” text or message Rosie had, I had the same questions every day in work! It felt like we were getting pressured from every direction. I am so proud of Rosie for persevering and sitting it out.
 
At 2am when Rosie woke with regular contractions I was still thinking “no, this can’t be it”. I thought it would just tail off to nothing again. Even when phoning the labour ward and our doula I didn’t think it was actually going to happen.
 
The morning progressed much as Rosie described it. I spent the first few hours following Rosie around and rubbing her back when she needed it. During one monitoring of baby’s heartbeat, Helen struggled to find it. It took her what seemed like a few minutes (probably more like 20 seconds). It felt like my heart stopped for the whole time she was moving the doppler around. I know Rosie felt the same. My mind suddenly filled with awful images of what could be happening. Eventually there was a heartbeat and all was well, but for that moment I feared the worst. 
 
From then on it was pure excitement and awe. I remember thinking how calm Rosie was throughout. She never really gets het up anyway, but it was almost like she wasn’t really in labour, it just felt like a small social gathering, something that wouldn’t have happened in a hospital.
 
The mood was total calm and relaxation. I’m sure the midwives picked up on this vibe and went with it. We used my iPod in a speaker to provide Rosie with her birth music. We’d planned this way in advance as it seemed better than changing cd’s all the time. I imported her Hypnotherapy CD into iTunes and put that on the iPod too. At one point Rosie asked why a certain song was skipping. I tried to explain that the iPod can’t skip as it’s not a cd, but I don’t think she was really listening.
 
Note from Rosie: I later realised that this was when I was in transition – the music sounded fragmented and just like when a cd skips. But then I realised people’s voices sounded like that too when they spoke. I remember Sallyann saying “you have every right to think that the music is skipping”. Acknowledging what I had said without agreeing!
 
One of the things that stood out for me was over-worrying about the temperature of the water. We had a thermometer in the water and it didn’t move much outside of the recommended temperature range (36-38°c). The midwife was quick to let me know if it needed topping up anyway.
 
It was great having Sallyann there as she provided support for us both. If I had to nip to the loo or make some food or drinks I knew that she was there with Rosie. And I think that for Rosie to have two people she could rely on was a great help.
 
I missed the 3rd stage, which I’m a bit gutted about. After Amelie was born it all went a bit too quick. I’d missed a conversation Rosie had with a midwife regarding the 3rd stage (even though we had it all written in the plan). Maybe we should have encouraged the second midwife to read the birth plan when she had arrived. I was handed Amelie to get dressed. I hadn’t dressed a baby for eight years, since my son was a baby. I’d forgotten what to do. So I was concentrating on doing this task whilst Rosie delivered the placenta after a few minutes of receiving the injection.
 
If I had that time over again I would have definitely recorded the actual birth, the moment where Amelie was born into the water. I’ll never forget the image of her floating under the water with her arms and legs sprawled out and her looking up at us all. She was only there for a few seconds, but it was the most beautiful few seconds of my life. One second just the two of us, and then a second later we had this beautiful little creature to spend the rest of our lives loving.
 
I am amazed by everything she does. How she knows how to feed; her tiny fingers and toes, even the pooey nappies. She is perfect. The whole birth was perfect. I am so proud of her and Rosie, they were a great team.
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Tips:
 
Pool – Don’t worry too much about the water. It keeps its heat for a long time. Ask the midwives to let you know when it needs topping up with hot water. When you’ve used one kettle full, fill it up and boil it again.
 
Towels – I know the old cliché of hot water and towels, but we went through ALL of our towels and had nothing to wrap Amelie in! (We had 10 months to prepare for this and we still weren’t ready).
 
Snacks – Make sure you have bread for toast and plenty of tea, coffee and milk.
 
Ice – Rosie went through a lot of ice during the labour (mainly whilst in the pool). She used it to keep cool on her body and to crunch on. Either get a bag of ice from Tesco’s or make sure you have plenty of ice cube trays (or disposable ones).
 
Midwives – Keep the Midwives at bay. I made sure that she knew where she could set-up her area. It was in another room away from Rosie. I kept the door between us closed as much as possible to keep down interruptions.
 
Visitors – We learnt the hard way that you MUST sleep when baby is sleeping, otherwise you’ll never catch up on your sleep. We had too many visitors in the first few days and were unable to do this.  Some people just turned up without being invited. Spread them out a bit over the second, third or fourth week, they’ll understand. You will never have this time together again, just the family getting to know the baby.
 
IPod – If you have an MP3 player I suggest you use it as it will save changing CD’s. You can choose the songs you want and the order they play in. If you can, connect the MP3 player to a speaker or Hi-Fi.

