Day 4 – Food, Glorious Food


I am not sure if it is jet lag or just insomnia but I managed at most around 5 hours sleep last night and woke this morning feeling very tired, muggy and with a thick headache. I wondered if I could get through the day!



Sunia served me a lovely mushroom and cheese omelette, fresh orange, and peppermint tea in my room, which went a long way to reviving me before Sofia came in to have a girly chat. Sofia has a lot of life’s difficulties to bear right now, and although she does not want me to go into detail, due to personal circumstances her husband and she are estranged and he lives elsewhere with his aunt. Sofia has a deep sadness about her situation, but wears her pain with a quiet and mature dignity. She never raises her voice or lets her pain turn to bitter nastiness. My admiration for her and how she is dealing with her situation knows no bounds.


So, full of my lovely breakfast and following our chat, Sofia informs me that Grandmother (who was born in the caul) had said it was important that I had a meal to make me feel at home, so later this morning we are off to Munas’ house for a roast chicken lunch! Oh my goodness, lunch? Breakfast has not even gone down. I also knew that the plan for the evening was to go out for an evening meal with the whole extended family. At this rate I will be going home needing bigger clothes.


So to Munas’ for lunch, and following the delicious roast chicken with many different traditional accompaniments, I could easily have slept for a week. To keep awake instead I asked to be shown a hairdresser to get a blow dry. Typically, all the plug sockets in my bedroom were nowhere near any mirrors, and blow drying my own hair is not one of my few accomplished girly tasks let alone doing it without a visual guidance.



Like most “nice” shops, restaurants etc. the hairdresser shop was hidden behind high walls and greenery rather than being on the typical streets with shop fronts. It had everything you would expect of a beauty parlour and superficially was clean, although like most buildings I had been in, with the exception of the very western shopping mall, was a little battered, grubby and rough round the edges. However, the experience was great and the prices dirt cheap. I had a full pedicure and blow dry for the amazing price of 3800 Rupees (£18).



Muna had left me in the hairdresser with assurances that Sharif the driver would be waiting for me outside when I was ready to come home. He wasn’t, and for a few minutes I had a few cold feelings of dread; here I was alone in Karachi, a very unsafe city, it was dark, I was a westerner (so stood out like a sore thumb) and I was alone! Dark thoughts of kidnap had, once again, just started to creep in around the edges.


But a few minutes later the lovely Sharif pulled to halt right next to me. At this point I realised that the doorman, who were ever present at all establishments, had been keeping an eye on me and rushed forward to where I was standing next to the road, and opened the door for me with a reassuring nod of his head. My fundamental belief that most people are good was restored.




Unable to communicate with Sharif I sat and watched the night lights of Karachi pass by. With the dark of the night hiding the dirt, rubbish and decaying buildings it actually looked pretty and just like any other city in the world. We drove through wide brightly lit streets and then onto the sea front road, where vibrant coloured lights lit up the fun fair, and the night hid the appalling lack of safety precautions!


Now back home to get ready for the night out and yet another meal. Into my lovely Pakistani outfit, with my brightly painted toes and a preened hairstyle. The only thing missing to make me feel like a queen was my king by my side.



The restaurant we went to was a typical Pakistan meat feast establishment. Huge and over 4 floors it was obviously very popular with the locals. Alcohol is banned in Pakistan, which is a shame, because the varieties of meat consisting of chicken, lamb and goat in varying degrees of hot spice were so delicious that a glass of red would have complimented it no end. With many women covered up in Burkas and the rest in traditional dress I was glad of my outfit, because this was not a restaurant with western attitudes. Although I felt I blended in well my white skin and red hair still afforded me many a curious glance.


Finally home to bed, well fed well socialised but a little culturally shocked. Maybe a baby will come tonight!


