Remembering the birth of my child, the beginning of my life as a mother, of our life as parents, makes me weep with joy every time. Home birth was a given, I cannot remember us even discussing a hospital delivery. I was so extremely lucky, with supportive friends, understanding family, generous experts and the fact that we lived in the right place at the right time.
First, there was Mrs Ritchie, a retired nurse/midwife who phoned one day and offered free-of charge ante natal classes to both of us. There was a vague connection, a friend of a friend who knew her as a midwife in Nigeria during the Biafra war. There we sat on the carpet in her sitting room and practised breathing and afterwards she poured the tea and offered home made cake.
Then the midwife, pragmatic Helen who had delivered babies out in the sticks of West Cork for 40+ years, she charged 50 pounds for her services, which included three ante-natal visits (the scheduled six were cut short because of the premature delivery) and four weeks of daily post-natal care incl. a pint of milk from her Jersey cows every day.
And then the doctor, this calm man who had delivered babies all over the place, he charged us nothing, not a penny, for the entire ante-natal care and all the back and forth during labour, incl. staying with us for the final 15 hrs of labour throughout the night. In the end R planted a walnut tree in his garden.