The birth of Amelie Daisy-May – by Sallyann Beresford (our doula)

Sallyann is an Antenatal Yoga and Birth Preparation teacher, a Doula and a Baby massage instructor. Her website is www.doulabirth.co.uk

Being chosen by a couple to attend the birth of their baby is a real privilege.

 
You hope that there will be plenty of time to get to know them before the birth, so that you can bond and develop a trusting relationship. It is always important to empower the couple to stand up for themselves on the day of the birth, as the doula role is one of support and comfort, rather than coaching and advice. 
 
Rosie spent a lot of time in the run up to her birth reading and researching, feeding her knowledge and interest in normality. For me it was really wonderful chatting with her about the best way to achieve the type of birth she was hoping for, as her wishes were clear, and she truly believed in her own ability to birth her baby naturally. Richard was fully supportive of Rosie’s wishes, and was keen to be very hands on, again for me this was a huge bonus, as he too believed in her, and was a positive influence.
 
When Rosie started to have contractions, at 43wks+2, Richard called me, and asked me to come over.  I arrived at about 3.40am, and as I walked in the door Rosie’s waters broke all over the floor!  Rosie had been told that she was 2cm dilated shortly before I had arrived, so it was difficult to know whether I should be encouraging Rosie to slow down, or speed up.  (In my experience this is an extremely delicate stage, where doing too much too soon can be exhausting, and the women can become very tired later on, when they need their energy the most.)
 
In the end, I left Rosie to go with her instincts, and you could see that the contractions were good and strong.  She walked around, listening to her music, and Richard and I took turns to rub her back and tell her how well she was doing.  The midwife kept out of the way during this time, leaving us to it, and only came into the room when it was time to examine Rosie.
 
This was really helpful. She followed our lead and respected Rosie’s need for quietness, so during this time nobody really spoke, unless prompted by Rosie. We were very much guided by her mood and what she wanted, offering her drinks and snacks at appropriate times. 
 
When the pool was being filled I was keen to get Rosie out of the way, as this can often be distracting, sometimes even slowing down labour.  I encouraged her to go upstairs, and offered her a massage.  She found it much more uncomfortable once up there, and I think climbing the stairs had brought on the contractions much more, making them a lot stronger. I tried to get her to lean over the pillows, but again I think instinctively Rosie knew that things were moving on, and she started to ask for some gas and air.  I told her that she was coping really well, and to keep going for a bit longer, which worked for a while.  Eventually Rosie found her voice, and said that she wanted the gas and air, so it was brought to her immediately. 
 
Shortly after, when the pool was ready, Rosie knew it was time for her to get in.  She was being guided by her body, and felt that the water would give her some relief. She loved the pool, and progressed beautifully, using the gas and air to take the edge off each contraction. 
 
Rosie benefited from sucking on ice during the labour, it was useful to cool her down, and also gave her something to focus on.  She was excellent at resting between contractions, which is very important to do if you can, in order to regain your strength before the next contraction.
 
She made some good noises when she felt the need, and really enjoyed working with her body to help her cervix dilate. There was a slight disruption to the quiet calm mood we had all created when the second midwife arrived. Rosie seemed to take this in her stride, and as best as she could, she blocked out the rest of the world, focusing on her breathing, and going into herself during the contractions.  She faced away from all the hustle and bustle of the midwives preparing the room for the arrival of the baby, and this was really helpful.
 
When Rosie was feeling some pushing urges, the midwife was keen to do an examination.  She found Rosie to be fully dilated and told Rosie she could continue to push if she wanted.  The second stage was about 40 minutes long, and Richard and I held Rosie’s hand and supported her as best as we could.  She was brilliant, and Amelie was born in to the water at 9.45am.
 
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Rosie’s pride in her own achievement is what inspires me to continue to work with women in this role.  It is incredible to visit them post-natally and watch them bond with their babies. We are still in regular contact, and I look forward to seeing pictures of Amelie change and develop. 
 
Being a Doula is likened to the role of mothering the mother (to be).  It is also an opportunity to make some wonderful lifetime friends!
 

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Amelie: 24 hours old
Richard’s parents lived in Cardiff, they had booked a holiday at around 42 weeks but they had to delay leaving as they wanted to meet our new baby before heading off. Here they are meeting their granddaughter for the first time. I love the look of pure joy on their faces.
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Why Cry?

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Illustration by June Kesner

I just thought I would share some information my Mum sent me today about the benefits of having a good old cry…..

Tissue anyone?

