How We Got Started As Mediums
My mother tells me that I’ve always been psychic. I used to frighten her when I described the things I saw: such as figures in my bedroom at night, colors around people’s heads and often had dreams that came true. Also, throughout my life I had an uncanny ability to read people’s thoughts and my telepathic abilities used to astonish, and sometimes frighten, my family and friends.
Of course, mediumistic abilities are more than just mind reading as I will attempt to prove later. But psychic skills were most certainly with both my wife Jane and I from an early age. In my case they were at first haphazard and it wasn’t until I met the medium and police sergeant Peter Close, the brother of England’s cricket team captain Brian Close, who trained me in his circle, that the jigsaw puzzle fell into place. It was as if I’d suddenly found what I was searching for all my life and my psychic skills developed at a remarkable rate. Now I knew how to turn the psychic switch on and off and was no longer at the mercy of sometimes unwanted clairvoyant insights or glimpses of the spirit world.
Soon I could give clear and precise evidence of survival and was able to consciously develop
my abilities. Teaching psychic self-development has become a part of my work today.
Jane’s mediumistic development was quite different. “My grandmother realized that I was a very psychic child” says Jane “she was very interested in psychic things herself, although not a professional medium, she was able to guide my psychic progress. She would do this at first through guessing games and finally taught me to see pictures in a crystal ball which she helped me to interpret. In this way I was able to understand how to develop ESP from an early age”
By the time Jane and I met we were both mediumisticly advanced. It was Jane’s dead grandmother who introduced us. I was giving a public demonstration of mediumship in Eastleigh and linked with Jane in the audience. I described and named her grandmother Barber in the spirit who insisted that we meet. We did; fell in love and were soon married.
The Spirit World Bring Us Together
Another person who was partly responsible for our coming together was the late medium Doris Stokes: Thousands thronged to see Doris Stokes’s public demonstrations of mediumship. She became the world’s best known medium and in her simple, unassuming way popularized the knowledge that had previously been limited only to Spiritualists and other similar organisations. She was famous all over the world and could fill the London Palladium or Sydney Opera House to capacity.
When my sister Vivienne lost her husband from cancer soon after she was married, it was Doris Stokes who helped take the heavy burden of grief from her shoulders. I went with Viv to the sitting and was astonished at the things Doris also said to me.
She ‘knew’ about my problems as a single parent with a baby of 16 months to look after; she described my grandmother in the spirit world and made some predictions about my business, how I would travel and who and when I would marry.
Two predictions came to pass almost instantly. At the time I was running my Advertising Agency and she named a blue chip company that I’d be doing work for. A few weeks later, and out of the blue, the company rang me up with a big order that was to put me on a firmer financial footing- Doris had even given me the name of the man who would place the order.
She also said that I’d be going to America with my friend Stuart. Stuart Martin, a long time friend, was offered a temporary teaching job on an American Youth Camp. As I boarded the plane to LA I recalled what Doris had said.
But the most remarkable prediction that Doris made, although she always said that she couldn’t see the future, was about my future wife. “Jane Wallis” she had said “You will meet your future wife Jane Wallis on the 6th of March” It took a good few years but it was the 6th of March that Jane and I met at my mediumistic demonstration in Eastleigh. Jane’s name was Willis, which was pretty close to Doris’s prediction but her grandmother, who pulled the strings from the spirit side, had the maiden name of Wallis. The full story is in my first book The Psychic Workbook (Vermilion)
How we were inspired by the medium Doris Stokes
The Stokes family were important to Jane also. “I got to know John Stokes after Doris Stokes had passed to spirit” says Jane “He originally came down to my home in Eastleigh to help a friend of mine who needed some spiritual healing not many people know about John’s healing gift. We got on with each other straight away and often used to meet, together with his adopted son Terry, at his friend Terry Carter’s house in Portsmouth. John was a lovely, kind man and I thought of him as a second father.”
Jane’s father had died some years ago and when we decided to get married it was John Stokes who Jane asked to give her away in church. We often wonder if Doris Stokes was there too watching it all from the afterlife.
In fact she was she told us all about it through another medium:
You can’t give yourself a reading your own thoughts get in the way. So, if Jane and I want to have a message from spirit we have to visit someone else.
