After the birth of my beautiful boy, I was in the hospital for four days. The stay was fine, as hospital stays go. I had a private room because I have a latex allergy. The nurses said it was easier to have a ‘no-latex’ sign on the door than try and keep latex products away from a bed on a ward. I was happy for the privacy and not lonely as Adam stayed with me from 10am til 8pm every day. William had been born on New Year’s Eve and for that first night the staff were good enough to let Adam stay for the whole night. New Year has always been a very special time for me – a time to reflect on the past year, take stock of what I have achieved and set myself a few goals for the coming year. This New Year hands down beat any and all previous New Years. On our way into the hospital the morning of the birth we’d been travelling in at some awful time in the morning. I was a bundle of nerves and starving hungry! I wasn’t allowed to eat anything due to the planned surgery. In the car, we were listening to our usual local radio station. The topic for the phone-in was ‘what are your plans for New Year’s Eve?’, unbeknown to me, Adam had messaged in to say we would be celebrating with our first child, due to be born by caesarean section that morning. He knew it would take my mind off the nerves even if only for a few minutes when they read his message out. Well, as you can imagine, his message caused quite the stir at the radio station and, instead of just reading the message out, they rang us. Adam was driving so I had a quick chat with them explaining we were just getting to the hospital and we were both nervous about the operation but, overriding this, excited to be meeting our child. The radio asked if they could keep in touch through the day and broadcast the story as it happened. Little did we know the story would be followed by so many people. The station had folk ringing in asking if William had been born yet as they didn’t want to go out shopping until they’d heard all was well and if we’d had a boy or a girl. After William was born, Adam rang our parents first to give them the news and then he rang the radio to share our happy news with them too. They kept in touch with us over the next few days and we took William in to meet them a week or so later. Already William had his fan club growing by the day..
When we found out I was pregnant things didn’t change straight away. We had the happy job of telling our parents we were expecting – all of them were over the moon. For my folks William is their 4th grandchild but for Adams mum and husband he was their first. My folks tell me every grandchild is special regardless of how many have come before.
I carried on my evening classes but had to stop salsa quite early as I was getting too dizzy with the spinning. Tai Ji, however, I continued right up until the last week of my pregnancy. I’ve been doing Tai Ji for over ten years now and believe it was this that kept my blood pressure low for the whole pregnancy – lower than a healthy non-pregnant adult. The midwife said it’s no problem, just be careful for falling over; the fall is fine, she said, it’s the landing that’s the problem!!
Towards the end of my pregnancy it became apparent that my baby was a stubborn one (can’t imagine where he gets that from…) He was feet down and not for budging. We tried having him turned at the hospital and even tried acupuncture and moxibustion (a traditional Chinese herbal medicine). All to no avail though – this child was happy standing and that was that. I say ‘child’ because at that point we didn’t know if we were having a boy of a girl. After trying everything we could to turn baby we were told I would have to have a Cesarean section. I was devastated. I’d imagined a water birth with Adam and my mum present. I’d not ruled out pain relief and was just going to go with the flow. I was looking forward to giving birth and having my new baby put straight onto my chest so we could start our magical journey of breastfeeding. All this was shattered when the hospital told me it was too dangerous to try for a natural birth – a bum-down baby (breech) and it would have been my choice but a feet-down baby (footling breech) means baby would probably stick a foot out before I was fully dilated resulting in all manner of problems. Because I’d be in a cold theatre, it also meant I couldn’t have skin-to-skin straight away as I’d be too cold and would actually cool my baby down rather than help warm him up. Instead, Adam would have skin-to-skin and they would sit in the recovery room waiting for me to be stitched up. Now, call me selfish if you like but, I wanted first cuddle – I grew our baby in my body and I wanted to be the first to touch him, kiss him, hold him. I felt like I’d failed as a mother before I’d even begun. All this was by-the-by really. I knew the most important thing was to give our child the best start and if that meant Adam having skin-to-skin while I was finishing in theatre then so be it. The c-section went fine. We told the doctors we didn’t know the sex so please could they hold baby up to show us rather than telling us. Being the hopeless romantic that I am, I imagined them holding our child up like the monkey does with Simba in ‘The Lion King’; I imagined back-lighting and a fan softly blowing the hair of the doctor (baby’s would be too wet and gooey to be blown around); I imagined a gospel choir singing in the back-ground… What I got was a strange pulling feeling in my stomach; I said to Adam I thought baby was coming, and the next thing I saw was a giant pair of testicles where the head should be!! My boy (I have a boy!!!) was being held upside down from the ankle by the doctor. They really should warn you the baby will be upside down. It makes sense to a rational thinking brain; let the fluid drain out of the lungs and all that, but to a nervous first-time mum about to meet her child for the first time it was a little bit of a shock. All that aside, he took my breath away. ‘We’ve got a boy’ I gasped. He cried and we cried. The nurse gently wrapped him up and held him next to my head so I could give him a kiss hello and take a long look. Adam held him next to me for 10 minutes or so then they had to go into the recovery room to warm up. I have no idea how long it took them to stitch me back together but it was too long – a few minutes would have been too long. One last disappointment awaited me – when I was wheeled through to recovery my body went into shock and I started shaking like a leaf. The nurses piled extra blankets on me but I couldn’t warm up for about one and a half hours. Meaning I couldn’t hold my baby until then. I eventually warmed up enough and they handed me my child (at last!) He went straight to the boob and fed for the next 2 hours! So began our life together.