Day 3 – A Trip to the Shop


Thinking I had escaped it, jet lag hit hard last night and, following a period of insomnia, I struggled to wake this morning at 10.30 and did so with a muggy head. Mornings in this household are late and unhurried, so it compliments my current cycle and, after a lazy cup of peppermint tea and some freshly squeezed orange juice served to me of course by one of the maids (I could get used to this), I felt a little better. Sunea and Rumi the maids are so lovely. Sofia has explained to me that they would otherwise live a very poor existence. Suneas’ family live in one room and without her salary and extra benefits (toiletries, education, food and clothes) life would be very different. That aside I find it very strange indeed to be waited on!



So today our first adventure was lunch in a French restaurant. I cannot say it was ‘posh’ by western ‘posh’ standards, but it was nice, clean and the food was absolutely delicious. I had a Rocket, strawberry and feta cheese salad and found lots more besides those ingredients in it to make it scrummy….. Muna and Sofia said we always need to keep fingers crossed about Deli belly, but so far so good.


I couldn’t help but to take more pictures of the shocking and amazing things I saw on the journey; like the spaghetti junction electrical wires and the children begging at the car as we stopped. Sofia always gives them Rupees and as she handed out hundreds of them to a gaggle of around 20 beggar children she did a quick calculation and converted the money to sterling for my information. Each child was receiving 80 pence which would feed each kid for a week. I couldn’t help but join in and spent a massive 200 Rupees myself to those grubby little hands.



Next, a trip to the local shopping Mall where, guarded by gun wielding security men, I felt safe and at home, especially when I saw shops that had home written all over them: Debenhams, Body Shop, Mango, Mothercare, not to mention all the normal food chains. I was not really interested in those shops, however, because (when in Rome and all that) I just wanted a Pakistani outfit. So bought a beautiful outfit consisting of silk trousers, a long floaty top and a scarf to finish off the look. Everyone speaks perfect English with a Pakistani singing accent, (except Sofia and her family who look and sound completely western) and so I was delighted when trying on my outfit two young women told me I looked lovely in it!



Home from the shopping Mall we followed the route along the sea front and I saw the beach. Although it was crowded with locals, camels, food sellers and even people swimming in the sea, it didn’t look very inviting for, as like the rest of Karachi, a day out at the beach would mean fighting with the rubbish for sand space. We were not close enough to see it but Sofia informed me that the romantic sounding Arabian sea was in fact black with pollution.


“A woman’s life and decisions here are run by committee.”


Home for the evening and I thought to relax and rest but, oh no, I had a difficult night ahead. Remember I said a Pakistani woman marries the family? Well a woman’s life and decisions here are run by committee, and the whole family came around for a discussion about Sofia’s plans for the birth of her baby. They are not party to the home birth plan, and rather they think Sofia will be staying home “for as long as possible”. So that we could even persuade them that was safe I sat them down to a showing of “The Business of Being Born”. Poor Sofia, I just want to pick her up and run for the hills.


Day 2- Birth Plans

I woke up this morning wondering what the day ahead would hold as I was going with Sofia to consult with a doctor. Sofia wants a home VBAC but her extended family are not supportive due to worries about safety. Pakistanis, no matter how westernised, are very patriarchal, and when a woman marries into a family she becomes a daughter of the in laws, to the extent that official and medical forms often ask her to document her husband’s father's name. The family were causing Sofia, and indeed themselves, quite a lot of stress due to Sofia’s birth choices. It appeared that the worry had little to do with the previous caesarean section, and more due just to them being ill informed about birth in general and knowing Sofia did not have a doctor involved. I was keen, for obvious reasons, to know the procedure should a problem occur in labour, and where we would head to. So Sofia found a female obstetrician who said she would like to meet me and supported Sofia in her plan for a VBAC.


The system in Pakistan is archaic to say the least. There is no simply turning up at a hospital, because if she is not booked with a doctor the administration would turn a woman away even in an emergency! One hospital even turned away an unmarried women. Later the baby died, but their view was that at least their reputation remained intact, because they had maintained honour in not condoning pregnancy outside of marriage.


