Before I picked up the phone to make first contact with midwife Eleanor my husband and I had been feeling trapped into a choosing a birth that would be heavily influenced by a hospital’s biomedical model of childcare and clinical guidelines where my pregnancy was falling outside of the low risk “normal”. I rang to ask her opinion on my situation, not knowing how much choice still lay in our hands. Something “clicked” as we spoke and I realised she would be the right person to support our decisions about delivery of our third child, that she was knowledgable, professional and most importantly highly dedicated and experienced enough to deal with our wish for an active or home birth if our own instincts led us to that decision.
We did not even need one night to consider whether or not to book neighbourhood midwife Eleanor…we just knew that if we could afford it it would be the best thing to do. I used a modest sum left to me by my late uncle to pay for the care (which is mainly to cover insurance) as I thought it would be an amazing legacy in his memory to support the new nephew he’d never met.
I had plenty of appointments, contact and support from Eleanor even with the short notice (approx. 5 weeks before arrival) we’d given her to help organise the birth. I had a few anxieties, medical issues and early labour pains in the weeks building up to the delivery and Eleanor was there and supporting us throughout.
When the day came ( I wasn’t sure even after 2 children if I was really in labour or not until the contractions came 3 minutes apart while I was chopping up vegetables for the other childrens’ tea). Eleanor was very calm and practical and arrived at our home around 6pm. My labour was active, easy and manageable as Eleanor prepared the room where I hoped to give birth. My husband put my other children to bed and Eleanor encouraged me to get off my birth ball and walk around to get the labour progressing. I felt completely at ease to be myself and felt safe to be at home with a midwife. My husband returned to help apply pressure and massage to my back as I went into “labour land” and just a matter of minutes before the birth a second midwife Liz Nightingle arrived to help Eleanor. I thought I would want gas and air but my body spontaneously started the next stage and I felt the urge to push before I could even ask for extra pain relief. I knelt down on my yoga mat supporting myself over our bed and within a few pushes including my waters breaking my beautiful chubby child was born less than two hours after active labour had begun. I was so happy that the pain and the wait was over I sang a lullaby to our baby that was actually a Tibetan Buddhist prayer I have known since childhood that my other boys still love.
A few hours later, all was well and the midwives went home. Our two other boys were still sound asleep, my room was clean and tidy and for the first time ever we were at home with our new baby and no transfer to hospital was needed. It was quiet and magical. We named the baby boy Arthur Oakley. Our oldest, five year old son chose the baby’s middle name as he was born in our cottage where there is a view of an Oak Tree. A week later we planted a tree to celebrate his birth.
The biggest gift you can give a child is a loving family and neighbourhood midwives worked with that principle and supported all of us. I would not hesitate to recommend them.