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1. The Lead Up And The Labour Of Luna Valentina Conroy

Every Wednesday is a struggle for us. This day combined with the 29th of the month just hits us, so we’ve renamed it ‘Wobbly Wednesday.’

I decided that seeing as there’s no 29th of February, it’s a Wednesday, and exactly 13 weeks (unlucky for some) since the day, now is the perfect time to conquer my negative emotions with ‘Wobbly Wednesday’s.’

Currently looking out to our garden covered in a perfect layer of fresh snow, from the comfort of our living room I plan to share with you my story…

“I thought waiting for maternity leave was a drag, but little did I know, baby Conroy had no intention of arriving until her due date, a further 2 and a half weeks later.”

It was at this point I realised she has the personality traits of her father wanting to get the most for her money, but in Luna’s case it was from the womb.

The nesting phase had come & gone, I had nested the crap out of nesting, every baby grow had a place, every bootie and bonnet were co-ordinated (more for Ryan’s sake and Luna’s street cred) and every pram lesson was a success, (to the point where I could even do it in heels)!

We were just in need of a little tiny person…

Ryan would return home from work each day and before he’d got in the door I would pounce on him, desperate for a conversation and reassurance that she would be here soon. He wasn’t allowed (and actually still isn’t) to leave a thing out of place as I had dusted and cleaned the house within an inch of its life so we would have a head start for when our baby bear would arrive.

“The true realisation that this would be my future day to day life was sinking in.”

Being a determined mother seeking the solution to get her baby girl moving, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I had all of the signs for the previous 3 weeks, intense Brixton Hicks, a show, various attempts of old wives tales and I even went in search of my own by trawling the internet, Twitter and Instagram comments.

“Today felt different, I had butterflies in my tummy and the urge to take more photos than normal. Today was my due date!”
“2 days prior, I was in the gym on the treadmill, side stepping and lunging my way to meet my daughter. She’s coming soon, I can feel it.”

I woke on the morning of D-Day, greeted by rays of sunshine. I had convinced myself several times (like all women on their due date), that I’m going to be pregnant forever. I had an urge to get out of the house and for sanity purposes, to keep moving. Mentally it was working, but whether it was physically was a different question.

I recall the fresh afternoon as if it were yesterday really crisp & warm. I had Ryan’s massive parka coat on but inside I was s.w.e.a.t.i.n.g. Whatever I had read I was doing; bouncing on my ball, rotating to dilate, uneven terrain, brisk walking, lunges, climbing hills, walking with one foot on the pavement and the other on the road… she was coming whether she liked it or not 🤗!

I had been a woman on a mission for over an hour and I began feeling a bit uncomfortable. I questioned whether I was pushing myself too hard or if I was tired, but the uncomfortableness persisted. The only word that came to mind was ‘twingey.’ Funnily enough this was the word all pregnant ladies I had spoken to, had described this very early labour feeling.

I was only 10 minutes from home as I had promised Ryan I wouldn’t drive anywhere and I wouldn’t go far. We are lucky enough to live next to a rabbit run of walks so I made my way home and decided it would be best to use my contraction timer app. I avoided disturbing Ryan at work as I knew he would be home shortly and I didn’t want to raise his hopes if it was a false alarm.

Instead, he called me as he always did walking out of work and asked how I was and how my day had been.

“The first thing I said was it’s been amazing but you need to get pizzas!”

I was a crazy heavily pregnant ‘full term baby with possible twinges, it’s going to be soon or is it’ lady who had every reason for a pizza or 2. I told him not to get excited BUT I had been using my contraction timer app and I would show him when he got home.

Well that was it, within 35 minutes he was through the door with bags of shopping (I’d only asked for pizzas), biscuits for the midwives, sweets, energy drinks, a selection of fruit and nibbles and the greatest beam on his face. That’s my Ryan ❤️

We got a bit excited and had our food but by 6pm that excitement began to fade as the twinges were wearing off. We were a bit disappointed and I got a bit teary thinking not again, please not another day. By the time we tidied up, bounced on my ball for a bit longer and settled down to watch I’m A Celebrity, it was 9pm. We had a sofa each so I could lay on my left side and before I knew it I began dozing off.

10:33pm, holy crap. I jumped up as I felt like I’d wet myself and summoned Ry to get the kitchen roll ASAP. Oh my god that was close, it nearly got on the sofas was my first and last thought.

10:36pm WOW. The flood gates had opened and I was along for the ride, there was no denying it my waters had broken. Luckily the pool (which had been inflated for nearly a month and was collecting dust) was only a few steps away so I tried as fast as I could to make it before I felt the river Thames come pouring out of me and into the empty pool.

