I reckon this is more about the road to birth, as much as it is about the birth, interconnected but all part of my truth, experience and hope.

So this was to be Our second birth, following a traumatic first birth , where I thought my girlfriend and son were gonna die, then failed IVF for 5 years, hope had started to wain.

Then a one off, last chance saloon, try, and boom Mari was pregnant!

Well I’d wished for this so long that I hadn’t thought of the dreaded birth. I couldn’t see much past my fear of letting down Mari, letting down my son, and dealing with trauma again

So the journey to the birth was a long road. Mari was clear we were not going near NHS staff. An independent midwife (IM) was secured and when that was in place, Mari had a very challenging birth plan. I wanted to support her but…

Would I be enough?
Could I go along with this?

I totally believe, her body, her birth. But…..our baby. Thing is the latter doesn’t come without the first, and that needs to be right. That’s the most important thing I think I did…..was to support Mari’s choice.

A one to one talk with the IM resolved the challenging birth plan. Simply, I didn’t have to make any decisions, Mari had already made them. That shifted alot of fear. The IM medically and emotionally supported Mari and I through exceptionally tricky ground.

My learning …….Get an IM. Get Susan Stephenson.

Again talking with the doula, about needs, wants, etc.
Lots of talk about birth physiology and birth stuff, resulted in me writing my own birth plan, where I specified the support I needed to support Mari, have the birth WE both wanted. The trauma and guilt of the last birth was still lingering, so another one to one talk with the Doula, about the last birth, and my story, well that shifted loads of fear and debris. I was finally able to get off the cross and realise they needed the wood!

Don’t get me wrong at times I’d had enough of birth talk and these women’s amazing birthing vaginas! Like can’t we talk about everyday shit??!

But talking was what was required, getting those fears out of my head and into the real world. It diminished them without me knowing, somehow.

This was a different birth, I was different and I would be enough.

My learning ….get a doula, definitely get a doula. Get Lisa Sykes .

The Birth

Mari started ‘twinges’ the night before she went into labour. I was out having dinner with a friend when I got the text. I couldn’t ride my bike back I was so excited! I’d text Lisa as planned, this was my giddy outlet, so I could go in be present, and calm!

After a quick cuddle, tea making and massage, I followed strict orders to get some rest.

I slept ear half cocked all night and when the morning came, Mari was still pregnant. Damn.

She was still having some twinges (in hindsight I’d like a definition of twinges) in the morning, and I stayed off work. Mari still wanted to go to our sons home education group, an osteopath appointment and an eyelash Perming appointment (?!) but didn’t want to drive. So we went (slowly over bumps) to all appointments, twice to the beautician as we didn’t have cash. When I took the cash in as Mari didn’t want to get out the car again, the beautician was still pale from Perming the eyelashes of a labouring woman…..the first thing she asked me was ‘ she ain’t had the baby has she!’ Her face was priceless.

Anyhow we got home about 3.30pm and Mari went straight to her nest, the plan being she’d sleep now, and we’d all be in bed by 6 for sleep stockpiling.

4pm well she was having ‘twinges’ every 15 mins still but they were stronger….but hey Mari said they were still twinges.

We let Susan know where we were at.

I text Lisa and kept her informed, and I again, sharing what was in my head helped me get on with the practicals, like making tea, blowing up the pool, putting Jo to bed. In between I was going up and down the stairs to be with Mari while she ‘twinged’ for 60 secs or more……whilst blowing up the pool, etc

At one point, our son Jo came down saying mamas making those noises?
What noises?
Those noises!
What noises?
Moo noises!
Fuck fuck fuck!

I told him to go upstairs get his PJ’s on and into bed while I went into Mari. Yes she was definately mooing …..so was Jo in harmony from the next room. Good grief did he know nothing about sphincter law? I went into him and he was mooing through the wall to Mari…one look from me and he was in bed, eyes shut. Phew one big distraction out the way.

We stayed together for the next few hours, holding on through the contractions together, which were now every 10 min.

I kept trying to remember all the things we’d talked about: watered, fed, loved (that bit was easy) – during one contraction, the dog stole her bagel….honestly nothing was sacred about birthing in our house!
I really enjoyed this early part with Mari, and although I’d have liked help with the pool (besides via text/ phone) we both were loving sharing it and well just feeling it. Mari had some advice from Susan on positions as she was feeling pushy. Mari was adamant this was way too early….

Although Mari was convinced we were going to be watching Scott and Bailey at 9pm and then bed, and maybe a few days of this kind of labouring, and she said she wasn’t ready for anyone else to be here yet, we did send the word for Lisa to come. I was glad cos the contractions were now every 5 minutes and had been for about an hour. Mari wouldnt believe me saying that they weren’t regular!?

Lisa arrived, stealing in like a ninja, and finally spoke from the chair in the corner…..like Granny Weatherwax (but easier on the eye) made observations which we both complied with, without thinking….all lights off, Mari changed position, all was silent, except for the contractions of course. Lisa helped Mari through some contractions, making suggestions, and all changed very quickly. It was like someone had fine tuned in the telly, no white noise, intense focused work from now on in. Magic at work.

Then out of the shadows, Lisa tells Mari her dreams are gonna come true and she’s gonna ask her to take her knickers off…..I wasn’t at all bothered about the hit on my girlfriend, because, again like magic, when her knickers were revealed there was masses of show in her knickers!

How did she do that?….I was so impressed I nearly clapped!

After about an hour of this hard hard work by Mari, she asked to go in the pool and for Susan to come.

The pool was only a third full. Mari had stopped me from doing it as she wanted her with me. Lisa got on with filling the pool and getting the temperature right, no mean feat without a thermometer and, erm, no cold water.

Susan entered like ninja 2. And started checking Mari. Healthy baby noises and good signs he was a coming.

Finally got Mari in the pool, she was so ready to be in there. She had now been working so hard for 8 hours, and she was storming on.

Even I knew this was the real thing, this was going to happen. In between the mother of all contractions, Mari and I would share our excitement, wonder and overwhelming love.

After about 15 minutes Susan asked me if I wanted to see the baby’s head through the mirror. Oh yes! I couldn’t believe how fucking amazing that was, it was like yes yes yes there is really a baby and he’s really, really coming. So grateful to Susan for asking me this. That was it, all focus on getting Mari through this last bit.

‘Oh no he’s gone back in’ at least twice ‘he’s stuck on my pelvic bones’ ‘wiggle your ass then’ ‘I’ve got cramp in my thighs’ 3 sets of hands rub thighs. ‘He’s here Mari, don’t sit on his head’ waters turned red and Mari reached down. For a split second which felt like eternity, I couldn’t see him. And there he was, in her beautiful arms, vernixed up to death, eyes open, gurgling noises already. Love at first sight. Double magic. Absolutely overwhelmed with love, pride and immense gratitude. Me n Jo get in on the hugs. There are no words for this deep, deep joy. I concede they really do have amazing birthing vaginas! And I could talk about them all day.

I cut the cord and Baby Flower came to me, skin to skin, so Mari could get out the pool. Priceless.

I didn’t give a second thought to poo, blood and membranes – I even carried the placenta to be made into a smoothie, I think if no one else would have, I’d have made the smoothie. I haven’t washed since, I don’t want to wash away that ‘flower-ness’ on my body. (Now I’ve written this I’ll be made to).

My girlfriend is amazing. Strong, determined and is loved to her very bones.

The team were ace, all cleaned up, everyone looked after, and all four Greenfields in a bed, so much love in the room. Now I’m a believer, bring on the next one I say….x

You can read Mari’s story here