I woke at 4 a.m. on 30th April 1998 to go to the bathroom and felt a trickle of water running down my legs and wondered with excitement whether my waters had broken. I went back to bed and awoke again at 6 a.m. By this time I was having period like pains but they were not very strong. I made some soup until 7 Am. to keep me busy and then rung Ann, my midwife. She came soon afterwards and examined me. Ann felt the "real" labour could be some time away and advised Dave, my partner, to go to work. He reluctantly put on his work clothes. Ann left saying that she would come again in the evening. Before Dave went to work we walked to the shops to buy some fruit juice and a video to watch whilst waiting for the contractions to strengthen. As soon as Dave left for work the contractions became stronger, I never did get to watch the video.
I started cooking again but had to stop as I could only concentrate on breathing through the rushes. At 11 a.m. a friend, Trish, arrived to give me a reflexology treatment. I told her I wasn't able for a treatment but asked her if she would come for a walk with me. We walked to the park at the end of the road and by this time the contractions were very close together and I felt very spaced out. Ann, the midwife later told me this was the head engaging, something it had not done previous to labour as with some women. Trish massaged my back and timed the contractions. After four of them were 90 seconds long she called Ann. Dave called from work and quickly cycled home on hearing that labour was in progress.
It was now 1 p.m., Ann and Dave had arrived, the contractions had settled down into strong but well spaced rushes. I had retreated deep inside myself by this time but still felt acutely alert and aware of what was going on around me. I was also aware of my mind letting go and surrendering to the body, allowing the body to take over. Thoughts of other women, friends, my mother, women throughout the centuries in labour flashed through my mind; it all seemed to help to make the rushes easier to handle. I was using sound, my voice, throughout each contraction, deep guttural chanting and wailing type sounds. The louder the noise the easier the contraction became, I looked on each one positively saying to myself "open open" or "yes yes", and this helped enormously.
Ann had quietly been observing me and asked if she could now examine me. I was a good five to six centimetres dilated. Ann gave me the space I needed to find my own path through the labour but each time I felt I need some direction she anticipated my needs with useful suggestions and positions. I had total confidence in Ann and followed her direction, each time feeling they were instinctively right. Dave was wonderful taking me on a different journey each time I had a powerful contraction. He'd describe shared memories of Thailand or other special places we had been to together, getting me to visualise the sounds, sights and smells of each exotic location, again this really helped.
My friend Penny arrived, who we'd asked to be at the birth, arrived. I felt like a queen bee with four birth attendants around me fetching water and drinks and mopping my brow.
It was now 4 p.m. and Ann examined me and found that I was 9.5 cm dilated, but that I had a swollen lip of cervix. She asked me to lie on my side and give the cervix time to dilate further. This worried me but I believed in Ann and breathed through the next few contractions, waiting patiently for the swelling to reduce. I expected it to take a good few hours and so was surprised when Ann asked me to stand up, and told Trish to get the camera ready!
The second stage was very gentle. Ann didn't want me to push, just to breathe the baby out. letting gravity do the work. With each contraction Ann poured oil round my vagina and perineum. I felt the baby move down the birth canal and saw in a mirror the babies head, I could see her hair and knew it wouldn't be long. The head crowned, and after two or three more contractions and she was born, from the supported squat position. Feelings of extreme joy, elation and love swept over me at the sight of our beautiful baby daughter, Liberty, everybody was smiling and crying. Then I said with a cheeky grin "that didn't hurt so much", and everyone laughed considering the noises I'd been making for the last few hours.
Liberty Maeve was born at 17:25 p.m., the sun was streaming into the room and feeling of sheer joy filled the house. I put Liberty to the breast and she suckled away for ten minutes or so then with the next contraction the afterbirth was delivered.
Later myself, Dave and Liberty were in the birth pool which we had not had time to fill during the labour. It was heavenly floating in warm, salty water with our new beautiful daughter.
Afterwards we lit candles around the room, had classical music playing, put Liberty to the breast and cracked open the Champagne with Ann and Penny. A feeling of deep tranquillity and peace filled the room and I could almost hear angels singing. This was surely the best experience of my life.
Darragh Murphy (a.k.a. Darragh Doolittle, Master Of Out Universe, Mr. Magoo and Mr Baby) is my name. I came into my families life on the 7th of November at 5:30 in the morning.
My arrival brought shrieks of joy and excitement from my three adoring sisters. (They know a good thing when they see it!) They slept through the moans and groans of childbirth and upon wakening expressed amazement at the sheer perfection of my tiny body snugly tucked up in my cot. Aislinn, my sister, instantly named my the 'The born baby'.
Even in the womb I showed extraordinary intelligence and organised presents for my sisters. They were suitably impressed and still ask me how I knew they loved Barbie dolls.
I am one of Ann Kelly's babies and was thrilled that she could be there when I finally chose to make my entrance into the world. For a while Mummy and Daddy were very worried that I might be born in hospital surrounded by unfamiliar voices and sounds. For two months they were deprived of Ann Kelly's wonderful antinatal care. My mummy was very tearful and angry and spent a lot of time down in a place called the 'Four Courts' where I could hear lots of voices giving there support to Ann. When all the Mummies and Daddies and children heard that Ann could look after us all they were hugging and kissing each other. I don't know what the fuss was about but Mummy slept a lot easier after that.