Ok, so birth plan A) is that Sofia has a home VBAC with no problems, and then following the birth, she tells the family if need be that baby came too soon to get to the hospital. Plan B) is that, in case she changes her mind at any point, she needs to book a doctor who will be supportive of a physiological VBAC in hospital as well as being on hand for plan C) which is an emergency trip to the hospital should we need help. We are accompanied by Sofia’s mother Muna, who is in fact a Dutch woman married to a Pakistani. Muna knows the system very well and is fully supportive of her daughter, and the only other person in the household who knows about plan A (other than the two maids Sunea and Rumi who I will bring into the story a bit later).


Before heading off to the hospital we went to Muna’s house for lunch, and while there I was introduced to Sofia’s grandmother who is 88 years old. While frail of body her mind is sharp and we began to share a few stories. I told her about one of my clients in UK who has had 10 babies, and I told the story of the biggest baby whose birth I attended who weighed 12 lbs 120z and was born at home, and she shared stories back with me.

She told stories of German doctors who were prisoners of of war in WWII and working in the military hospital near to where she was living with her soldier husband. She told me about her year-old first born son, who had died during the migration from India to the new country of Pakistan after the war. Finally, she told the story of her own birth, which she had heard being told many times when she was a child. When she was born she was contained in the membrane sac and the midwives of the village were scared of what they could see. They had never encountered such a thing, presumed it to be some sort of deformity and thought the baby was dead. You can just imagine that the baby may have not been initially moving and was not yet breathing. One midwife apparently wanted to throw the baby in the garbage, but another midwife who they all knew as being the brave one came forward and said they should investigate further. She pulled a reed from the roof and proceeded to pierce the sac with the sharp pointed end. Of course lo and behold a healthy baby girl was within, who instantly breathed and lived long healthy life to now be telling me this story. I was delighted to hear it, and told her that was known as being born in the caul and is very rare. It is said by fisherman folk lore that those born thus would not experience death by drowning.


After this fascinating insight we went off to the hospital though down-town Karachi. We had deliberately chosen the busiest rush hour time of day and we told Sharif to put his foot down. I wanted to know how fast we could reasonably expect to get to the hospital in an emergency.



Past all the colourful buses, swerving and horn-tooting through traffic like you have never seen it before we drove. Past shanti towns and crowded streets, past schools and other official buildings only just visible behind high walls with barbed wire atop, and closely guarded by armed men outside. Shops all crowded together, their wares spilling onto the streets, and high poles dotted everywhere with so many electrical and telephone wires attached, spiraling up and around, that it was impossible to see where one ended and the next one began. But most fascinating of all about this diverse and strange place was the huge wide piles and piles of rotting, stinking and decaying rubbish left absolutely anywhere and everywhere. I don’t think I will ever complain about UK streets again because of a few empty water bottles and crisp bags.



We finally arrived at the private hospital in well under 30 minutes, which was perfectly acceptable to me. There are ambulance services but really they are no more than taxis, as the drivers are not medically trained and the culture of hooting and tooting that goes on gets largely ignored so, Muna informed me, no one gets out of the way for ambulances. I reasoned, therefore, that I trusted Sharif to drive us in an emergency rather than wait around for a dubious ambulance.


The hospital was a bit like an old, scruffy NHS one, only dustier. Everywhere there was a brownish yellow décor with an atmospheric sense that a smoking ban had not long been enforced. This was not the hospital Sofia had used for the birth of her first baby, nor was it the doctor who had given the advice which led to the resulting caesarean section, but a female obstetrician who Sofia knew to be more woman-centred. Sofia’s story was that, at 38 weeks pregnant, her doctor had concluded the baby was not growing and advised induction of labour. Sofia had not put up any objection as she was not fully informed and had absolute trust in the advice she had received. The induction had failed, because of course at 38 weeks her baby and body were not ready, and after many hours of pain and distress and no progress into active labour, fetal distress had been diagnosed and a caesarean section performed. Her baby boy was born well, healthy and a whopping 7lbs! Sofia was traumatised and distraught. It does not take an expert to know something did not quite add up!