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“New York Times reporter Benedict Carey referred to tears in a recent piece as “emotional perspiration.” Given that I sweat a lot and hate deodorant, I suppose it makes sense that I weep often. But I’m not going to apologize for that, because after a good cry, I always feel cleansed, like my heart and mind just rubbed each other’s backs in a warm bath. In his intriguing article, “The Miracle of Tears” (answersingenesis.com), in which I found some of the research for this gallery, author Jerry Bergman writes: “Tears are just one of many miracles which work so well that we taken them for granted every day”. Here, then, are some ways tears and the phenomenon we call “crying” heal us physiologically, psychologically, and spiritually.

Biochemist William Frey, who has been researching tears for as long as I’ve been searching for sanity, found in one study that emotional tears —those formed in distress or grief—contained more toxic byproducts than tears of irritation (think onion peeling). Are tears toxic then? No! They actually remove toxins from our body that build up courtesy of stress. They are like a natural therapy or massage session, but they cost a lot less!

Do you know what your manganese level is? Neither do I. But chances are that you will feel better if it’s lower because overexposure to manganese can cause bad stuff: anxiety, nervousness, irritability, fatigue, aggression, emotional disturbance, and the rest of the feelings that live inside my head rent-free.The act of crying can actually lower a person’s manganese level. And just like with the toxins I mentioned in my last point, emotional tears contain 24 percent higher albumin protein concentration–responsible for transporting small (toxic) molecules–than irritation tears.

Tears really are like perspiration, in that exercising and crying both relieve stress. In his article, Bergman explains that tears remove some of the chemicals built up in the body from stress, like the endorphins leucine-enkaphalin and prolactin. The opposite is true too. Bergman writes, “Suppressing tears increases stress levels, and contributes to diseases aggravated by stress, such as high blood pressure, heart problems, and peptic ulcers.

In her “Science Digest” article, writer Ashley Montagu argued that crying not only contributes to good health, but it also builds community. As a prolific crier, I always come away astounded by the resounding support of people I know, and the level of intimacy exchanged among them. Tears help communication and foster community.

Even if you haven’t just been through something traumatic or are severely depressed, the average Joe goes through his day accumulating little conflicts and resentments. Sometimes they gather inside the limbic system of the brain and in certain corners of the heart. Crying is cathartic. It lets the devils out before they wreak all kind of havoc with the nervous and cardiovascular systems. As John Bradshaw writes in his bestseller “Home Coming,” “All these feelings need to be felt. We need to stomp and storm; to sob and cry; to perspire and tremble.”

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One of my favourite films is City of Angels (1998). In this quote Meg Ryan’s character Maggie, is trying to explain why humans cry, to the character Seth, played by Nicholas Cage, who is an angel on earth.

“Seth: Why do people cry?
Maggie: What do you mean?
Seth: I mean, what happens physically?
Maggie: Well… umm… tear ducts operate on a normal basis to lubricate and protect the eye and when you have an emotion they overact and create tears.
Seth: Why? Why do they overact?
Maggie: [pause] I don’t know.
Seth: Maybe… maybe emotion becomes so intense your body just can’t contain it. Your mind and your feelings become too powerful, and your body weeps.”

Check out these touching home videos of parents to be sharing their news with family members (and making them cry).

Finally, here is President Obama setting a great example for us all during a moving speech.
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Art is an insatiable need….

Following on from my last post – I invite you to watch this interview with Lady Gaga which explores the Jeff Koons cover of her new album ArtPop & what the definition of art is, for her.

“Today in the culture that we live in, there’s not a big difference between fast food and art.

One mans art is another mans trash.
These things are interchangeable.

Maybe perhaps because of our cellphones; if you can take a picture or do a performance or play a song, you can post it on the internet & get peoples attention; if you have people’s attention this is art. But this is not art.

Art requires a discipline.
Art requires a talent.
Art requires a passion and desire to make a statement that is aruded in a revolution.

An insatiable need to make a statement about something you believe is a connection to something higher, a spiritual connection.”

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Art is….

What is art? What defines an artist? How much confidence do you need to own the title & feel rewarded or relevant?

Hubby is an artist; a digital artist, illustrator & graphic designer, also trying out ideas using wood, paint, canvass prints, and other mediums. His facebook page is the medium he uses most to get the word out.

Here are a few of my favourites;20131102-223143.jpg

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Steiner suggested that art is a vehicle for spiritual expression & that the art one produces had implications beyond oneself.

I’m reading Art As a Spiritual Activity: Rudolf Steiner’s contribution to the Visual Arts (M. Howard, Ed.)

Marina Abramovic is my favourite performance artist of all time. She has defined what art is for over forty years. If you haven’t already seen it watch the documentary about her exhibition at MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) called The Artist is Present.

