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We are so grateful to have had Joy support us throughout our pregnancy, birth and aftercare. Myself and my husband felt so secure with her graceful guidance. Joy navigated us spiritually and practically on our decisions without judgement.Her constant kindness and wealth of knowledge on midwifery makes her the inspiring excellent human being she is. How wonderful for our daughter that she entered the world by such a person.
When I discovered I was pregnant at 43, I knew immediately that I would want an Independent Midwife. As a second time mum, doula and Antenatal teacher, I didn’t feel up to battling with the NHS ‘system’ throughout the pregnancy and having to justify why I didn’t want any tests or scans and was planning a Homebirth. We were lucky enough to find Joy.
My pregnancy turned into a pretty horrendous endurance test when I developed ICP (Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy) around 20 weeks. Joy’s support, compassion and understanding, as well as her knowledge of the condition and her ability to be able to decipher what the blood test results actually meant, enabled me to stay calm and centred on growing a baby. She was hugely supportive and reassuring for my fiancé, my older daughter who was in her 20s and my mum, and always included them in any antenatal appointments we had at our home. Simon became quite expert at palpating under Joy’s guidance and feeling whether it was baby’s head or bottom!! We were able to have frank and honest conversations about what would happen, should the baby die during the labour – something that eased my mind enormously and enabled me to feel positive about the impending birth, whatever the outcome. Trust and confidence in Joy was firmly established. I was a woman having a baby – not an elderly mother with a serious condition of pregnancy.
As I approached 37 weeks, I was convinced that I’d have my baby early as my first had been born at 36+6. When I passed 37 weeks, I completely lost it, as it dawned on me that I could potentially be pregnant for another 5 weeks, itching and unable to sleep. I called Joy in a blubbering mess and after reassuring me on the phone, we made arrangements to meet the following day (although she of course offered to see me that day!!) She reminded me that my ‘Get out of Jail card free’ was to go into hospital to start induction. I knew I didn’t want that and needed to ‘Woman up’ and wait for things to happen… I’d endured months already, a few more days were going to be bearable.
When my waters broke during the night I was 38 weeks or so and had some mild contractions. We called Joy to let her know the following morning, but they’d eased off by then. She came over to do an antenatal check, reminding us that if labour didn’t start within 24 hours, she would advise us to go to hospital for induction process to begin. She always emphasised that it was our decision. Fortunately, labour began the following night. We didn’t call Joy until 6am as I imagined it would be a long labour and didn’t want to tire her out!
Simon was calm and quiet, lying on the sofa dozing while I leant over the ball and other sofa. I could hear myself making ‘pushy’ noises and was convinced it was too early. At no point did Simon suggest I tried to do anything to ‘slow it down’ or ‘wait for Joy’ – he’d received Joy’s wisdom about women’s bodies knowing what to do, and trusted me to just allow things to happen.
At around 7.20am, Joy arrived with all her kit. I could hear her and Simon chatting in the hallway and immediately thought ‘Why isn’t she rushing in to see me??!’ followed by the thought ‘Ahh….she must know that everything is ok….that’s a good sign’ followed by another mooing and gentle breath. I heard her call her colleague midwife to say she’d better start heading over. She entered the room and quietly let me know she was by my side, helped Simon to rip off my Tena Lady Pants, and with that I lurched forward and started to breathe our baby out. I remember feeling incredibly powerful, calm, supported, loved and slightly orgasmic. Our daughter was born at 7.45am, with her hand next to her head, but I was so relaxed there was no damage whatsoever to my perineum.
Being led by Joy to the candle lit bath that Simon had prepared for me after a few hours of holding baby Rachel is one of the most wonderful memories I have of our homebirth. She helped me get dried before tucking me up in bed and this love and care I felt stays with me even now. Joy stayed with us at home until the evening, so she could do the monitoring checks as Rachel lost quite a lot of heat initially.
For the following 2 weeks, Joy visited us at home and this postnatal care was truly amazing – no need to even get out of bed or wear clothes, although I did make an effort by about day 10!
Having Joy with us during this journey is something that we will always treasure. We talk about the pregnancy and the birth a lot and share our story with anyone who asks! I birthed my baby, Joy was there for the birth, but her support during my pregnancy allowed the birth to happen as it could and should for every woman.