Get a tea, sit yourself down, and buckle up for this one. This was a beautiful experience for everyone involved. Laura and Anthony got in touch when they were very early pregnant looking for someone to support them through the pregnancy and birth of their second baby. This was an unbelievably strange time what with covid so the beginning of our relationship was all virtual!
Their first baby came into the world at home in a birth pool at just 38 weeks, so we were leaning more towards the possibility that baby might come early. Boy were we shown that babies do whatever they want! We also knew from quite early on that this birth was likely to be a free birth since the home birth services had been suspended sue to staffing issues. As 38 weeks got closer, we worked on birth plans, had a blessing for Laura, kept in good spirits that it was getting close now. But 38 weeks came and went, then 39, then 40, and at this point, Laura was beginning to experience some push back form midwives. There was the suggestion that perhaps her body wasn't going to go into labour, perhaps her cervix was damaged form the first time, even suggestions that something was wrong with the baby. It became increasingly difficult for Laura to relax and trust her body as she had done so well throughout the whole pregnancy. We had several phone calls talking through her worries and working on drawing out her confidence in herself. She kept saying she knew Nova was fine, she was fine, she knew she just wanted to wait but there was that external pressure to hurry things up and doubt herself. Anthony was a powerhouse during this time, reassuring and supporting Laura, researching everything needed, making sure he had all the information possible so he could be the birth partner that Laura deserved. After phone calls, emails, and hand delivered letters that were coercive and passive aggressive, Laura got to 42 weeks and Nova was still super comfortable and not quite ready.
Then, in the middle of the 42nd week of pregnancy, I had a message in the morning from Laura who thought that this was it, Nova was on her way. Contractions were coming quickly, after a couple of weeks of on and off contractions, things were moving in the right direction. I jumped in the car with Wren after grabbing my stuff, and I knew that even if things died down again I could just come back, but maybe some extra support would be good.
As I arrived at their house, all was quiet for a few moments until I heard Laura going through a contraction and the sounds made me realise this was going to be much quicker than I think any of us thought. Their eldest was on the sofa downstairs feeling rubbish (chicken pox of all things!!) and I quietly went upstairs to a dark room, with a warm pool, and a cool as a cucumber Anthony who had everything in check. I gently placed my hand on A's back to let him know I was there and approached L as she was going through a contraction so she knew I was close by too. Her waters went just before getting into the pool, and we helped her in where you could tell she was much more relaxed and comfortable. At no point did she ever seem scared, she was unbelievably calm and strong throughout everything. Her face was radiating power and everything she did was an instinctive action. She moved when she needed to, asked for touch if needed, asked us to stop if she didn't like something, this was truly Laura's space, Laura's birth, and we were merely supporting her to do what she knew she could do.
Not long passed and A and I were tag teaming the flannels, making sure there was always a cool flannel for her head and neck through the contractions, and very soon, Laura asked for Anthony to get into the pool as Nova was close!
With Anthony using the mirror to see how things were going, and Laura asking for Pizza as soon as this is all done, we patiently waited for Laura to bring Nova to the world. The strength she pulled form within was unreal, smiling through some contractions, confident in her choice to free birth her baby, knowing that she is supported and loved. Transition was marked with the usual "I can't do this", but it was brief, as she took a deep breath and followed her urge to push. Anthony was watching it all, as Nova's head gently worked its way out, then retreated back in, so gently and carefully, each time a little further out. Within what seemed like not long at all, Anthony told us her head was out, so Laura took a breather in between contractions, and as the next one came over her, Nova was here! Anthony caught her and passed her through to Laura, in disbelief at Nova being here!
All in all, it was under 3 hours in total. So quick! The water was still warm so Laura stayed in the pool a bit longer until contractions came back to birth the placenta, and then we helped her out and onto the bed.
This stage was so calm and quiet too, with the big sister still downstairs, curtains drawn, music still playing, and two confident parents knowing they've just bossed it! Laura wanted to cut the cord and birth the placenta, so Anthony got everything ready, tied the cord tie, and cut the cord before having some skin to skin with his new baby. I sat by Laura and held space and she birthed the placenta, which in the end, needed a bit of privacy on the toilet to come out into the bowl. We did some lovely prints later that afternoon to remember the placenta, and then it was chopped and frozen for smoothies!
Nova arrived peacefully, to confident and calm parents, in her own time, on her family's terms, and in this world, there is nothing more radical and empowering than that.
This was my account, to hear Laura and Anthony share it in their words from their experience, click here to go to the birth video. Be prepared though, you'll need tissues.