Five years ago my son was brought into this world, limp and blue and alone. His birth happened to me, despite me and in spite of me. A stranger’s hand plucked him from my tummy as I slept, and he was taken to have tubes inserted. A stranger coaxed that first breath into his lungs and watched as his skin began to turn pink. A stranger held his little body and wrapped him in a blue blanket, safe and snug and breathing at last.
And I slept on.
I knew I was in labour. I’d known for hours but had been too scared to tell anyone. My body was betraying me and I wanted to deny what was happening; I wanted my elective section in three days time, not these messy contractions. Not this fear. Not this terror. And I was terrified.
A cold ball of fear was knotting itself up inside and as the evening progressed it was growing bigger and bigger, gaining speed. Soon it was too late. We were on the phone and then the road. Ice was glittering on the road like sugar crystals on top of a cake, and our wheels were sliding as we made our way to the hospital. And outside that building I looked down at my belly and wondered why me? Why could my body have waited that little bit longer?
I was asked to give a urine sample and told to lie on a bed to be monitored. My sample was bloody and the pain was intensifying. I was asked about pain in my scar and my hands were clenched by my sides. No. No pain in my scar. But pain inside, searing hot and snaking through my belly.
I was told I could not go home and I was left alone. In a room filled with other ladies in labour. Soft moans and the sounds of women throwing up, women crying and women snoring. I was told I was not in labour and so I was to wait.
And when I could wait no more, I was examined. Taken to delivery amidst a rush of pounding feet. I’d been labouring alone for 11 hours, but finally I was being listened to.
My delivery room was ill equipped. Pieces missing and people in and out. I escaped to the bathroom and hid for a moment in the dull quietness before the pain was too much and I had to leave.
I wish that this part was a blur to me now, but it’s been played over in my head so many times that it can never be forgotten.
An epidural given too late. A baby trying to force his way into the world, through a cervix being held open by a strangers hands. An anaesthetist cursing his bad luck that all of this was probably going to end up as an emergency section after all. Voices shouting, why are you crying? Doctors in, doctors out. Conversations drifting over my head. Voices batting back and forth, back and forth. And then.
Then silence, for too long. The rails pulled up and the bed shooting down to theatre. Mask on my face and an empty doorway before my world went black.
And then pain. Ripping, searing down my throat as a tube was pulled out and I was told to open my eyes.
Look at your baby.
My baby had blue eyes. He had a name, too. He had been waiting for me. He was placed into my arms and I was supposed to love him. I was supposed to cry with joy. I was supposed to feel something.
A stranger’s hands plucked him from my awkward embrace and held him while I ‘recovered’. A stranger’s hands changed his first nappy. A stranger’s hands slapped my birth notes onto the table and told me to fire away with any questions I may have.
And I just wanted to sleep.
I’m linking this post to the Maternity Matters/ Blog Bump Club link up. Please go see the new site and add your birth story!