The day I became a mother
It has been 10 years and I still remember the face and the name of the lovely midwife Donata who came to my home birth, I remember what my wonderful doula Sarah was wearing and the scent of her white wooly jumper, I remember where I was and how I felt. I remember the intensity and the beauty of my labour and how normal it all seemed. I remember how lovingly everyone tried to help me when I, after labouring for many hours was fully dilated but completely exhausted and unable to go any further. I recall perfectly well how I made a decision to transfer to the hospital and how supported I felt. I remember what a beautiful November day it was outside as I was getting into the ambulance, the little white curtains inside of it that my husband was frantically closing when I thought the baby was coming (she did not). I remember the sound of the siren as we rushed through busy London streets, the corridors and harsh lights of the hospital. I remember the doctor who met us. She was wearing glasses and had curly blond hair. She rolled her eyes at me when I told her I was transferring from the home birth. I remember feeling completely unimportant and imposing on her territory when she coldly told me to get on the bed when I could barely move. I remember the sweet relief of the epidural when the pain was subsiding and I could relax for a second. I remember discussions about ventouse and forceps and feeling very very scared. I remember my husband crying and our doula telling him to take 5 minutes outside. I remember the doctor rolling her eyes again and me feeling like a kid in trouble. I remember the talk of episiotomy - is it necessary? Yes. Snip. Blood covered scissors in the air. Sharp pain. The sharpest most excruciating pain I have felt in my entire life. I shriek. It hurts - I scream, I cry, my husband cries, even my doula cannot hide the horror on her face. It is not possible - the doctor says. Am I imagining this? I feel like a piece of meat on a butcher’s counter. Bloody, cut open, not allowed to feel, not able to move. They tug on ventouse, baby not budging. I see forceps on the tray. No forceps please - I scream. Beat me to it - the doctor says coldly. I push like I am trying to turn myself inside out - the biggest force and surrender all in one. Little pink baby with a huge bump on her head pops out. She is here. She is perfect. She is mine. She cries, I cry. It’s wonderful to meet her, it’s a special moment. I thank the horrible doctor. For giving me my baby?? I regret this to this day. She never said sorry for performing episiotomy when I was not fully numb. I remember the stiff sheet put on my blood and other fluid covered thighs. Won’t I get a wash? I guess not. I remember being wheeled off to the postnatal ward, blue curtains, loads of babies crying. Visiting hours finish at 8 pm - they say to my husband. What?? We just had a baby! He has to stay! Ok he can stay until 9. No please, let him stay, I don’t want to be by myself, please!! No, hospital rules. He has to go. He kisses us, he leaves crying. I cry alone in my little blue cubicle, my baby fast asleep in the little plastic cot. How do I feed her? How do I change her? Please help! Anyone? Silence. Finally a very tired (from work, from life?) creature appears. What do you want? I am covered in blood, could you please help me clean up? I feel disgusting, I haven’t showered for days. Go shower. How? My legs are wobbly, I still have the catheter in! That needs to come out - she does it rough. Now walk to the shower. I feel shaky - can you please help? No, hold on to the wall. What about my baby? Will you watch her? No, she’ll be fine. She has a tag. I walk, my legs are funny, I hold onto the wall like I’ve been told. The trickiest 20 steps that I can remember. I get into the shower room, undress, sit on the floor and cry. White tiles coloured with my blood. I come back feeling cleaner and sadder. I gaze at my baby still asleep - I am sorry. I am so sorry this is a mess. I will take you home soon, I promise. No one looks in on me all night, I try to feed, it hurts, no clue what I am doing, we both fall asleep, baby on me. Morning shift shouts at me for sleeping with my baby. It hurts to put her back in the cot. My husband is back. I have never been so happy to see him, better than the first date, better than our first kiss. He brings me flowers. Not allowed - more eye rolling and tutting. Naughty school kids we are. I remember the nice things my in-laws said and how the chocolates tasted that my friends brought. I remember the excitement I felt finally closing the hospital door. We are free! I remember how giddy we felt - look what we’ve done! We’ve got a baby!! I remember walking into our tiny most wonderful first home and breathing a sigh of relief. Kissing in the hallway. We are home. We can start now. This happened 10 years ago and I remember every single thing and every single thing still matters to me. So do not tell me ‘as long as the baby is fine’. Do not tell me it’s just one day of your life. The day I become a mother is more important to me than any other day of my life. I will remember it forever.