There’s a psychic shop in Brighton and in part of the shop they have reserved for psychics or mediums to work. Jane was a few months pregnant with Danielle, when we visited, but didn’t have as big a bump in front of her. It still wasn’t easy to spot she was pregnant.
David Walton was the visiting medium at the shop. We had heard of him but weren’t sure if he was genuine or not. It is very hard to find a gifted medium that gets clear evidence and they are not usually inclined to work at the seaside. David Walton proved however to be excellent.
We wanted a sitting together even though we knew that most mediums, including ourselves, prefer to work with sitters independently. There was a cancellation and we were booked in as his last appointment of the day. We were lucky.
“I’m hearing the name Barber” he said going straight to Jane’s grandmother’s name as I and other mediums had done before. He continued with other good evidence about her and things from my granddad and various other people we remembered who had gone to spirit. It was all excellent evidence.
“I’m feeling that my guide Dominique wants to come through, “the medium said. Dominique, we were told later, had been a monk in Brussels over 300 years ago and had first appeared to David Walton when he was a boy of 12.
Dominique spoke through David Walton with a gentle, kind voice. He spoke slowly and deliberately with an accent quite different to the mediums.
“Congratulations on the wedding” were his first words. We had not even had our first anniversary. “This baby that’s coming is very special. It doesn’t belong to you this child it belongs to God. It was no coincidence they way you two came together, you two were chosen for each other. The suffering and pain that both of you have had is for a reason.” (Jane had recently nearly died in a major operation)
“You are privileged to have suffered and you have passed the test. On the table laying in front of you are many spiritual gifts and they are yours for the asking. You two are destined and chosen to do this work for God and to lift the burden of suffering from many. Sometimes you may think that we in the spirit have left you but we are always there helping you with your work.”
He paused a while and then we heard another voice, a lady’s voice with a strong Northern accent.. “Fancy seeing you here love. It’s Doris. It was a lovely wedding and John looked so nice beside you. John’s not been too well you know and I’m a little worried about what’s happening to my Terry.” We understood the message as from Doris Stokes for who else would comment on John Stokes or be concerned for their step child Terry.
When David Walton came out of his trance he was surprised that the spirit guides had put him under. He didn’t know us from Adam and certainly would never had realised we knew Doris, John, and Terry Stokes. We thanked him for a wonderful sitting and drove home to contemplate what we had been told.
Some time after the sitting Jane, who had gone to bed early, came downstairs where I was watching television. She looked pale faced as she turned off the box and stood in front of the screen to get my attention. “I’ve just seen the figure of John Stokes stood in our bedroom” she said “He looked happy but I’m sure something has happened to him.”
With the hectic schedule we’d been keeping we hadn’t contacted John for some time. We’d tried to ring him but the number was dead. The next day I was to do a demonstration of mediumship at The Spiritualist Association of Great Britain at Belgrave Square in London. This had been an old haunt of Doris Stokes so I would ask around when I got there to find out if anyone had any news about John.
“Oh John Stokes,” said one of the resident mediums who shared the meditation room, “He passed to spirit only a few week’s ago!”
Jane and I believe that sometimes, particularly when we work with an audience, Doris and John work with us from the other side. Perhaps it’s just one of those things that many mediums would like to think but I’m sure that they have joined that band of spirit helpers that help both us and other mediums as well. I’m certain that when it’s Jane and my turn to go over we’ll stand right beside them proving to the people of earth that life really does continue.
Getting started within Spiritualism
When the fledgling medium takes their first hesitant flight from the security of the psychic development circle it is nerve-racking. Peter Close, my teacher, kindly introduced me to the Spiritualist Churches he served in London and I was soon to give my first demonstrations to an audience.
Quaking in my boots I stood in front of the congregation at Pembridge Church in London. It was the first time I’d ever been inside a Spiritualist Church let alone take the service! With lots of encouragement from Peter and a sympathetic audience I soon got into my stride and began reeling off details about the spirit communicators. I was amazed how easily and clearly the information came through. With the right ‘conditions’, as we mediums say, mediumistic communication is much easier.
