In honour of Tara Dawn till Rusk's request for birth stories, I'm going to have to oblige and tell you mine! If you don't do birth stories, I suggest you step away from the laptop! If you don't like the analogy of something the size of a watermelon being passed through an opening the size of a lemon then this is not for you! But in the interests of free speech and the fact that it gives me the excuse to post a photo of a very small, Small Child, or Gilbert as she was known then, I'm going to tell it anyway!
Gilbert decided to arrive three and a half weeks early! That's possibly revenge for us nick naming her Gilbert but that only came from the thing that most expectant parents do when they find out what size the foetus is this month. Oh it's a coffee bean, ahh now its a shrimp... oh look, now its the size of a grape! The movie with Johnny Depp? What's Eating Gilbert Grape? Not seen it? Well I'll just get on with it then!
As for the pregnancy itself.... whilst I enjoyed the excuse to eat two puddings at Sunday pub lunches, I can't say I had the "glow". More like spotty back, boobs that were temporarily different sizes and a nice bout of sciatica that meant I nearly got myself wedged under the Christmas tree for the entire holiday!
I left work with four weeks to go and had just started to make a pregnant sized arse imprint on the sofa when lo and behold, on the morning of April 1st, Other Half woke up and turned over to say that he really didn't want to go to work today. To which, my reply was "Well, either I've wet myself or my water broke, so either way you're not!" The unfortunate date meant that none of my friends and family believed me until much later in the day that yes, I'd really gone to hospital, yes I know it's April Fools day but no, these contractions are no sodding joke! We arrived at hospital at midday, booked in and decided to venture off for lunch. Hah! Sounded like a great idea until I made it as far as the petrol station just down the road and decided that I'd happily settle for a crappy baguette from there as it was within shouting distance of the maternity unit! They must have been used to puffing and panting women queuing up for lunch, nonetheless, I still got some strange looks whilst hanging off Other Half's shoulder and uttering "cheese and ham please".
I got to about 7.00 p.m. before starting to think about the seductive lure of an epidural; gas and air made me sick and the touchy feely midwife who wanted to rub my back was in severe danger of being thumped. I felt only good feelings towards the anaesthesiologist as he performed his miracle of medical science and the pain slowly subsided. No such feelings towards the woman in the room next door who was howling like a dog and whose husband was using loud swear words to encourage the passage of his offspring into the world. Apparently, she'd left it too late for an epidural the midwife informed me, secretly pleased I think that she was in my room and not hers!
As calm had been restored, perhaps we should have concentrated on getting some rest but Other Half spied the stirrups across the room and kept threatening to "do a Ross".... you know the one where Rachel was in labour and he just had to try them out! Gilbert's drop in heart rate soon dispersed all such thoughts as the words emergency c-section were bandied about the room. We managed to avoid that but Gilbert was unceremoniously "vacuumed" out after many unsuccessful attempts at pushing whilst numb from the waist down. I remember the room going from peaceful and serene to a hive of organised activity that resulted in me going from peaceful and serene to mildly panicked! This only increased when she was taken outside with Other Half and didn't return until about five minutes later after being helped to breathe on her own. Never in my my life have I stared so much at a door, willing it to become transparent so I could see what was going on on the other side. The inability to move my legs or ignore the person carrying out cross-stitch at the vicinity of my nether regions didn't help much either!
When my beautiful bundle was safely returned to me, Other Half says the image that met his eyes as he re-entered the room was not one he cares to remember as it was all a bit messy! People talk of the magic of childbirth but I have to say that we found the actual process itself quite brutal. The days that followed, when she became so jaundiced that she and I were rushed from the local maternity home back to the hospital at 2.00 a.m. were pretty traumatic too. I just remember standing there in my paper knickers, hormones having arrived with a vengeance and the midwife telling me that she'd called my husband and an ambulance and could I pack everything I needed really quickly. Err... actually no I can't because right now I'm not sure what planet I'm on yet alone which of this stuff do I need for an emergency trip!
But all that seems a minor issue when I look at my little girl now and feel a love for her that I never knew existed until she was born. (On April 2nd by the way.... she's no fool!)
Whilst we'd rather it had been a more floaty, chilled, White Company catalogue type experience it makes you realise how precious your child is and we can't imagine life without her! And re-living it only serves to remind me of that, so thank you Tara.... I loved reading your story and look forward to some more!