Oh, my poor little blog! I have completely neglected it while I’ve been having fun and enjoying the summer. I’ve been busy visiting friends, entertaining at home, going out to dinner, enjoying family days out, making new friends, attending workshops, writing – in particular developing an idea for a sit-com, shopping, designing my new bathroom, attending my daughter’s graduation and generally lounging around in this glorious summer sunshine doing, well…nothing !
This last Saturday was spent on my feet in the kitchen all day, from early in the morning to late in the evening as I catered for my daughter’s 21st birthday party celebrations which started at ….midday and then went on for the rest of the weekend. Fortunately though, they moved on to her boyfriend’s house and allowed me to nearly die quietly as I nursed my swollen ankles !!
I can’t believe she is 21 already – I really can’t. Where have the years gone? I remember her arrival so vividly….
I’d had a terrible pregnancy, regularly in and out of hospital with Hyperemesis Gravidarum – extreme sickness – where I couldn’t even keep down water and that lasted six months. I hardly put on any weight during the pregnancy and I had to keep going into hospital so they could drip fluids into me. I’ve never been so ill in my life – apart from a year later when I was expecting again! I was thoroughly miserable and even now, I’m quite envious when I see women literally blooming as they show off their bumps.
Then, on the 8th August 1992, I woke up at around two in the morning with a very strange sensation down below. A kind of tightening fluttering – not painful just, well ..different. An hour and a half later, I’d had three more episodes at regular intervals and I realised that these must be contractions and that I was in labour. I felt remarkably calm and I just lay there through the night waiting for each one and feeling quietly satisfied as they came on the half hour lasting about 20-30 seconds at a time. I told my husband when he woke up suddenly around six and he was very excited but worried that we should be doing more. However, I announced that I would be carrying on as normal until the contractions were five minutes apart and only then would we calmly call the hospital to tell them we were on our way.
I remember it was a beautiful sunny day and after tidying up our little flat, we went over to my parents’ house to let them know they would soon be grandparents. My poor dad immediately started wheezing and needed his inhaler. It was now around nine in the morning, and my contractions were still half an hour apart and not at all painful. My parents wanted me to sit down and rest but I was keen to show them how easy this childbirth lark was and I floated around saying how wonderful the world was. I think I even hugged a tree in their garden at one stage, claiming I was at one with nature. I could see everyone was completely bemused.
Over the next few hours, the contractions didn’t speed up but they did get stronger. Still not painful as such but they were lasting longer and making me breathe faster though I was very much in control. Dad had delayed his weekly visit to Sainsbury’s but as it was clear nothing was going to happen anytime soon, he decided to get on with it for something to do and much to his distress, I went with him. I had heard that Sainsbury’s offered free shopping for a year if your waters broke there you see, so I thought I might as well give it a go. Husband came too and I’ve never seen my poor asthmatic Dad whiz round that shop so fast. Meanwhile, my contractions were bordering on painful, and I remember one coming as I stood rigid in front of some tinned peas gripping my hubby’s arm as people passed by and he didn’t know what to do, except look embarrassed. Of course my waters didn’t break, even though I tried to stay in there long after all the shopping was done.
During the afternoon, the contractions started coming at twenty minute intervals and were now what I would call painful. But I insisted it was fine and only to be expected and I still rejoiced in the knowledge that I would soon be a serene mother with a beautiful new baby.
By eight in the evening, I was in severe pain and snapping at anyone who came near me. I barked at my husband that I wanted to go to hospital and he meekly reminded me that my contractions were still at fifteen minute intervals and that I had said earlier we would wait until they were five minutes apart to which I screamed that I had been already been in labour for SIXTEEN BLOODY HOURS and what did he know about anything and I wanted to go NOWWWWW !!!!!!! As ever, he duly did as he was told and I screamed in agony for the whole journey. They only thing I was clinging on to was that it had to be over soon as I was in such pain, that I must be at least 8cm dilated and that I might accept a little pain relief to get me through the last hour or so.
By the time we reached the hospital, a screaming, snarling, spitting bitch of a woman seemed to have taken me over. I demanded to see someone straight away and was given a very young student nurse who was clearly scared of me and told me in a tiny, hesitant, halting voice that I couldn’t be in that much pain as I was only 2cm dilated. My WHAAATTTT ??!! must have echoed through the whole of London. I started to berate this poor child about her pathetic diagnosis and ordered her to bring me in a consultant IMMEDIATELY. At which point a very senior midwife bustled in and told me to calm right down or they would send me home. I did for a bit but after she examined me and confirmed that I was in fact less than 2cm I started to lose it again. However, she at least acknowledged that I was clearly in pain and she tried to get me on a TENS machine which I nearly threw back at her as it was so useless and then we tried gas and air which was equally useless and then she asked me if I wanted to change my mind from my written birth plan and go for the epidural. My husband then quietly reminded me I had written that I didn’t want a needle that size anywhere near me and I screamed at him that they could damn well bring me one TRIPLE the size if it STOPPED THE BLOODY PAIN !!!
So, they brought in an anaesthetist who he told me it might take up to quarter of an hour before I felt any relief and I swore at him but then he did the business and literally, the pain seemed to vanish in an instant and with it went the bitch who had taken me over.
Within half an hour, I had the staff laughing and I apologised to the red-eyed little thing that had taken the brunt of my anger when I first arrived. And they all agreed that actually I was quite nice after all!! All was well until about two in the morning when I started to snarl at my husband that he didn’t need to be paying quite so much attention to the pretty midwife that had taken over but once they topped up the epidural, I was quite fine again.
My little baby girl finally arrived at 0537. I fell in love with her straight away and I can proudly say that she has never caused me a moment’s pain since then.
She has been a very special daughter – kind, compassionate and patient, just like her dad – and in spite of what she put me through all those years ago, I want the world to know that I love her to bits !!