How I felt then is not necessarily how I feel now that I’m going through it again. (Or Why Independent Midwifery needs to be Protected.)

(NOTE – The following post contains two birth stories, and opinions about birth. Compared to many of my usual posts it’s massively TLDR. It is not meant to offend anyone.)

Government Petition to Save Independent Midwifery – here.

If you are (or want to be) a member of 38 Degrees, please consider voting for Independent Midwifery as a campaign – here.

I can’t write about Independent Midwives without crying.

(Maybe it’s because I’m at 37 weeks and all the emotions are everwhere? Maybe it’s because I can’t imagine how I would be having this child without them?)

I can’t write about Independent Midwives without assuming that some of you reading this are rolling your eyes and thinks ‘well it’s ok for *her*! She probably has tons of money if she’s off hiring Independent Midwives’. (I don’t. We don’t. We have held off having work done to our house, we don’t go on holiday, we don’t go out, we don’t run a car.)

This is me two years ago yesterday
(Me, 27 days before I gave birth to FB)

FB’s birth was hard – I didn’t realise how hard until I was pregnant with LR and it all came flooding back, all those things I had squashed to the back of my mind, because my priority from the moment he was born was to get FB feeding (which took about 9 weeks) and learn how to be a parent of this tiny child.

I was convinced that my body didn’t work, I was still bewildered from the fact that – while in hospital – multiple medics of one sort or another had ‘joked’ that maybe I didn’t have a cervix. (After the birth my GP agreed to give me a extra smear just to prove that actually I did have one – turns out when you have contractions for days that don’t go anywhere because you’ve had a giant bladder infection that everyone thinks is pre-eclampsia, and thus you are massively sleep deprived, you start believing everything that qualified people in white coats tell you, even when you know they must be preposterous.)

I met my midwife (the wonderful Liz) through a local sling meet when I was 16 weeks pregnant with LR, nosing around for a newborn sling that wasn’t a baby bjorn. Initially I wanted to know if it was possible to do some sort of debrief of my first birth (because already – as I said – I was starting to feel the ‘omg I want this child so much but I don’t think I can do this again’). I went off and got all my paperwork from the hospital and we sat down about 6 weeks later to go through what happened.

And I learnt some surprising things. Like that when I was induced there was a 47% I was going to end up with a c-section. (No one had told me this.) Or that when I was being told to stop making so much noise they were writing in my notes that I was at risk of a ruptured uterus and needed to be monitored. (Yeah no one told me that either.)

I still think about FB’s birth – in the end I was given meptid, induced up to my eye balls and got to crowning without (more) added interventions (at which point I was exhausted and had pushed for 2 hours, and agreed to a kiwi ventouse to get him out that last little way.)  I still wonder if things could have been different? How they could have been different? Beyond not getting my first ever bladder infection just days before I gave birth for the first time. I still don’t know. It was what it was, but it’s taken a lot of work and time to get to feeling like that. And I’d still like to kick the people who thought they were being funny, when it was the very last thing I needed.

I'm only putting this photo up so you can see how huge the bump has become.
(Me, 33 days before I gave birth to LR)

Back to independent midwives – Liz helped me unpack my head for the rest of the pregnancy. Her care was superb and FB (then 2) thought she was wonderful and was a little midwife in training. And a few days after my due date I gave birth to LR, all 10lb 1oz of her, at home. Which not to say it wasn’t an eventful birth – there was a cervical lip to be negotiated, and I pushed for three hours (only to find that she was as big as she was and had a hand beside her face!) But I felt safe and protected and trusted Liz implicitly.

And – at a time when local NHS care has been reduced to one post partum visit – Liz continued to see us for about six weeks after the birth on a gradually reducing timetable that left me feeling incredibly supported (extremely helpful when our families were so far away from us.)

After that, there was no doubt it either my mind or W’s that if were doing to have the third child we hoped to have, Liz would be part of the equation.

36 weeks
(Me. About a week ago. Wow I look so tired in all these photos.)

What has surprised me about this pregnancy is how much I have still had to unpack. At around 30 weeks (just before Christmas) I suddenly became terrified of the pushing stage. I had worked so hard and for so long last time that it had felt endless and I had felt completely removed from what was actually happening. I hadn’t realised any of that was the case until I came closed to the time when I would have to do it again. I realised that during LR’s birth, I had jumped on the urge to push and pushed like someone was coaching the hell out of me (even though they weren’t. I thought that’s what you did.) I’m still not sure if that made life harder for me. But after a ton of reading (again) and talking, I’m starting to see that there are things I can explore when the time comes. That there are processes that I can work with rather than stomp over.  I’m still jealous of the women who make tiny babies and push them out with two pushes but I’m beginning to accept (all over again) that I’m not one of them.

