Was Harry Potter homebirthed?

As I was watching Deathly Hallows today, in particular the scene where Harry and Hermione arrive in Godric’s Hollow, it struck me that Harry Potter must have been homebirthed. Indeed most, if not all the non-muggleborn wizards and witches in JK Rowling’s magical world must have been homebirthed.
Before I proceed I should add a disclaimer, although I am a fan of Harry Potter this is not one of those well researched, scholarly type posts by someone who knows every last detail about the world that Jo Rowling created. I discovered Harry Potter after the release of Order of the Phoenix after much prodding by a number of friends that I would enjoy the series. By the time Deathly Hallows was released I was standing in the bookstore for the release and vividly remember sitting on the pavement on the walk back to the car reading the first chapter, because I couldn’t wait.
So, Harry and homebirth. In particular, the scene that made me jump to this conclusion is where Harry and Hermione arrive in Godric’s Hollow and Harry says “I was born here” to Hermione.

Of course that statement, on its own, means nothing. Although the fact that Godrics Hollow is described as a ‘village’ seems to infer that there would be no hospital. We also know, from Order of the Phoenix, that the wizarding hospital St Mungo’s doesn’t deal with birth. The wards that St Mungo’s hosts are all decidedly magical: artefact accidents, creature-induced injuries, magical bugs, potion and plant poisoning and spell damage.
Add to this Ron Weasley’s quote from Order of the Phoenix “‘Doctors?’ said Ron, looking startled.’Those Muggle nutters that cut people up? Nah, they’re healers.'” and it seems clear that there is no place for an obstetrician or a caesarean in Harry’s (or is that Rowling’s?) world.
It seems fitting to me to imagine Molly Weasley,

safe in The Burrow surrounded by her family birthing Ginny with her boys and husband watching and the presence of a ‘healer’, or perhaps none at all (not to mention the fact that she had also birthed her twin boys, Fred and George, at home before that). And where else would Tonks birth her junior werewolf, but at home in the present of her husband Remus.
Of course, given that I am a homebirther herself maybe I am colouring the facts. But consider this. From the information I have gleaned in my extensive research on the interwebs (that is, five whole minutes on google) JK Rowling is herself a homebirther. So, it stands to reason she sees homebirth as the ‘norm’ and treats it as such.
Whatever the case may be, and we may never know unless Jo Rowling releases that elusive tome describing all the back story to that magical world that so many love, even the smallest chance that homebirth is a part of the magical realm that is Harry Potter, makes me love it even more. So to JK Rowling I say “Thankyou!” and to those of you who have read this far I say “What do you think?”.


Our Irish homebirth

In Christmas of 2004, just 2 weeks before Leo’s 1st birthday we decided to start trying for our second child.

Such a small boy - what were we thinking!?

We figured that because it had taken us over a year and a half to conceive Leo, and then it was only with the help of fertility drugs, that it would take us at least 6 months, if not longer, to get pregnant. I had been off the pill for 2 months and had been charting my cycles, so in January we tried. I actually thought we had conceived, but then on the 1st February I had light spotting. For some reason I still thought I might be pregnant, so over the next week I did 3 pregnancy tests, all of which were negative. Around this time Sim was offered a position in Ireland starting in 2 months time, so we decided to put our plans on hold and concentrate on the move. I was starting to feel very tired all the time, even having a snooze with Leo every afternoon, something I hadn’t done for months, and was a bit off for a couple of weeks, all of which I put down to stress and a bug Leo had had. While visiting my good friend Shanti I mentioned that I was off my food a bit lately (very unusual for me) and she suggested that maybe I was pregnant. I laughed and told her that I had done 3 tests and I definitely wasn’t. Shanti’s comments stuck in my mind, so the next morning I went and bought another test and did it after taking Sim to work. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I saw the two lines. I rang Sim, not sure if I was happy or not, we were moving in 4 weeks time and that was such a huge change for our family.
Before leaving we had discussed at length what we would do for the birth of this baby. I really wanted a homebirth, but didn’t want to push the idea on Sim, as he had not been comfortable with the idea first time round. So you can imagine my surprise when he actually suggested we look into it when we get to Ireland.
So, 4 weeks later, battling all day pregnancy sickness and a toddler with his molars coming through, we traveled to Ireland to live.

