Yesterday marked a milestone in our lives. Our baby turned one. And on such a day, I think we all go back and every few hours, look at the clock and remember what we were doing at that hour a year ago.
We had planned a sensopathic party and I was feeling very proud of my preschool background. It was also a good excuse to get together as friends. As the first birthday approached, I was excited, but when my sister-in-law dropped off the beautiful cake she’d ordered and I eagerly slid the lid off to take a peek, that’s when it hit me. My baby, my tiny baby’s name was on the cake that had the number one all over the sides. This was it. The time of our baby being a baby was over, just like that.
I know many millions of parents out there know this feeling. My husband had told me many times in the week leading up to her birthday that he didn’t want to hear me talk about the fact that our little treasure was turning one. He’d been moping about it for a while. It only hit me right at the end.
Our birthday baby woke up – early, I might add. it had been bad night, my husband was finished and I gave him a little extra shut-eye. We had planned to go through together and sing to our tot…like plans ever work out when you have a baby!! As 6 AM approached, I took a trip back through all the memories stored in my heart.
8TH July 2017
I stir thinking that incontinence has finally got the better of me. I sit up in bed, trying to gain control and wake up. It keeps coming. I start hurrying to get out of bed, feeling mortified and still trying to wake. It’s flowing. I try to plug it with my hand down there, hurriedly switch on my bedside lamp, exclaim to my sleeping husband that I think my waters have broken (even though I can’t believe those words are coming out of my mouth) and run for the bathroom. I’m soaked. Incontinence? I won’t lie, I had no idea. I was told that when your waters break, they flow. Well, it was just like emptying a very full bladder into my underwear and then the toilet – and it was over. My husband is now sitting in the bathroom. For ten minutes we sit deliberating over what was happening and what we should do. After all, I was only 36 and a half weeks. I start scolding myself for pushing a two year-old in a pram on a walk up a hill the day before. We phone the doula. She tells us to go to the hospital. As I get off the loo, I just make it to the door of the bathroom before yelling to my husband to get me what I need to curb the flow. My waters had definitely broken. I had no doubt in my mind now.
We arrive at the hospital. Baby’s bag was packed earlier in the week. I was still getting the final things for my bag ready. It took me an hour to scramble around and grab everything. Decent underwear was in the wash. Only options – lacy numbers and disposable underwear. Too late now.
I am hooked up to the CTG monitor. I have no contraction pains. I still am telling myself not to get too excited. I really cannot believe this is happening! It’s way too early. And no labour pains! The word ‘incontinence’ still murmurs inside my head. But there they are. The contractions are showing up. I start to feel a tiny, tiny tug. I turn to the doula to ask her if she thinks this baby’s on the way. She smiles warmly and assures me that I’ll be holding a baby by the end of the day. My mind is reeling!
The nurse does an internal. She is eventually lying on the bed and it feels and looks like she’s elbow-deep in. She tells me that my cervix is way back and that the baby’s head is big! Fantastic! I’m only one to two centimetres dilated. She also says that my stomach isn’t relaxing between contractions. She makes it sound like a bad thing.
How’s this?!? CTG results are sent via WhatsApp to the gynae! My doula comes back into the room and tells me it sounds like she wants to do a C-Section. I’m devastated. When the gynae arrives her mind is made up. I ask her if I can at least try and labour. She told me that I have two choices – go in, be awake and have my husband there or labour, go under general and have my poor husband wringing his hands outside. We decide that it might be nicer for him and me to skip labour. The baby is not under distress but she says that there’s too much blood in the amniotic fluid and that I’m haemorrhaging. The placenta is coming away. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that it’s possibly quite serious. My mind is travelling at the speed of light and so is my heart at this point but I casually ask her when she will do the C-section. I sort of think I’ll be booked in maybe early afternoon when there’s a gap. She tells me that she wants the baby out in an hour!!! I have no words! She tells the nurses to start prepping me for a C-section and my husband leaves the room.
It takes a long time to prep, apparently because all the doctors are chilling out on the weekend so we need to wait for everyone to rock up for the party. My husband has been told that he can now admit me so he goes off to fill in the lengthy paperwork…something we thought we’d covered on pre-admission.
The gynae comes in alone as I lie waiting and says that she has some stuff to tell me. She starts by telling me that all blood is screened for HIV…I’m starting to get nervous…but should I need a blood transfusion, or several, I need to sign my consent on the dotted line. Well, die now or later…so I sign. Then she says that the call is up to her at the end of the day, but in the event that she needs to save my life, she’ll do a hysterectomy. Please sign. What else was there to do but scribble my signature again. She wasn’t ugly about it. And frankly, I’m glad I didn’t have the time to chew this over beforehand.
