I think it is fair to say that June 28th and 29th were the two most extraordinary days of my life. I have never felt such extremes of emotion from being completely and utterly terrified, to bursting with an overwhelming sense of love and gratitude. The memories will stay with me forever and I am sure will be recounted many times to my granddaughter.
We had been waiting, what seemed like a lifetime, for the baby to arrive. Michaela had ballooned dramatically towards the end of her pregnancy and was struggling to breathe, eat and sleep. We were all convinced that the baby would be here well before June.
She wasn’t. Despite raspberry tea, endless pineapple, spicy food, power walking. Nothing would budge her.
A bike ride in Thetford Forest at 39 weeks. Not so much as a twinge.
Michael and I took a week’s holiday, convinced we would spend it knee-deep in nappies. Instead we sat by the phone, trying to come up with inventive ways to call her and ask if there was any pain today – without actually asking if there’s any pain today…..
We all had bets on when she was coming. We were all wrong. The due date came and went. We went back to work. Another week passed. People stopped asking me. I was in a constant state of alert. I jumped every time my phone rang. I didn’t dare go anywhere, ‘just incase.’ I was utterly self-absorbed in my own feelings, imagining my car breaking down, losing my phone or any number of scenarios that might jeopardise my being there. My life was on hold until my Granddaughter arrived.
It was a relief when we had a date to go into hospital, although I couldn’t help but feel a slight sadness that we had to rely on medical intervention. My own experience of induced labour was not something I wanted for my Daughter, but this baby just did not want to come out!
I had been with my sister during her labour, so I felt more prepared than most. Michaela and I had talked about what was going to happen, how much it was going to hurt and how long it was going to take – theoretically of course. I felt surprisingly calm, knowing that I had an important role to play and was also very grateful to be there.
It may or may not surprise you to learn that when I went into labour, I screamed, swore, shouted, tried to run away and didn’t do as I was told. I was rude to the staff, I complained and I ignored the advice I was given. Whilst my daughter was unlikely to be as dramatic as I, I did wonder how she was going to cope with the pain.
Her birthing plan was perfect. She talked about it wistfully – a private en-suite room, low lighting, a warm birthing pool, breathing exercises, calm and quiet.
Of course, life hardly ever goes according to plan. The birthing unit was full. We had the last bed on a busy ward full of pregnant women in various stages of labour. The midwives ran from one cubicle to another, rushed off their feet. As the hours passed, the hospital closed its doors as there was ‘no more room at the inn’. Mother’s-to-be were being sent elsewhere to have their offspring and although the three of us were crammed into a small, not so private space, we were feeling extremely grateful to be there.
Contractions did what they were supposed to do – get stronger and longer. The mum-to-be took it all in her stride. Her partner and I did whatever we could to help. We rubbed her back, wiped her face, breathed along with her, encouraged and supported her. I knew that he was out of his mind with worry and as time wore on, I too was getting concerned about just where this baby was going to be born. The birthing unit was still full. There was no room for us.
The baby was well on her way and her Mum was starting to get a little bit p****d off with it all. An injection helped, although she then wanted to sleep – but not on my watch! We hadn’t come this far for it all to stop now! As tiredness took over, she got a bit emotional. Why couldn’t she be in her room? She wanted to get in the pool. Why did she have to be here? We didn’t have the answers. She was never having another baby again – EVER!
And then, as the clock moved over to the next day, everything changed. We were on the move (although not getting very far as the contractions were intense and we had to keep stopping). We had a room. WE HAD A ROOM! Relief swept over me. We were no longer cramped up, trying not to knock the curtain back to the cubicle next to us. There was a cot. Oh my goodness, this was actually happening. We got ourselves settled. The excitement was tangible. The move had given us a much needed energy boost. We had a wonderful midwife and after a little while, she turned to my daughter and said ‘Michaela, you are now ready to have your baby’.
I will never forget the look on her face as that information sank in. We had been in the hospital for 10 hours but it was still a shock.
And so it was time to push the baby out. She did exactly what she was told. She hadn’t shouted or lost her temper once. Not a single bad word had passed her lips. I was in complete awe. She grabbed hold of us, I held my breath and pushed along with her.
‘One more push and you will meet your baby’
And, just like that, there she was. My Granddaughter. She was perfect. We all cried.
She was here. Finally.
The months of worry, expectation and excitement were over. The wondering when she would come, what she would look like, were over. Prayers that the baby would be healthy and that I would be with her, were answered.
Nothing was ever going to be the same again and I just couldn’t wait.