One Born Every Minute’s Antoinette Connolly has spent close to four decades working at Birmingham Women’s Hospital, yet no amount of midwifery experience could have prepared her for the media frenzy she was met with on New Year’s Day 2000 after delivering the first baby of the new millennium.
Of course, there are lows as well as highs to the job and in her own words, below, she also recalls the incredible response from one couple after they lost their baby.
Antoinette specialises in multiple births, which come with their own set of anxieties and stresses for parents and says “the bond that develops between mother and midwife is life-long. It’s a special link that cannot be broken.”
“I feel privileged to be part of the most amazing event in their lives. It’s so rewarding and such an honour.”
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“I’ve grown up with the hospital, it feels like a second home”
I have been at Birmingham Women’s Hospital since 1981, when I began my midwifery training, so I have literally grown up with the hospital. It just feels like a second home. There is an amazing team of people working together to give the best care. There is laughter and lots of cups of tea and coffee amidst all the hard work.
Delivering the first baby of the new millennium
I have had so many wonderful memories throughout my career but being the midwife who delivered the Millennium Baby on New Year’s Day in 2000 was definitely an amazing time.
I was on the night shift and before I left work in the morning, my family in Ballaghaderreen in Ireland had heard the news.
The small village, Castlemore, where I grew up was also alive with excitement – thank goodness it was good news that was travelling fast! There was so much media attention in the hospital that night, it was surreal and nothing any of us had ever experienced before.
Gratitude in the depths of grief
Another very memorable but sad time was involving a lovely couple whose stillborn baby I delivered. On return to work after my days off, I found a huge bouquet of flowers for me which were from this couple. I couldn’t believe that in their deepest grief they found time to remember me and send flowers. They had even gone to the trouble of checking my shifts so that the flowers would be there when I arrived back on duty. This was undoubtedly the most humbling experience for me.
“I pray my children find a work life as fulfilling and happy as mine”
To me, midwifery is not a job, it’s a vocation. Being a midwife has allowed me to become part of so many lives… I feel blessed to be at work doing something I absolutely love. My prayer for my children is that they will find a ‘work-life’ as fulfilling and happy as mine.
One Born Every Minute concludes tonight, Wednesday 9th May, at 9pm on Channel 4