I feel so lucky to have had Deirdre as my midwife. She took all the fear out of birthing for me, even though I’d had quite a tough hospital birth in the past. I look back at the birth as one of the happiest, most empowering experiences of my life. Deirdre was always there to make sure I felt safe and I knew I was able to go to her with any question or problem I may have had. She truly went above and beyond for me and my family. We called her our guardian angel throughout the entire experience!! If we ever decide to add to our family, I’d hope to have Deirdre as our midwife again.
What my homebirth midwife meant to me
Words cannot describe what having my home birth midwife, Deirdre, with me throughout my pregnancy and labour meant to me. From the minute I met Deirdre at her cosy clinic in her home in West Cork, my husband and I felt an immediate sense of calm. We were nervous first time parents and we didn’t know what to expect. We came to the home birth service quite late and we had already had lots of hospital visits. Our appointments with Deirdre were so different! They were so personal and so relaxed.
During that first visit, the part that stood out to us was that Deirdre asked us if we wanted to record the baby’s heartbeat – it was such a special moment and one that doesn’t happen to often in the hospital setting. She talked us through all of her equipment and all of the different scenarios that could happen during a home birth. She was so organised and professional that I immediately felt reassured that we were making the right choice. She was a wealth of knowledge and even after that very first visit, both my husband and I felt empowered and like we both had a say in how our baby came into the world. My husband especially felt for the first time that he was involved in the process, not just a bystander. He had felt a bit brushed aside in the hospital and now here was a midwife showing him how to feel the baby’s head and telling him about the important role he had to play during labour!
Having our pre-natal appointments with Deirdre at her home meant there was no waiting for hours or seeing different midwives or doctors at every appointment. These visits meant that we formed a close relationship with our midwife, which benefited us immensely during labour and post-partum. After 36 weeks, Deirdre even came to my home, which meant that I didn’t even need to leave the house for my pre-natal appointments. Deirdre gave us as much time as we needed during these appointments, we asked her so many questions but we always came away from her feeling so uplifted and positive about my pregnancy and the labour that was to come. I was excited by the prospect of giving birth at home and welcoming my baby into the world surrounded by familiarity and love.
As it turned out, unfortunately for me, my home birth was not to be as my baby went very late and I had to be induced in hospital at when I was 14 days overdue. Because I had signed up to the home birth service, Deirdre was allowed to accompany me in the delivery room, along with my husband and the hospital midwife. Although, the hospital midwife was lovely, it was wonderful having Deirdre there – my midwife who had been with me throughout the journey, who I knew and trusted completely. It was so reassuring and made the delivery room a little less scary to a first-timer. I was disappointed not to have been able to give birth at home, as I had planned, but having my midwife there brought a bit of home into the delivery room and allowed us to focus on staying present during the labour and not get swept up by the strangeness of the room, the machines, the protocols and all that goes with it. I felt safe and empowered by her presence there. Deirdre and the hospital midwife guided me through the labour and my daughter had a beautiful birth. I felt like I had a whole team helping me deliver my beautiful girl into the world and it was an intense and magical experience.
We had a blissful 15 minutes after she was born but then unfortunately I had some complications and had to be rushed to theatre. Within minutes the delivery room filled up with an array of people in different coloured scrubs (midwives, doctors, anaesthetists, etc.). It was scary and in the flurry of everyone trying to act quickly and do their jobs to the best of their ability, no one was actually talking to us or communicating anything other than the bare minimum. It was Deirdre who held my hand and reassured me that everything would be ok. She explained everything to me and I was calm as they wheeled me out to theatre. As I was rushed away, my husband was literally left holding the baby. I wasn’t to re-emerge again for about 3 hours. During this time, Deirdre stayed with my husband and our baby, reassuring him and keeping them company during the anxious wait. She also advised him on what formula to give her, after the hospital insisted she should be fed, and got him a syringe (instead of a teat) to feed her with so that I could breastfeed afterwards. Words cannot express what this meant to him, he was torn between elation and devastation and Deirdre kept him sane as the rest of the hospital staff had to carry on with their work. Who would have had the time to sit with him? The hospital staff, through no fault of their own, are just too busy.
When I came out of theatre at around 4am, I was amazed and grateful to see Deirdre there. She immediately got to work, placing the baby on my chest and to our delight, she latched on without a hitch. If we had been on our own, we would not have known what to do and in all honesty, I probably would not have ended up breast-feeding her had it not been for that magic moment. Deirdre was so focused on us and on the baby that she didn’t falter or lose her head in the midst of the post-partum chaos. She handled everything with grace and care, even managing to keep smiling as she departed the hospital at around 5am! She was a rock of support to us that night and during the days and weeks afterwards. When we eventually got home from the hospital, our stay prolonged by antibiotics and a huge snowstorm, Deirdre came over for our post-natal visits and it was wonderful to be able to discuss the birth and the following complications so soon afterwards with our midwife, who knew our story and us so personally. She helped us immensely in those first two weeks and was there anytime we had any questions.
Even though I didn’t get to have my baby at home, I cannot praise the service enough. The standard of care that I received before, during and after my daughter’s birth was amazing and just so personal. Signing up for the home birth service was one of the best decisions I ever made and I would do so again in a heartbeat. One of the best things about the service is that it gives you a choice and this choice is empowering. You have a voice again. At any stage in the process you can decide where and how you want to give birth. The other best thing is the unparalleled support you receive from your homebirth midwife. The home birth service gave us our own personal angel to guide and support us during our daughter’s journey into the world and it would have been such a different story if she hadn’t been there. We will never forget it for as long as we live. I would encourage every woman to avail of this wonderful service – it is one thing that the HSE got right! It is an absolute no-brainer. Why would you sit in a hospital waiting room for hours, meeting different midwives at every visit when you can form this amazing bond with your own personal midwife, in the comfort of her and your home, and have her be there with you to guide you through labour, no matter where it is! If I had one wish for the pregnant women of Cork it would be that they would firstly learn about, and secondly avail of this life-changing service. We are so grateful that we did. It was the best thing we ever did for ourselves and for our daughter’s arrival. Thank you, Deirdre!!