“Holy shit I got what I asked for, this is actually happening on her due date how weird and there’s no going back now.”

Ryan helped me up the stairs to the toilet and as I sat there he just stood there fixated on me with a look of fear, excitement and happiness. He didn’t know what to do, where to go, who to ring or anything, (men in general), so I phoned the labour ward at the hospital, explained my situation and the fact I was having a home birth. Yes you read right, a home birth.

People’s perception of a home birth are 80% horror and 20% amazement. To me it was a no brainer, I refused to allow people to ‘put me off’ or to force me into the idea of a hospital environment. We don’t live nearby a midwife led birthing unit as I wanted, so home for me was the best place.

In preparation, I learned what there was to know about the mind and coping mechanisms as the pain relief would be non existent. A combination of meditation, hypnobirthing and breathing techniques became my close friends alongside gravitational positions and the basic science on ‘how it works’, (a big thanks to our Daisy Birthing teacher Kate Sprague for this)!

Also having researched, discussed and understood the required mental state for the mother to give birth in the most natural way possible, this for me was perfection. Not forgetting that my superhero of a sister had done this 3/4 times too!

“Even to this day, my labour remains an incredible memory. Calm, comfortable and even better than I had envisioned. It was absolute perfection and I wouldn’t have changed a thing.”

Anyway, the nice lady at the hospital said that someone would be on their way ‘shortly’ to inspect me and it seemed as though as soon as I hung up, everything began almost instantly. The pains were ramping up and becoming more intense, my nerves were getting the better of me and the niggling doubts in the back of my mind we’re kicking in. This wasn’t ‘selfie time with bump’ anymore, this was ‘shits getting real with bump’ so I instructed Ryan to get the living room cosy, candlelit and as I had envisioned.

It was mid contraction on our second floor banister that it suddenly hit me like a train, by tomorrow we will finally be meeting our little angel.

“Nesting mode kicked in and I instructed Ry to make my vision a reality, he did just that.”

The fairy lights, lamps and Christmas tree were switched on, my favourite candles had been lit, my labour playlist was filling the house on surround sound, and the snacks were dished up. Here. We. Go.

An hour or so later the midwives arrived, Mel the one with the lovely blue eyes and false eyelashes and a younger lady with a friendly face Dani who was a last year student. I’d never met either of them before yet I felt totally at ease. They stayed for a short while and said they were unsure whether to leave me or not. Mel joked about how I was too smiley to be in early labour but I may be hiding it well as I’m ‘a tough gym lady,’ but we all agreed for them to leave us for a few hours and that they would come back with just a phone call.

My mind began to play tricks. It felt like the second they left I instantly felt like I couldn’t manage, I needed them back, I began to feel every contraction. I was poised against the kitchen surface, rocking away, remembering all I had learned at my Daisy Birthing classes regarding breathing techniques and using gravity to my advantage.

Ryan was amazing, and amazingly helpless. He tried his best to keep me company, but it was too early to fill the pool and there wasn’t anyone else for him to talk to or to do. We already agreed we wouldn’t tell our parents and worry them until our little dot is here and how we would surprise them on FaceTime after a couple of hours of alone time.

Within the hour I needed them back and they arrived very quickly. They offered me gas and air but I was too afraid to use it. Within half an hour, I was sucking on that gas like my life depended on it, holy shit this baby is coming. Ryan had pretty much entered me into a wet t-shirt competition by spraying me with a faulty tap adaptor in the kitchen. Ironically we had checked that adaptor multiple times for weeks before this but it wasn’t taking the pressure of the hose. To my delight, every couple of minutes I would be sprayed with warm water!

That was it, having tried multiple times under candlelight to fix it, Ryan (bless his heart) had no other option than to fill 1 huge birthing pool with 1 bucket from 1 amazing pair of arms and 1 hearty amount of determination.

“Although it may have taken 4 hours, in heinsight this was the best thing to have happened for Ryan’s sanity.”

I was becoming tired, so I laid on my left side on the sofa, against what I had learned about using gravity and staying upright, Mel assured me this would be fine and it would let me sleep in the interim. This was amazing.

They were monitoring baby bear throughout and religiously I would remove my earphone and ask how she was. Her heart rate is perfect, she’s a very happy baby in there, they would say. I gained strength from these words knowing I was doing this for her and every minute was a minute closer to us meeting.

“I was able to find a coping mechanism which was to rock backwards and forwards on my side, count in my head, focus on my music and drift off to labour land.”