Enjoy and have a great weekend 🙂

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Katie’s Birth Story: Letting Go

Thankyou for checking out my blog.
This post is one which I’ve written as the first of a few exploring our birth & breastfeeding experiences.
I think this is closely linked to our parenting style & our decision to peruse a Steiner Warldorf education for our daughter. This is the story of my first experience of being a mother, this is Katie’s story.
It’s a long one, and you may need tissues.
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When I was nineteen I was living in Nottingham. I was working full-time in an office. I had been with my partner for three months and was renting a room from a friend. I decided to visit an NHS drop in centre as I noticed my dates were out. They did the pregnancy test and told me it was positive. The nurse bluntly asked ‘are you going to keep it?’ I knew then that I was going to have this baby even if the situation wasn’t ‘perfect’ by traditional standards. ‘Yes’ I said, as I stood up, and walked out, holding my head high.
I came home and told my partner that afternoon. His four year old daughter was in the next room. She & I adored each other, she was a very special little girl who we later found out was autistic. She had been an unexpected gift; my partner & his ex split when she was only a few months old. I knew he had found it hard receiving the news about the pregnancy, and I was worried how he would handle it this time. He seemed to take it well, I was surprised, and pleased.
The flat he was renting was not very homely. My Father kindly put a deposit down on a house for us, and by the time October came we were living in our newly renovated 3 bedroom corner house in a beautiful quiet area of Nottingham right by the River Trent & its Victoria Embankment. We had plenty of room for his daughter to come and stay, and a blank canvass that we could decorate and make our own. I loved being pregnant and was very excited when I started to feel flutterings in my tummy at the bus stop. I loved seeing my bump gradually expanding.
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20 weeks
At my 20 week scan I was told that some sacks of fluid on our baby’s brain had been spotted. These were called ‘ascities’ and on their own did not pose a problem to our baby, and often reduced & disappeared during pregnancy. But they sometimes act as a marker pointing to a larger problem, so it was decided they would monitor us a little more closely.
21 weeks
I had an amniocentesis because they thought that our daughter might have Downs Syndrome and wanted a clearer picture of what medical condition she may have. By taking a sample of the fluid around the baby and testing it they could get a better idea of any additional needs she might have. It was a scary procedure but my Mum held my hand and I kept my eyes closed the whole time. I rested in a hospital room afterwards for a while. As I was tightening and tidying my pigtails in the mirror, my Mum told me she knew I was going to be a wonderful mother.
The results from the tests came back clear for Downs and everything else that they had tested for, but they decided to keep a close eye on me and do regular scans; the sacks of fluid which were still present. Katie was measuring large for her dates, and we were told that there was a possibility that she had a form of giganticism. We spent some time researching the condition in the parents’ medical library in the hospital. I contacted an on-line support group for families with rare conditions and one called ARC (Antenatal Results & Choices), which supports parents during and after the antenatal testing process.
We felt that the outlook was still good for our baby, although gigantisicm would mean she might be affected by having a large tongue. This would need to be operated on shortly after birth, as it would affect feeding and speech. She had a family who was willing and able to support her and advocate for her despite her disability. Gigantisicm also meant that she would be much larger than her peers for the whole of her childhood, but that only after puberty would she appear to be the same size as others her own age.
26 weeks
We had lots more scans but at the 26 week scan they saw that Katie’s measurements were not only large for her but also that she was carrying fluid around her tummy, and had the appearance of having a ‘pot belly’. I did not have an understanding of the implications of this. I called my mother whilst waiting for the bus home. She offered to attend the next scan with me. As a nurse she has considerable medical knowledge and I imagine she must have been concerned, maybe I was still blissfully ignorant.
I got on the bus to get to work one morning & the driver asked when I was due to give birth. I said that I was 27 weeks and she was very shocked. She asked if I was having twins. I now realise that I was naive to how big my bump actually was, as this was my first pregnancy and I did not know anyone who was pregnant to compare myself to. None of my friends had had babies yet so it really was the unknown for me.
At 27 weeks I had a scan with Mum and my partner present. It was in a detailed scan room. They could see everything from the blood pumping in and out of her heart, as well as the fluid around her tummy in great detail.
A geneticist from the other hospital in the city had come over to observe the scan. Along with my obstetrician and the sonographer, the room was full and warm. My bladder was full and I remember feeling sick, wishing they would hurry up. The room was silent during the scan, it felt as though they were worried, and therefore so was I.
After the scan we were led into a small waiting room. We were told by the consultant that my baby was ‘incompatible with life’.
Katie had suspected Perlman Familial Nephroblastomatosis Syndrome, one symptom of which is Wilms Tumour; a children’s cancer of the kidney. Perlman Syndrome is a cause of enlarged, hyperechogenic kidneys. It is a rare overgrowth syndrome and is inherited and carried chromosonally. The prognosis was not good; research informed us that children with Perlman Syndrome who did not have the Wilms Tumour lived to no longer than eight years before developing it. However the scan had showed that Katie had already got Wilms Tumour growing within her kidney.
The options presented to us were;
a) to continue the pregnancy. There was a risk I could go into labour at any point as her large for dates size meant that she would be the size of a full term babe within weeks and the extra fluid was heavy too. We did not know if she would survive the labour, and if she did, we did not know how long she would be able to live outside of the womb.
b) to end the pregnancy by a process called feotocide. This involved a similar process to the amino I had previously had to collect fluid; only instead of doing that, a needle would be inserted directly into my baby’s heart & a dose of acid would used to end her life. I would then be chemically induced and I would labour and she would be stillborn.
I felt shocked at being asked if I wanted to end the pregnancy. I decided to continue. I was numb. I remember standing in the hospital car park waiting for my mother to bring the car to us. By now I was very big and had trouble walking long distances. I did not know it at the time but she drove round the car park a few times, as she was trying to compose herself before I got in the car.
We went to stay with my mother, which was an hour away. I wanted to talk to someone who had been through something similar, but I couldn’t because it was only the eighth recorded case worldwide.
I was told there may have been other cases that had not been documented though. The eldest that a child with Perlman had ever lived was until the age of eight. However that child had not had the kidney tumour until they were seven. Our baby had already got the tumour and she hadn’t even been born yet.
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I didn’t sleep for four days. Katie was big for her dates and I also had large amounts of amniotic fluid so, along with the fact that I was overweight as well, my appearance was of someone who was full term. I ended up staying in the house because if I went out, people in the street would remark how big my bump was, and well-meaningly ask when I was due to have my baby.
After four days and nights with no sleep I went to see my mother’s GP to ask for some sleeping tablets. She quickly and silently wrote out the prescription after my partner explained the situation.I am amazed that he managed to get the words out. There was nothing she could say, and nothing we could do.

