Twenty-four hours in to my induction I demanded a caesarean section following a catalogue of horrors including: the woman in the bed next to mine very nearly delivering in the induction bay after the midwives were too busy to respond to her pleas for help for hours; one midwife telling me how she had fallen asleep at the wheel the week before and hadn’t even had time to pause for a drink and a snack during her twelve-hour shift; I needed to be rehydrated by IV because we were banned from entering the kitchens and the midwives didn’t have time to provide water.
As the surgical team took the time to introduce themselves to me one by one, for the first time since I stepped into the hospital I felt safe.
I will forever be grateful to those people, to the junior anaesthetist who held my hands as I was shaking too much for the spinal to be inserted safely, to my surgeon who laughed and joked with me as the procedure took place.
Somebody – I can’t remember who – who asked whether we were ‘ready, Mummies?’ seconds before that first feral wail filled the room.
My early memories are so foggy. After a day and a half without eating, drinking or sleeping I was wrecked, with enormous eyebags from sobbing through the night. But what do I remember? The suddenness of a baby’s cry when I hadn’t yet realised that they had made the incision. Kirsty crying too hard to coherently tell me that the baby had hair (I so wanted babies with a head full of hair!). Sending her over with the camera.
A second cry, different from the first.
Kirsty holding two babies in fluffy towels, beaming.
Touching tiny baby feet. I barely saw their faces until we were in the recovery room.
Kirsty doing skin-to-skin with tiny babies in her shirt (Balthazar peed all over her!). How light they felt. How small they were. How different they looked.
My pride at their excellent APGAR scores. How easily they fitted in to ‘Tiny’ baby clothing.
I so adamantly did not want a caesarean before walking in to that hospital and actually am still pretty devastated not to have had my natural birth, but I felt like it was the safest way to extract us from an unsafe situation at the time. I’m so glad that as much as I regret not pushing for my home birth, that the first hour of their lives was not spent in fear.
The boys turn six months old this week. It seems timely to post my never-before-seen photographs from the surgical room itself and that first hour in the recovery room.
Meet Balthazar and Lysander, newly-born. Share the hours in which we became mummies.
I’m not all choked up at my keyboard, no.