"No." He said. "She doesn't want to have a caesarian."
"She might have to-" started the doctor.
"It's OK." I said. "We tried the ventouse. It's time to have a section."
Medical staff swiftly moved into action. Someone got a chair for Kenny and put it beside my head. He sat down. For a moment I saw my pregnant orange belly reflected in the theatre lights, but they moved the lights and swathed me in green fabric.
"You will feel a tugging" said the surgeon. The anaesthetist was behind my head, checking a beeping machine. A lot of other people were around, wearing masks and blue and green hats. What were all these people for?
Kenny held my hand. "Look at me" he said.
I looked at him. I tried to concentrate on my breathing, and to relax my shoulders down. He looked tired, but then it was the middle of the night. More than that though, he looked terrified. There was nothing either of us could do now but trust the doctors. I didn't tell him that I'd been convinced I was going to die in the ambulance. We've never mentioned it, but looking at him I thought perhaps he'd thought the same during that hour of pain on bumpy back roads.
I didn't think I was going to die any more, but I wasn't so sure about the baby. I wasn't sure about how I was going to cope with three children and a massive abdominal wound either. I tried not to cry as the tugging started. "I'm scared." I said.
He squeezed my hand. He tried really hard to be reassuring, but he was pale as milk himself with fear and stress. "It's going to be fine." He said.
I'd known for a while that a section might be needed. The baby had measured large and I'd been sent for extra scans and to see a consultant. I was scared, going in to see that big man, and my midwife came in with me to hold my hand. He told me that the baby would be around 10lb and I should deliver in hospital. I told him that I was a big girl and I would try to have my baby at home. My midwife squeezed my hand and nodded. She reminded the consultant that I'd already had two babies, and the last one had been at home. He was cautious, but it was my decision.
I wasn't sure about the 10lb thing. I knew women who'd been told to expect big babies and given birth to 7lbers. I didn't think that that was likely to happen to me. I certainly felt that she was big - I had to lean backwards to get enough room to breathe, but maybe she was just awkward.
When my waters broke I wasn't sure I hadn't just wet myself, which sounds ridiculous, and I had always thought it ridiculous before; with both previous births it had been completely apparent when my waters broke, but this time she probably plugged the gap with her head quite quickly, so there wasn't a lot there.
When my Braxton Hicks contractions started getting more regular I took a walk across town to a friend whose house I was supposed to be at the next day to tell her I wouldn't make it. "You didn't need to come over." She said. Then "You're going to have the baby by tomorrow aren't you?"
I smiled at her, and walked back. Kenny set up the birthing pool but didn't fill it yet. We did all the early stuff. I didn't do much to help out. Kenny fed the kids and got them to bed, and then we got into the serious swing of labour.
I phoned the hospital - they would send the midwives. I was delighted to get my midwife, and a woman who'd had to come in from the next district. The midwives ate toast, and I got into the birthing pool. Things came along OK.
Things were building up, but then transition started. I got shaky and started thinking that maybe giving birth to a baby might be a really stupid idea. Perhaps I would just not do it. Happily I had been through this before, so I knew it would pass.
It didn't pass.
I didn't want to alarm my husband, but I did want to speak to my midwife. She sent him to make more toast. I told her it wasn't passing, and she examined me. She asked the other midwife to make sure an ambulance was on standby. Then she got me moving about, going up the stairs sideways was an idea, but not one that I enjoyed particularly.
It didn't pass.
The midwives had a chat and one called the ambulance again. I was holding onto the dining table and moving from side to side like a shoegazer.
A paramedic popped his head around the door to let us know they were there. My waters broke (again - properly this time), Kenny was dispatched to find a babysitter (happily his mate Rob was just coming home from taking awesome soon-to-be-award-winning photos at a festival so he was drafted in), and the midwives and I had a quick, quiet conversation about the slight traces of meconium in the water. Time to get in an ambulance. Not easy when you're having contractions every minute or so.
Anyhow, the point of all this is that my favourite memory is in amongst all that scary stuff. The memory of my tired and frightened husband, looking into my eyes and telling me that it was going to be fine, despite the fact that a woman was cutting me open right at that moment. I feel so incredibly lucky to have met this man who loves all of us so much, and can pull strength out of the bag when it's needed.
Also, I'm very grateful that we have the NHS, which is so incredibly good at dealing with crisis situations.
And the baby? She weighed 10lb 4oz, and had a good sized head. The consultant was probably right about going to the hospital, but I'm me, and I felt safest starting off at home, with my midwife. If I was going to do it again (which I wouldn't), I would do it the same way. The baby is 5 now, and about to start school. She always gives us a run for our money, and teaches us more about love and trust every day.
|Me and the new baby, just moments after she was born. Picture taken by Kenny.|
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