Review: The Baby’s Coming by Virginia Howes

This book tells the inspiring story of Virginia Howes and how she came to be an independent midwife, which she has been doing for 14 years. It’s not a typical career path though: young mum, kissogram, midwife! It’s written in a lovely, friendly, down-to-earth style, and you feel as though you are sitting down and having a nice cup of tea and a chat with Virginia as she tells her stories.

Virginia’s book gives a good insight into hospital birth and working on a maternity ward, from describing her own birth experiences (I assumed she must have had all lovely positive home births which is not the case) and while she was training. I know things have improved since then but I do feel that a lot of what is considered normal practice in hospitals is done for the convenience of the hospital staff, and not necessarily to the benefit of the mother and baby. There is also an element of luck involved as to what type of midwife you get when you arrive – one that wants to be in control of the situation or one who is happy to take a woman-centred approach.

However the absolute best thing about this book is the birth stories. If you’ve ever had a baby, are expecting one or would like to have one, this book is full of lovely stories that will bring a tear to your eye. Some are heartwarming, some funny, some dramatic and some very sad. They are all well worth reading. If you’re a midwife or thinking of becoming one you should definitely read this book and think hard about the type of midwife you want to be.

This book also makes me a bit sad that not all women have access to this kind of care during pregnancy and birth. Having had Virginia as my independent midwife during my second pregnancy, I know from first-hand experience that it makes such a difference to have continuity of care and have someone that you know and trust, and who knows you, your history and your wishes, at the birth. It was lovely to be treated like a person rather than a disaster waiting to happen. Sadly this type of care might not be available much longer as Independent Midwifery will become illegal due to EU Legislation which means independent midwifes have to have insurance – yet no insurance is currently available for them to buy!

I read this book in under a week – no mean feat with a 3 year old and a newborn baby in the house! I found it unputdownable, and I’ve already lent it to one of my friends who is expecting. It was really interesting to learn about Virginia’s life and what led her to become a midwife. I’d just like to know if my birth story might feature in one of Virginia’s future books!

In Limbo

So, my freezer is full of home cooked meals, the baby clothes are all washed and put away, the home birth kit is ready to go… My due date is fast approaching and there is nothing left to do but wait.  I feel like I’m in a strange kind of limbo land, 40 weeks of pregnancy is nearly up but there have been no signs that baby wants to leave her comfy home just yet.  I’ve done all the jobs I wanted to do, and for the first time in my adult life I don’t have a to-do list.  It’s freeing but also a little unsettling, I am a person who likes to Get Things Done and I’m not very good at sitting around.  I have one project left to finish, which is the baby blanket I have been crocheting for the past 6 months or so (it’s my first ever crochet project), I’m almost scared to finish it because then what will I do with myself!

I also feel heavy with the weight of everyone else’s expectations.  When we go to playgroup or preschool, or even answer my phone, other people seem a little disappointed.  They are excited too so they are hoping I won’t be there because I am in labour!  My first was induced at 40+10 after my waters broke, so I was expecting to be late with this one as well, but it’s much harder this time because I can’t just hide from the world at home watching movies and reading or taking naps (oh how I miss naps right now!).  Personally I don’t consider the baby to be truly overdue until 42 weeks, so until then I’m just waiting for her to decide she’s ready.  What I will do if I’m still pregnant at 42 weeks I don’t know, hopefully I won’t have to find out!

I was getting a bit fed up and grumpy until I found that someone else has given the last few days (or weeks) of pregnancy a name: Zwischen, which is German for ‘between’.  Just reading that other people feel like this at this time has made me feel so much better, and made it easier to accept.  I definitely feel like I am not quite in this world at the moment, not quite one thing or the other, just waiting…and waiting.