Modern Spiritualism is generally considered to date from the events which occurred at Hydesville, New York State, U.S.A., on March 31st 1848, when two sisters, Margaretta and Catherine Fox established intelligent communication with a spirit entity which had been responsible for noisy rapping in the household. A flood of publicity followed and home circles sprang up in America and, from 1852, in Britain.
The movement began to attract the attention of eminent scientists and intellectuals including Robert Owen (co-founder of the Co-operative movement), Sir William Crookes (a world-famous scientist) and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (author of the Sherlock Holmes stories). Other intellectual giants joined them and in 1853 the first Spiritualist Church was established at Keighley in Yorkshire, England.
Spiritualism proposed that the spirit world were communicating a new revelation to civilization which had important religious implications. In 1937 the then Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Lang set up a committee to investigate Spiritualism and produced a favorable report. It was suppressed but leaked to Psychic News.
At first it was impossible for mediums to work openly and some mediums such, as Helen Duncan in 1944, were tried and jailed for their beliefs. Spiritualist meetings would be raided by the police and the participants prosecuted under the Vagrancy Act of 1824 and the Witchcraft Act of 1735! It wasn’t until as late as 1951 that it became legal to practice mediumship.
I found out all this information long after demonstrating in the Spiritualist Churches. For a long time I had no idea of the extent of Spiritualism or of its intellectual pedigree.
When I took my first Spiritualist service I soon found out what a typical meeting consists of: The medium opens with a prayer and then there’s a hymn and a moment of meditation and absent healing. After a short reading the medium then gives a talk about the philosophical implications of spirit communication. This is followed by another hymn to lift the vibrations and finally he gives a demonstration of mediumistic communication for members of the congregation he feels drawn to. As I’d never seen another platform medium in action my style of working was uniquely my own.
Of course I have since taken hundreds of Spiritualist services and today I’m confident when giving a talk or demonstrating mediumship to an audience. To give you an idea of what happens at a demonstration here’s a flattering extract from the newsletter of Wilton Spiritualist Church in Wiltshire:
Visiting medium, Craig Hamilton-Parker gave one of the most detailed messages heard in our church at September’s meeting. Starting with the name “Hayward” which was initially unrecognised, he then heard the word “Britannia”. Keith Williams thought he recognised the details and Craig gave the Christian name of “Colin”.
Keith explained that he had served in Ulster with a Colin Hayward, who had sung “Rule Britannia” just before being killed. He had saved his comrades by throwing himself onto an IRA bomb to shield the blast. As he did so he sung “Rule Britannia”. The message continued:
CHP: “This took place in Londonderry.”
CHP: He had a girlfriend and I feel he was just about to get married.”
KW: “He was due to go on leave in nine day’s time and would have married three days after that”
CHP: “Do you know if the girl’s name was Sally?”
KW: “I can’t remember” (This was confirmed as correct later)
CHP: “He’s talking about Charlie Watts”.
KW: “That was his best friend.”
CHP: “There was also a Tommy in the group he saved. Quite gangling in his appearance.”
KW: “That’s right.”
CHP: “He’s showing me his cap-badge. It has three feathers on it.”
KW: “Yes he was in the Hussars.”
CHP: “I’m getting the 23rd September”
KW: “As far as I can remember, he died in late September.”
Now that’s the sort of evidence Spiritualism really stands on. In my 30 years in the movement, I have rarely heard such detailed ‘evidence of identity’.
Well, there’s a feather in my cap too.
Spiritualists are lovely people but I feel sad for the movement. Unfortunately Spiritualism’s glorious past has in some ways stopped it progressing. Today most of the intellectuals have deserted it, materialization circles are now extremely rare and even the standards of mental mediumship have deteriorated to superficial psychism. But perhaps the death knell for Spiritualism is that it is so old fashioned and is plagued by committees that cannot agree on the simplest agenda for change. The net effect is that Spiritualism can sometimes be boring.
Despite this however, there are still pockets of excellence within the movement that may in the future bring about a re animation and new momentum. Spiritualism at its best can be tremendously uplifting and at its worse is dull and shallow. Despite its faults though it’s well worth looking into- maybe you can help change it?
I have a great deal to thank Spiritualism for. Peter Close is himself a Spiritualist and the Spiritualist Church gave me a platform to practice my skills in front of the public. Without this experience it would have been far more difficult to work as confidently as I do today on television, the radio and through the newspapers.