Once I had got some sleep I realised that something had to change, as my mental health was deteriorating. I made the agonising decision to end our much wanted unplanned pregnancy although it felt as though there was no choice at all.Knowing she was going to leave us was heart breaking. But having some say over how this happened gave me some hope that I could one day heal from this.

I was told that because we were nearly at 28 weeks, my only option was to opt for foeticide, induction, labour and (still)birth. I knew that I could not go on, but also felt with every fibre of my body that this was inconceivable.
I asked my obstetrician to give me a general anaesthetic and then perform the foeticide and a caesarean section while I was asleep.He said no because the risks of major abdominal surgery to the mother were not justifiable considering that our baby was not going to survive, and the physical recovery period would be longer.

I started looking for private healthcare elsewhere. I just could not understand how I would be able to keep still (or sane) whilst seeing them insert a needle into my baby’s heart on the screen.
I imagined myself turning into a wild banshee woman, trashing the hospital equipment and tearing my own hair out. I had many nightmares about this. The image of this happening was torturous to me and the true horror of the situation slowly began to sink in.
One private hospital I phoned told me to speak to a certain doctor because he was the expert in the field. ‘He is my obstetrician’ I said flatly.I felt as though I had hit another brick wall, but within a few hours he was calling me, and the message had obviously got back to him that I was seeking alternative care.

He reluctantly agreed to do what I was asking if I signed something to say that I understood the risks to my own health.
 
28 weeks and 2 days
11th December 2000
The last night before the operation was awful. I laid in bed with  my partner spooned up behind me. He held his hands on my tummy and we felt Katie kicking all night long.
It was a toxic mix of joy of her creation & gratitude from feeling her moving, and of desolation and desperation at the thought of having to say goodbye forever. I didn’t want to miss one minute of her short existence so felt reluctant to sleep, but I was distraught and distressed every moment that I was awake.
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[One of my favourite movies is called Magnolia. This film is a mosaic of inter relating characters exploring various rich & intense life experiences in search of happiness, forgiveness, and meaning. The only way I can describe the days between her diagnosis and losing Katie, are akin to how this movie made me feel. It takes you right to the heart of pain and sorrow, and holds you there.]
28 weeks and 3 days
12th December 2000
The next morning I went into auto-pilot and became emotionless. It was as though someone had scraped away at my heart with a spoon, leaving just the cavity and a true feeling of emptiness that I had never experienced before.
On the morning of the operation we made the one hour journey back to Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham. The team had been informed why we were there and everyone was so nice to us.
We were given a ‘quiet room’ which was like a hotel room but with a button on the wall to buzz for staff. This was the room they gave to ladies whose babies had died. But mine was still kicking very hard and very strong.
I was given a gown which I was asked to put on before walking to theatre. My back and bottom were totally exposed because my bump was so huge. My partner knelt down on the floor and kissed my belly and said goodbye. I could not react to his words but only stared whilst he said his farewell. My Mum walked with me to the theatre and held a second gown over my back to protect my modesty.
She was told that this was as far as she could go and I walked the final few meters to the theatre with a fully gowned nurse. The operating theatre was shiny and bright. I was asked to lay on the bed, but I could not get up onto it.
I thought I was going to go into a pre-op room but instead I had been walked straight into the actual theatre.There were at least six people fully masked and gowned with only eyes showing. I recognised the eyes of the consultant only because of his glasses.

