Having a Mum who is a Homebirth Midwife never seemed particularly special to me growing up. There were positives and negatives like every parent’s job I suppose. The positives definitely outweighed the negatives though. When we were younger my Mum was almost always home for us and when she went out working we often went with her. We got to meet lots of lovely new babies and could go on long family holidays in the summer because her work was pretty flexible and she could easily plan time off. The only negative was that babies are unpredictable so sometimes they would mess up our plans. This did happen only very rarely but I do distinctly remember our whole family having to leave mid-way through a Harry Potter movie from the middle of the row because Mum’s bleeper (it was some time ago) had gone off, which was of course hugely embarrassing for me. Like I said though the positives did far outweigh these experiences. But it was only when I was expecting my own first baby that I really appreciated my Mum’s career choice.
I had just gotten married and was living in Italy with my husband for his work. I was working as a Marketing Consultant and we were back and forth regularly to Ireland. We thought a lot about where to have our baby but because we couldn’t be in Ireland for a couple of months at a time we decided that we would stay in Italy. I Googled ‘Homebirths Italy’ and found out that there are not many options for this outside Rome. It seemed like faith when we found Casa di Catterina, a birth center only about 10 minutes from our Italian home. We met with the midwives who were great and formed our plan. My Mum would come over for two months and help us get started as new parents.
Then the pandemic struck. Italy went into lockdown, we worked exclusively from home and flights pretty much came to a standstill. We decided we needed to go home to have our family around and thankfully could both work from home in Ireland. It’s strange to say now, as this was a time filled with worry for us and also of course the world but in some ways, I really enjoyed this time of peace. The quiet and the stillness. We were at home together preparing as a couple to become a family. We had time to talk, to reflect, and to enjoy each other’s company and lie-ins on the weekend. We painted and tidied the house and had lots of long walks with our dog Elmo.
We were very lucky that my Mum works with amazing community midwives in Cork. Mary Cronin who I’ve known since I was a child stepped in as our midwife in shining armor. She was hugely busy in June but didn’t bat an eyelid when it came to taking us on last minute. She, along with our second midwife Ellmarie Coleman were just incredible and allowed my Mum to take on full ‘Granny’ duties.
Sometimes I think not enough people know about the service the community midwives offer through the HSE. I suppose I never thought much about it until I availed of the service myself and got to see first hand, along with my husband what an incredible service this is. We felt supported and empowered during a time of great uncertainty and fear. We felt safe and protected. We felt informed and supported by an experienced team of community midwives. Not only during the birth of our baby but also after. We never felt alone or helpless because we knew Mary would be there to visit us every other day for two weeks after the baby was born and would be on the phone whenever we needed her 24/7. The importance of this was never more clear to me than during this pandemic. A time where there are no visitors allowed in hospitals, baby groups, breastfeeding groups etc. have all been put on hold. A time where, as a new mother you need support more than ever.
Little Luca arrived on June 22nd at 14:11. He weighed 8lbs 9oz and had just a tiny bit of brown hair. He is now six months old, weighs a lot more than 8lbs 9ozs, and has a little bit more hair. We have now returned to our Italian home. We are so grateful to have had two months at home in Ireland surrounded by family and friends and are now ready to start our family adventure in Italy with plenty of Skype calls to family at home.
My mum is a wonderful mother to three of her own ‘babies’. She is also an amazing Granny to our little Luca and has delivered over 500 babies safely into this world. It’s really only now that I truly appreciate how special and important that is.