One year ago today, in fact within the hour, at the time of writing, I experienced one of the moments of joy that will never leave me. My youngest daughter Harriet (Hattie) was born at home after a relatively short labour for my wife Sarah.
Labour commenced around 4.30pm and the community midwife arrived shortly after. We ate pizza, had a glass of wine and generally relaxed at home, with a playlist created for the occasion. When Hattie emerged, a track from Mercury Rev’s Deserter’s Songs was playing which seemed fitting in many ways as it was the album of our honeymoon in Umbria, seven years previously.
Compared to the complications and stress involved in giving birth at the local hospital, The Sussex County, Sarah was in her own bed, with our new bundle of joy, around midnight. The sun shone the following morning, and I, as a father, experienced a new sense of purpose. I felt more connected with nature than ever before, particularly as our 14 year old cat Betty, had managed to get into the centre of proceedings whilst Sarah was at the latter stages of labour. Climbing onto the side of the birthing pool, Betty stroked Sarah whilst she was literally giving birth. Remarkably and ever since, Betty has been like an aunty to Hattie and Flo, never scratching or lashing out as she often did with Flo, Hattie’s big sister.
So I’m glad to hear that the government is encouraging home births. It’s not for everyone and the team at the Sussex County and their genuine care is our overriding memory of the birth of our eldest daughter. We wanted a home birth the first time round and didn’t consider it a risk at all. Second time round we were fortunate to have wonderful support and treasured memories.