The Sofia of today is a whole lot different; she is educated in birth issues and is strong in her determination to do things different and retain control. The evening before Sofia showed me a birth plan she had written. It was a typical birth plan to be found on many an advisory birth internet site, with references about no CTG monitoring required and no cutting cords, amongst other issues, but it had lots of “unless necessary” written everywhere in it, so I encouraged her to re-write it in a firmer way. “I do not consent to …” gives less leeway to anything being done without consent because it was deemed “necessary” at that time.


When we were finally shown into the doctor’s office and the birth plan was being read I wondered if my suggestions or a firmer birth plan would be met with hostility. Once she had read the plan Dr Azra slid the piece of A4 paper back across the desk to Sofia, and basically said there was nothing in it that she had a problem with.

“There is nothing in there that can’t be found in text books or good evidence papers” she said and I slowly let out my tightly held breath.


She went on to say that as long as Sofia was taking responsibility for her own decisions she was supportive of her choices. Whilst Sofia did not tell Dr Azra directly she planned a home birth, she did say she was planning on staying home for as long as possible with me as her home support, and may come in at the end of the labour. Muna did not say much, and I was aware that she was uncomfortable not discussing plan A with the doctor. Muna had already spoken to Sofia’s previous doctor from her last pregnancy and so was well aware that support for a home VBAC was virtually impossible. I felt that this lovely doctor was truly supportive. We discussed a plan should Sofia require a repeat caesarean section and we discussed how we could achieve all Sofia’s wishes including me going into theatre. I sometimes have to fight to achieve such continuity in the UK, and yet here was this doctor offering it to me as a professional courtesy and in Sofia’s best interest.


We were finally shown the labour rooms, which were an exact replica of UK labour rooms (except with more pillows). It was almost time to leave, but not before Dr Azra asked me if I would like to come and speak to the doctors and nurses (and Alvera, the one midwife at the hospital) about practice in the UK. She told me she had trained in the UK, and she certainly appeared to be aware of all current evidence. She explained that Pakistani women still demanded their enemas and shaves, and would freak out at being given their baby for skin to skin without it being cleaned and wrapped. I responded with my usual response when women are blamed for the current poor practices which continue in childbirth: “We professionals introduced all these procedures, so now we must find a way to undo the status quo… never blame women”.


I think Dr Azra liked me!


I felt comfortable and reassured as I could possibly be with the safe birth plans we had put into place.

Once home, Sofia and I discussed with her two maids how her labour and plan A) must remain a secret from the rest of the family and from her mother in law, who lives in an apartment upstairs, to save stress and worry all round. The maids are loyal to Sofia (there is rivalry between the upstairs staff and downstairs staff) so they were delighted to be in on the secret and be part of such excitement. Rumi told us that she had two of her four babies at home and that she loved being at home. She told us about a special plant that is used in labour. It is called Bibi Maryam ka phool, and consists of a bundle of closed knot roots that are put into water. The flower is a help to the labouring women, and once the baby is about to be born the flower opens up.


“When the pains get fast the Dai must go and sit down in the corner and be quiet.”


I told Rumi, being the knowledgeable midwife I am, that it is important a woman is not disturbed in labour. However, it seems I am not the only one with knowledge because speaking in Urdu and Sofia translating she replied that when the pains get fast the Dai (village lay midwife who has been taught her trade through the generations) must go and sit down in the corner and be quiet! Yes, that told me!


Following such a fascinating day, when I thought nothing more could happen, I was served a delicious meal cooked by Rumi. However, I didn’t look close and proceeded to eat what I thought was a green bean atop some tasty buttered chicken. What happened next invited looks of astonishment as they all watched me run to the fridge, grab yoghurt, and greedily pour it into my inferno of a mouth, while Sofia laughed her head off at me. I had eaten a very hot chilli!


So no baby yet and feelings of homesickness coming on. But I was also feeling that this place was growing on me, and these wonderful people were a long lost family.


