Posted by: Louise | July 30, 2010

Are those Laura’s feet?

I was nearly 26 weeks pregnant when I rang the midwife to enquire about having a homebirth with the Little Boy Racer. I had been toying with the idea for a while. K was willing to go for it, if I was. It was a big decision though and part of me hoped that, when I rang, I had left it too late and the decision would have been made for me. Sorry. I’ve been booked up for months. I can’t fit you in.

But this was not the case. I could be fit in. And so began my journey towards birthing the LBR at home.

I had never given birthing methods any consideration really. There was one night alright I had been chatting to my Mum when I was teenager. We were talking about the things of life. She did say that of all her experiences of childbirth, giving birth naturally was for her the most satisfying. She had given birth eight times and had tried pretty much every labouring/childbirth option (bar C-section) by the time number eight arrived. Those words stayed with me, but in the same way her wonder at the miracle of the epidural did.

No. For me thoughts of anything baby related began and ended with – Will I ever be able to have children? – usually accompanied by floods of tears. I never got to the specifics of – How would I like a baby to enter the world? But an early diagnosis of polycystic ovaries and the wonders of modern medicine (a.k.a. clomid) meant the first question was answered and, by the time LBR was en route, I began to think I might be able to play a part in answering the second.

These days my fantasy has changed rather drastically and if a miracle child did happen along, I would beg for every monitor going. Tie me to the bed. Do what you will? Intervene ad nausium. Just make sure my baby’s heart is still beating.

But that was not these days and so M (my home birth midwife) entered our lives. M was an angel, a mother whisperer at first, a baby whisperer later. For me this experience, M’s visits, the preparation, were not an attempt to avoid the hospital experience, but an opportunity to include the whole family in what was going on. The Giraffe Princess and Astro Boy got to hold the instruments, help check my blood pressure, listen to the baby’s heart beat. M’s visits to the house just became part of normal family routine.

As it turned out , when the Little Boy Racer decided it was time to show his face, we were very lucky we had decided on a home birth. We would never have made it the hospital. It was 0 to 10cm and out in 40 minutes flat. M had arrived, checked me, decided nothing was doing, stopped to have a cup of tea with K and my Mum before heading away until morning. The tea was still hot when the Little Boy Racer was getting weighed……

…….And so, when I found out I was pregnant with Laura, M was one of the first people I called. I wasn’t going to wait until 26 weeks this time.

But the 12 week scan revealed a risk of Down’s Syndrome. M listened as I sobbed down the phone. I couldn’t have a homebirth now, but she would still provide antenatal care.

It was M who first picked up Laura’s heart beat, trying for ages to find it for me because she knew how much I would worry if she didn’t find it. It was M who told me again and again that Laura would still be a baby, like any other baby no matter what diagnosis the hospital put on her. Mother whisperer. Mother whisperer.

It was M who I rang from the health food shop for advice on raspberry leaf tea. Maybe hold off until 36 weeks this time around. The last thing you need is to stimulate labour with a sick baby. And it was M who said, Don’t worry about money, you’ll be needing all the money you have when your baby is out, what with heart surgery and everything.

K texted M after Laura was born. She rang us immediatley. I couldn’t face talking.

A few days later she called up to the house, asking after me, looking after me, asking all about Laura, drinking cups of tea. And there has been more tea and more tea and more tea. Long after everyone, but my closest friends have stopped asking, M has been checking in on me, on us. Mother whisperer. Mother whisperer.

I wanted to give her something, a gift, a thank you, an acknowledgement of her care and friendship. Years ago I did an etching of my brother’s feet – taken from a baby photo. It seemed right for M. I printed a few.I’d never kept one for myself at the time. A few weeks ago I gave M hers. Last week I hung ours on the wall in our bedroom.

After Laura died, I gave the Giraffe Princess a notebook. She had seen me writing in mine – letters to Laura, thoughts, text messages, anything – and a friend suggested that maybe a notebook of her own might help her give voice to some of the confusion of feelings in her head. She wrote and drew in it regularly.

One evening she asked for help with a drawing she was trying to make. I want to draw the world at the bottom and Laura’s feet at the top and a big wall in the middle. Because it’s like, Laura really wanted to come to earth but there was a great big wall preventing her from getting here. I love the Giraffe Princess and her ancient wisdom.

I sneaked off to bed for an afternoon nap the other day. As I drifted in and out of consciousness, my eyes rested on the print – a pair of baby’s legs floating high up on the wall over all the family photos. Feet that couldn’t touch the ground……

The Little Boy Racer sneaked into bed beside me and whispered, Are those Laura’s feet?



  1. M sounds like a rock. I’m glad she’s there for you. Lindsey xx

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