Bonnie's story

During my 1st pregnancy we moved several times and finally settled in a small cottage in my hometown where I decided to have a home birth. At that time Sheila was working nights at the local midwifery unit. I asked to deliver our baby at home.

Sheila listened to our thoughts and feelings; I felt that she understood our expectations and wishes, giving intuitive responses to our concerns as first time parents. When labour started with waters breaking, Sheila arrived at our house and we all felt excited and positive. As the hours increased, the labour pains felt more intense, but contractions were erratic, sometimes 3 minutes apart, sometimes 10 minutes. Sheila would chat to us about this and answer my flooding questions with ease and positive advise, suggesting that anything that felt right for us was the best thing which seemed to give us the lead and felt good. Sheila supported each of our decisions in a very open and non-intrusive way, which was a very empowering experience. I felt in control and in- time with what was happening. By the 3rd night, I was in a heightened state. There was a full moon and I wanted to be awake and potter about, sleepless and expectant. Sheila was there, she stayed with me, slept a little but was always there if I needed her. By morning the contractions were still erratic so I asked for an examination, the first one since my waters had broken. This showed that I had not dilated fully, and I decided I wanted to use the pool at the local birth centre. [We had hired a pool and were sharing it with a friend but she had gone into labour the night before] Sheila talked us through the procedure of hospitals and the reactions we might get from being over 50 hours in labour. It was a difficult decision to make, as we knew that the intervention at hospital was inevitable, but it seemed there was not a lot else to be done. I'd had enough and Sheila supported me fully in how I was feeling. It was advised later that day at the birth centre that Sheila needed to sign off and I should be sent to the main hospital because of the length of my labour. I felt for a while that all my control was taken away, I asked for pethidine and was rushed off to the main hospital. As it happens, the journey did the job. I gave birth to Oliver within an hour of arriving and nothing else mattered! I had a beautiful boy and I know now that we had done the right thing by staying home during that long weekend in the care of Sheila.

6 months later I fell pregnant with my second child. Again, I asked Sheila to be my midwife and wanted to try again for a home birth. Sheila's care of me during this pregnancy was, I feel, more involved on an emotionally supportive level, as we had a toddler to care for and had moved into a small block of flats. Sheila and I talked a great deal in the months leading up to the birth. This helped me open up and look at my situation, whether a home-birth was the best option in my situation. I felt concern that there would be a lack of privacy in the flats and neighbours would hear me in labour. I remember feeling incredibly grateful for this conversation in the later stages of labour at the birth centre, where I was free to be very vocal. Being able to talk to your midwife on a spiritual level is such a positive thing and I feel that Sheila helped me a great deal on this level. Encouraging me to look at my relationships with my husband, son and the people around me.

During my pregnancy I was very active with my toddler, doing all the things other mums did regardless of my physical state. I felt I needed to do as much as I could with the time I had left with just him. At 7 months I had a bleed, which resulted from a fall I had on holiday. I spent a short time in hospital, away from everyone I knew and realised then that I had not bonded with the new baby. Sheila talked with me about this and helped me realise that things happen for a reason. I decided I needed to slow down and spend time preparing myself for the arrival of my second child. Sheila helped me feel in tune with what was happening, which gave me strength of mind, again a very empowering experience. I had a second bleed some weeks later and was admitted to the main hospital and they advised me to have my baby there if I had any further bleeds.

During early labour, I had another small bleed, which was a frightening experience. I wanted to know the baby was all right, so we went into the birth centre to be monitored. Sheila was there. I felt strong and positive about making the decision to stay at the small birth centre instead of transferring to the main hospital. Sheila was so supportive; it felt like having an angel beside me. With her warm and calm presence I felt I was again in control. The labour became very intense but I felt calm, knowing that any decisions I made would be supported with Sheila there. I feel lucky to have had the care and support given to me during both my pregnancies and look forward to the future, hoping that next time I might have the home-birth I've always wanted with Sheila there to deliver!