Friday, July 24, 2009


My baby Bodhi was was two today. Two years old. It hit me as I closed the door to head for our day trip to the zoo, that I never wrote the birth story I'd intended for today.

You know what? I think I won't. Fuck it.

Here's what happened. My midwife never committed to me properly. She double booked me, twice, and didn't visit til I was 5 months pregnant. She had me more involved with Holles St than with her, due to fears about a court case concerning a still born baby she lost the previous year. I didn't know about that.

The day I was in labour, I talked to her the previous night at 2 am to tell her it was starting. I didn't talk to her the next day, til afternoon, when my contractions had slowed and the hospital had rung to call me in for an induction I hadn't cancelled as I thought I didn't need to worry about it. I rang her and instead of coming to check on me, she dismissively told me to go get scanned, not listening to me about where I was at, or acknowledging what that would mean for me. She dismissed my rational fears, brusquely waved away my tears and panic, and told me that even if I had to have an induction, in hospital, I could still have the birth I wanted.

I planned to take a remedy (too strong, on the advice of my homeopath, who didn't realise I'd a lower dose to hand), get some acupuncture, Axel called her back and she promised to meet us at home directly after that.

At 5.30 she wasn't there. We rang at six, as things were getting heavy and Axel had recognised the signs of transition from Olivia's birth, if I hadn't. He had to fill the pool, I laboured on my own, thinking fuck, if I was in hospital instead of leaning on my mother's chest of drawers, I don't think I could handle this.

She said she was an hour away. An hour?? Fear. Abandonment. Loneliness. Soon we rang back to say, how do we slow this down? She sounded panicked, said she'd be there in 15 mins. Head down, bum up. Huh? So why an hour the first time? And then, I thought, oh, here's where I embarrassingly soil myself. No, fuck, fuck, here's where the baby comes out and I can't hold on any more. Axel is sweating bullets beside me, I'm gasping for him not to be afraid, that people do it all the time, we'll be ok, ring the midwife, let her talk her through it. Instead, in his cold panic, he sees our paramedic neighbour's paramedic son outside his house. Axel asks me if he should get him. Yes. Jesus, yes.

He comes in, asking jocular questions in a loud voice about how many babies there are - I think he's trying to be funny, and tell him it's no time for jokes, just stop me tearing, stop me tearing. In hindsight, I think it was just his first birth, and he was nervous, god help him. He makes Axel go ring the ambulance, despite me saying no, despite the crowning baby. Axel goes downstairs and dithers, torn between fear of me and Stuart's protocol. He misses the birth. Stuart doesn't know about how to manage a crowning baby - Bodhi's head is almost out when he finally follows my pleas to just pull my skirt up. Bodhi's head whooshes out, and Stuart says, 'just one more push!' And when I tell him I'm trying not to push ( so I don't tear, so I can breathe the baby gently out on his own terms) he asks, bemused, 'Really?' And then after the next contraction, he pulls him up and out of me. No soft, guided delivery onto my stomach for Bodhi. His feet pulling away from my stresses, not ready flesh hurt.

Five minutes later, the midwife wanders in, bitches at Stuart, faffs about cutting the chord, hides her surprise at the fact Bodhi's here. Sees my tens machine discarded on the chest of drawers and says 'aw, you never got to use it'. I'd had it on since the night before.

And then.

The ambulance pulls up with a screech, lovely Peter, Stuart's father bursts from it, and runs in slow motion for the house, all hero, bless him. He arrives into my bedroom, where I sit, naked, holding Bodhi to my breast, placenta still in me, wracked with third stage contractions as bad as the labour. He looks everywhere but into my eyes and is bursting with pride for his son. Behind him are two other paramedics and Stuart's wife, shining eyed, who just wants to see a newborn. I ask for some privacy, a pause, half an hour, once, twice, and I'm ignored. I ask again, 'Please, Peter, just give me half an hour, please, please.'

He gestures to his daughter in law and says, 'It's ok, she's a doctor' and I say that I don't care what she is, I just need some time. And my midwife looks down at me and says, 'Jo! You can't talk like that. He's just being concerned.

No guardian of a sacred birth space her. No candles, and dim light, and soothing warm water. No arms around me. And a day later, a gratuitous three night stay in Crumlin hospital, after Bodhi's had cyanotic fits, with my midwife visiting and relentlessly blaming the remedy, trying to manipulate me - 'If that had been a first baby, it would have been a dead baby!' and insisting we ask to bring home an apnoea monitor in case he stops breathing in his sleep, despite the fact that that was never an issue.