The ONE nap he had the entire flight

Sight seeing near Galway

As soon as we arrived I started investigating homebirth midwives and found one just outside of Galway, Margaret, who was lovely to speak with and whom both Sim and I felt very comfortable with. My pregnancy was wonderful, no major problems and no swelling or horrendous weight gain which I had with Leo.

Nearly ripe

About 4 weeks before bub was due I was starting to feel very tired, symphusis pubis dysfunction was getting worse and I was worried my parents wouldn’t arrive before bub made an entrance. A week later Mum rang to say they were coming a week early, much to my and my midwives relief.

Leo helps with the bellycast

On the Thursday morning, a week and a half before I was due, I woke at 2am with contractions. Unable to sleep, I got up and went downstairs to the computer and chatted online to a good friend of mine in Australia who would have been at the birth if we were at home. By 3.30am the contractions were subsiding and I went back to bed. The next day was my appointment with my midwife, she said that the head had begun to descend into the pelvis and was rubbing against the bone, irritating the uterus and causing the contractions. Margaret was going to Scotland for the weekend so her backup midwife, Sally, was on call. Just before she left Margaret told me I was to wait for her to get back on Sunday evening. She ran into Sim at the local shops just after seeing me and told him to not let me go into labor while she was away.
On Saturday morning at 2.30am I woke having mild contractions. Not sure if they would subside again I went downstairs to surf the net and watch TV as I couldn’t sleep. At 4am I decided to start timing my contractions. By 5am I decided to wake Sim and let him know I had been having contractions that were 10 minutes apart for the last hour. I also wanted to see if he thought I should call Sally yet. I woke him and his immediate answer was “Yes! Call her now!” mostly due to the fact that my last labor was only three and a half hours long. Sally said to keep timing the contractions and call her again when they are 5 minutes apart. We stayed upstairs in the bedroom and Sim timed the contractions so I wouldn’t anticipate them. We chatted and hung out, just stopping to change position or move when the contractions came. At about 8am Sim told me it was time to ring Sally back, I didn’t believe him at first, it seemed like the contractions were much further apart. I rang Sally and she said she would be with us in about an hour.
30 minutes later Leo woke up and after playing in our room for a while we all trouped downstairs for breakfast. My contractions started to slow down so Sim ordered me back up to the bedroom and went to wake my parents to watch Leo. In our room I pottered around, lighting my oils, adding Rescue Remedy to my labor tea and listening to music. When Sim came back up I mentioned that I was hungry, so he made me some cheese and crackers that I happily munched away on in between contractions. Soon after Sally arrived. It was the first time we had met face to face and I apologized for waking her so early. Sally wasn’t worried and started setting her things up and checking on bub and me as unobtrusively as possible. For the next half hour my contractions seemed to slow and Sally apologized for ‘disturbing’ us. She then went downstairs to have a cuppa and chat to my parents.
The contractions were becoming harder and I really had to concentrate through each one and needed Sim so I could grab his arms and use him as an anchor. I asked Sim to keep talking to me in between the contractions and to rub my lower back nice and hard after each one. I started to think I would like to get into the shower, something I hadn’t had time to use in my first labor. The hot water was heavenly, although Sim kept worrying that I had it too hot. I was now starting to make some noise, or sing, and I was trying to use a verse about waves of the ocean crashing on the shore to keep me focused during the contractions, but each time I did all that kept coming into my head was a line from the movie, Serenity, we saw the weekend before “I am a leaf on the wind”. So, I went with that, when I told Sim after the next contraction he laughed and told me I was weird. A couple of contractions later I felt a definite shift of the baby moving further down into the pelvis. This amazed me because I was so unaware of my baby in my first labor. But this time I would feel bub kick and squirm before each contraction. Not long after this downward movement I decided I wanted to get out of the shower.
