In February I gave birth to our second daughter, Nirvana Freya Lee. I was alone when she arrived and received her into my arms myself. It was a powerful and sacred moment. Here’s how her amazing birth unfolded…
I woke in the morning, the day before our ‘due date’. I had the slightest of tinglings in my tummy and mentioned to my partner as he went to work that maybe something would happen later. I took my older daughter to the nursery at about 8 am where I pointed out to her that the daffodils had flowered. ‘That means the baby will be born today mummy’ she said, entirely matter of fact. Maybe, I thought, maybe.
It was a beautiful sunny morning so I decided to drive to the beach and have a gentle walk. I had some extremely light tummy cramps beginning which I thought could be very early labour. As I walked on the beach I breathed deeply, listening to the calm sea rolling in and out. I felt completely peaceful and full of joy (I now think that I was already totally flooded with oxytocin so this is probably why I felt so blissed out!) When my tummy tensed I looked at the sea, and let the slow, gentle lapping of the waves relax me.
I needed to collect a prescription from the supermarket and had a craving for some avocado, but I’d left my purse at home. So I drove home, my mind was split down the middle – with half of me thinking I should just go inside and run a bath, the other half thinking I should just pop to the shop and get my prescription so I wouldn’t be worrying about it. I figured that I was still able to walk and talk, the pains in my tummy were still very gentle and I was comfortably breathing through them, so I probably had plenty of time. On the way to the shop, a Nirvana song came on the radio…was this a sign our Nirvana would be born today? I laughed, I was beginning to think she might be.
I strolled around the shop, picked up a few bits, and got my prescription. Whenever my tummy pulled I just slowed my breathing and stood still, calm and quiet, then carried on.
My plan then was to go home, run a nice warm bath, and see where the day went. When I got home it was around 9:30 am. I called Alex, my partner, and said I thought he’d better let work know he needed to head home as I was in early labour. At 9:46 I text my midwife telling her I was having light contractions but that we could probably wait until the appointment we already had scheduled later in the day to see how I was doing. Then I got into a shallow bath. In the water I felt maybe 2 surges, starting to feel a little stronger, I leaned over the side of the bath with my bump in the water and quietly breathed. I had a strong instinct to get out of the bath, as nice as it felt. I went to our bedroom and leaned over the bed, speaking to Alex on the phone who was on his way, about twenty mins away. I told him I just wanted to stay where I was and I was ok, but that perhaps I’d give the midwife a call. So, I tried calling her (call logged at 10:13), but there was no reply. I knew I could call the hospital switchboard and ask them to send a midwife from the homebirth team out (as I was planning to have a homebirth anyway), but the number was on my notes downstairs. So in the space between contractions, I went downstairs and found the number. Kneeling on the floor in the hallway I breathed through another contraction as they transferred me through to the maternity unit. As the person I was put through to said ‘hello?’ I said ‘just a minute I’m having a contraction’! At this pm’mt I was still silently breathing through each surge, even though they felt stronger now. I told them I was in labour and could they send the on-call midwife. (Call logged at 10:14-10:18).
Then I walked to the living room where I threw a blanket over my birth ball and a towel on the floor and knelt down, leaning over the ball. As I had walked through I felt a wave of nausea, which I had felt in my previous labour as I was transitioning – but I thought ‘I can’t be transitioning. It’s too soon.’ I still hadn’t felt the need to make any sounds at all, quietly breathing through contractions, which I thought was a sign there was still some way to go.
Alex called me back from the car at 10:20, then hung up to take a call from the midwife. In between his call at 10:20 and the next call from him at 10:26 I felt the sensations suddenly change to a feeling of the baby pushing DOWNWARDS. And as I finally decided a little noise might help and started to groan, my waters went splash with a very strong downwards contraction. Alex called me back in time for me to say ‘I think she’s coming now!’ And then I felt the most incredibly strong downwards push of her head and I ROARED loud and long before feeling her head come out. I put my hand down to feel her head and think I probably had just enough time to yell ‘it’s her head!’ before I was roaring again and the rest of her body slipped out into my hands. I picked her up and brought her up to my chest, crying ‘she’s here, she’s here!!’ as she let out a healthy cry – all of which Alex heard over the speakerphone in his car.
He told me he was about 10 minutes away and said he’d call the midwife and see how far she was and tell her our baby had been born and I was on my own.
As he hung up I sat down and pulled a blanket over us both. In the minutes before he and the midwife arrived, I held her close and kissed her. She was still crying – which was a relief as I knew it was a good sign she was ok – and I thought ‘I should sing to her to help her know she’s safe’. I picked a song I knew she’d recognize since we’d been singing it to her big sister every night for months, which was the lullaby song, ‘All Is Found’ from Frozen 2 () and through a very shaky voice I sang to her. I’m not sure of the exact time of her birth, but I make it around 10:30 some time.
I’d like to say a whole lot more about how all this felt and has felt since. It took time to process and I was in shock for a few days I think! I was regretful that I was alone, but also felt such incredible power in that moment – the power that I will carry with me every day. I am so grateful that my body and our baby knew what to do, my instincts kicked in, and that all was well with us both.
Nirvana is now a very happy, healthy 7-month-old!
After I had my first daughter I was taken aback at discovering a new sensuality. It was something brand new to enjoy such physical intimacy and closeness in a totally non-sexual way – with my new baby. For the first time I shared my body and my nakedness with another person in a way that was not romantic, but full of a love I hadn’t known before. In the initial months after birth it was this relationship that took centre-stage as I breastfed, bathed and slept with my baby.
After my second daughter was born it was only weeks before the whole country was put into lockdown, throwing our family into an intense bubble of new baby, adjusting big sister and us parents trying to hold it together while we too adapted to our new family shape in the midst of such a strange time. In all honesty, we found very little time or energy for intimacy with one another until we came through the other side of that.
During pregnancy, I have absolutely fallen in love with the shape of my body, but after it has always felt like a sharp drop: empty, leaking, hair falling out, tired and aching. I went from feeling like a goddess to very unattractive overnight – as I’m certain many women do. But as I processed my birth I found my goddess-likeness again, in a new and deeper way than appearances.
I’m Naomi, I live with my two daughters (3 years & 7 months) and partner in the South West of England, close to the beach. After my first beautiful home birth, I trained as a breastfeeding peer supporter and doula. When I’m not on maternity leave I work for a UK educational charity. I’m passionate about social justice, equality, and radical self-love.