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Thursday, 14 June 2012

This time two years ago...

So two is finally two.. And I am all misty eyed thinking of this time two years ago...

Birth second time round was easier and yet harder too. I had various attempts at acupuncture to get me into labour (which worked before, but this time made me have a panic attack, just as the 19th needle was inserted into me. I had to cling on to 'Slava' the therapist, sweating and sobbing and mumbling something about feeling like a giant mushroom.

I was perched on a small stool, it did not feel safe).

Even a "sweep" from the midwife (they say a broom is not used in this procedure but I am not so sure. I could not see what was going on over my massive tummy, and it FELT like a broom) did not get things going.

Two STILL did not want to come out - so I was booked to be induced on Saturday morning two years ago.

The benefits of being induced are that you can shave your legs and paint your toe-nails so you feel nice...

The downside of being induced is that it's not very dignified. I had not been in hospital for five minutes before I was ordered to take off my pants "pop my ankles together and flop my knees apart".

That's what got me into this mess.

I had an idea I would not like having my waters broken when the midwife recommended I did not look at the tool they were going to use to do it... and things just got more and more undignified from there.

Waters breaking is a myth anyway. What it actually means is that a mini niagra falls has been triggered off somewhere inside you.

After a loud popping sound the husband and I were told to walk round and round the hospital while I leaked massive puddles all over the floor. It was actually quite helpful for retracing our steps when we got lost however...

By half past seven I was having regular contractions.... which coincided nicely with England's first game. I asked the husband to write down the time each one started so I could see how far apart they were.

By this time they were too strong to talk through so I tapped him with a pen when I felt one brewing. He was so absorbed in the game he tutted each time and said "WHAT?" then remembered and said "Yes, well done, come on Rooney, I mean wife."

As we were on the ward for pregnant ladies with problems or those who had just given birth and were recuperating, not the actual labour ward, I tried to be very quiet.

Each time I had a contraction (or contraption as James called them) I did heavy breathing and flapped my arms about instead. Then they ramped up a gear and I did heavy breathing, flapped my arms about and clutched my quilt cover.

Then England scored and the husband cheered and whooped and shouted and I was FURIOUS at him. "If I can manage to keep quiet through THIS (I pointed at my rock hard tummy) then YOU can keep quiet through that, that, RUBBISH" I hissed at him.

I could hear midwives giggling from behind the curtain...

Luckily for me, just after that I was deemed far enough along to go upstairs to labour ward ( "Really?" the husband said "They don't look that painful...") where the TV did not work so he had to have a sleep instead.

It was odd going into the same room we had four in, with the same amazing view of Brighton's seafront out the window. It felt like a good omen.

I had already said I wanted an epidural please to everyone I saw all day, even to the non-English speaking people who just came to bring me my lunch.

So the midwives had me all prepped up for the anesthetist in advance while I bounced on a birthing ball thinking positive thoughts like "each contraction is one less" and "pain is progression" and "my vulva is opening like a flower" (NOT REALLY, I thought "Where the flipping heck is my epidural?").

After about an hour there was a knock on the door, and I could see a man with a blue hat on behind the curtain. A very nice man with the magic needle.

"Hello" he said "Is it me you're looking for" (I may have made the last bit up but he definitely said hello).I had already hitched my dress up ready for the injection when another voice, a voice I did not want to hear said "Simon? could you please come to theatre? " and as quickly as he appeared, he left again, taking his magic needle with him.

I started to get a bit panicky, and between contractions repeated nonsense about a man called Simon and a blue hat until finally the midwife worked out what I was on about and went to find out how long he was going to be.

HOURS, that is how long.

By the time he came back and sorted me out I was beyond exhausted (obviously I was not as tired as the husband, who had been asleep for ages). The midwives told me to get some rest but I was too excited about the pushing bit and finding out what we had made.

At last, after many hours of poking and prodding I was deemed ready to push. ""Right-ho" I said - then promptly fell asleep. The husband had to keep waking me up when I had contraptions.

Not much was happening so I was moved from my very undignified position in stirrups to an even more undignified one which took three people to put me in and involved my bum being high in the air.

I had no time to care though as two was out within three pushes.. well half of her was. Her face was out, but the rest of her wasn't. The husband said I looked like a had a turtle poking out my bum staring at him... and I didn't have another contraction for AGES, so we all just had to wait - Me, the husband, the two midwives and my poor daughter who was half born and half not.

Finally I pushed the rest of her out.. but she was blue, and her cord was round her neck - and it was the single scariest moment of my life.

The husbands face was a mask of pain. I still had not seen her properly, nor had I heard her.

"Come on baby, come on baby" chanted the midwife as she rubbed her down under a bright light.

I lay helpless in my stirrups watching her... then to my amazement she pinked right up, and sqwaerked indignantly and it's like the moment never happened.

She was passed, pink and perfect onto my chest so I could sob and thank everyone and apologise about them having to look at my bum.

I was told not to worry and to push again please as I had to deliver the placenta - and what a placenta it was. It was bigger than two. All the midwives gathered round to coo and marvel at it. Anyone would think it was cuter than the baby (It wasn't. I saw it).

And then at last, after nine months of morning sickness, shingles, piles and pelvic pain, followed by 21 hours of pessaries and prodding and peeing and pain it was all over.

I was tucked up in bed with my beautiful new daughter and every single second was worth it.

Two years ago, and I'd do it all over again for her any day.

Sibling love

I spent a lot of my pregnancy with number three feeling guilty. Number two was only six months old when I conceived and though it was planned, it still felt shocking.

As well as this, number one had only just turned three – only just adjusted to number two being around, and then suddenly I upset the apple cart again.

When number three first arrived, I was so busy breastfeeding, doing headcounts and changing nappies (all at the same time) that I did not notice the quiet alliegance being built between my babies.

Then one day seven-months sneezed. Twenty-three months froze in her play, raced to the kitchen to get a tissue, then oh so gently wiped her sister’s nose. On her way to the bin she stopped to check four’s nose was clean. At the gesture, four gave her a kiss.

This was not my doing. I have preached “share share share” at them when they snatch. I have told them to be quiet when one of the other ones are napping, but I never taught them this. I never taught them how to love each other. They did that all on their own.

When they have been apart for the morning and then are reunited, after the squeaks and squeals of welcome, a warm silence ascends. Hands meet. Eyes scan eyes like monkeys looking for nits. They mutter a language I do not understand. I did not teach.

If I’m honest, we had hoped for a boy – at least one time out of the three. When pink followed pink following pink, perfect as they were, already stealing chunks of my heart as they did, there was a small blue hole inside of me that split and cracked and bled.

I never stopped to consider the joy of three girls. The sisterhood I had created.

I never realised that families really do grow trees. Trees with roots than run forever underground while their leaves dance on the breeze. I, little acorn, have made something far bigger and stronger than myself.

It will live on after me, this tree – and in doing so, will give me peace in the knowledge that my children, my babies, my branches, will never be bare, never lonely, never alone.