Sim helped me with the towel and as I moved to the bedroom I told him I wanted the music off. Sim thought I said “up” so the music was blaring. I laughed and told him what I had said. With no music I could hear the local kids playing outside. It felt too distracting so the music went back on. I donned a t-shirt and Sally checked bub was ok before I had another contraction. Then I took the shirt off as it was annoying me and I had a need to be naked. I was suddenly hit hard by the next contraction soon after. I leaned on the wardrobe as Sally and Sim spread the plastic sheeting and a cloth sheet out on the floor. I moaned to Sim that I had forgotten how hard this was and he and Sally both gently encouraged me that I was doing a great job. I began to pace across the floor when I had another contraction, they seemed to come one on top of the other now. I felt a warm gush between my legs and a slight relief while I thought, “that’s funny, I didn’t feel like I needed to wee”, before I burst into tears at the strength of the contraction. Sally, who sat quietly in the background, assured me that my waters had just broken, that they were lovely and clear and that our baby would be here soon. I was pretty much frozen in that position as the contractions came one after the other, when I suddenly felt an urgent need to push and blurted out “need to push, need to push”. Sally told me to go with the feeling and as I pushed with the next few contractions I could feel the head descending. Then there was a halt in the contractions and I began to panic, crying and saying, “it’s stuck, it’s stuck”. Sally calmly murmured that the baby wasn’t stuck, that I was doing a great job and that she would soon be able to see the head. My response was “fuck she can’t even see the head yet?!”, fortunately I was hit with another contraction before I could blurt it out. During that contraction I felt the need to spread my legs more and my knees began to shake. Sally asked if I needed to change position, to which I replied yes, but I didn’t know how. With Sim’s help, who had been physically supporting me since my waters broke, and Sally’s direction I knelt down on one knee and that’s where I remained for the rest of the birth. The rest is a bit of a blur, I remember Sally and Sim gently encouraging me whenever I needed it, leaning in against Sim and panting undirected as the head crowned. The next thing I saw was my baby lying beneath me, with her eyes wide open and hands and fingers outstretched. This is the moment that sticks in my mind, her bright blue eyes and her long fingers. I scooped her up and cuddled her, talking to her as Sally rubbed her with a warm towel and wrapped another around her. As Sim and Sally helped me to sit I asked what we had, Sim tried to see but the cord was in the way, Sally moved it aside and he told me we had a girl, too which I said “hello Zara” the name we had settled on towards the end of the pregnancy. Zara began suckling at the breast and I began to feel uncomfortable, Sally suggested I squat to see if it was that I needed to deliver the placenta. I did as she suggested, but all that came out were some very large blood clots, which was a bit disconcerting but bought some quick relief. Sally assured me it was fine and explained that the way I was sitting the blood had pooled in my pelvis and clotted while sitting there. I delivered the placenta about 15 minutes later and once the cord stopped pulsing it was clamped and cut. Over the next hour I gave Zara to Sim while Sally checked me out, I had a small tear with no need for stitches and labial grazing (ouch) and helped me shower and dry. Sally then checked Zara over and weighed her (7lb 4oz), before she said her goodbyes and left Sim, Zara and I to enjoy each other. We sat enjoyed toasted sandwiches and a glass of milk in bed thanks to my mum and dad and I remember thinking how nice it was to be all tucked up in our own bed so I could relax and enjoy my new baby in peace.

Zara and I

New bubba Zara

Once he woke from his afternoon sleep, my mum bought Leo in to meet his new sister. In typical toddler style he was more interested in the left over cheese and biscuits on the coffee table! When he did notice her however she gave a small cry, to which he replied “woof, woof”, making us all laugh. It was such a cute and fun start to our new family dynamic.