This was the operating table on which my baby girl was going to die, and then be cut from my body. There was no sense of celebration in having got the consultant to change his mind to do things way.
[I imagined that this might be what it would feel like had I been walking to my own execution. Morbid I know, but not all feelings or experiences are rosy, and that alone is no reason to silence oneself.]
They found a step for me. I heaved my huge eighteen stone frame on to the bed.Seven masked faces filled my view of the room. My obstetrician told me that they were going to tilt the bed to take the pressure off my uterus. The irony, any discomfort I felt was surely deserved, or had not registered as even being a feeling in the numbness which had set in.

A general anaesthetic was delivered through a cannular in my hand, and I was asked to count to ten.All I was thinking was ‘what would happen now if I just run for my life?’

I don’t remember anything else.

Katie was stillborn at 4.08pm, at 28 weeks and 3 days by caesarean section whilst I was under a general anaesthetic. She weighed 3lbs 8oz.

When I woke up she was gone and I was empty.

[Again I refer to film in reference to what this was like for me. Ever seen Kill Bill? That scene where Uma Therman’s character wakes up from a coma to find her body is not pregnant anymore….yes that’s about the long as the short of it.]

 
The first thing I saw when I woke was my mothers face. She was reassuring me and explaining where I was. I was in so much pain but was so hazy that I didn’t register it as pain.
The sensation of having had my abdomen sliced open was starting to register and I was in agony. I was given some morphine on a drip and the next eight hours are a blur of pain and drugs. My Mum didn’t leave my bedside. I wished I could have stayed on morphine for much longer than so was allowed.The numbness which had ensued my compliance in those moments before the anaesthetic had left me. Mum dozed next to me as I slept and gave me water through a straw when I woke.

I remember waking at one point, to find my Dad in the room. This was a surprise for me as he was having some serious health problems. I wished at the time I could have supported him through that but I could not focus on anything at this stage except just getting through the next moment.It meant so much to me that he was there, but I couldn’t say it out loud. Even breathing was agony.

Shortly after, I was handed a polaroid photograph of my baby.
The picture was of very bad quality and the flash on the camera made Katie’s appearance seem like she had grey skin and lots of black bruising on her head.
I sobbed in my hospital bed, with my Dad and one of my brothers stood there silently not knowing what to do or say. This moment seemed to last for hours.My Mum rushed in from the next room and comforted me, and put the picture in an envelope.

It was a humbling experience being nursed, and by my own mother too. I was a small child again and she no doubt experienced a cocktail of emotions. She was my rock, and I clung to her dearly for my life.
After one night in the recovery room I was moved into the quiet room which was more homely and I started to feel a little less hazy, probably because they took the morphine away.
On the first day after the operation I had to attempt walking. Having been so used to being able to walk my whole life since the day I took my first steps, this was frustrating, humbling, and I was determined to heal and grow stronger.
That day I had a shower. Many of my memories from this time are somatic in that my body remembers the sensations associated with certain events. If my body could have screamed it would.Standing in the warm water with the door ajar incase I needed my mother to help me, I could feel the scratchy uncomfortable feeling of the hard black stiches against my sad post partum sagging skin, whilst the cool draft from the open door hit my back in waves. The body remembers.