How Jane was taught by her psychic grandmother
Jane’s early development was quite different: Guided by her Grandmother during childhood the bond continued after Grandmother died. “I’ve always felt that my grandmother draws close at important times” says Jane “Sometimes she advises or warns me about events and there have been occasions when I’ve heard her voice give such a clear warning that I act upon it. Craig and I have even turned down television shows if my grandmother’s spirit has said it’s a negative show. She was certainly right when we turned down what looked like a golden opportunity to become well known. The show in question we saw later was hosted by the American conjurer James Randi. He is an arch skeptic and gave everyone a hard time.”
As I was developing a reputation as a medium who demonstrates to an audience Jane’s reputation was spreading because of her private sittings. Before we became professional, we never charged for our public or private work.
Jane, I know, has saved many despairing people from the brink of suicide. Sometimes the overwhelming influence of the spirit people and the insistence of her ‘dead’ grandmother would impel her to rush to people’s houses unannounced. Sometimes she would turn up just in the nick of time:
Our early work helping people find solace
The telephone directory lay open on the living room table when Jane saw the vivid blue light flash across it. She picked it up and the blue lights highlighted the name of J Chivers.
“I knew that something was desperately wrong at this unknown persons house” says Jane recalling the events of 1972 “I felt the spirit of a young boy close to me and heard my Grandmother urging that I should go straight away to the address. His father was in desperate need of assistance.”
Jane jumped in the taxi and instead of going to the supermarket as she had planned that afternoon, drove directly to Mr Chivers address. “It was a hard house to find, but on route I could hear the spirit voice giving me precise directions. Turn left here, right there, straight on at the lights etc.” continues Jane.
Jim Chivers, from Bitterne, Southampton, remembers the day well. “Jane knocked our door and said ‘Is your name Jim? Have you lost a little boy of fifteen called Tim?’.”
Jim’s young son, Tim, had quite recently been killed in a road accident on his way home from school. He’d fallen off his bike as he rode up a hill and was crushed under the wheels of a lorry. The ambulance rushed him to hospital but within four hours he was dead.
“Jane unexpectedly gave me a wealth of evidence that proved that Tim was now safe in the spirit world.” says Jim “My wife Shirley and I could never have made it without the assistance of people like Jane. Over the years from the evidence of mediums and spiritualists I have grown to understand that death is by no means the end. Life does indeed continue and, although I am still depressed sometimes on Tim’s birthday, passing and at Christmas, I know that he is safely in God’s hands.”
“I think that anybody that’s not had a bereavement can explain the loss you feel.” says Jim “Although its a disgusting and selfish thing to do, I made two attempts a suicide but realise now that the grief I and my family endured was for a purpose so that I could understand what others go through and offer help.”
“The hardest part was driving home from hospital without a son” continues Jim, “You know it’s happened but can’t believe it.
In my despair I turned to my local Christian Church but found no solace there. I realized that the vicar’s knew nothing about the afterlife even though they talk about it in their sermons every Sunday.”
Jim Chivers sought out other mediums to help him with his grief. “I saw mediums Phil Thomas, Mary Clifford and other spiritualists. Their reassurance and evidence Tim kept coming through built my strength further.”
“Now I don’t need the evidence. I’m thankful for the guidance that the spirit world have given me through mediums like Jane.”
Tim’s loss has since opened a wonderful spiritual door for Jim. Once he became stronger he joined a psychic development group and discovered that he too has the gifts of clairvoyance, mediumship and healing. Jim has become a close friend of Jane and I and, since his retirement, has become a superb medium who understands the terrible suffering that many of his own sitters are experiencing.
“My own grief has meaning if it has taught me to lift the burden from another’s shoulders” he concludes.
Some more examples of early readings
I know how much Jane’s mediumship and the work of the Spiritualists helped Jim come to terms with the loss of his son. Jim is a very sincere man and a follower of the Indian Avatar Sathya Sai Baba who you will read about in the last chapter of this book. During his time of grief he was very vulnerable and a false psychic could have wrought terrible damage.