Big brother and itty bitty sister

So, that’s it, the story of our irish home birth and the beginning of a new chapter in our little family’s history.

The Birth of The Mighty Quinn

My pregnancy with Quinn was a journey for me in so many ways. Firstly the pregnancy itself was a surprise. I hadn’t had a cycle since conceiving Zara. I suddenly began having nipple pain when and a midwife friend suggested that maybe I was pregnant. I thought she was crazy, but on Zara’s 2nd birthday I did a test and got a faint positive. So I booked my friend to be my midwife for the birth.

At 16 weeks I began to have fears for my bub – I hadn’t felt any movement yet and with Zara I had felt her move by 14weeks. I was also not showing at all yet which was very unusual for me. Thankfully, an anterior placenta explained the lack of movement and the lack of belly soon resolved itself. This was all a lesson in not having expectations set by my previous experiences and also in letting go, surrendering to the pregnancy, birth and babe.

Everyone (with the exception of Leo I think) thought I was having a girl – including me. In fact I was so convinced I was having a girl that we didn’t pick a boys name ‘just in case’ until I was about 36wks. So whenever I spoke to or about bub they were referred to as she.

DH and I decided that he would be support person for Leo and Zara and I would have Yo and Tallulah as my birth support.

Full moon belly

The Wednesday before I gave birth both my support people came round to give me a check up and touch base on things for labour. Yo informed me that bub had descended into the pelvis, which explained the increase in discomfort I had had in the last few days. That night I woke sporadically to contractions that disappeared if I changed position.

The next day, Thursday, I was tired, grumpy and basically impatient with everyone. Yo text me that evening around dinnertime. I said nothing was happening and that I was feeling impatient with everything. DH was aware of how I was feeling so while I was putting the kids to bed he went out and got me some Baskin and Robbins. When he got back I was outside looking at the full moon. I mentioned that months ago when we were looking at Leo’s and Zara’s birth dates we had discovered that they were born on or the night after the full moon and that we had said that this bub would either be born tonight or in a months time if it were to follow suit. Not long after that (when I had finished my ice-cream) I took myself off to bed and fell straight to sleep.

I woke at about 12.15am with a contraction. I rolled over and it began to subside so I figured it was the same thing as the night before. By 2am I had been having a steady ebb and flow of contractions that continued even with position changes. I lay in bed and listened to my iPod and decided to time a couple of contractions. By 3am the contractions were between 15 and 20 minutes apart and I could no longer lie in bed through them. Baby was still moving and kicking happily between contractions. I decided to get up and potter around for a bit. I put on the heater, got into a comfy shirt, and lit some candles. After breathing through some harder contractions I decided to wake up DH to go in to sleep with the kids. Once I had moved him in with the kids I sent a text to both Yo and Tallulah to let them know that things were starting and I might want some company soon. Yo text me and told me to let her know when I needed her. Tallulah replied that she would be around soon.

I decided I needed to eat so I wandered around a bit, ate some toast and drank water while waiting for Tallulah. By 4.45am contractions were getting quite strong and about 5 minutes apart so I let Yo know I needed her to come now too. Just after that Tui arrived. After we caught up and I had a few contractions Tui settled on the lounge while I continued to walk. The contractions were now diminishing a becoming further apart. Tui suggested a massage. So we moved into the back bedroom that was set up as the birthing room. I lay on the bed while Tui gave me a lovely back massage. I had one very weak contraction and was becoming increasingly frustrated so decided to get up and go back to walking in the lounge. By now I was thinking things had come to a grinding halt. I walked around for maybe 5 minutes before breaking down in sobs. I explained I was worried I had dragged Tui away from her DD for nothing and that Yo was going to arrive to only have to go back home. I had a good cry on her shoulder, talked about how I worry about putting people out, about other fears I had for the labour and birth, about how I had been wanting to cry for 3 days now but couldn’t. After that I started to feel better. I stood up and my hind waters erupted with a small splash. Tui commented that my babe was obviously working with me and that she knew I needed to get that stuff out before things continued. So we moved back to the ensuite and I got out of my now wet pyjama pants and underwear. Both Tui and I tried to work out if it was amniotic fluid or just an errant wee (it was quite comical really – two grown women sniffing pants) and decided it must have been waters. I decided I wanted to stay in the bedroom for now.

