When I met Kicki Hansard, I clicked with her immediately. She made a commitment to my husband and me and from that day on, I felt her support as I went through the politics and anxieties of dealing with the NHS. She just always made me feel that I wasn’t alone, but also played the ultimate devil’s advocate and helped me realise that wherever I gave birth, she was going to be there to support my husband and me and that everything would be fine.
I called Kicki the moment labour kicked in and she was there within half an hour. My husband had just arrived home from work and was making something to eat (how hysterical), but Kicki was in the lounge with me, rubbing my back, assuring me that I was doing well and keeping the situation calm and controlled. I felt pretty good at this point, but when my waters broke and there was meconium present, the mood changed pretty quickly. Kicki realised that I would have to go to hospital straight away and got my husband to call the hospital. Shortly after, I was in the back of the care and we were on our way. She left her car at our house and travelled to the hospital with us, which was great.
At the hospital, she came with me to the labour ward whilst Adrian parked the car. It was so great to have her support, as I didn’t want to be alone. Labour was progressing very quickly and there was great concern about the meconium present. Our baby’s heart rate also kept dropping with every contraction.
What was great about having Kicki in the room with me, was that even though my attending midwives (who were amazing by the way), were focused on the heartbeat, on the safety of my baby and me, Kicki had my birth-plan in her head and even thought my natural birth slowly seemed to be looking like an impossibility, those little things that I put in my birth-plan were there. Kicki was present, with my best wishes at the forefront of her mind at all times.
Even as I lay there, on my side, contracting heavily with two midwives and a doctor looking up my vagina and attaching a monitor to my baby’s head, I could hear my favourite music playing softly behind me; Kicki has put it on for me. As the threat of a caesarean loomed, all I had to do was focus on the A4 picture of my unborn child (a 4D scan) that was always in my eye-line. Kicki had blu-tacked it where I could see it. It was that picture that I planned to focus on throughout labour to get me through every contraction, to keep me focused on my journey with my child and she made sure it was there for me.
Kicki was an incredible support to my husband who is fearful of injections and who generally fears a hospital environment. She always assured him that he was doing well and gently reminded him of the things that were important to me and to my labour. As I was whisked away to have an emergency caesarean, she told me she’d be there when I got back. As luck should have it, by the time they lay me back on the operating table to put me under, the midwife demanded they check my cervix before giving me the gas, only to find that I was fully dilated and three minutes later, I pushed Nathaniel into the world.
He had swallowed some meconium and has to go to a special unit to be watched over for a few hours. I insisted my husband to be with him, so I returned to the labour ward alone but of course… Kicki was there, waiting for me. After everything I’d been through, after all the turmoil and literally coming seconds away from having a caesarean, I gave birth to my son, but 30 minutes later I was completely alone; no baby in my arms, no husband’s arms around me sitting back in the labour suite in shock… but I had Kicki!
She sat with me on the bed, with her arm wrapped around me, told me how amazing I’d been and talked me through the labour so I could make sense of what had just happened to me. It was absolutely invaluable. Had she not been there, I would have been completely alone. She helped me find my phone and reminded me that I needed to call my 11-year old son to tell him the good news and then as I prepared to have a shower and to and visit my baby with my husband we said goodbye with a promise to catch up once I was home. She had more than done her job and it was time for her to leave.
As promised, Kicki visited us home a week or so after the birth. Again, she talked me through the labour. So much was a blur. It had gone from being such a traumatic labour to such incredible joy as I delivered my son naturally and she helped me remember it all so clearly, which is exactly what I wanted.
I have recommended Kicki and the idea of having a doula to several of my friends since my experience. I am grateful that I had Kicki with us during my son’s birth. I truly can’t imagine having gone through it without her.
Even bumping into her at Sainsbury’s nearly a year later was an emotional experience. As she embraced the child, whose birth she played a part in and I travelled back all too easily to the intensely amazing experience I shared with her. Being a part of someone’s labour is an extremely personal experience and to be frank is an honour and a privilege. It is not like employing a plumber to come and fix your kitchen. You’re inviting this person to come into your life when you’re truly at your most vulnerable. Kicki always knew her place. Knew when to be hands on, knew when to step back and give the midwives the space to work. Knew when I needed her to stroke my hair, to put a flannel on my forehead, to reassure my husband, to reassure and inspire me to do my best, to birth my son and to be present for it. Her presence was invaluable and I can’t thank her enough.