Fortunately in Jane he met the right person. But there are also many sham psychics around:
Soon after her aunt Olive died Sue Pedrick (35) from Southampton decided to visit a medium to see if Olive could communicate with her. “I needed to know if I was making the best plans for her mentally handicapped son Graham” says Sue “If only Olive could let me know that she approved of my plans and agreed that what I was doing was in Graham’s best interest.”
Sue’s husband Cliff (43) accompanied her to the consultation in Fareham but wasn’t impressed. “Frankly it was an absolute load of twaddle.” says Cliff “The woman said things that could apply to anyone and made a string of predictions none of which have happened. We came away feeling cheated”
Three months later Sue decided that she’d like to try again to contact Olive but this time Cliff insisted that they apply some rules. “We’d read about the Eastleigh based medium Craig Hamilton-Parker and made an appointment to see him” says Cliff “But this time we weren’t going to be taken in. Sue and I agreed that we wouldn’t lead the medium or give anything away. We agreed that we would only answer ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘don’t know’.”
But Cliff and Sue were pleased at what I told them “No sooner had I sat down, than Craig told me that he was in touch with my father. He said he saw him with jet black hair like mine but had brilliant blue eyes He eventually died of a chest infection said Craig but spoke in whispers because there had been something seriously wrong with his throat.”
Just before Cliff’s father died he had contracted cancer of the throat and had his voice box removed. “Everything Craig said was true yet I had deliberately given him no clues.” continues Cliff, “I could hardly believe what I was hearing.”
Next I turned to Sue and said that he wanted to give her a message from her mother. “Craig told me how she died and gave the date of her death to within a few days. He told me that her pet poodle dog was with her and she was now showing him a picture of Michael Jackson. Mum loved her poodle and only two days before my five year old son Vincent had impersonated Michael Jackson for the school play.
“‘She’s joking about your middle name’ I said ‘Can you understand Yan?’ My middle name is Yana which dad had chosen because he loved the music of the singer of the same name. Everyone, including mum, used to pull my leg about it.
“Craig went on to say that mum was telling him to say that I mustn’t worry too much about the twin’s asthma and that my bad back would improve. I then stopped and said that he was going to ask mum for some information that would give me absolute proof that he was in touch with her. ‘She’s showing me lots of little silver horseshoes’
“Before mum died she had worked with me in my catering business. After every wedding she would ask the bride for permission to take a silver horseshoe off the cake for good luck. Mum soon had a huge collection of silver horse shoes.”
But the spirit world hadn’t finished. There were others who also wanted to communicate. “Craig asked me if I knew of a Steve in the spirit world. Of course I did it was my brother! Steve, as Craig was saying, had taken his own life. He had taken an overdose and the drugs said Craig were medically prescribed but they belonged to someone else.
“This was quite correct. Craig went on to describe his character, how he liked motorbikes and how we played his favorite song by Meatloaf at his funeral. The fake medium we’d seen in Fareham was using guesswork but these were hard facts that nobody could deny.”
Eventually, when the consultation was almost coming to a close, aunt Olive made contact. “Craig wasn’t able to give Olive’s name but he was able to correctly say that she was a somewhat domineering school teacher. We’d played the music from her school assembly at the funeral. ‘The music was something about a train’ Craig said The first line of the song was ‘Train whistle blowing’!
“He also accurately described her cancer and how her leg swelled.” continues Sue “But the information that really shocked me most was when Craig said that she was dressed in pink in the coffin. Then Craig turned to Cliff and said ‘And all thanks to you Cliff, you were the one who dressed her'”
“Most people leave jobs like that to the undertakers” says Cliff “But Olive always looked like a million dollars in life and I intended that she see out her last moments in style. I dressed her in her finest jewelry and favorite pink dress and jacket.
“Then Craig turned to Sue and said ‘And talking about clothes, you’ve gone from rags to riches. You’re now a regular Imelda Marcos.’ Craig was spot on again A few months before she died Olive had sold her house and went on a massive shopping spree. Sue inherited her clothes which included 8 unopened boxes of new shoes and about another 40 pairs of used ones.”
“Craig said that I’d had her wedding ring made smaller so that her son Graham could wear it and that she now had something very important to say ‘She’s saying’ said Craig ‘that you’ve done nothing wrong for Graham, in fact she’s very pleased with what you’ve done and organised.”
