Knowing when your baby will be born brings with many things. First, the question of ‘when’ is gone. Obviously. When I was given a c-section date at my 36 week appointment I called my husband as I was leaving the hospital and said: “What you doing the 1 February?” As I heard him scramble for his diary I roared “Wanna Have A BABY?!”
Gone from our plans were labour watch and bouncing balls and raspberry leaf tea. In its place was a childcare plan for our toddler and a list of people we’d given the exact date to and those we wanted to keep guessing. I didn’t want to tell anyone really. It took the mystery and excitement out of it. It made the whole thing so planned. So straight forward. So surgical.
Not knowing the baby’s sex was the one thing that kept us going. We may have known when the baby would arrive, but we didn’t know what would arrive. Blue or pink? A third daughter for my husband or a first son?
Knowing the date meant that I reached the end of pregnancy much faster. And by the end, I mean the part where you are so over it and just want your body back and the ability to put on your socks without the help of a crane. Or a forklift. Or both.
I went downhill as soon as I took my maternity leave. It was as though I’d been holding it together till then, but once set free from the responsibilities of work, I developed SPD (separation of the pelvis) and found I could barely walk. I should have been preparing for baby – we had a ton of things to get ready, but I turned into a house hermit and took to the bed and resting. Oh the guilt for resting.
My section date was booked for just under a week before my official due date. You’d think knocking a whole week off your pregnancy would make things go faster, but the reality was that mentally, it affected the countdown big style. When you’re approaching the end of bump watch normally, you add two weeks onto your due date because you know that it’s well within the realms of possibility you will go overdue. Knowing you won’t have this wait made weeks 37 – 39 crawl. It felt like five weeks pushed into two.
I’d been laid up so much that my usually organised self just wasn’t up to par and so there was a lot of work to get completed before we made the journey into hospital. Just as well I has insomnia from hell then. Lots of early morning cleaning and wiping down cupboards. You know yourself.
On the morning of d-day I woke from sleep a bit tired and wondering if I could just roll over and go back to nod land. I really wanted to meet my baby but I wasn’t really in the form for heading into hospital to have five layers of my skin split open. Knowing what was ahead made this section that little less… enticing.
In hospital we were greeted by our lovely midwife Maria and we had the best of craic with her getting ready and using plastic bags to roll on surgery stockings. With my little pink slippers, I felt almost daintily pretty. On the ankles anyway. She told us we were first on the list and I was chuffed as it meant we wouldn’t be waiting long to see our little bundle.
Two hours rolled by and we still hadn’t been taken down to theatre. A number of emergency sections had come in and I thought of the women who had likely been labouring for hours and were now in the position I was in – heading for surgery to ensure the safe deliveries of our babies. I was glad that I was in the position of being calm and at least prepared. Although as the time ticked on, my calmness was wavering.
Four hours after arriving to hospital I walked down to pre-theatre. It was all quite familiar, having made the journey before – I felt I knew where I was going. I carried the saline drip in my hand and cradled it as four of the medical team came out to bark at me while I sat on a chair. ‘Any allergies? Any trouble with the spinal block before? Any piercings?’ They repeated the questions and ticked off the boxes on their paperwork and when they were satisfied the anesthesiologist came out to speak with us. He was a funny guy and kept us chatting animatedly until everyone was ready for me.
It was hard to believe that I was heading into give birth. I could have been there to get my legs waxed.
Getting to theatre
I was finally led into a little room for more questions and forced to drink some disgusting liquid that would help with sickness during and post op. It made me feel sick straight away. And then it was time.
Into theatre. Up onto the table. Bum back, crouch over, sitting waiting for the needles to pierce your spine to numb you out. Again, like last time, it was though every person in the room had a hold of some part of me. New needles were being added to my arms and hands. Little sticky plaster for monitors. People poking at my back
The anesthesiologist stood in front of me, telling more stories. A male care assistant introduced himself and asked if I wanted to hold his hand. I didn’t.
I lowered my head and looked at the spots on my gown. I just wanted it over with.
Now, said someone in charge, when the spinal block was in. “All done. No surprises.”
“Unless the baby’s black,” I said. “That would be a surprise.”
There was a moment’s silence in the theatre before everyone broke into laughter.
Always the comedian under pressure.
With everything in place and the cold flow of nerve blockers flowing through my legs, I felt them lift me fully onto the table.
A spray was produced, a type of deodorant for eskimos. Cold. Can you feel that, they said, spraying it on my legs. I could, but it wasn’t cold. So I was numb.
A curtain was raised. Blue, the height of the ceiling – no chance of a view of my uterus so.
And then my husband was brought in. I’d been in theatre for well over half an hour and hated being seperated. I felt overwhelmed. Alone. I’d been joking and laughing, but it was all a front. As soon as he appeared, the tears started. I gripped his hand and hoped my fingers relayed how how scared I was, how horrible it felt to have all these people poking at you and sticking needles in and asking you questions. My first section had felt very different to this. I can’t say I was enjoying this at all.
He told me I was doing great and someone announced that they’d started. Feeling nothing, I was shocked that they were already ‘in’ and just a few seconds later, we heard our baby cry.
Both of us looked at each shocked. The baby was here, already?
First time round, Dad had stood up to see our baby being born and announce the sex to the quiet theatre; now our baby was here crying its lungs out and we didn’t even know what we’d had.
“What is it?” I asked my husband.
“I don’t know,” he said, shaking his head.
And then the baby was brought round, held in blue wrap, its lower regions presented to us. I wasn’t expecting to find out the sex myself, and it was a surprise – a lovely surprise.
A baby girl.
I watched as she was cleaned and assessed and saw a little wide nose and dark hair.
She looked like me, already.
When she was wrapped she was draped across my shoulder and I got to kiss her face and touch her chest. As I’d desperately wanted skin to skin and had hoped for a natural birth, this was hugely important to me and something else I hadn’t expected.
It made me calm. I was quiet. Nuzzling.
It was a surreal, beautiful, settling experience.
Our baby was here.
When I was put together (including two sharp shunts to my ribs, where I swear they were shoving body parts back in) I was wheeled out of the theatre down to recovery. I waved like the Queen to all the staff, saying, thank you, thanks a million, thanks for helping me give birth and watched their bemused faces as they waved me goodbye. I can’t be the only woman who’s a bit crazy when she’s high.
In recovery I had a lovely nurse who like our midwife was mad up for the craic and she said things were looking great and I only had to stay for half an hour. As I’d been separated from my first daughter for two hours this was again another lovely surprise, so despite having more fears and finding the whole thing more uncomfortable this time around, there were elements that were much better too.
Finally I was taken back to baby and Daddy, which was just as well as she was roaring for a feed and I was keen to get breastfeeding started.
The afternoon passed in a blur. I can’t really remember it. I was obviously on the good drugs.
But I found time to put on make-up. To send out messages. To introduce her to her sisters, my parents, to @supasambo.
And then the drugs began to wear off.
But that’s a whole other blog post.
Welcome to Bonnie Winifred. We can’t wait to get to know you.