[Note: Twelve years later I discovered meditation.  Yoga nidra is a guided meditation which requires the individual to move the focus of their attention to parts of the body in order to focus the mind and create stillness. During a yoga nidra session I found that when we were asked to focus all of our attention on certain parts of the body, the ones that remembered this trauma were very difficult to move on from. As I focused on the back of the right hand I felt the dull ache of the canula which had remained in my vein for 48 hours. When asked to focus on the abdomen it was not the inhalation & exhalation I focused on but the gut wrenching ache of my scar throbbing as if to say ‘hear me’.]
I experienced chronic dizziness, and at one point I opened my eyes to find at four men in white coats standing round my bed. I had double vision, and could hear my Mum talking and them replying to her, but what they were saying was not clear. I closed my eyes again and passed out. I had been offered a blood transfusion because I had lost a lot of blood. I had the option to take iron tablets for a few months instead if I wanted. I went for the latter.
I had not seen Katie yet, when the following day my obstetrician came and sat on my bed. He asked if I had seen my baby yet, or seen her tummy, to which I replied ‘no’.
He talked about how they had seen the tumour on the scan and said that her kidneys were ‘massive’. Then he walked away.
I was so angry at him that I asked for Katie to be brought into my room. I undressed her blankets and looked at her. She was naked on my bed, and she was beautiful.
Her tummy did indeed have the appearance of a pot belly, and she had a small ring of bruising around her tummy button where her umbilical cord still sat. I am so glad that I did this because his description of her, and the polaroid picture did just not do her beauty justice. I guess this was one of the first times I ever faced my fears.
I later made a written complaint about his manner because it was not the first time that he could have been more sensitive. He did reply to my complaint but never apologised for what he said.
I did not pick Katie up because I was afraid that I would damage her delicate frame. I regularly had her laid out on my bed in her blankets so I could inspect her features and take her all in. I would stroke her face and touch her thin blonde eyebrows soaking up each previous moment. Every feature was perfect from her long eyelashes right down to tiny toe nails. I was a mother.
My partners mother came to see her, and in quiet awe we sat, as she touched her hands and stroked her face too. We were in the presence of greatness and tragedy all at once.
I regularly asked everyone to leave the room, and when I was alone I would kneel on the floor with my head in my hands and sob loudly for a long time. The grief came in waves, every day the gaps between these crying outbursts became a little longer.
I spent five days with Katie in hospital before her funeral. She was kept in a freezer room opposite my room. When I buzzed the midwife, she would bring Katie to me in a Moses basket. She was wrapped in a blanket. I never dressed her.
My best friend came to stay with me in hospital. She slept on the sofa bed in my room and helped me to get up to go to the toilet in the night.One day we ordered pizza to the front door of the hospital, and she wheeled me to the main entrance in my dressing gown to collect our dinner. It was fun being with her there and I needed someone who could be sad with me but who could also lift my spirits.

I couldn’t bring myself to take photographs especially after the traumatic experience if being handed the first polaroid. However my Mum did and I’m so glad now that she did. She now has one A4 size framed photo of her, sitting holding Katie in her arms and looking at her. She described how she felt the grace of God guide her through that time as she was very calm and collected almost all the time.
The hospital chaplain blessed Katie in my room with my mother and my partner present. It was short and sweet and I was appreciative of the sensitivity and compassion that the Chaplains & nursing staff showed me.
On day five after Katie was born, she was moved down to the hospital morgue where she was collected by the funeral directors affiliated with the hospital. I left hospital that day and we visited her a few days later at the funeral directors, before her funeral and cremation a few days before Christmas. I knew she was gone but knowing where she was and whom she was with at all times became immeasurably important.She was still as gorgeous as ever, but her skin was darker and the delicate shape of her head had changed, mainly because the plates that formed her skull were so soft and had sunk just a little. Her coffin was white with a gold plaque in the lid with her name and date of birth engraved on it, I stroked her face and button nose once more before saying a final goodbye.

The tiny chapel was not very full. I didn’t want many people there. As the hearse arrived at the crematorium chapel the funeral director asked my partner if we wanted to carry the coffin ourselves. This was unexpected, and threw us a bit, as we were just trying to imagine ourselves making it through the service.I had my close family, my older brother and my partners’ parents. My partner read out a poem and the vicar read out a few pieces too. It was very surreal.

We stayed with Mum for Christmas. We did the best we could at the time, wore paper hats out of crackers, ate a roast cooked by my Mum, and observed other typical seasonal traditions.
My mothers parents visited us in-between Christmas and New Year. My Granny said that they were sure that I had done the right thing in following my instincts and that I’d had no choice. It took me a long time before I was eventually able to think about Katie without feeling hugely guilty so my Granny’s gently spoken words and Grandpa’s tight bear hugs meant so much and still do.
A local midwife visited me at home for a check up as my wound had become infected. That in itself was such a sadness having to explain what had happened, as I had no notes and my green pregnancy book was not given back to me by the hospital.
I remember feeling sad that the needle mark on my belly where the injection had been administered had healed, and the pin sized tiny scab had disappeared. Eventually I came to love my c-section scar because it was one of very few things that remained to remind me that Katie was real.
We went home in January after New Year once my c-section scar had healed some more. I had a tiny wooden urn made for her ashes but it turned out to be too small and I ended up buying an adult sized wooden cube instead.
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I later had a beautiful pencil portrait of Katie commissioned by a wonderful artist named Heather Spears.
When I later married, having separated from my partner a few months after I lost Katie, I wore babyloss awareness ribbons in her memory and invited my loved one to do the same.
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On the first anniversary of her passing we released thirty three pink and white balloons at Victoria Embankment, each with a message from friends and family who had felt able to contribute. Some had written to us, others directly to Katie, and some offered simply their favourite poem or a reassuring verse.It was one of the first times I witnessed my parents actually speaking since they separated when I was ten years old. I felt intense gratitude for this blessing.

