We met Corina at an expectant parents’ event in Mothercare when Katie was just a few weeks pregnant. She was there to offer some free advice to the expectant mothers and fathers, and we had plenty of questions to ask! From the moment we met Corina we felt she had a bond with Katie, and I remember how reassuring she was, touching Katie’s arm and offering some words of comfort. We went away from that event with a leaflet about Neighbourhood Midwives, and soon started to think about hiring Corina as an independent midwife for the birth of our first child. We were anxious about pregnancy and birth, having had some issues the year before, and we felt it would be hugely beneficial for us to have the continuity of care and personal relationship that unfortunately isn’t always available through the NHS.
Over the months leading upto the birth of our baby, we had regular home visits from Corina and her colleague, Cheryl. They performed a series of medical checks at each visit, which were really reassuring. Perhaps even more reassuringly, they were always there to have a general chat, talk about how we were feeling and any concerns we had, and they never seemed to be in a rush. We felt that we got to know Corina and Cheryl really well, so when the time came for the baby to arrive it felt like having friends in the room.
We didn’t plan on having a home birth at first, as we were nervous about not being in a hospital environment. However, as the time went on, we became more comfortable and knowledgeable about birth, and soon we found ourselves feeling confident about having a natural home birth with Corina and Cheryl.
Our birth journey started 5 days before our son was due when there was a bit of bleeding when Katie went to the toilet. We called Corina straight away to ask for some advice and it was great to hear a calm and experienced voice on the phone.
Katie spent the next day relaxing and having contractions. At 11pm that night we went to bed again but Katie couldn’t sleep as the contractions were now fairly intense and regular. At 3am on Sunday morning we gave up on sleeping and moved downstairs again. The contractions continued to build until about 7am, when I estimated that they were close to 3 in every 10 minutes.
I called Corina and she arrived at 9am and spent a couple of hours sitting with Katie and performing a few checks. She timed the contractions but decided that Katie was not fully into advanced labour yet, and that it might still be some time (this was our first baby). She left at 11am and we said we’d call if anything changed.
The next couple of hours flew by as Katie seemed to be entering “the zone”. She sat on the edge of our bed and had contractions so regularly that she struggled to change position, stand up or do anything else in between them. She seemed very focussed. At around 1pm Katie said she felt an urge to bear down. I called Corina again and she was back with us 10 minutes later. She decided to do an internal examination of Katie, so I waited downstairs nervously. After a few minutes Corina came downstairs and said Katie was 6cm dilated, and that I’d better start filling the birthing pool! A quick call to Cheryl and she was also with us 30 minutes later.
Katie was amazing throughout the labour, hardly complaining at all, and not using any pain relief. She later attributed this incredible achievement to feeling relaxed and at home in her own space, with people that she knew. Cheryl and Corina had gas & air with them just in case, but Katie said that the warm water was a huge relief on its own.
Our baby boy arrived in the world at 7:21pm on Sunday. Katie lifted him out of the water and put him on her chest straight away. His breathing was a bit ragged, which terrified Rowan at first, but Cheryl explained that he was just a bit “shocked” by his arrival – which is not unusual. After a bit of help from Corina and Cheryl, his breathing picked up nicely and he “pinked up”. He sat with his mum in the pool and Corina and Cheryl helped him to do some early breast feeding. Katie looked at him and knew right away that his name was James. I couldn’t help crying. I think it was a mixture of exhaustion, happiness and relief that everyone was OK.
Unfortunately the placenta didn’t come out straight away, and there was some bleeding. Cheryl and Corina were amazingly professional and competent. They administered an oxytocin injection and helped the placenta to come free, before stopping the bleeding. We remember being impressed by how efficiently something like that could be done in a home environment!
The next couple of weeks were hard for us. The birth had taken its toll on Katie’s body and James had a little jaundice (very common in winter babies). Typically, breastfeeding was difficult to get going. We were classic anxious parents – we still are – and found the period very difficult. However, we couldn’t have got through it without Corina. She came to our house every day for a week after the birth, helping us with breastfeeding, talking through our worries, and checking James’ development. She never rushed, and always gave excellent advice.
James is now nearly 5 months old now and he’s amazing. We’re so in love with him and he’s a genuine joy to have. I can’t imagine life without him and I’m the proudest dad in the world. It turns out I love babies now, and I go around admiring other people’s in Waitrose. Maybe that’s weird but I don’t care. We’re grateful for all the help we received from Corina and Cheryl and they’ll be the first people we call if we ever decide to do this all again!
Rowan, Katie and James.