Could I have done this work without an Independent Midwife? I’m not sure. There isn’t much continuity of care in our local area and I found not being able to talk to my community midwife after FB’s birth upsetting and confusing. Certainly I wouldn’t have the option (as a have right now) to be birthing while being cared for by someone who knows me and has already seen me birth before, and therefore knows what’s normal and what’s normal for me in particular.

I definitely think – when seeing LR’s birth on paper, particularly the final hour, (though her heart rate was superb all the way through) – that I would have ended up with some sort of major intervention if I’d have birthed her at the hospital. Liz and I both guess forceps. (I have a lot of friends who had major interventions with their second births in hospital, not just their first.)

So now I’m 37 weeks pregnant, uncomfortable and frankly ready to be done, and feeling heartbroken because if things don’t change quickly, Independent Midwives will lose their right to practice this coming October. Women who want to birth outside of the medical system (or as outside as they safely can be) or who want to ensure they get the post partum care they need for their own recovery, will have run out of options. Women with PTSD from previous births will have fewer places to turn, and midwives who have real experience of non-medicalised birth, breech birth and natural twin births will be suddenly far fewer in number, and those skills could well disappear.

I am a huge supporter of the NHS, and I am grateful that there are procedures available to protect seriously at risk women and their babies, or women and their babies, when something goes wrong. But for many, for most, birth is not a sickness. It is not something to be cured. And those births can only be understood by being experienced in their natural state, over and over again. Till they feel as normal as they actually are (or could be.) This is what Independent Midwives do.

I don’t want them to be gone.  Without them, my life, and our family life would not be as it is today.

I have so much to be grateful for.

Government Petition to Save Independent Midwifery – here.

If you are (or want to be) a member of 38 Degrees, please consider voting for Independent Midwifery as a campaign – here.

Yarn Along

Reading and knitting 18th Jan 2012

So let’s see.

There have been camera troubles. Multiple camera troubles.

There has been a feverish little girl and a couple of nights with very little sleep.

There have been problems with the blog (hey I’m not even meant to be here today!)

There have been deadlines that are hoving into view and are taking up every minute I am not around two small children (of which there is a limited amount.

Life is sort of tricky right now, it has to be said.

So here is some knitting and a book. (I felt the call of the Small Things‘ yarn along.) The knitting is an upsidedown Sweet Bunting that I am knitting for LR to wear to her auntie’s wedding in the summer. The book is The Crafter’s Guide to Taking Great Photos by Heidi Adnum, which I treated myself to just before christmas. I’d love to tell you I’ve read loads of it… but, well, see above basically.

And on that note…

Life – Right Now…

Three out of four on the wall

The next few weeks are really busy in our house – two birthdays (exactly a week apart – well done small ones!), a party, two work deadlines (which are exciting but I’m in the thick of it all right now!), fencing, nudging the stove closer into existance before it gets to cold… as well as the usual orders going out, yarn being dyed, family life going on all around me, day to day stuff.

So if the blog is a bit quieter than usual, please don’t worry. I’ve lots of exciting things to show you when I bob back up again.

In the meantime I was inspired by this post by Happiness Comes In Little Bits

~ Eating Sprouts! The first of the season!
~ Drinking more Coke than I should.
~ Contemplating making a doorstop out of the dwindling fleece stash for our bedroom door.
~ Giddy thinking about birthday celebrations and the births that started them.
~ Watching Nigel Slater and Outnumbered on the lovely beeb.
~ Smiling at my toothy girl.
~ Wishing my evenings were a bit longer.
~ Sewing scarves, gloves, clothes…
~ Knitting hats. Lots and lots of hats.
~ Hoping that everything get finished in time.
~ Tearing up when I think about where I was a year ago.
~ Thinking that I really need to get that craft show application form sorted out.
~ Baking birthday cakes x2 (well I really need to get started on them soon!)
~ Loving sewing with fleece. And how quick the postal service is.
Grateful for the boiler we put in last year.
~ Ignoring the dust and the cobwebs and the fact that the chickens have broken out of the (admitedly shoddy) fenced in area. Again.
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