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Snowbound mother delivers baby after mountain rescue delivers midwife

January 15, 2010 12:00 AM
By Sam Jones in The Guardian

Stranded at home in Peak District snow, Melanie Pollitt fired off SOS to fellow users of Mumsnet website.

Melanie Pollitt's suspicions that the birth of her second child would not be a straightforward affair were confirmed by the foot of snow settling outside her home in the High Peak just as the cramps in her belly were becoming unmistakably regular.

Despite being nine days overdue and snowbound in deepest Derbyshire, Pollitt did not want to force the midwife to trudge up the hill until she was sure that things were beginning in earnest.

So she sat at her computer on Tuesday morning last week and fired off an SOS to fellow users of the Mumsnet website.

"Is this the onset of labour?" she wrote. "I haven't rung midwife yet, as … if anyone is coming out it will be a one-trip job where midwife will have to come to me via our local mountain rescue team and stay till the job is done. Any advice on what to do now or when to ring midwife etc would be greatly appreciated."

The advice, which began to arrive a minute and four seconds later, was unanimous: "Ring them asap I would"; "Mountain rescue? … I would ring them now"; "I am no [midwife], but it sounds like labour to me … How exciting!"

Pollitt, 40, called the midwife. At 6pm, midwife, gas and air arrived in Hayfield courtesy of the Kinder mountain rescue team and its 4x4. The ordeal, however, was far from over.

"Things were fine for the first hour and then the lights went out," said Pollitt. "About 1,500 homes around here were left without power, but the midwife was not fazed at all. She just said: 'Light some candles - some people choose to do it this way,' so we lit all the candles - including the Christmas ones - and the gas fire kept the heat up."

By half past midnight, things had slowed down and Pollitt was beginning to worry she'd need to go to hospital. "Then within 15 minutes my waters went. Then there were 15 minutes of pushing, and after 20 minutes, Jimi Ray came out weighing 9lb 3½oz [4.2kg]."

By Thursday, however, Jimi was jaundiced and had breathing problems. He and his mother were driven to the bottom of the hill in his uncle's 4x4 and transferred into a waiting ambulance. After two days of hospital monitoring and some breast milk, he was well enough to go home.

But not everyone was aware that Pollitt's plight had reached a happy conclusion. In all the drama, Pollitt had forgotten about her web post and had no idea that hordes of Mumsnet users were hammering at their keyboards, demanding updates. While she had been otherwise engaged, the talkboards had been abuzz with people offering to "wipe your virtual brow", sharing birth techniques - "Puuuusssshhhhhh!!!!!!!!!" - and suggesting names.

On Monday, Pollitt finally logged on to relieve the suspense. "I didn't realise how things had snowballed on Mumsnet - or that I'd forgotten to update it," she said. "I thought: 'Oh my God! All those people!' So yesterday I wrote on it about what had happened."

Pollitt, her partner Nick and their daughter Millie are now adjusting to "the usual chaos you expect with a new baby" after the excitement of last week.

"We've had an interesting time of it," she said, as Jimi Ray howled in the background. "But without the midwife and the mountain rescue guys it could have been a different story."