Harriet and Gavin

Having suffered from M.E. / C.F.S. for 17 years I was well aware of my body’s weaknesses but in the late hours of Friday 20th February 2015 I learnt a valuable lesson about it’s strengths. I had always been nervous that I would not be able to cope with labour, had insisted that I would only consider a hospital birth and, despite reservations, had accepted to myself that I would probably require an epidural and consequently further intervention. At my antenatal class I idealised that I would have a water birth, gas and air and any other natural method that was available, but I was in a minority when I admitted I fully expected to meet my limitations and would be asking for an epidural. Due to my health I knew that the drugs would have a negative effect on my body but I also knew that mentally I needed to keep my options open. After a labour which lasted approximately 48 hours I am still stunned to realise that the gas cylinder that was wheeled into the room remained untouched.

I can only give myself a small amount of the credit. Without Sarah and Meg this story might have been very different. When I first found out I was pregnant the elation was incomparable, this was something that I had been hoping and trying for months, and so started the inevitable round of doctor’s consultations and NHS midwife appointments. The reaction to my general health was conclusive: I must not consider even the birth centre, I was heading straight for the labour ward intervention would be inevitable. Initially I wasn’t even aware that independent midwives existed, and when I was introduced to the concept I was simply relieved that I would no longer have to travel back and forth to antenatal appointments and numerous blood tests that were being requested. This proved to be such a minute part of the role that Sarah and Meg played I blush with my ignorance. At our first meeting I knew that I had two very special people and suddenly the whole pregnancy journey became something to enjoy, take pleasure in and confidence in my capabilities soared.
Inevitably I was overdue although in the days leading up to was eventually The Day I had had a few mild contractions that unfortunately kept stopping just as I was getting excited. Going to bed on the 18th February I was really uncomfortable and ached all night, this time I had definitely started. I couldn’t wait to get on the phone to Sarah to tell her things were finally happening, and 30 mins later she was on the doorstep with a big hug and the ‘can do ‘ attitude, and a large bag of knitting that was to see us all through the next two days!
What I hoped was going to be a sprint finish became a marathon, the first day passed in a haze of concentration – anytime now I was going to have my baby, keep breathing and it will be alright. This remained my strategy throughout. Having taken Mindfullness Meditation classes years earlier, they suddenly came into there own. For the greater part I was able to zone out and let my body take over. My clearest memories are of walking around with the tens machine and gradually leaving it on boost all the time, all the pain seemed to be centred in my lower back , I was surprised how little I could feel things in the front, although by this time my bump felt like it could easily just explode outwards! The absolute saving grace that afternoon were hot towels. Crouching on all fours on my bed with Meg and Sarah behind me they rubbed towels soaked in boiling water onto the base of my spine, massaging in between each one. I had very little concept of time by now but I know that this is what saved me from demanding immediate hospital transfer for pain relief. It had the dual effect of relaxation and pain relief while being in the only position that was at all comfy.