Tui and I got into a bit of a rhythm of talking and laughing (about Chris Cornell and Mike Paton if I remember rightly) and as I would feel a contraction coming I would grab her hand and we would fall silent, concentrating on my breath and the contraction, then starting the conversation up again where we had left off. In between this I would duck off to wee every few contractions, but usually sitting down on the loo would bring on a contraction and it was getting more and more uncomfortable to do so. Somewhere around this time Yo arrived. She joined us for one contraction then asked if I would be ok with listening to bubs heart rate. I told her I could feel bub moving but yes I would like to hear her heart. The heart rate was fine and so we settled back into the rhythm of chatting and laughing interspersed with me grabbing both my wonderful support women’s hands as I breathed and began to vocalise through contractions. Dh later said it sounded like a group of school girls were having a giggly sleep over in the next room

After a particularly noisy contraction I decided I needed to pee again – but there was no way I was sitting to do it – so I went and stood in the shower. I tried to pee but couldn’t, then I had another big contraction. By now I was in full guttural voice and could feel bub begin to move down. As soon as the contraction finished I realised I wasn’t going to pee anytime soon. I took off my shirt and moved back into the bedroom. I was trying to decide where I wanted to be. There was a covered mattress on the floor and I thought I would step onto that. But another contraction started to hit and I ended up standing at the end of the bed – which is where I stayed until Quinn was born. As the contraction ramped up I looked down at the cream carpet and realised I was about to poo everywhere as bub moved further down. I yelled out that I was going to split in two and for a towel on the floor NOW! My memory isn’t that great from here. The contractions were really hard now. I could actually feel my pelvic bones moving out of the way. At some point Tui disappeared to get the camera. I was having trouble not fighting the contraction. Yo was standing behind me and quietly told me to ‘welcome your babe into your pelvis’. She then reminded me to reach down and feel the head. I answered that she wasn’t there yet, but decided to feel anyway. As I felt – nope, no head yet – another contraction hit. I held the end of the bed with one hand and felt for the head with the other. Feeling the head come down was amazing. From here it is a blur. I think within two contractions the head was out. I had my hand holding it the whole time. The body quickly followed. Luckily Yo was ready to catch my slippery bub that came out with the cord around the neck and arm.
She passed bub through my legs to me and I held bub close to my chest in that hazy disbelief. Yo reminded me to call bub in so I gently said “Hello sweet pea, etc”

Hello baby

Squishy love

Then I realised I was saying she and I should probably check. I moved the cord from between the legs to reveal a penis. I was so surprised I announced “Oh it’s a boy! Hello Quinn” Yo helped me move into a reclined position on the mattress on the floor. Tui had gone out to get Zara and bring her in to meet her baby brother. Daddy and big brother Leo soon followed.

So tiny

As we all got to know Quinn, the placenta was birthed – ahhh relief. Quinn started to make movements towards the breast and although I had intended to do baby led attachment we helped him to the breast where he attached like a pro. At some point we cut the cord and I jumped in the shower to wash off my legs. When I came out Zara, Leo, Quinn and I hopped into the big bed and settled in for the day.

The family bed

Tallulah and Yo cleaned up the birth mess and DH made toast while I snoozed and marvelled at my new little boy – the mighty Quinn.

and BAM! your world just changes

I’m pretty sure most of us have experienced it. You are heading through your life, minding your own business when BAM! Something happens that puts your world slightly off axis and suddenly it seems like everything changes.

