Website of Lina Clerke -

Holistic Bowen Therapist,
Midwife &
Childbirth Educator Sussex UK


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Manifesting Polly. An unexpected homebirth!

Mostly when we tell people that we had a surprise home birth they are completely horrified and say, "that must of been awful" or "no midwife? no doctor? no drugs? how on earth did you do it?" and always, "Peat must have freaked out completely."

To tell you the truth it was great. It was beautiful. Peat was absolutely fantastic and I honestly cannot imagine it any other way. The key being that we felt totally prepared for the birthing process and yet still aware that it would be something surreal, other worldly and unpredictable. We had prepared a fairly extensive birth plan and we both trusted and had faith in our support person, Ambika. We also had been going to Lina's classes for 5 months and had completed her workshop which I fully endorse especially for partners (it definitely made a difference for us).

We had planned to have Polly at the Royal Women's Birthing Center which we had both felt very comfortable with, until we passed the official due date of expectancy, June 26th. I had always felt that the baby would be a July baby so I was not concerned but then appointments were made for foetal monitoring and placenta measurements and blah, blah, blah, a doctors appointment on July 6th.

At this appointment I was prodded inside and out, offered to have my waters broken, offered some castor oil and told I was 2cm dilated. This meant nothing for all I could hear was "you could be endangering your baby," (all test results were healthy!), "We have to induce you on the 10th July no questions will be a male doctor." Right then and there I wanted to head to the hills and give birth in a cave. No way was I going to be induced and especially not by a stranger. No way was I giving birth in the labour ward. And no way was some doctor I had never met going to deliver me of my child. Final.

The midwives were great, suggesting Peat and I go out for dinner (something spicy),have some wine, a good talk about any issues, a long bath, make love and they reassured me that they'd probably see me later that night in labour.

Well that night passed and the next and the next. It was Monday the 9th. We were quite pissed off and anxious about the birth, now being under pressure to perform in about 24 hours. Peat anguishly decided to go to work. It broke my heart for the first hour or two but then I set to welcoming this babe into my life. I got out my homoeopathics, set out Lina's information from the workshop, got the castor oil out, lit the oil burner, cast a circle of welcoming for the babe and got to washing baby clothes. I found myself grateful for this solitary time to allow in the essence of who I was to become, to welcome and pray for the babe and to take one last final breath for the lifestyle I had known.

Peat called at lunchtime. He was a mess. He had accidently smashed a glass, somehow broken a computer and was generally fumbling his way through the work day. We now had less than 24 hours until our 11am appointment for induction.

2:40 pm I decide I have to take some desperate action to help bring on labour. I did something I swore I'd never do. I drank some castor oil. (absolutely disgusting).

3:30 pm I kind of felt something which I thought maybe could be a contraction but my body had been doing interesting things for a few days and it felt nothing like the contractions brought on by food poisoning earlier in the pregnancy. I also had a small show. I'd been having these for a few days

4 pm I called Ambika to decide whether to go to Lina's class. I am totally in two minds about it. Lina said that she would dedicate the class to bringing on my babe and I have faith that it would work. However, I just didn't feel like seeing anyone. I decide not to go.

4:20 pm I go a little tight again and this time feel a bit nauseous.

In the next hour the castor oil went straight through me.

5:30 pm I greet Peat at the door and tell him we're in labour. Peat makes a big pasta meal in preparation for the long night. I cannot eat it.

6:30 pm I casually call the birth center just to let them know things have started.

Then I was spending most of my time in the bathroom on the toilet due to the initial castor oil reaction and the now seemingly constant urge to push out a pooh.

7 pm My waters break. Peat calls the birth center. The waters are clean. The midwife asks if we want to go into the center.

During contractions I say, "yeah, maybe we'll go into the birth center now," but as soon as they fade, "no it's cool, let's stay home longer."

Peat calls Ambika.

Ambika arrives all smiles but I don't want to see her. I don't much want to see Peat either.

It all happened very quickly from here on. We decide I'll have a shower. So I get up from the toilet and my vagina is burning. "Get me a hot flannel," I call. I put it against me. Mmm, feels good. I hop in the shower. I don't really enjoy it so we think a bath. Yay! Then we remember something about not having a bath once your waters have broken, (we realize later that's only in hospital), so I start to hop out of the bath and as I'm hopping out I have a desire to feel what's going on. I touch between my legs and say to Peat, "I don't know if it's me I'm touching or something else" and then I'm out of the bath and leaning on Peat and saying, "fuck. if it hurts this much now imagine how much it is going to hurt in 10 hours!" Phone rings. Peat leaves the bathroom. Ambika enters for the first time. I'm standing at the basin, (no thoughts, pure involvement), with my hand between my legs supporting the babe's head as it enters this life. "Beautiful," Ambika says and calls for Peat. Peat enters. I now have thoughts again. I have a thought of the out dated pregnancy book I was reading that morning. It said if you are in an emergency situation where you go into labour at the office or at home call an ambulance immediately. And so I said dramatically, "call an ambulance!" Peat calls his sister Pauline. Peat returns to the bathroom and squats behind me and tells me to do whatever I have to do and with that Polly slips out to be caught in the cradle of Peat's shirt.

There is blood everywhere. I remember thinking it looked like Pulp Fiction.

Peat held Polly and we watched her instinctual reflex of out stretched arms and then she gave a tiny cry. We were happy that Polly was safe and healthy.

I then lifted my leg over Peat and Polly to sit on the toilet and Polly was handed to me and put to my breast. (We realized later that Peat could have simply passed Polly through my legs.) I asked what time it was...

8:07 pm Pauline arrived and gave me a well deserved cuddle and kiss and wrapped a blanket around me for I was shaking uncontrollably.

Then the ambulance arrived. The attendants left the front door open and then complained that it was cold in the house. They decided that we should cut the cord. Regular procedure. I questioned it but at the time I didn't really care what happened. At least they offered for Peat to cut the cord, which he did. Then they took Polly. I told Peat to go with her. One attendant suctioned her even though she was breathing perfectly. The other attendant questioned the suctioning. And then off we went, Peat, Polly and I, in the ambulance to the birth center to continue the birth...of the placenta.

The midwives were very excited to see us and were so very proud of the home delivery. The placenta seemed like an annoying afterthought which I had to try really hard at delivering, unlike Polly which was very instinctual, an overwhelming force.

9 pm Placenta is finally delivered on a birthing stool.

The most painful bit - stitches. I sucked down gas and focused hard on Peat and Polly.

12 pm At last a happy family.

We stayed gratefully at the birth center for 2 nights where we were well loved and shown numerously how to breastfeed and change nappies and we ate 3 course meals!

If I could turn back time I'd like...

  • visual and audio documentation
  • my support people to stick sternly to the birth plan
  • to be guided in breathing Polly out when I said I could feel her, to help avoid tearing
  • the ambulance not to be called unless Polly and I were in danger
  • the cord not to be cut until the placenta was delivered
  • Polly not to be unnecessarily taken away from me
  • to be driven to hospital by Ambika with everything we had packed for the birth
  • to have arranged with friends to prepare meals for us in at least the 2nd and 3rd weeks of family life, when my mum had gone home and Peat had returned to work.

Polly's birth was a very new and surreal experience for Peat, Ambika and I - our first birth! It was a wonderful and magical event which we each superbly responded to. I'd like to give special thanks and love to Peat, Ambika, Pauline, Lina and the Royal Women's Birth Center for aiding in the safe and enigmatic arrival of beautiful Polly.

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