DAY 1 – Touchdown in Karachi

It is not one but two flights I was about to embark on, and although I usually love travelling, on this occasion I wasn’t looking forward to the long journey ahead. The journey and adventure I was about to go on was not without worry and trepidation especially having to read the travel advice on the UK Government about westerners in Karachi. It highlights dangers such as kidnap, ransom and random terrorist cells. Yikes! Winter 2016 is not exactly a great time for anyone to travel to an Islamic country especially a lone western woman.


So how did the possibility of this trip even happen? It came about through my reason for living of course! My vocation, my passion: midwifery.


A young woman, Sofia, had reached out to me in need. She had researched and researched and come to the conclusion that a caesarean section she had 2 years ago, and at the young age of 19 (an age when healthy women usually have babies with ease in my experience) was unnecessary, and she did not want to put herself or her new expectant baby at risk again. Her research had led her around the world to me. A vaginal birth after caesarean section (VBAC) is rare in Pakistan and a home VBAC absolutely unheard of, and definitely unsupported by the medical profession.


I, on the other hand, like a challenge and adore supporting women who make informed choices. So, having no booked clients for the time in question, checked the legalities, obtained my visa and agreed to go and help Sofia achieve the birth she so desired.

I now found myself alone and about to start a journey with no knowledge of how it would end. After spending a couple of hours in the lounge at Heathrow, eating and drinking my fill of the last western food I may have in I didn’t know how long, I walked to the gate just as the flight was boarding. Being last on I could see that the front cabin was empty, but as I approached my seat near the back I could see I was sitting between two men. Being a Middle eastern airline I played the ‘woman’ card and got away with it, so following take-off I was moved to the front cabin and into in a whole row of seats to myself. Result! I was able to stretch out, sleep, watch movies and kid myself that the tummy rumbles were not little sparks of fear of the unknown.After 7 hours we landed in Darfur. The airport was amazingly plush and western, but I only just had time to get to the gate where I boarded my second flight to my final destination; Karachi. Although only a three-hour flight, the passengers consisted of almost all men. Just 4 women on board including me, the only westerner abroad. It was from that point that a few sneaky feelings of unease entered my mind, and I wondered as I listened to the strange accents and language, and as different strange smells wafted around, if I had made the right decision in agreeing to come half way around the world to a 3rd world country, to stay with strangers and attend a birth, a VBAC even, in a place where I knew nothing of the medical system. Oh birth angels what am I doing? I thought.


Karachi airport is primitive, dusty and old, but it was very early on a Sunday morning and quiet, so I had no problems getting through the legal requirements and finding my bags. As I finally exited the doors I scanned the crowds of dark faces and, as promised by Sofia during the arrangements stage of this adventure, found the large white frame of Muna, my new client’s mother, with frantic hands waving, waiting for me. The drive to Sofia’s house was a blur as I listened to Muna try to explain to me where we were and point out various land marks. I laughed out loud at the truck art, the wild and psychedelic decorations covering all the buses and large vehicles. I didn’t know where to look next as the completely shocking sights kept my eyes glued to the roads. I kept hoping the sights would get better, but when we turned into a wide dusty road the landscape changed to resemble at best a building site and at worst a bomb site. I now worried at what lay ahead. We finally pulled up at what looked like a nice house, as much as I could ascertain anyway, sat behind its seven foot walls, and I let out a sigh of relief to be entering this oasis of niceness in a desert of grey.

Sofia was waiting on the door step and was delighted to see me. The house was big and airy with huge ceiling fans and air conditioning. Although onlyearly inthe morning the sun in the winter blue sky was already hot. Sofia had made “my” room nice and welcoming with a jug of fresh water and a tin of Godiva biscuits next to my big comfy bed. I had my own bathroom in which she had put all new toiletries for me. The house had lots of strange unfamiliar smells going on that I would have to very quickly either ignore or get used to, however the internet was good which was to me the main thing for it meant I could keep in touch with home and social media and not feel cut off or isolated. What did we used to do without the internet? After unpacking and doing a bit of getting acquainted and chatting about the journey Sofia suggested a walk around outside.


