Wednesday, 9 February 2011

The 9th of February.

A Year Ago Today.


The 7th of February, 2010 I started to feel the first real signs of labour.

Little gut-wrenching reminders that this round shape inside me was a real living, breathing person. A person that had been determined for months (not that I was counting) to make an appearance on their time schedule with no regards to immature lung development, premature birth and my anxieties towards Caesarean sections.

Luckily my prayers were a little more than answered as by the 7th of February there was still no baby (I was due on the 1st of February.)

When I woke up in the morning I had these intense cramps that made it difficult to talk - or think - but they weren't frequent enough for me to make much a deal out of, so I kept them to myself. Luckily they died down after I ate a huge pineapple to myself - odd as pineapple (but usually in a huge quantity) is an induction to labour.

By 11pm that night on the 7th my mucus plug came loose. I knew labour had started by this point and began to shake - the same feelings I'd had seeing that my pregnancy test was positive. I was scared. It was all real, it was coming to a head at last - but that scared me.

By 10am on the 8th of February labour was established with no intention of stopping. I was coping very well with it so I decided to take a bath instead of waking anyone up. By 11.30am it got more and more intense; I can't describe it to you apart from saying it was intense.

It was the kind of intensity that grips your whole body and doesn't let go until it's done it's job. You have little reprieves here and there but the intensity of it all definitely hits you in waves.

With much comforting, listening to music and trying every birthing position I'd ever seen the thing that worked for me in the end was lying down in bed napping intermittently. I kept my bedroom door open and heard B and my mum chatting softly; about what I don't recall, but their voices and the direction of their conversation soothed me.

At one point I didn't want to be on my own any longer and called B through. I can't remember exactly why or when but I lost it. I lost my positive train of thought and sunk deep into believing it would never end; that I wanted the epidural/I was weak/couldn't go on any more.

Of course I had too; I had another eleven hours of this. I didn't know that at the time and my Mum kept reassuring me it would be all over quickly. "If you've come this far at home, you're not too far now." I believed her and let her words sink into the inner part of me that was being chewed up with negative feelings.

We called the hospital (you don't get assigned a midwife or doctor to phone in the UK, you just call the hospital and speak to whichever midwife is manning the phone and they'll tell you to make your way to the hospital) then phoned up B's parents. Neither B or my Mum drive or own a car so we were relying on them to take us to the hospital - they live a good 30 minutes drive away so it was around 6pm when we were leaving to go to hospital.

I was not looking forward to the drive there; but it was great. I felt nothing of the contractions and when a massive wave of intensity hit me I would squeeze down on B's hand; I turned into a cliché. 

We got to hospital where they discovered a few complications, but I was definitely in labour. At this point I was 4cm dilated - which surprisingly comforted me despite not wanting to know how many cm's dilated I was.

My blood pressure was up very high; the midwife surmised this was because I was anxious about being in hospital but sent me down to the delivery suite to be monitored and set up there.

Very soon it was decided my blood pressure wasn't coming down and an epidural would have to be organised (with my consent.) I agreed to this and shortly after I was biting down into a pillow and crying in the arms of a stranger; being told you can't move when you're contracting is quite a feat.

My mum and B swapped over at some point (stupid hospital policy which allows for only one birth partner in the room at a time) and I napped on and off for the next few hours meanwhile the hormone drip worked through my body.

At about 4am I felt pins and needles in my legs then all of a sudden I felt that intensity again. My midwife told me to breathe through it all again - breathe through it despite an IV in my hand, a haematoma in my other hand, a needle in my spine and a trace monitor around my belly. When the midwife went out the room the student midwife asked me if I'd like to try some nitrous oxide to help me out - at first I wasn't sure because I had wanted an all singing all dancing natural labour with no drugs then I thought to myself; "I need to get through this last hurdle, at least I'll feel him passing through me if I have gas and air."

I sucked in deep and after the first two "puffs" I was laughing my head off. I kept saying to B; "Don't tell the midwives but I am soooo stoned!" they all laughed and I would echo their laughter. The gas and air made my throat very dry so I drank some cold water from a straw.

At 5.40am they told me I would need to come off the gas and air now as I was 10cm dilated - and I kept saying; "A human head is coming out of me!" and "I want to push now." - and it was "time." 30 minutes later we were greeted with Roman; slightly purple, cawing and warm. His weight and warmth amazed me. His size shocked me. I'd birthed a 10lb 1 and a half ounce baby boy.

Bryan announced the sex (what we'd asked for as the midwives have a habit of doing this) and cut the cord. Little memories float in now; the midwives saying; "He's so big, look he's rocking his own crib." and B saying; "He's crying real tears."

He was mine. He was crying. He was self soothing. He was Roman. He was every inch real.

He was everything I'd imagined he'd be and at the same time I had never realised how brilliant he would be until that moment we were side by side; me in my delivery bed high on adrenaline and him swaddled in his cot; staring at me, looking, searching and exploring my features and there I was doing the same. 

We were reunited. 

Twenty four years of being apart and finally I could see him again.

Why had I waited so long? Why hadn't I married sooner? Had him sooner? I know me and B didn't wait around to have children - we just didn't see the point of delaying it - but I couldn't stop thinking; I should have had you sooner than this.

And I began to think to myself; "Thank you Heavenly Father, thank you for letting this precious spirit go so he can be my responsibility. Thank you for this opportunity."

I passed out at some point; I was exhausted and I was given gas and air. I was stitched up without anaesthetic and that was traumatising as I felt every pull on my skin and every stab of the needle. It took them three hours. I thought of my Mum who had been opened up without anaesthetic and sucked down on the gas and air until I passed out.

Another midwife prodded me and said; "does that hurt? You've got a pile!" I screamed and told her if she did that again I'd kick her. Ha. (But she made up for it later when she was lovely helping me getting Roman positioned for a first feed.)

My Mum came through and I felt too tired to deal with people's excitement but I wanted to remember and soak up the moments like that at the same time. She called up my Dad. Again I wanted to hang up but never wanted him to stop talking to me at the same time. I wanted him to be there but I was glad he was in Thurso; I pictured him standing in the living room, with the sun on his skin and him peeking through the blinds at the weather, Shadow weaving through his legs and her tail beating off his ankles.

B and my Mum left, I slept and when I woke I walked to the toilet with the student midwife (who wanted me to use a wheelchair) and I remember that pain of peeing for the first time after a baby has come out of your body. I got back into bed and told them I wanted to feed Roman, we fed and napped again and when we woke we went up to the ward.

A day later we were home and visitors came.

 Life was somehow never the same again but it was something wonderful from that point onwards.


Image: L-R: My sister, Roman, his cake and B's hand.


Today you were one.

You had cake, you had presents and you even had balloons. You were happy and cheeky all day long. Delightful and full of love all day long.

Impressing your guests with the many things you've mastered over the months they've missed.

It amazes me to think you're a one year old.

Happy Birthday Little Man, we love you.