Daughter of Ben and Claire Thackray, Meredith Chloë Thackray was born on the 14th November 2011, at home in Kingston upon Thames, weighing 6lb 10oz.
en and I met twelve years ago. We’d always known that we wanted to have children, and we’d chosen Meredith’s name eight years in advance! It took a couple of years to get pregnant, and we’d begun enquiring about assisted fertility when I took the pregnancy test. I had tears in my eyes when I showed Ben the stick, and we had a big cuddle.
It was a textbook pregnancy, with no problems at all – everyone said that pregnancy really suited me. We couldn’t really make many preparations for Meredith’s arrival, because we lived in a one bedroom flat that was fit to burst. We’d put the flat on the market, but I’d resigned myself to the fact that we wouldn’t have moved to a bigger place by the time the baby arrived.
We’d planned to give birth in the midwifery-led unit at Kingston Hospital. I finished work at 38 weeks. The following evening, I settled down to watch Strictly Come Dancing on iPlayer. I woke up on the sofa at 10:30pm to find that I’d had ‘the show’. Ben googled ‘is my wife in labour?’ and started asking me questions.
I was getting mild contractions every half hour or so, and I felt the need to be in our tiny bathroom. By 2:30am, the contractions were every 5-6 minutes, and we called the midwife to let her know that the labour had started.
I went into a zone, psychologically, to manage the pain – I remembered to breathe, relax, and maintain UFO [Upright, Forward and Open] positions. I ran a bath and knelt in it, with my elbows over the edge. We called the hospital for a second time to say that the contractions were now every 2-3 minutes, but they told us that they weren’t lasting long enough, and to hold tight. By this point, I was making low, involuntary, growling noises that hurt my throat, and I joked that the neighbours would complain. I felt as though I needed to push, but I was trying to hold the sensation back.
After two contractions which felt much more intense, I told Ben that I thought I may have torn, so he had a look – and announced that he could see the head! He called the midwife for a third time and put her on speakerphone on the sink. I was told to get out of the bath, which I did, and to lie on my back with my feet in the air. I shouted ‘no’ at the phone, because I wanted to maintain an upright and forward position, so I just stood, bent over slightly, between the bath and the radiator.
Then I heard a moment of panic in Ben’s voice: ‘now I can see its eyes and nose!’ I told Ben that I thought he was going to have to deliver the baby. He reminded me that I should be panting while I was crowning – what a legend, to remember everything we were taught in the antenatal class! Then our baby came out in one final push, into Ben’s arms.
She started crying immediately, which was a relief. We knew that we had to get skin to skin contact as soon as possible, so I had to kick my leg over the umbilical cord to turn and be given our baby. Ben squeezed past to get towels from the bedroom, which he wrapped around us. The midwife on speakerphone announced that Meredith had been born at 4:21am – less than six hours after the show. Eight minutes later, the buzzer sounded and Ben went to let the paramedics in. Three of them bundled in, asking what gender the baby was – but in managing everything else, we’d actually forgotten to look.
A midwife arrived, and we moved to the bedroom. Everyone joined me on the bed with a cup of tea. The paramedics told me that when Ben had opened the door to them he had a grin to rival the Cheshire Cat’s, and they said that they’d never met such a chilled couple. They also advised that if we wanted any more children, we should invest in a baseball mitt for Ben.
Within two hours of her miraculous arrival, the medics had left and Merry was having skin to skin contact with her daddy. Brilliantly, I hadn’t torn and I didn’t need any stitches. I got into our own double bed, next to the two of them, and our six month old kitten balled herself up between my knees. It was surreal, but idyllic. Here we were, with our brand-new, perfect, little girl. In this moment of reflection at how lucky we were, my post-birth tears flowed. I’d wanted to be a mummy for as long as I could remember, and now I was.