We walked around the local roads of the housing development, which was mostly a building site, while Sofia explained that this was a safe area to stroll. It passed through my mind that, if this was a safe area, why we were accompanied by an armed guard? I couldn’t help but to keep looking over my shoulder waiting for a car to draw up and bundle me into it in preparation for asking the UK Government or my family for huge amounts of money to let me go. Would they pay it?


When we returned to the house we had a lovely breakfast cooked by the servants and served to us on trays. There were so many servants, cooks, drivers, guards. I lost count of them but they are treated really well and are really willing to please. They are all from the really poor part of society so they work for next to nothing or food, lodging and education for example. I began to feel a bit excited and was looking forward to learning more about this strange and different culture. It seemed it was only minutes after breakfast that we went to Muna’s house for a lovely lunch. Her house was a was a short drive away, and just next door there was a huge swarm of massive birds that looked like eagles (called little eagles) and Sofia took me onto the roof to take pictures of them as they swooped and flew all around our heads.


Following lunch we went for a ride in the family’s little Rickshaw. The family driver, Sharif, who has been with the family for 15 years apparently, was delighted to be asked to go out as he loves driving it. No one was more delighted (other than me) to be experiencing this new type of vehicle than Ebo, Sofia’s little 2-year-old boy, and he whooped with delight as we pootled along in the soft warm breeze. I can’t say I was impressed with the dry dusty littered, scattered landscape scenery but it sure was different… On our drive we saw a public bus like no other I had seen before.


I was amazed at it and its crazy truck art.It was so colourful with bright coloured decor inside and out. We stopped and took pictures and the bus driver invited me to look inside and then pose in the driver’s seat. All the time under the watchful eye of Sharif the trusted driver!

Back at the house the lunch was to die for. Muna is an amazing cook and had put many dishes on the table with foods I had not even heard of, let alone eaten. Of course I tried them all! We chatted all afternoon about all things births, but also about the country and its problems and culture. It appears that corruption, suppression and no accountability are the worst problems and difficulties. Yes, it’s been a lovely day but right now I am feeling that I would not want to stay here any longer than need be. Maybe that will change in time but I feel a long way from home. Once in bed I was ready to watch Game of Thrones on my laptop then sleep. It is Sunday evening and I haven’t been to bed since I got up to begin my adventure from home on Saturday morning.

Beautiful birth story grab a cup of tea put your feet up and enjoy

Joanna's Birth Stories from Craig's eyes.

I will try to keep this story as short as possible, but sometimes I do start to ramble on, so apologies in advance..

Maksymilians Birth.

We first contacted Virginia before the birth of our first child Maksymilian in May 2013. My wife Joanna seems to like carrying our children longer than the NHS wants her to. So when Maks went past due date, we were getting pressure put on us from them. Inductions / complications / risk factors etc etc were pushed at us from every direction. At (about) seven days past due date we then were told we "had" to visit the hospital on a dialy basisfor tests / scans, they were pushing us to have an induction at 40 weeks, and we must have one by 12 days past due date.

This is the point we first contacted Kent Midwifery Practice, and myself and Joanna spoke to Virginia on the phone. We were on the phone for probably about an hour, Virginia gave us a lot of information and talked us through lots of stuff. We weren't even her clients, but we could tell how this was not just a job for her. At no point did we feel we were taking up her time. We then decided that Joanna would not be induced and would wait for things to happen when nature intended. Joanna and I had decided early on that we wanted the birth to be as natural as possible.

