Love at first sight…

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I had been depressed in the pregnancy. There were days, before I got my reception job at the children’s centre, that I would cry for hours.

I think it was the night before my due date that I cried to Tim because I wasn’t excited about the baby being born.

In retrospect, I think that was why the labour was so hard. If I had been excited, the beginnings of labour would have been exciting. But I found every minute of it awful.

Once he was born though, and I lay there legs akimbo, once the adrenaline had worn off and the shock had subsided, as they stitched me up (and yes I farted) after a good few puffs of gas and air (which by the way does nothing for the pain) to endure injections into my actual fairy (after all it had been through!), as I lay there then, the happy high of birth rose in me and never left. The depression slunk off and we have all been happy ever since.

But I didn’t love him at first. I was very happy. I stared at him all day, I stroked him, I fed him, I rocked him, I nearly cried when he, screaming, had his IV removed, but he could be passed to anyone and I didn’t mind, I could have left him for hours (I didn’t) and I don’t think I would have missed him. I was very happy but he felt like a stranger that I had to get to know.

He was a lovely little stranger. For the first 2 weeks he slept and woke only to feed. I spent every minute with him and watched him grow from tiny 6lb 10oz twiglet to a real chunky bubba who smiled and made gentle little sounds and screamed in rage when the boob didn’t arrive into his angry rosebud mouth fast enough.

Then one evening, when Tim was in Paris, I looked at him and cried because I loved him. It had taken about 6 weeks but the little stranger felt less of a little stranger and the love and fear had grown in equal measure, because they always seem to go hand in hand.

It wasn’t love at first sight, but it was really ok.

Birth

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My waters broke at 11pm on Thursday 6th June.

I woke up to a tummy ache. I thought the movement in my tummy was the baby and I put Tim’s hand to it. Then I felt water leak out. It kept coming. I lay there for a second. Then I said, Tim.

I think my waters just broke.

My teeth started chattering.

It was only 2 days past the due date. I thought he would be 2 weeks late. I was measuring small. And I wanted a good night’s sleep. It was too late at night. I was too tired for this.

We called the hospital and they said to come in at 10am the next day. We lay towels on the bed.

The pains carried on all night, like the worst period pains.

My dad drove us to the hospital in the morning. I had thrown up my breakfast but I could still have a contraction in silence.

They checked my sodden maternity pad, my pulse and temperature and my notes, and sent us home.

The pains got worse. I ate icecream. I threw it back up. I felt hot, then I wanted a blanket.

We called the hospital at around 3. The contractions seemed to be 3 in 10 minutes. I hadn’t felt the baby move all day. Because there were not enough midwives, the hospital was on divert to a different hospital further away. We were sent there.

I screamed the half-hour car journey. But we reached the hospital and I was only 3cm.

They sent me for a bath.

The first photo of him

I was put on the antenatal ward for the night. No-one there was in proper labour. I was the only one moaning and screaming all night. I slept the few miniscule minutes between contractions, and woke in agony, delirious, hitting and scratching Tim. Sometimes he would feed me bits of banana.

Finally, at midnight on Friday 7th June, 25 hours after my waters broke, I was wheeled screaming to the delivery room. They strapped me up to the heart rate monitor and stuck an IV in me. My temperature had risen and they thought I had an infection.

At 2am we thought it would be very soon.

I needed a poo. They said it was the baby’s head. I was pretty sure it was a poo.

At 5am he still wasn’t born.

It was starting to get light outside.

They wheeled in a special machine for sick babies. The paediatricians and doctor were brought in. They were going to take the baby away for antibiotics as soon as he was born. The machine was there in case he was ill. They were worried he was a very small baby.

I felt annoyed at all their fussing. I thought they just needed to pull him out. I was too tired to push him out. The contractions had slowed down and weren’t strong enough. I was falling asleep. Everyone was falling asleep. They gave me juice for energy but it wasn’t enough.

Finally, they put me on an oxytocin drip and, after pooing before a roomful of people, I pushed him out at 6.24am on Saturday 8th June 2019, 31.5 hours after my waters had broken and the pains had first started. He was plopped on my chest covered in blood and meconium and I thought, Oh, not on my top! He looked exactly like a baby.

Then they took him to be stabbed all over with needles, looking for a vein for the IV. It was a violent beginning.

Day 3