This was the vital piece of information that Sue and Cliff had longed to hear. Although Graham lives in care, Sue and Cliff have made him part of their own family. He comes to stay regularly and particularly loves staying for the New Year. “We’re both convinced now that life goes on after death” concludes Sue “But it’s equally comforting to know that the people we love who’ve passed over can see and comment on the work that we continue in their memory.”
Jane helps people
As Cliff and Sue’s story illustrates, you have to be so wary of which clairvoyant you choose to see. A bad one or an outright charlatan can put you off for life. I’ve been told some terrible things by the fakes. As an adolescent a ‘psychic’ said that I’d break my back before I was twenty and another said that I’d die of lung cancer and another said that I’d lose a leg and another said that I’d have my stomach removed. (Thank God they left me with the important bits.) In every case they weren’t able to give me any evidence to prove what they were saying had substance. They didn’t tell me anything about my past or present yet could make these terrible outlandish predictions about my future.
Jane had a similar experience when she saw a ‘clairvoyant’ at the seaside on the Isle of Wight. “Your having an affair” the seer said with utmost confidence. Jane became quite angry with her as she fervently believes that infidelity is wrong. (Jane and I may verbally demolish each other if we have a row and we certainly don’t have a marriage made in heaven but we both know that we’d never let each other down through adultery. We both had enough of that from our first marriage partners.) When Jane told her she was wrong the clairvoyants reply was “Well that surprises me, nearly everyone that comes to see me does”
Clearly the woman concerned was using guesswork. And bad psychics say that they never get it wrong or attempt to make things fit with the flimsiest of evidence. We all get it wrong sometimes or get our lines crossed. Jane and I can immediately spot a bad clairvoyant but people like this can be really upsetting for someone who assumes that person giving the reading has an infallible gift:
“My life was a mess and everything was going wrong. I was deeply depressed and didn’t know where to turn. In desperation I decided to visit a psychic.” says Susie Fabian from Alton in Hampshire.” But what the psychic told me was so terribly upsetting- in fact quite terrifying- that I cried all the way home.”
Susie knows now that the woman she saw was a complete charlatan. “She would listen carefully to what I gave away and feed it back to me later in the consultation. For example I mentioned that I lived in the countryside. Ten minutes later she told me that there were horses near where I lived and I should drive a Land Rover. She fished for information and then started predicting the most frightening things that were to happen: I’d lose my job, husband, home, money, health you name it I’d be loosing it. ‘I’d like to tell you something positive my dear but I can’t’ said the seer.”
For ages Susie kept what she was told to herself. “I worried about what I was told day and night” she says “It wasn’t until I shared my feelings with my close friend Liz that I began to see how I’d been conned. I played her the tape and we soon realized when we analysed it that she was telling me things I’d already mentioned earlier.”
Angrily Susie’s friend destroyed the tape in front of her
“But despite this bad encounter I still wanted to see a psychic and Liz recommended Craig. He had seen many of her friends.
“Craig explained that he wanted first to communicate with the spirit world and ask them about my life. He started telling me about my mother who had died a few years ago. He said how she hadn’t changed much and even though money was not important where she was she still worried about it as she was penniless when she died. He told me when she died, how she died, named names and what she was like as a person. Mum laughed about Dad- how he lived on sandwiches, refused to budge from the house and told me lots of stories of things that happened in my life. These were absolutely correct and no one in a million years could guess the facts but also they are very personal to me and I would rather keep them to myself. Suffice it is to say- I knew by now that some, but not all, psychics are true.”
After the mediumistic work I offered to use the Tarot cards to look into Susie’s future. I am first a medium but sometimes people need a little extra guidance. I believe that the future is subject to our own free will- we can change it. Many mediums disagree with fortune-telling because of the harrowing stories you hear of deception. In the right hands Tarot Cards can be a useful tool but that’s all they are, a tool to help with precognition. I see them as a way to compose a philosophy that the sitter can apply to their circumstances. Ultimately the future’s what you make it.
