I became Kerri’s midwife for the first time near the end of her second pregnancy. Her first birth had been very traumatic for her. She had been young and hadn’t been treated in a way that left her feeling empowered, quite the opposite actually…
I had gotten a call from Kerri’s mum, Jenny, who told me that Kerri didn’t want to go to the hospital to birth her baby this time. She wanted to stay at home. They were desperate to find a midwife who did home births and Kerri was almost into her 3rd trimester already.
Kerri and her partner, Shane, birthed Kerri’s second daughter together, at home, in water, with dignity. It was lovely.
Another home birth
Several years later, Kerri contacted me again to ask if I would be their midwife for her third baby. Kerri told me that her girls, Rylie and McKenna, were both doing well. Kerri wanted another home birth. No surprise there, as I have never had a woman birth at home and then want to go to hospital.
By the end of the pregnancy, they were all living at Kerri’s mother’s place. Kerri’s contractions started a few days after the 40 week ‘due date’. I arrived at their house early in the morning and was greeted at my car by Shane, who helped me carry in my bags. He explained that he had already set up the birthing pool and was getting it filled to a temperature that suited Kerri. He was obviously feeling proud and excited as he told me how well Kerri was doing. He seemed very conscious of his importance in this birth and took his role seriously.
The team arrives…and keeps on arriving
Kerri was well underway by the time I arrived, so I called my back up midwife, Michelle Carse, to come. She arrived with her still-breastfeeding baby boy in tow after having received the “OK” from Kerri and her family to bring him. This was the third home birth Keenan had attended with his Mum, as backup for me!
As the early hours of the morning progressed, we had an interesting ‘assortment’ of support people arrive at the house. When the first car pulled into the driveway, I looked out with a questioning glance and Shane said, “Oh, that will be our mums.” In walked Kerri’s mum, Jenny, and Shane’s mum. Linda. In fairly short order, another car pulled in and as I glanced out again with another questioning look, Shane said, “Oh, that will be our grandmothers,” and in walked Shane’s mum’s mum, Marge. and Kerri’s mum’s mum, Ellen. Already in the house were Kerri, Shane and their two daughters Rylie and McKenna. Now we had two grandmothers and two great grandmothers as well!
There were lots of excited whispers coming from the kitchen as the battery of women busied themselves doing dishes, folding laundry, baking scones and having cups of tea at the kitchen table. There was an occasional head popping in the lounge to see how Kerri was “getting on” with the business at hand. Some of them took turns sitting with Kerri, holding her hand or just being close. They were quietly making sure that Kerri and Shane were aware of their presence and their calm, confident support.
After a bit, Kerri’s Mum pointed to a picture on the wall and said to me, “Today would have been her 92nd birthday. That’s my grandmother, Mae. I knew this baby would come today, I just knew it!”
I could barely believe my ears. Then I thought… of course! It’s happened so many times, babies choosing to be born on significant days for those we loved who have been here before.
Eva Edison Mae was born at 7:20AM on the 5th of August 2013, her great great-grandmother Mae’s birthday. After her birth, the family told me how 3 years before, they had brought Mae home to die. She had been on a hospital bed in this very lounge. Eva Edison Mae had just been born on Mae’s birthday in the same room where Mae had died!
Life is full of magic. It is all around us. All we need to do is to slow down, pay attention, and it happily reveals itself to us. About an hour and a half after Eva was born, she was dressed, via a group effort, and each of the grandmothers and great grandmothers proceeded to have their turn with cuddles. I was able to photograph some really precious moments. With the early morning light streaming in on the new baby’s face, Ellen held her great granddaughter for the first time. Eva had been born on what would have been Ellen’s mother’s 92nd birthday. As she looked into Eva’s eyes for the first time, Eva reached up as if to touch her face and clearly vocalised as if to say “Hello”…again?
Sharon Robinson worked as an LMC midwife for more than 12 years in Stratford, New Zealand. She has recently relocated up to the Parakai – Helensville area Northwest of Auckland to be nearer to her adult children. She has been featured in news stories such as http://www.stuff.co.nz/taranaki-daily-news/features/8255012/Special-deliveries and http://www.nzherald.co.nz/stratford-press/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503390&objectid=11090460.
You can read more about her at http://www.findyourmidwife.co.nz/midwife/sharon+robinson