I’m wheeled down the hallway and a woman runs comically past us, yelling that’s she’s coming. Clearly someone from the medical team! I had to laugh! I lie in the pre-operating room…whatever it’s called, alone, while everyone else gets ready. I lie there praying I won’t die. It’s not a joke! I have not so much as bent the cartilage in my nose before so I have no clue what my pain threshold is nor how my body will react to any surgery. Did I forget to mention that I’m epileptic…? So convulsing on the table may sound fun and all but not so cool when there’s a sharp silver blade on your belly. All I can think is that I won’t ever get out of this operation alive and maybe the kiss my husband gave me before he went to get into hospital garb was the last one. At this point, the electric door slides open and in walks my mom! My family had been on a walk in the forest. No one had phones. So I couldn’t believe she had sneaked her way in. My words…
“Mom, just pray!”
I didn’t see my gynae had walked back in…
“Okay,” says my gynae as she snaps her gloves on, “Let’s pray!”
Holding one hand and my mom the other, she prayed the most beautiful, heartfelt prayer that the Lord would guide her hands, that the baby would arrive safely, that the nursing staff would take care of me and something to the effect of knowing that God was in control and we could trust in Him. Tears, guys, tears!
I’m pleased to see that the only male in the operating room is the anesthetist. The one person who gets to see my bare back and fancy pants disposable underwear! How embarrassing! The gynae puts my head on her shoulder and strokes my hair as the anesthetist hits a nerve and my leg goes spastic. He tries again and the spinal block seems to work this time. I’m told that it’s quite scary afterwards when you tell your legs to move and they decide otherwise. I try not to think about that too much.
I’m eased onto my back, the screen goes up and all sorts of lines are attached to my chest. My lovely anesthetist rolls over on his “wheely” chair and asks gently if he can help me. He kindly relieves my claustrophobia and moves the screen a few centimetres further away from my face. Enter the husband, soon-to-be Dad. He sits down as I feel a whole lot of tugging. Thinking they’re still prepping, we chat briefly. Who can remember about what?!? After a few seconds, I suddenly wonder if they’ve started the operation. I ask him.
“I think so…” he says softly as he gets his camera ready.
Not milliseconds later…
“Stand up, Dad! Here’s your baby!”
He stands and I hear commotion, a cheer, a “Happy Birthday” and him exclaim…
Oh, I forgot to tell you…we decided to not find out if we were having a girl or boy. It was highlighted in our file and we had to tell the gynae each time that we didn’t want to know the sex.
So…back to my husband…I hear him exclaim in utter surprise and adoration,
“It’s a girl!”
And then she cried. So did I. They lifted her skinny, skinny body over the screen and I touched her foot and marvelled at her blonde hair. Minutes later, she was wrapped up and on my chest as I was stitched up. Her tiny fingers rested over my mouth. I could not believe I had a daughter.
I had been convinced we were having a boy. I thought I’d seen a boy on the scan and we had actually hidden that picture from everyone. I had carried differently from my other friends carrying girls with bellies like tyres and my belly had looked a lot more like a “compact little beach ball of a boy” tummy. I also assumed that God would employ His sense of humour – I am OCD about cleanliness and am a Disney-princess-kind-of-woman – and might encourage me to overcome some obstacles and give me a mess of a son who weed in the garden and wiped his hands on his pants afterwards. We also had a boy’s name but no girl’s name.
But here, on my chest and suckling, was my tiny little princess. All 2.3kgs of her. Big head, much?
She, not he, was here! 9:57 AM, four hours after it all started. 3 and a half weeks early. C-section not natural. Waters broken but no labour pains. How different from what I had imagined. I should have been at a baby shower and then later that day, a wedding. But, here I was, in a hospital bed with my prem-sized daughter feeding beautifully in the ward, no NICU, no oxygen, no issues.
8th of July 2018
My little girl sits at the breakfast table, thin blond wisps scraped into pigtails and forced into a beautiful blue and white dress – even though it feels like four degrees outside. She had finally hit 8kgs two days ago. She says “Mommy” (with much coercion), “Daddy”, “Amy” (my sister in New Zealand), “Hannah” and “Bram Bear” (nickname for the neighbour). She can blow her nose like her granddad, roar like a lion, pop like a fish and squawk like a hadeda. She can clap her hands and feet, crawl, stand, dance, speak incoherently and laugh hysterically. And, although we’ve seen four months of colic, mild post-natal depression and all the other normal dramas all moms know, I look at this precious child, who smiles at the world and loves us to death most of the time, and I marvel. Marvel at the time gone, marvel at the growth, health and development we’ve witnessed, marvel at the blessing of being able (only by the grace of God) to spend every waking hour with her and marvel that, a year and a half ago…
“For this child I have prayed, and the Lord has granted the desires of my heart.”
~ 1 Samuel 1:27
Tags: baby, birth, birthday, hospital