When I stepped into the birthing pool, I could not have thought in a million years that there was only a little while to go before my baby was born. Even without a birth plan there is a level of expectation in your mind that divides labour into manageable chunks of time, a coping mechanism perhaps when faced with the unknown. My waters had been broken and the ever increasing contractions seemed relentless after a while. Medical staff had agreed to only monitor me intermittently despite a previous caesarean section, so I was able to move around. Ironically I came to a stop each time I passed the “perineum repair workshop” poster, which despite the pain I thought was comical. At that stage I still saw managing the pain without pain relief as a heroic challenge. No way was I going to miss a second of this wonder. Little was said between my husband and I. Somehow he was right there with me every second, hiding well the helplessness I knew he felt.
Subconsciously I must have anticipated a certain section of time in the birthing pool. Moments flash by in my memory –as nature kindly edited the whole process for me and transported me to a different place- and despite the obvious of being in pain and losing near enough all dignity, I remember the miracle and intimacy of the whole event. But the overwhelming mixture of pain, the speed at which it progressed and the vulnerability of it all, got the better of me. Just as I confessed to my husband that there was no way I could do this and begged for the midwife not to leave me, our baby was starting to make an appearance. It was quite an effort for my husband to resist my grip, as apparently I almost pulled him into the pool with me. I remember thinking “don’t look down”, and as I heard my husband’s sniffs of tearfulness in my ear, our beautiful baby boy slid into the water. My husband picked him out of the water and put him onto my chest. I was in shock. Together we cried, laughed, whilst desperately soaking up every single emotion that this amazing experience brought us. Then we had tea and toast in the middle of that incredible night. Who would have thought this a year ago? Having a baby at 41; it had been an unbelievable blessing.
I arrived at the ward in a wheelchair and stared at my baby for the remainder of the night, until a nurse offered me a delicious cup of tea. My body was shaken, bruised and I felt I had been run over by a truck. I had already struggled throughout the pregnancy with the lack of fitness and independence as my body had dedicated itself to supporting the baby leaving me out of breath and tired. Now I was unable to get in or out of bed by myself and every movement was painful. Looking at my tummy it was impossible to imagine that my body would ever recover from the birth. Perhaps you are not supposed to be worrying about those kinds of things when you have just been given a healthy baby, maybe it is almost spoilt and verging on being paranoid, but my deflated tummy not to mention the other affected and injured parts, filled me with worry of how on earth I would ever recover. Yet every time I looked at my baby boy those fears evaporated but returned at every move.
Nevertheless I allowed myself to fall in love. Actually no, I just fell in love simply because it was impossible not to. And this blanket of motherly love fell over me bringing endless patience, endless protection and an ability to cope with little to no sleep. I felt complete; I had been handed a second opportunity to be a mum again, this time within a loving relationship in a new world of integrity. I cried when my other 2 boys came to greet their brother because never had I felt such joy.
It seems to be chaos everywhere. Everywhere I look I see things that need organising, or things that are out of place, things that I need to “align”, dust off or put in height order. It comes over me like a form of irritation, not unlike a rash that suddenly emerges on your arm and you have no choice but to do something about it. Today I decided to clear out my sons’ wardrobe, refold everything and recycle whatever was no longer required. That wardrobe became one of my projects and it was impossible to rest until the trousers were neatly resting next to the shorts, with in front of them a perfect pile of t-shirts and underwear. Separately I had created a shelf with school and sportswear. What has become of me?! Is this what they call so ungracefully “nesting”?! It is a downright nuisance! You would think that after my little wardrobe adventure I would feel a level of satisfaction, but no, my brain (and I am not sure whether it is operating with or without me at the moment) is on to other wardrobes in the house, planning ahead to restructure my office and tackle a wide variety of admin duties. Honestly, is this how one is waiting for a new arrival? Am I really no more than a mixing pot of hormones and instincts actively collecting branches and worms for my baby birds?
The shotgun to officially start the countdown of the last few weeks of this last trimester has been well and truly heard by every cell in my alienated body. No longer do I get mildly upset by the fact that when I am in the bath my boobs rest on my belly and my belly rests on my thighs. My body feels like an ice-cream with extra scoops (scoops I didn’t have before, scoops I don’t mind melting!). I have given up looking at my ever so bizarre profile view in the mirror, which can only make me conjure up images of what I might have untowardly swallowed….a football or a basket ball, a watermelon… I have accepted that sighing (when sitting down, when standing up, when getting up in the morning) is temporarily part of life. And now I guess I need to go with the flow of dusting, straightening, organising, structuring, filing as part of the ritual of making my nest.
But it is odd. Not only has my body been taken over by forces that are so overwhelmingly strong that I cry, no sob, at an Eastenders episode, my brain seems to have been invaded by a mild form of OCD that is impossible to shake off. I have found myself making sure there are supplies in the freezer to easily knock up in the event that I am not here or distracted. Extra fish fingers packs have found their way into my shopping trolley, as well as extra packs for easily made chicken fajitas. I told my husband that the very thing that would make me happy was a clean car, (a clean car!!) probably in the same breath that I put out the hints about “a tidy garden with some colour”.
Perhaps it’s easier forgiving myself, this is human programming at its best. I thought I had surrendered a few times along the road of this journey, but now I will truly and honestly get out of my own way and let it happen. I will humbly be the run way for this baby to arrive in the world and no doubt at some point in the next 12 months, I will get a grip.