If only Ryan had found his coping mechanism. He struggled throughout, unable to watch, being repeatedly sick and trying his best to hold my hand and put on a brave face for me. It must have been awful for him to watch me, and deal with my emotions in such an intense environment, one minute I wanted him all over me and the next I wanted to go it alone so he wouldn’t see me suffer.

I take my hat off to every single partner who has and will experience labour as it’s not easy to watch the love of your life in pain and feel helpless. I would have happily gone through it all again than for the roles to be reversed. (That’s only because he wouldn’t cope)! 😁

I remember cheekily asking how long until the pool would be ready and as much as they all tried to reassure me it was nearly done, I think they told me this for over 2 hours, but it worked! All I remember thinking was time is such a crazy thing in labour.

“I was helped into the pool like a baby rhino and then I felt it. Oh my good lord. It. Is. Heaven. Wow.”

The hot water on my back, the ability to float like a weightless baby whale and to have a comfy headrest was incredible. I was repeatedly woken by either a straw poked into my mouth to drink, a haribo tangfastic for sugar levels, or a thermometer in between contractions. It got to a point nearing the end where I didn’t know which was which. I looked up at the clock and it was 6:25am. Holy shit I had been in labour for nearly 8 hours (the equivalent to an actual working day, crazy) and I was nearly there already, I’m actually doing this!

Just as I thought this, the contractions were becoming unbearable and I knew that this had to be the point I read in my baby books, the transition phase.

“All I remember thinking was how do some women in my books think this is orgasmic, what f**king weirdos.”

Lizzie had been my main homebirth midwife throughout my pregnancy. As I removed my earphone to check on my girls heartbeat, I was told that Lizzie would be starting work soon and she would be coming straight to me. I was so happy to have another goal to reach.

The contractions at this stage were ridiculous. I’m breaking out in hot sweats as I type, taking myself back to that moment. They really had taken over my body, I was urging as I breathed and my body was naturally pushing my daughter down the birth canal.

“At that moment I thought the human body is f**king incredible.”

Before I knew it Lizzie had arrived along side Anne-Marie another midwife. Here I was surrounded by these angels, I thanked heaven above for sending me 4 midwives for the birth of my daughter. It confirmed my reasons for wanting a home birth all over again as the level of care was phenomenal and Luna couldn’t have timed her arrival any better.

Mel & Dani we’re supposed to head back to the hospital for the end of their shift but they decided to wait and meet Luna as they had been there since the start. This also meant they could avoid the notorious 8:30am Derriford traffic.

“What we didn’t know at the time was that their decision was soon to be a miracle.”

Lizzie was a fresh person to hold my hand, whisper words of encouragement and above all Lizzie is renowned to be the perinium expert. Perfect. (Aka – The expert in keeping the foof in tact)!

The butterflies in my tummy are at an all time high right now as I relive the feelings of determination and excitement to hold my girl. With an audience ready and waiting it was time for Luna and I to take centre stage and to show Ryan the strength I had to deliver our daughter.

The pushing stage was the most horrendous pain I have EVER felt in my entire life. After a good few pushes and a change in position I remember uncontrollable tears running down my face, I was completely overwhelmed with fear, happiness, sickness and excitement.

I repeatedly chanted to her, come on baby girl we can do this, we can do this. They couldn’t get her heartbeat as she was so low and said on the next contraction give a big push and she will be here. I didn’t panic and no one seemed to be too concerned at this point so I looked up to see Ryan with his top off waiting to catch our daughter in the pool. It hit me there and then, she will be here any minute, I get to meet the face of my beautiful angel.

The wait for another contraction was eternal. I felt Luna make a big movement and my face said it all. Lizzie thought another contraction was coming but I explained I felt her move which thinking about it, I hadn’t really felt or couldn’t remember feeling throughout labour. It was the feeling I needed to give me the strength to push with all my might and every single thing I had left in me.

I said she was stuck and the only way I can describe was that she was on a bungee cord getting lower and lower with each push and then springing back up again until the next contraction.

The encouragement by everyone was extraordinary. I heard, “Last one Aimee as soon as you get it push and she will be here, push push push, Ryan look at all of her hair.” The wait for a lifetime and probably only less than a minute, I pushed so hard I thought my organs would come out with her, but that was it! She was here! Oh my god! That feeling of relief, and amazement that my poor little foof had done it! ❤️

I looked up to see the faces of Lizzie and Ryan stood side by side, of which this image still makes me feel sick, why isn’t everyone smiling?

I was passed Luna for all of a split second and even then I tried to push her away to see her face and get a look at her as she felt like a jelly baby.

“This was not the feeling of euphoria I was expecting, why isn’t she crying, what’s going on?”

…continued Wednesday 7th March.

Aimee x


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