Now, onto the birth itself. For the last few weeks before I did emerge I kept my parents on their toes. I'd pretend to be on the way and then, just when they'd ring Ann, I'd stop. I had such a laugh but they didn't seem too impressed. No sense of humour is their problem.
In the end I was easy on them and my birth journey was just perfect. On the Thursday morning I started off with a few contractions which went on all day. This gave the parents time to come to terms with my much awaited imminent arrival. Mammy went to bed at that stage I decided to stop beating about the uterus and strengthen the contractions. At three o'clock Mammy got out of bed so she could concentrate and get into the labour properly. Daddy pretended to be asleep but he had to get up half an hour later because he was so excited at the prospect of seeing me!
Ann Kelly was rung and she soon arrived and there we all were, ready to get on with it! Mammy was really getting into it at this stage and moved around a lot. It was so exciting and relaxing at the same time.
The last hour Mam spent on her knees leaning into a chair with Daddy soothing her with a cold flannel. Ann kept a close eye on us all, speaking words of gentle encouragement. I moved gently down the birth canal and then decided to make my dramatic entrance when I heard my Mammies high pitched scream. That was the signal and I came out. My head, another scream, and the my beautiful slippery body into my fathers strong hands.
Daddy was so thrilled, and when they discovered I was a boy they all kept saying 'I can't believe it'. Mammy kept kissing me and staring at my scrunched up little face.
After all the emotion and hard work I was exhausted so I had a quick sup (yum yum, I liked this sweet, warm liquid immediately) and slept for over ten hours. I'd have slept longer but my sisters insisted on seeing me awake before they went to bed. They make such demands on a baby boy.
So here I am, not even four months old and already I know my families life revolves around me. Clare, Aislinn and Sian think I am the most beautiful baby in the world. Ann Kelly looked after us all so well and I am very proud to be one of her many babies. Love and sloppy kisses
Darragh Darragh is the son of Ann Tannam and Niel Murphy
Back To The Top
Aoife is now five and a half months old. I still look in awe and delight at our long awaited for baby. She is our third child after a seven year gap. Brian is seven and our oldest daughter Claire is ten. I had an etcopic pregnancy in 1994 and so it was with great relief and joy that I gave birth to Aoife on Monday, June 2nd, twenty days overdue.
On Sunday my friend Catherine brought me to Marloy Park. I felt different - a strange energy moving up my back into the back of my neck and head. I noticed a slight show that night and contractions were coming more often. I slept most of the night awaking a few times with contractions. They were slowly getting stronger. In the morning Sean and myself walked about for an hour. Catherine came and got lunch for the children. The contractions were becoming more frequent and stronger. By the time she left with the children, around 2 p.m., I was beginning to feel spaced and needed Sean with me. we went out to the garden and I leaned on the climbing frame for the contractions. For a moment I felt I couldn't face going through with the labour but that passed. I wanted to go inside. I couldn't get comfortable between the contractions. I found if I smiled and welcomed each contraction with "Oh Yea" rather than "Oh No" they were less painful. I said "Oh Yea" like a mantra and needed to hold tight onto Sean's hand for the contact. I rang around 4 p.m. I knew I was in real labour now - no stopping no turning back.
The contractions were powerful and endomorphins were really working. I was very spaced when Ann arrived and could hardly talk to her. I was five centimetres dilated. The water bag was protruding right into my vagina. I felt enormous pressure. I got into the pool which I found very relaxing between contractions. I was disappointed that it didn't provide more pain relief for the contractions themselves. I got out of the pool so that Ann could do an internal. She found it hard to feel the baby's head because of the bag of water which burst when she examined me. She still couldn't feel the head. It was too far up. Then she thought she felt a bum and that the baby was breech. Sean phoned the ambulance and Ann the hospital to prepare them. I had to get on all fours to prevent pressure on the chord. Ann's calm presence kept me calm. I put myself in her and knew if she was sending me to hospital it was necessary. She decided to examine me again and to our joy and relief she felt the babies head. When Aoife was born she had very fat cheeks and they were obviously what Ann was feeling when she thought she had been breech.
Suddenly I felt the urge to push. I got into the pool again and could feel her head moving down. I stood up to push and got down into the water between contractions. Here head kept going back in. I felt I was getting nowhere and needed Ann's reassurance that I was making progress. I grabbed Sean with each contraction - hung out him and squeezed him to get me through. I put everything into getting her out. When her head crowned I touched it to reassure her. I got to the stage where I felt I couldn't do it. Ann kept reassuring me. She suggested I move out of the pool which I did with great difficulty. I squatted back into Sean and the next contraction bought our 12lb baby into the world. Such relief that it was over and such joy that she was well and beautiful. I was eager to deliver the placenta before the children arrived home. So I got up on my knees to do so. I probably rushed it too much as I haemorrhaged later.
Ann's calm, reassuring care got me through that. She stayed on the couch beside me all night. I recovered quite quickly but I was quite week for about two weeks.
Almost six months later I am still in awe at the miracle of it all. I feel privileged to have had Aoife at home. It was such an empowering experience for me and I know it has helped me to enjoy every minute of mothering Aoife.
So, thankyou Ann for making it possible and Sean for birthing with me.