Oh. Well. There it is after all. My last birth.

But I think I'll let go of this one now, or at least push it away. In the circumstances I did the best that I could'.

And I'd rather think about the adrenaline that came with the fast, easy, painless birth - no stretching, burning pushing, just whoosh, pop! It was a rush. Bodhi's fuzzy black hair, and calm eyes so deep blue they looked black too. The soft silk down on his ears and shoulders.His funny funny pixie chin. His long, long body and sweet temperament. How he looked floating in the pool when Olivia, he and I got in together. The one moment of rightness and how-it-was-meant-to-be.

He looked exactly like this

And now, his humour, his cuteness, his new words and expressions, his strong, broad chest and his tender, firm hugs. The way he frowns, practicing it. The way he dances in Eddie Rockets, perfect rhythm. My sweet boy.


Maggie May said...

I am sorry it went this way! I had a natural birth in a tub wiht a midwife and I know the planning and hopes that go into it...wonderful your son was healthy and cute!

Xbox4NappyRash said...

I now get your reluctance to write this before.

By the sounds of it, even though it wasn't as you planned,you guys did brilliantly, you did it yourselves!

That midwife is in the wrong game.

Happy birthday small man.

mammydiaries said...

Happy Birthday Bodhi! What a gong show! Where the hell did that mw dig up her credentials?!?! You my friend, are a wonder. Well done.

jen said...

Happy birthday bodhi.
That midwife should be strung up....but, well done you.

jothemama said...

Thanks guys. That midwife is long experiences and well respected, though having scratched under the surface, not everyone is as adoring as I had previously assumed.

I forgot a bit. I'd previously talked to her about getting a doula, as Axel and I hadn't been getting on so well, and I was hoping to get some additional support. So she told me she'd been just up the road, with another client, 'faffing around, to give us some time together' at the time she'd promised to be there for me.

I don't know why she felt that there was any value to be got from telling me that.

Mwa said...

I think you did an amazing thing, in spite of a horrible horrible midwife not doing what she was meant to be doing.

I had a horrible experience during the birth of my first baby, which got partially healed by having my second. I hope writing about it helps to heal you.

Ciara said...

Oh Jo. This story always gives me such a swell of anger and sorrow and above all PRIDE. In you.

Nothing can give you back the birth you all deserved, but you know, that sweet little Bodhi boy of yours is so full of strength and firm resolve about his life that I do believe he handled it.

I do wonder what can heal such a betrayal by this midwife you trusted? But you know, a wise friend said to me once: this is part of your boy's journey, and he did it, and he is here. Beautiful and healthy and full of the fire of life.

Blessings abound!


myballerinatoes said...

wow Jo, you did a fantastic job despite the universe working against you on that particular day. an absolutely fantastic job. happy birthday little bodhi & congrats fabulous mum xxx

morgor said...

jaysus, that midwife sounds horrible.

The little fella sounds like he's gonna be a strapping young man :)

jothemama said...

She was fairly horrible, I have to say. He will be a strapping young man, I'm planning to send him to the gym too!

Thanks myballerinatoes and Mwa!

laughykate said...

I got goosebumps reading that. Happy birthday to your wee man. And I agree with Xbox, that woman needs a career change.

Ms. Moon said...

I agree with Xbox- that midwife is in the wrong business.
YOU did it. And beautifully. Happy late birthday to your boy and happy birth-day to you.

Nicola O'Byrne said...

Jo Im so glad you've got this out on paper. Its horrifying , such an invasion into your home when you wanted peace. Things are never straightforward are they?
Happy belated birthday to Bodhi and to his mama too. Well done !

Anonymous said...

I got up at 4:33am (my time) an read this beautiful story. Birthing is always so crazy, but your story takes the cake. And the picture of the adorable troll doll just made me sigh. I'm proud of you for speaking your mind to your crowd of onlookers. It takes a lot of courage to talk up, naked. You are amazing.

~Mrs. TheKing

PĂ©itseoga said...

jo, i'm so sorry! i hope writing it down helps.
bodhi's two, how time flies!! he sounds like such a goodnatured little guy! happy birthday!