Joannas waters broke on the evening that the NHS wanted to induce her. We waited at home for the contractons to get going, laid in bed relaxing between them. Once they were 4 minutes apart, we departed for hospital. The contractions then stopped once we arrived hospital. We gave someone our carefully thought out "Birth Plan" which was bascially a natural active birth. I dont believe this was ever read by any staff at hospital. What followed was intervention after intervention (what our pre-natal classes had warned us about), my wonderful wife was told to lay on the bed because they needed to put a sensor on the babies scalp to monitor him. After about a day and a half in labour we were told by the hospital midwife"You are 9.5cm dilated, you can start pushing soon as you are almost there", then a doctor came in, had a look at the baby heart rate charts and said "Your baby is in distress, you are having a ceaserian", and that was that. Joanna didnt see Maksy until at least 6 hours after he was "delivered", not a good start for bonding at all. We decided that I would go with Maksy, as Joanna didnt want him left with strangers. Its times like this you literally wish you could split in half to be in two places at once, I still feel guilty to this day for not being at my wifes side after what she had been through, and also for not putting my foot down right at the start and saying no the the "Lie on the bed" command and not following the advice from Virginia. I think you get caught up in the belief that they must know what they are doing, and you just go along with what you are told to do.  We then spent six unpleasent days in hospital where many more things were badly done, advice about feeding, doctors wanting to feed our baby through a tube, staff who spoke down to us for refusing more interventions, this list could go on and on, so I will stop now. I am sure the NHS do on the whole give a good service, but I believe the maternity system needs to be completely reassesed.

Joanna had a very tough first year or so as a mother, but on the positive side, things have improved massively, Maksy is a fantastic boy, Joanna is an amazing Mum, and all turned out good in the end. Its just the memories of the vital first few days that will always be in the back of our minds.



Ella's Birth.

In June 2015 Joanna and I found out we were expecting our second child. We decided we wanted to try another way of giving birth, and after the information and advice from Virginia we had for Maksy's birth there was only ever going to be one choice. We contacted Virginia for an appointment to discuss her helping with this baby. As before, she was so helpful. Explaining what she could offer, talking us through the whole homebirth idea. We also spoke at some length about Maksy's birth and the after effects. This was a great help to Joanna.
Virginia was hired that day, we didnt need to spend ages thinking of the pros and cons as there were no cons!

Virginia made regular visits through the pregnancy, she fills you with confidence. We were again given lots of information. What risks could possibly be involved and what the benefits were. With the information we recieved we could make informed decisions about what we wanted. It really helped to be able to be able to build up a relationship with our midwife, being able to trust and feel comfortable with your midwife should not be underestimated in the whole birth story.

Ella came into the world on the 8th March this year.
 She was born in our own home, in a birthing pool after just over4 hours of active labour. Joanna had no medical pain relief at all (in my view she is the most amazing person in the world). Virginia was there when she was needed, and basically made Joanna believe she could do it, she is very reassuring.
In my eyes, the pain of labour seemed so much less intense than the drug induced labour she experienced last time in hospital. Sure, it was painful, but it seemed so much less extreme.

Since the birth, Virgina had been so helpful.
Joanna had a bad day when the baby blues kicked in on day four, Ella didn't seem to be feeding well, and Joanna was starting to talk about formula milk and bottles. I sent a text to Virginia (on the quiet) and she phoned us out of the blue to see how things were going. Now, this was on Christmas eve (in March, she does like to do things differently, you can ask her about this if you need to) and Virginia was mid preperations, but she came to our house straight away. Again she worked her magic, explained why Ella was acting how she was, and she left about an hour later. The breastfeedinghas continued brilliantly. Our nearly three year old Maksymilian always had trouble with pronouncing "Virginia" and always calls her "The Genius". I texted the following message to Virgina after her impromptu visit, after Ella had latched on and had a good feed.
"Maks got your name right (the genius) I think, The wisdom of children huh. Ella is still asleep, Joanna is having a kip upstairs. Thank you so much for everything you have done for my family!"

We are now getting towards the stage where we will be discharged from her care. This will be a very sad day for us all. But I feel sure that she is only ever a phone call / text away from some words of wisdom.

If only I could go back in time and hire Virginia for Joanna's pregnancy with Maksy.