The oracle showed problems ahead for Susie but they weren’t impossible. With the guidance of spirit Susie made a plan of action to make the best of the circumstances available. I believe that if you sincerely put love behind your actions, then inevitably you will do the right thing and in time reap the benefit.- it’s the natural law of things.
“I left Craig’s house on a high” says Susie “Inside I felt at peace with myself. I knew that there were problems to deal with in my life. It wasn’t going to be a bed of roses but now I could cope.”
Giving birth at home
When Jane and I met and married our lives started to change. Jane fell pregnant with our daughter but four months into her pregnancy on Christmas Eve she collapsed at home. I was urgently called to the hospital. ‘We have X rayed your wife’ said the consultant ‘and have discovered a large growth.’ When I pressed to know if it was cancer the consultant would not answer one way or the other. They would operate tomorrow Christmas Day. It was likely, they warned, that she would lose the baby.
Perhaps the worst moment for both of us was having to leave Jane alone in hospital. Our children from our previous marriage were looking forward to Father Christmas coming. It was too late to make arrangements with their Grandparents so I returned home to get them to bed, wrap the gifts and fill the stockings. Jane was very brave and faced the forthcoming crisis with great courage. Our first Christmas together as a family was not to be.
On Christmas morning the surgeons removed an ovarian cyst from Jane’s fallopian tubes. It was one of the biggest they’d ever seen. And it was benign!
“I was worried that there might be complications with my pregnancy” says Jane “I was 38 and some people think that that’s too old to have a baby But both Craig and I had been married before and we wanted a child of our own. We decided that the birth should reflect our spiritual values
When Jane announced that she wanted to have the baby at home by underwater birth I thought that she was joking. In theory it sounded a great idea but after the hospital scare I would have preferred that she had as ‘normal’ a birth as possible with as much technology around us as a hospital could muster.
But Jane would have none of it. Her mind was made up.
The midwife reassured me that if there were any complications then they would take Jane straight to hospital. Gradually I relented. There were many benefits: it reduces pain of the mother’s contractions and eases the trauma of birth for the baby. And many claim that a water birth improves a child’s intelligence and makes them more perceptive – even psychic. But most of all it symbolised a spiritual entry into the world. Water is a very powerful conductor of psychic energies and if Jane and I were in the pool together then our auras, and spirits would blend together.
“The birthing pool was a round blue plastic tub of about 6 ft in diameter that came in four sections- it looked like a deep paddling pool.” says Jane “Craig, who normally detests DIY, assembled it and we filled it up for a practice run. Celeste (Craig’s daughter from his first marriage) and Chantal (my first daughter) were dying to get in to our new swimming pool that had taken over our dining room. Even our dog William barked his frustration at not being able to join in the fun. For the practice run we could be carefree but for the birth itself we were careful to sterilise everything. We were supplied with a special sterile lining to be used on the big day. The midwife was very cautious to make sure that the extensive training she had undertaken at her own expense, to plan for this birth, was put fully into effect.
“For the trial run I put an ugly ‘cabbage patch doll’ under my T-shirt and when I pushed it out, with realistic groans of birth, it would shoot to the surface like a cork. ‘Oh look mummy it looks just like Craig’ said Chantal sarcastically. I couldn’t wait for the real baby to come along everybody was excited even the midwife.
“On the morning of the 22 nd June, the day after the Summer Solstice, I started to get contractions. Then they stopped. I started to experience terrible pain and Craig quickly rang the midwife and began filling the pool. When Jan arrived the baby was well on its way and it was touch and go as to whether we could fill the pool at the right temperature of exactly 100 degrees Fahrenheit in time. Our central heating system and immersion heater were having trouble coping. And so was I.
“The midwife could feel with her hand that the baby was facing the wrong way and that if it didn’t turn, they might have to use forceps. The pain was, for a time, unbearable but as soon as I got into the water the pain in my back just went and the baby’s head engaged round the correct way. I wished that I’d got in earlier. Craig shut the blinds, put on some tranquil new age music, put on his bathers and leaped in with me. He held me from behind to give me an anchor to push against. The midwife rang everyone that should be there. And Doctor Hood, our GP, brought along his little boy to watch.