For me one of those changes happened two years ago, as of next weekend. It threw my world off kilter and changed who I am as a woman forever. In some ways it’s something that I still deal with everyday, as it has effected the way I live my life, who I am now as a person and the way that I relate to others. To some women, it would have been but a blip on the radar, for me it was a life changing event, but it took some time before I saw it for what it was.

I was 7 months pregnant with my third child. This was very much a surprise baby, but an anticipated child none the less. The birth was something I looked forward to, but really wasn’t an issue as such for me. The issues always came after for me. My first child weaned from the breast to the bottle at 12 weeks of age. I blamed it on lack of support, lack of knowledge and really really bad information from so called experts. Second time round I was in a foreign country but still managed to surround myself with support and people of knowledge. At 6 weeks my dear DD was on ABM (Artificial Baby Milk) supplements. We had a strong breastfeeding relationship though, a story I intend to publish here in the future and she fed until just shy of her third birthday. I figured I must have missed something and that third time would be the charm.

This time around one of my good friends (Y), who was also a midwife and lactation consultant was with me every step of the way. She would be attending my child’s birth (at home of course ;)) and was also helping me to figure out how this child would be 100% breastfed. We had chatted at length about my past breastfeeding history and Y had some theories that she shared with me, but she really needed to see my breasts to see if her hunch was correct.

So we come to the fateful day. We were both at a mutual acquaintances blessingway when Y suggested we duck into the bathroom so we could have a look at my breasts. So, when DD was settled and busy we took off to have a look. Y obligingly removed her shirt and bra too, so I could see a comparison with another ‘real’ woman’s breasts. The differences weren’t glaringly obvious, but obvious enough, especially with her expert explanations. I had hypolplastic breast. I was a little stunned, but the full reality of it didn’t hit me there. Basically what that means is that I have whats also known as tubular breasts, meaning that during puberty for one reason or another my breast tissue did not develop properly and as a result my breasts cannot produce enough milk for my babies. As far as we can work out my diagnosis was caused by  a thyroid condition that was undiagnosed through at least 18 months of puberty, the time around when breast development occurs. I think Y had more of an idea of how hard the news would hit me later on as she was in constant contact with me over the next few days as I sobbed, ranted, screamed and bitched about it.

Once the news had sunk in, that I would never be able to fully, 100% breastfeed my baby, no matter what I did, I was devastated. I was also so very, very angry. I was angry at all those women who never even tried to breastfeed but could, I was angry at all the women who weaned forcibly at 6 weeks, 3 months and even 6 months because it was “too hard”, “too limiting” or they “just didn’t like it”. I was angry that the universe would play such a cruel joke on me! I was a passionate lactavist, I had believed in breastfeeding my babes and was willing to do anything to make sure I did. But mostly I was angry at my mum. Yep, that’s right. My Mum. You see, my mum has an underactive thyroid. She was the one who eventually thought that I should have a thyroid test to see if that was the reason that I was so tired and lethargic all the time and why I was putting on so much weight. But I blamed her for not seeing it sooner, she had been there herself so why didn’t she? It was her fault! Ok, so eventually I have come to realise it wasn’t, but back then, in that moment…well, you get the picture.

So, where was I? That’s right, life changing event….I had alot to work through from then on. First the anger was a big one, and Y waited until I had vented enough before she started mentioning that now we could plan because we knew, that this was a step forward. And it really was, it was just an awful bloody step to go through. I had already decided that come hell or high water this baby would have nothing but breastmilk. It was a hard road to get that to happen, both logistically and emotionally. I grew so much from that moment when Y told me about the flaw in my breasts. I changed in so many ways. I am stronger now, I fight for things that are important to me, I feel I have worth and so do those I care about. My third child, my darling Q, was a blessing to me, my family and in some ways, many of my community. I will post both his birth and breastfeeding stories here soon, so you can share that journey too. But I am still amazed at how such a seemingly small event, going into a bathroom and seeing another woman’s breasts, can really change your life……….