My boys woke me up at 5.20am and Kimberly had messaged to say that her waters had broken but things were progressing slowly. She wanted to let me know as I needed to make sure my boys had someone to look after them. We kept in contact for the next few hours as contractions started to pick up.
I then started to message David as I didn’t want to disturb Kimberly.
David called me to say that the midwives were not running the homebirth service that day as they were understaffed. I could hear the worry in his voice, he so desperately wanted Kimberly to have her home birth, the house was ready, pool blown up and part filled, snacks for the midwives, everything set out ready to meet their baby girl in their home where she felt safe. We joked that maybe we would be delivering their baby girl! And we nervously laughing not knowing what the outcome might be. There was talk of calling for an ambulance as Kimberly progressed. I remembering saying to David that everything was going to be OK and I will head over ASAP to help.
My mum arrived to look after my babies, after a few quick notes about the day I jumped in the car to head over to the house.
I arrived and my car got stuck in the mud-Perfect timing! I abandoned the car and went to knock on the door. Kimberly was managing her surges with her tens machine, hypnobirthing tracks, in front of the fire with a core ball to lean and move on. She was focussed but able to talk in between. The midwives really wanted her to go in to hospital and given it was against her wishes she managed to remain calm and focus within herself.
We talked about the options and I said to David to ask the birth centre if they were to decide to transfer whether they would have a birthing pool in the room ready for her when she got there. Their answer was YES so the decision was made to transfer as being in the water was so important to Kimberly.
In the next half an hour we packed the bags, taking everything that Kimberly wanted to make the environment homely and comfortable creating a home from home birth environment.
Luckily their wonderful neighbour was able to help me and pushed my car out of the mud so I was ready to follow them on the difficult transfer to hospital.
Transferring to hospital when in labour is so uncomfortable so using tips learnt in Yoga with Alice D Kimberly adopted the all fours in the back of the car holding on to the headrest for support whilst David drove very slowly trying to avoid all bumps. Not an easy task if you knew where they lived!
Arriving at the drop off zone.. when arriving at the hospital David wanted to get a wheelchair for Kimberly to get her to the Birth centre. Stoke Manderville has changed since I was last there and now very complicated! As he ran over to get the chair the heavens opened so I wrapped Kimberly in my coat so she didn’t get wet and cold. We travelled through what felt like every unit in the hospital and finally arrived at the birth centre. Kimberly wore noise cancelling headphones and kept her eyes closed, focusing on the surges as they came and went. She was incredible throughout the unexpected changes and challenges remaining calm using her hypnotherapy and surge timer app for her breathing.
We all moved into one of the birth rooms and I remember thinking how medical it looked even with the birthing pool. Whilst David moved the car I took on his role supporting Kimberly, rubbing her back, letting her squeeze my hand and giving my full support through each surge.
Once David was back I was able to start to unpack some of Kimberly’s bags for her, unraveling the lights, photographs and affirmations she had so lovingly prepared during her last few weeks of pregnancy. These were so important along with the battery operated candles. I loved being able to create this warm nest for Kimberly and David, they wanted this for home so I was going to make sure it was possible in hospital too.
While I was setting this up the midwife came to ask if she would be able to examine Kimberly to assess the level of care they would be able to give her. Kimberley didn’t wish to have any vaginal examinations but for the midwife to know whether she was in active labour or not she agreed and it was established that she was 3cm. Kimberly didn’t wish to know the number but it was incredibly helpful as her doula and for her partner to know where we were so we could support her in the best way.
Active labour is classed as 4cm, this is when filling the pool could start which I know Kimberly was so desperate for. Being so close our roles as birth partners were to keep the environment just the way Kimberly wanted, calm, quiet allowing her to breathe and not be distracted. At this point I asked for the lights to be dimmed so that the only light came from the warm fairly lights and candles and she was left, left to birth in the way she wanted. The midwives were incredible at adhering to Kimberly’s wishes, they sat back and observed with only gentle touch if they needed to communicate.
After a short time Kimberly was able to get in the pool and the release for her was amazing, the weightlessness and warmth of the water from my experience in the pool in my second labour was nothing short of euphoric. There is something just wonderful about being submerged in water.
Watching Kimberly in labour was empowering. Her strength, resilience, focus and determination will stay with me as I watched in complete awe of what she and her baby girl were doing together, working as the perfect team with immense support from David, soon to be Daddy!
David was nothing short of amazing. He knew exactly what to do, to say and to give to Kimberly at the right time. He continually rubbed her lower back, stroked her hair and back and held her hand when she needed him the most. There were so many occasions I had to stop the tears as he whispered the most adoring words in her ear. Being in the pool the birth partner can sometimes feel separated from their partner but he was right there on the core ball with her through every surge.
Approaching transition Kimberly had some breaks in her surges and so beautifully sang with the love of her life. Close, holding and comforting each other they So tenderly sang their song ‘Yellow’ by Coldplay. This was one of the most beautifully romantic moments I have ever been present for and it will always bring tears to my eyes.
After a few hours progressing Kimberly then transitioned into the second stage and began to breath baby down with uncontrollable pushing sensations. After a while baby wasn’t visible and was doing a lot of moving down but then going back again. After getting out of the pool and trying to go to the toilet it was discussed with Kimberly and David that the midwife would like to do another examination to check babies positioning. At this point Kimberly was 8cm and involuntary pushing on her cervix which wasn’t yet fully dilated. This exact same scenario happened to me at 7cm. Her cervix wasn’t swollen so they wanted Kimberly to calm her breathing and try not to push, just go with the contractions and soon enough the pushing came.
Out of the pool and In an active birthing position and leaning on David, Kimberly calmly and slowly birthed her beautiful baby girl earth-side in the most magical way. Healthy Baby Sunny was born at 10.41pm on 21.02.22.
After lots of firm back rubbing from Kimberly and what felt like a very long three minutes Sunny let out her first sweet cry. Then it was beautiful to watch as the overwhelming emotion reached Kimberly and David, She was finally here and safe in their arms.
Watching and capturing the next few hours was just lovely. Kimberly was able to have a very special ‘Golden hour’. This is the first hour after baby is born when Mum has uninterrupted skin-to-skin bonding with her baby. This period of time is so important for baby as they slowly adjust to being outside of the womb, the dark, loud. warm, floating home they have grown so used to over the last 9 months.
Sunny’s had her first feed, David cut her cord and they were left to absorb those early moments as a family.
The journey to motherhood starts from the very moment you find out your are pregnant. The dreams, the hopes, the yearning to hold your baby throughout your pregnancy and the wait is finally over, she’s finally in your arms. I thought it would be an incredibly emotional moment when my babies arrived but I was so overwhelmed I think I was just in shock. I spent the first few days just staring at my baby boy in amazement and awe. Our bodies are truly magical, what we as women can achieve in labour is just remarkable. It is true that the birthing process changes you; your thoughts, what you felt about your birth before and after and even years later can be so different as you take time to process, to absorb every little detail.
Kimberly was remarkable and I will always be in awe of her strength and power even when there were little diversions to her birth wishes. I felt so incredibly privileged to be so present in such a beautiful moment in their lives. The beginning of their greatest adventure and I can only hope I can continue to be there to capture and support them in the rest of their wonderful journey together as there is so much more to come.