“Then the doorbell rang. It was our daughters Chantal and Celeste back from school. They too came into the room to watch the birth and could help if they wanted. Chantal decided not to have a ring side view watch but watched through the part opened dinning room door. Celeste absolutely loved it. She sponged my forehead and insisted on watching everything. There would never be any rivalry or jealousy towards this baby, I thought, they had helped deliver it!”
I never realised that when a woman is giving birth she has the strength of ten men. I too felt like ten men but nine of them were dead. Every time Jane pushed against the side with her legs she pushed against my chest. (she was sitting in my lap) With each contraction all the air would be forced out of my lungs and together with the weight of the water I felt that I was going to start hyperventilating or something. I laughed to myself and thought “So you wanted to share the experience of the birth now you’ve got it pain and all”. It was also amusing the way Celeste kept coming over and mopping my brow while Jane sweated away unattended. Afterwards Jane looked fine and as if nothing had happened, everyone said that I looked like the one who had given birth!
At 4.26 PM the baby arrived. “I put my hands down into the water and delivered her myself.” says Jane proudly “I took hold of the head when I felt it drop. The midwife was pleased to see that the baby was now in the correct place and had fully turned while I was in the water. I gently lifted the baby up through the surface of the water. It was a beautiful moment, as if time stood still. A holy moment. I was ecstatic as I pulled the baby upwards as if in slow motion it was a girl. The moment she was out of the water she began to cry and I started laughing-she was perfect in every detail. We’d suffered so much and now here was our little baby.”
The girls were amazed. We thought that they might have been squeamish but they really loved watching the birth. “Well done” said my mum, arriving only seconds after the birth. She was the first to hold the baby. “This is how a birth should be” says Jane “with your family gathered round you. I climbed out of the tub to deliver the afterbirth in private. (much to the disappointment of Celeste who wanted to see more) I had a few stitches but it was remarkable that I had needed no gas or painkillers throughout. The girls eagerly nursed baby Danielle, and we all had a nice cup of tea. We needed it as it was a very hot day, the tubs water was 100 degrees, it was about 80 outside, and the whole building was as hot and steamy as a sauna.
“There was a wonderful atmosphere in that house that day.” says Jane “It was very special. The doctor and midwife looked all flaked out. Already I was thinking how I’d like to do it all over again. A water birth at home is a truly spiritual experience. I didn’t feel tired but they made me have a bath and go to bed.
“I lay in bed I looked at baby Danielle snuggled in my arms. Here was this beautiful darling little baby with lots of hair and so perfect in every way. I truly believed that she was a child of God. My Danielle. My water baby. I was so pleased that at last our child had arrived. When I looked into her brilliant blue eyes’ says Jane ‘I knew that all the suffering was worthwhile.’
Struggling to get by
But the suffering was by no means over. A few days after Danielle was born we received papers from the courts telling us that both of our ex-partners were filling for custody of the step children. Jane’s ex-husband was engaged to an American multi millionaire so money was no object. Meanwhile my ex-wife was on legal aid. We fought tooth and nail but the financial consequences of the long drawn out court cases were crippling.
I can’t go into details but it hurt us all to see the new family broken up. I had struggled for 9 years on my own bringing Celeste up from 16 months old and making tremendous sacrifices to make sure she was all right. Jane had also made similar sacrifices over Justin and Chantal
My advertising agency, which I had toiled to set up over 15 years, began to suffer because of the time I had to spend in court and in preparing to go to court. I missed critical meetings and couldn’t follow-up sales leads. Instead of writing quotes I wrote affidavits. Turn-over plummeted and costs rose. Then I lost my three most important accounts within a week. The business collapsed
As I watched the receiver tow away my Jaguar car I clearly heard the voice of my ‘dead’ Grandmother. ‘Don’t worry Craig. It’s only things. Go forward now and do what you know you’ve got to do.’
Somehow we kept our house and survived. In the space of a year our world had changed beyond recognition. No more champagne lunches entertaining clients at French restaurants; no more trips for Jane on the QE2, no more luxuries. But deep in our hearts we knew that these things didn’t matter. Spiritually we had both already decided to dedicate our lives to the service of Spirit. Now was our chance to prove it in cold reality.
The decks had been cleared and the stage was set for a new beginning. In a few years we’d been through some momentous times. Nothing much more could be taken away from us. The only way was up.