Each week throughout my pregnancy, on week n + 6 days, I would read the next weeks excerpt in What to expect when you’re expecting. This book was originally given to me by my sister who recognised early on that I felt quite out of my depth. Within a couple of months it had become a ritual for me to consult ‘The Tome’, as we called it, about how much Reindeer was due to grow each week, what development was occurring and what I might feel or experience.
Today I realised that, since his arrival, I’ve unwittingly developed a new ritual. Each week-to-the-day I remember his birth; what happened, how I felt, what was said and the general sequence of events.
The eight days I spent in hospital were incredibly disorientating – it felt as though time was standing still. My emotions were all over the place, ranging from mind-numbing boredom to the elation of his safe arrival, via fatigue, sadness, frustration, fear, pain and excitement. I will forever be grateful to the midwives, registrars, consultants, anaesthetists, health care assistants and support staff who took such good care of us and, ultimately, undertook the emergency caesarian which brought our happy little chap into the world.
My husband and I had a little reminisce today; it is strange to think that the hospital dash which most couples make together was actually made by my husband on his own. After almost a week of travelling backwards and forwards to be with me in the hospital there was only an hour’s notice of the caesarian, so he had a very stressful journey back in on the day!
One of the memories that makes us happiest though is thinking about how calm and content Reindeer was when he’d been cleaned up and put on my chest for us to meet properly. We are convinced that this was due to his method of delivery and, although it wasn’t planned, are very relieved things worked out this way. I’ve done my best to record all the little details of that day because I don’t really want to forget them, for example, the kindness of the midwife who had seen me when I was first admitted from clinic six days earlier, recognised my name on the delivery room door and came in to wish me luck. She stayed to hold my hand while the cannula was inserted because she knew I was afraid of needles.
So many people throughout the world do not have access to decent medical assistance; I was reminded recently by an American friend that we are very fortunate to have the NHS where care like this is free – we haven’t had to get into debt because of major surgery or undertake a cheaper but riskier delivery method just because we don’t live near a major city. I don’t know what Nye Bevan would make of how his idea has developed, but I hope he’d be proud.