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Every year since, I have released balloons and had a cake made. One year I visited some old school friends in Portsmouth, another year I simply lit sparklers in the garden.SANDS is a charity (Stillbirth & Neonatal Death Society) that supports family members living with the loss of a baby. At Christmas we attends SANDS Christmas Remembrance Services and hang Katie’s bauble on their Christmas tree alongside all the other decorations, each one representing a little soul.

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Other touching memories include receiving small laminated colour copies of the few photos I had of Katie, from a dear friend in Manchester, these were the days before I owned a photo printer & laminator myself. I remember wearing a SANDS pin on my coat and being spotted by another SANDS Mum. Neither of us with children in tie she approached me at a train station, pointed to my pin, said ‘I have one of those’, smiled, squeezed my arm & went on her way.
I have reflected on the healing and growth of self that occurred as a result of being Katie’s mother. I take responsibility for the decisions I made, and have been able to find some peace about what happened.
This is partly due to the amazing support I received from my own mother, and my support network of friends and other relatives.
But mainly this is because of Amelie.
Check out this Goyte Video for song called Bronte – love this animation and the dreamy letting go lyrics
“Now your bowl is empty
And your feet are cold
And your body cannot stop rocking
I know it hurts to let go
Since the day we found you
You have been a friend
And your voice still echoes
In the hallways of this house
But now it’s the end
We will be with you
When you’re leaving
We will be with you
When you go
We will be with you
And hold you till you’re quiet
It hurts to let you go
We will be with you (No)
We will be with you (Oh)
We will be with you (Oh, no)
You will stay with us”

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Here’s a comment my Mum sent me when she had read my post;
“I also remember that you were worried that when Katie was born you would be unconscious and there would be no one there to hold her. Do you remember that we agreed I would be in the next room and hold her for you? I wanted to see her and hold her, so I did, and she was so pretty, pink and warm to hold just after she was born, I loved her instantly.

The next day, I held her again. I remember how hot it was in your little room, the heating was turned up high and there was no way to adjust it, the windows only opened a crack, and you wanted the door closed for privacy. It was sweltering and I was so hot and uncomfortable. When I picked her up I remember how cold she was, it was like a very special gift she gave me, she cooled me down and I held her close to me as we had this exchange of love and warmth. I held my face against her face and she gave me this extraordinary coolness and sense of peace, and a sense of quiet. It was what Granny used to call ‘a moment out of time’. There was no time, no room, no pain, no distress, nothing, just me and her, together in the whole of space and eternity where nothing could harm us. Everything else had fallen away. When I think of her now I get this wonderful feeling back, I remember her at other difficult times on my life, and she still cools me and calms me.

There cannot be anything much worse than losing a child as a baby, or, worse than standing by watching your daughter lose her baby, when there is nothing to do but stand and stand fast and then stand fast again. I love you so much Rosie, you are a beautiful shining star in my night sky. You are my river in a time of drought. Love and hugs and then some more, Mum xxx “

Posted in Birth, Education, Parenting & Family, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Knitting Nuts

20131031-005933.jpgHere’s a little needle case I made tonight.

I knitted a scarf until I became impatient & decided I would use it for something else.
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I had better get to bed…. a whole day if playing tomorrow to look forward to 😀
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Posted in Art, craft, Education, food, needle felting, Parenting & Family, Steiner, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do What You Love

20131026-183718.jpgOk so I’m no Whitney Houston, but I love love love singing.

I sing when I’m cooking, washing up, in the shower (although these performances have been a little short of late due to a pesky leak through the kitchen ceiling), I sing when I’m sad, when I’m happy, when I’m driving, nervous, worried, relaxed, in labour, and doing may other things.

My first social work placement was as a key worker at a shared housing project for people with and recovering from mental health problems. As it was recovery focused the activities I would support them with were based on doing things that they enjoyed. For weeks I had one jamming session a week with one of the residents. He played and I sang. We did Alanis Morissette, Tracy Chapman, Sheryl Crow, Extreme, The Levellers and lots of other faves.

I seem to have passed this joy of singing on to our daughter, and she recently told me I was not allowed to sing when she was in the house, only hum … because ‘I feel jealous when you sing because it sounds so nice’.

I wrote this song when I was sixteen.

I must start playing again more often for pleasure & figure out where my closest open mic night is 🙂

Do just do what you love, even if you are crap at it. You never know if might prompt someone else to do something they love too.

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Posted in Art, craft, Education, food, needle felting, Parenting & Family, Steiner, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments