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Virginia, mother of three (born 1998, 2000 and 2002), hometown Oxford

I had three home births. My husband was there every time, and essential to me. I couldn't have got through it without him. My first labour was very long. I had contractions all night and he soothed and comforted me. When the pain ratcheted up at 6 am, he helped me call the midwife, and when I curled up in agony on the bathroom floor, he kept me going till the midwife arrived. For hours, and hours, he held my hand and told me stupid jokes, anything to distract me from the pain. When we reached the pushing stage, he encouraged me with the fact he could see the baby's head, and helped me through the agonising last pushes by making me smile through my pain. He was there to cut the cord and hold the lamp as I was stitched up. Our second arrived much more quickly, and again, I couldn't have done it without him. An enduring memory of that labour is he and the midwife throwing the mobile phone between them, as I screamed on the bed, whilst they tried to contact the second midwife. And his silly jokes again helping me through the pain. By the time number three arrived, I was much better prepared. I knew what my body was going through and was able to predict, wihtin twenty minutes, when he arrived. I spent that labour crouched at the end of the bed, with the midwife massaging the top of my back, and my husband my lower back. The jokes hadn't got any better, but were part and parcel of the whole experience. He cut the cord every time and was as close to our babies as I was, because he was with me every step of the way.