ori and I had been together for about a year and a half when we thought that Tori had fallen pregnant. Even though we weren't trying for a baby at this point – Tori was still in her last year at university, and we weren't living together – we were both quite sad when test results were negative, so we decided to start trying properly.
It only took a couple of months, but it feels like forever when you're waiting to hear the big news. A few weeks before we found out about the pregnancy, we’d been on holiday to Aphrodite Hills in Cyprus to celebrate Tori finishing university, and I’d asked Tori to marry me. So our families had the news of both the engagement and the pregnancy in a matter of weeks.
At the time, Tori was living with her parents in Winchester and I was living with a friend in Southampton, while we waited for our new house in Bassett to be redecorated. We couldn't wait to move in and build our family home.
Tori suffered from terrible morning sickness – pretty much all-day sickness – for the first five months. I spent a fortune on everything ginger, and every natural remedy that I’d been told might work. After about 20 weeks the sickness faded, and everything went normally from then onwards.
We were fully ready for Elsie's arrival – or as ready as you can be, anyway. We’d just moved into the house, and the nursery was painted pink and filled with all things pink – Mothercare and Mamas and Papas became our second homes! I even bought Tori some brown Ugg boots for Christmas, with a tiny pair of matching baby ones.
I work as a fire fighter for Hampshire Fire and Rescue and, luckily, I was at home, not on a night shift at the fire station, when Tori went into labour. It was 2am on the 14th of February, and we were at home in bed. I called the birth centre straight away because Tori's contractions were already only three minutes apart. They told us to try and get back to sleep and to call again in the morning. We considered this, but we felt that things were moving too quickly to go back to sleep. So, with the contractions getting closer together, I called again. This time they said that we could go in and get checked out. We got there at about 5am and, as Tori was already 7cms dilated, we were sent straight to the delivery room.
We had talked lots about the labour, and we had a bit of a plan. Tori is a very calm, relaxed person, and we wanted the birth to be the same. Having the baby at the New Forest Birth Centre meant that we would have a natural birth. Tori got into the birthing pool at around 6am and at 9.36am, Elsie was born. The midwives couldn't believe how amazing Tori was – she didn't really make a single noise throughout, which meant that she had all her strength for the actual labour. I sat beside the pool, holding her hand and fetching constant glasses of water. We were both so excited – Tori sat at the side of the pool and had the first cuddle, and I was on hand to cut the cord.
The three of us spent Valentine’s Day at the hospital together, our presents and cards for each other completely forgotten. We returned home the following day, and suddenly it all felt very real.
Putting out fires and saving lives is much easier than looking after a newborn baby! The first couple of weeks were pretty tough, with sleepless nights aplenty, but we had great support from family members. We soon fell into a really good routine, and now it’s just the best experience in the world! Every day is different, and every week brings a new first – first hugs, first smiles, first laughs. It's so much more rewarding than we expected.
The New Forest Birth Centre was such a relaxed place, with very attentive staff. It all contributed to a very calm birth, which seems to have passed on to Elsie, because she is an extremely calm baby, who absolutely loves the water. We can't remember what we did with all our free time before Elsie!