We had planned it so well, the midwives, myself and your father. There were ‘gas-and-air’ canisters, huge sheets of plastic and other mysterious supplies under the sofa and a largish inflatable paddling pool propped up on top of it. We were ready, we thought.
You were late, so they say, but I seem to just like to cook my babies over the 40 week mark. Well done babies but medium rare steak, please. But because of the over-40-weeks thing, there was a threat of being induced. And I had read far too many birth stories online and just knew that inducing was not what I wanted for either of us.
When the consultant scheduled our induction, I trundled out of the office like a sad tortoise. Hot tears ran down my cheeks as I told your father what they’d done and how desperately I didn’t want that story for us.
I had been so focused on the whole mystery of childbirth. That was the moment I couldn’t get past just like with marriage sometimes we can focus on the wedding when what is really going on has a much longer reach. I was in the holding pattern of your little movements making waves across my belly and your bout of hiccups almost every day after lunch, no matter what I ate.
Your arrival was probably my first, biggest lesson in giving up control. Though I didn’t go quietly…and the lesson has dawned on me ever so slowly, ever since. What happened was nothing we had planned, but everything we needed. Because the story that ends with your arrival was always going to be good.
A home water birth was the plan. Everything was purchased and ready. Midwives were on call. I’d had a ‘sweep’ with the consultant to try and ‘get things going’ naturally. I could write more about that here, but then this post would veer into a PG-13 rating…The consultant was so pleased with herself after this ‘sweep’, said I was already dilated 1, and she’d be surprised if things didn’t ‘get going’ now. Her words meant almost nothing to me, I just felt ‘Ouch!’ But again I hobbled home on the bus after relating the hopeful news to your father. Maybe we’d get to meet you sooner than later after all?
And indeed, the first signs of your appearance did come that very evening with gushes of water and intense contractions. I phoned the midwives straight away, and someone who looked seventeen showed up at our door. She said she was a midwife, but we’ve always wondered if I was her first home birth and/or delivery.
She seemed really nervous and that put your dad on edge, he told me later. I was already having an out-of-body experience at this point, to cope with the pain. The teenage midwife’s main beef was that she couldn’t hear your heartbeat with her antique monitor baby-heart listening device. I was just frustrated at her vain attempts and her asking me to sit up when I just wanted to curl into a ball to deal with the iron-man of contractions that was happening in my body.
At one point, when this whole heart monitor/contractions fiasco was going on, your dad popped his head in, and with cappuccino in hand, asked if he should fill up the paddling pool now? I think we both just glared at him. I don’t think I had the powers of speech anymore, but shortly after this, the midwife called for an ambulance to take us to the hospital. I was relieved because I didn’t think she could handle it on her own.
And in the end, we had an amazing team around us. The midwife who delivered you was a German lady called Mitzi and she was amazing; helping me in those first moments after you were born, while you were being born. She taught me how important it is to listen to that specific ‘mama’ part of me, to trust in it cause it’s given to mamas for a reason.
I don’t know how or why mamas seem to be the parent with a sixth-sense connection to their children, but it’s often the case. It happened for us over time. As I got to know you and we found our unique rhythm as this brand new family. You made us that – a family. I’ve always marveled at that. Such a big job for a tiny little person.
My priorities got reset the second I stepped outside with you. We were leaving the hospital and I was riding in the back with you securely strapped into a too-large looking car seat. And I couldn’t believe we were just allowed to take you home, just like that! I’d have dreams where I was still processing that your amazing-ness was a part of us now. You’d been hidden for nine months, but now all the world could wonder at you with us.
And the world seemed bigger and louder and riskier now that your newness and tiny fiestyness were part of it. But I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Whether it knows it or not, that world needs you. Now more than ever. To show it what beauty and kindness look like in a preteen female form. To show it how powerful they can be. To show us all, my sweet girl. To show us all.