Employment wasn't easy to find, but I talked my way into a journalism job working for a small company that produced magazines. I was based in a tiny office stuffed full of equipment. And in January 1992, my employers decided that they could squeeze in one more computer. Within a couple of weeks I was feeling sick and dizzy. I was even struggling to enjoy my morning coffee. So I complained to my employers.
“I think the computer is making me sick,” I said.
They were very good. An ionizer was purchased for my office, and some of the equipment was moved back out again. But, mysteriously, instead of getting better, my symptoms got worse. Eventually I had to go to my GP. He just looked at me and said:
“Do you think you might be pregnant?”
Ooops!!! He was right of course, and I had a very red face explaining my 'illness' at work.
That was the start of my journey to motherhood, originally published by Irish Mammy on her blog, which sadly has been taken down.
In those far-off days there was no internet, and I only had a couple of baby books, so life just went on. I got bigger, and occasionally I visited the maternity hospital. I worked, partied, lost my job, got another, had an operation at 5 months, ran the Dublin Women's Mini Marathon at 6 months, and attended a school reunion at 7 months. At 8 months my Granny died, shortly after my final visit to see her, and that was hard to handle with the stew of pregnancy hormones to contend with as well.
But the nine months ended eventually and I finished work one sunny Friday in mid-September. I was almost 38 weeks pregnant, and still quite neat. Scans showed that my baby was not growing well, but no-one seemed very concerned and in those blissful pre-internet days, neither was I!
Considerate as always, my baby decided that 8 am on the following Tuesday was a good time to announce her imminent arrival. And like a classic cinematic drama, it all started with a very large puddle. Oh the excitement! I didn't know what to do, but the hospital said there was no urgency when I rang them, so I just pottered around for a few hours and checked and rechecked my hospital bag.
I *knew* that first babies meant a long labour, so when we finally headed to the hospital I didn't even bother to bring all my stuff, as I expected to be sent home again. But because my waters had gone, that did not happen. Neither did much else. I lolled on the bed in the pre-labour ward, listening to Nirvana, flicking through magazines and counting the minutes between the little ripples that happened from time to time. Was this labour? What was all the fuss about?
Of course I found out later. By about 4 pm the staff were getting twitchy. It was approximately 40 weeks since New Year's Eve and the busiest day of the year on the maternity ward. Forty-three babies were eventually delivered that day... They wanted mine to be one of them. So an induction was proposed. I remembered reading somewhere that I should question interventions like this. So I did, but I didn't know what to do with the answer they gave, so I let them go ahead anyway. And my then husband was despatched home to get the BAG. Meantime I was moved to the labour ward. In those days it was like a down-market fitting room. You got a curtained cubicle with a bed and not much else. And it was next to lots of other cubicles occupied by other labouring women. Outside the room was a corridor for pacing and pausing, as you do to catch yourself when the real contractions start to kick in. And boy did they kick in! By the time my husband returned at about five - with one of my (worried) friends - I was begging for an epidural. They gave me gas and air at first, but that made me feel sick and I asked them to take it away. So the anaethesist was called and the epidural set up. And I waited for it to work.
"This doesn't seem to be helping," I told the midwife. So they topped it up. And topped it up again. Still I seemed to be in pain. Everyone describes the epidural as the ultimate in pain relief but clearly I hadn't read the small print. I was expecting a pain-free delivery and was quite shocked when I realised that it wasn't going to be like that. But I didn't have time to get upset. Baby was on the way, and in a hurry. By about 6 pm I was in the cubicle and the pains were coming very fast. I sat up, lay down, breathed, grumbled, grunted, swore and pushed, and at around 8.15 pm my little girl was born. Just 5lbs and skinny with a mop of black hair. She was instantly whisked away to be checked and weighed.
"I want my baby back!" was the panicked cry of this new mother. But we were reunited within minutes and quickly wheeled out of the delivery room as there was a queue of women waiting to get in...
My friend was sitting patiently in the corridor.
I smiled and waved and held up my little Angel.
There was nothing to see. I was fine, and so was she.
|A few weeks later and already showing signs of independence!|
That completes my trio of birth stories. It began with Born Too Soon, Smiley's traumatic entrance into the world, and was followed by Losing the Plot, which I did during my son's birth.
If you enjoyed this, there are more birth stories over at Actually Mummy and also at #Blogitforbabies. This is a campaign by Save the Children to highlight the appalling lack of neonatal and postnatal care in many countries around the world, and the dreadful toll on women and children that it causes.