The greatest joy was to become a Mummy and Daddy; the second was to be given the gift of One to One.

Throughout my life children were never an option or even something I would begin to consider as a result of an overwhelming phobia of hospitals and doctors; an affliction I have unfortunately developed due to repeated bad experiences throughout my life. When you begin to consider the possibility of having a baby the first thing that springs to mind is the repeated horror stories you hear from your friends of the 72-hours they endured horrendous pain or the screams of the women you watch in hospital on programmes like One Born Every Minute. The constant moans of women about the endless list of appointments they need to attend and waiting times in hospitals; the lack of choices they have had regarding their bodies or their yet to be born child. It can kind of be off putting, and you find yourself thinking why on earth would I want to put myself through all this? But this needn’t be the case, as I found when I sent my referral through to One to One Midwives.

I found out about the service from my Nanna who attended an event celebrating 100 years of the Suffragettes in early 2018. My Nanna explained she had spoken with a lovely lady at the stand One to One had at this event and had taken a leaflet to give to me after hearing all about the service. I had recently found out that myself and my Fiancé were pregnant with our first baby. We were overjoyed at the prospect of becoming parents however the excitement felt by everyone else was somewhat overshadowed for me by my phobia’s knowing that I would, for the next 9 months, be forced to face my fears and attend appointment after appointment in doctor’s surgeries and hospitals.

After several appointments and an unfortunate trip to A+E after taking a tumble down the stairs at 7 weeks pregnant it seemed that my fears and anxieties were not going to disappear anytime soon after yet more bad experiences. In addition to this I was also battling chronic morning sickness which almost found me admitted into hospital on 3 separate occasions due to severe dehydration. All things considered my mental health had taken a bit of a beating and I was left feeling really low and struggling to enjoy pregnancy or the excitement of having a baby.

I contacted One to One Midwives after doing some research with my Fiancé and family who were becoming increasingly worried about me, my health and my state of mind. The promise of care within my own home with an assigned midwife who I could build a relationship and trust with seemed too good to be true, but we were prepared to try anything, and a referral was put in.

A lovely lady named Sarah Heywood contacted me a few days later and introduced herself as a midwife from One to One. We spoke on the phone for over half an hour and arranged an initial home visit. Sarah came out to meet myself and my fiancé the following week and explained in detail the One to One service and outlined the importance of my rights, my choices and listened intently to my story. I explained to Sarah in detail my anxieties, my fears and the experiences I had been faced with so far in my pregnancy which were heard by Sarah in such a caring, none judgemental way. I immediately felt at ease with Sarah; comfortable, respected and in control of my body, my pregnancy. Sarah explored the idea of a home birth with myself and my fiancé, something we had previously been told was not an option, alongside the midwife led unit due to being branded a “High Risk Pregnancy” due to my BMI by a former midwife. Sarah explained that this would not be an issue in regards to the One to One service and provided us with information about the idea of a homebirth and birthing pool enabling us to make an informed decision. Sarah then went on to explain that being “High risk” was not something I needed to be worried about; this just meant I would be monitored more closely and have access to growth scans every 4 weeks throughout my pregnancy.

Sarah introduced myself and my Fiancé to a concept called “Hypnobirthing” and invited us to join a Hypnobirthing class ran by the One to One Midwifery Service. Sarah explored how Hypnobirthing would support me through my anxieties and fears and provide ideas, tips and constructive coping mechanisms to get me through my pregnancy and the birth. I looked into Hypnobirthing in more detail and decided this would be useful for me, however I couldn’t face my anxieties of attending a class with other people around and explained this to Sarah.

Again, nothing was too much for Sarah in regards to supporting me and she offered to conduct the class in private for myself and my fiancé at home. Sarah visited regularly throughout my pregnancy conducting all my pre-natal appointments within the comfort of my own home, alongside our own private hypnobirthing sessions. The trust built between myself and Sarah enabled me to feel comfortable with her examining me, taking blood and other pregnancy related checks free from crippling anxiety and the fear of attending a doctor’s surgery or hospital. Above all else, Sarah respected me, my choices and was never forceful but patient, caring and understanding.

Being able to have these appointments at home enabled me to begin to enjoy my pregnancy and as opposed to fearing appointments, I began to look forward to them. In addition to this all scans were conducted at the One to One Hub based in Crewe and were personal and special; not the cattle market 3 hour wait experience we had been subjected to prior to joining One to One. Being greeted by friendly smiling faces of the lovely staff at One to One really does make all the difference.

Later on in my pregnancy Sarah introduced me to Sammy Parkington and explained that she would be our MaMa (Mother and Midwife Assistant). Sammy would be available for all parenting relating support including feeding, bathing and general questions and support during those all-important initial few weeks of our new baby’s life. Sammy rang and introduced herself a few days after Sarah speaking with myself and my Fiancé and later that week came out to meet us. Myself and my fiancé instantly bonded with Sammy’s relaxed, friendly and funny personality and made us feel at ease in asking any parenting related questions no matter how big, small or silly. Sammy discussed all possible feeding options with myself in a judgement free way enabling me to make an informed decision that worked best for me, my baby and my family.

At approximately 11pm on the 1st of October 2018, I went into active labour. My fiancé contacted Sarah straight away who came 30 minutes later to my rescue after things began to develop rather quickly. Sarah examined me and confirmed that I was 7 centimetres dilated and got straight to work ensuring I was comfortable and calm reassuring me that I could do this. The birthing pool was filled and 1 hour after going into labour I was sat comfortably in my amazingly warm birthing pool, candles on and watching Harry Potter breathing through my contractions. The atmosphere was so calm, I was in familiar surroundings with familiar smells and friendly faces. I was calm and as a result so was my baby. Shortly after midnight Sarah was joined by the lovely Grace Talbot another One to One Midwife. Sarah and Grace took it in turns ensuring I was calm and comfortable, fetching me drinks and talking me and my fiancé through my contractions.

On the 2nd of October 2018 at 6:08am in the morning George Arthur William Dean was born calmly at home in the birthing pool after 7 hours in labour, weighing 8lb1oz. Myself and my fiancé were encouraged to be involved in lifting our beautiful baby boy up out of the water for those precious first cuddles and were allowed to sit and enjoy our little boy and all the emotions that came along with it without being rushed or pressured to move. He was perfect in every single way. I was checked over by Sarah before being fed and given a drink and supported into the shower by Grace leaving my fiancé having skin on skin time with our precious little boy. When I returned after my shower, it was as if nothing had happened; the pool had disappeared and had been packed away and my living room cleaned and tidied allowing me to sit down and relax with my new little family of 3.

The days after the birth of George were a big blur of blissful happiness supported by Sarah and Sammy. I attempted to breast feed and express supported by Sammy, but when this did not work out, I was able to move onto formula milk knowing that I had tried. I felt comfortable and happy seeing my little baby in the safe and capable hands of Sarah and Sammy during each of their visits and myself and my fiancé felt empowered as parents as a result of their support. Both Sarah and Sammy feel a part of the family now and we looked forward to their visits. I cannot begin to thank Sarah for the gift she has given me and my family in George, nor can I begin to thank Grace and Sammy enough for all their support in ensuring George arrived here safe and that myself and my fiancé can be the best possible parents to our little boy.

I never thought it possible that I could have a baby, be a parent or even successfully give birth to a child without causing them harm or damage due to my anxiety and fears, but One to One gave me a gift like no other and for that I will be forever grateful. I now cannot wait for another baby, a little brother or sister for George and cannot wait to have One to One back in our lives.