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Saturday, October 04, 2008

Just because you've got a baby, doesn't mean you have to miss Q.I. on a Friday night...

Is it me, or does she look like Elvis..?
Yes indeed, as of 7pm yesterday evening, the girls are home. I made Lisa walk back from the hospital. She didn't have the energy to argue, and besides, she's too sore to sit down, so it was kinder not to give her a lift.

I did, however, let her go to bed for some much needed sleep, while I stayed up with Amelie, watching back-to-back episodes of Q.I. until 3am. All of which made it slightly irksome that the community midwife, who was scheduled to make her first visit at an unspecified time today, turned up bright and early this morning when all three of us were asleep. Still, it's good to know that under the right circumstances I can go from naked and sleeping, to standing at the front door, fully clothed, introducing myself to a woman with the same name as my cat, all in under thirty seconds.

Incidentally, the midwife wasn't the only visitor to wake us up this morning. The postman did too. So I'd just like to say a big thank you to Carol for the lovely gift, and to a mysterious lady I've never met for the penguin card. You're both sweeties. Well, either sweeties or stalkers.

Mouth AlmightyAnyhoo, back to Wednesday night. Having discovered that she'd done 90% of labour on two paracetamol and a packet of Frazzles, Lisa accepted the midwife's invitation to take all her clothes off, and jumped into the birthing pool. They did ask if I'd like to go in too, but I said no, a decision I slightly regretted when I saw how nice it was. It made Big Sis's spa bath look like a paddling pool.

I won't describe the next five hours in intimate detail, but suffice it to say that things didn't quite progress in the lightning fast manner we were expecting. We didn't know it at the time, in fact we didn't know it until 6:54am, but Amelie was attempting to make her way down the birth canal with one hand up to her head. Presumably so she could wave to us as she emerged. Or possibly she was doing her hair. Either way, it was a plan which needed more thought, and as the contractions got stronger and Lisa's pain increased, Amelie remained wedged and was going nowhere.

By 4am things were pretty intense. I was wetter than if I'd been in the pool, and the midwife had left to change her clothes after a particularly strong contraction resulted in a tidal wave which threatened to engulf us all.

Lisa came out of the pool at about four-thirty and began pushing in earnest, while I attempted not to think about the fact that my car had probably been towed away, and I had no food. By five-thirty I was in tears, not just because of the food sitaution, but because Lisa had used up every reserve of strength and effort, had no more to give, yet was still being driven on relentlessly by midwives who were clearly getting more concerned by the minute. It's not easy watching someone you love suffering to such an extent.

On the plus side for Lisa, being consumed by the birthing process meant that she didn't notice the worried looks and brief conversations taking place in hushed tones between three different midwives, all of which I was painfully aware of. Shortly before six, a doctor arrived, and things started happening very quickly. A set of scrubs and plastic shoes were thrust into my arms, and I was despatched to the nearest toilet to change. By the time I emerged one minute later, Lisa was already being wheeled into the operating theatre.

I have to say, it's not easy administering a spinal anaesthetic to someone who's shaking like a level nine earthquake, but somehow the anaesthetist managed it. I've no idea how long we were in theatre, but I do know it was about a hundred times longer than I wanted to be there. And not just because I was forced to wear a ridiculous hair net. But having lived through a lot of blood, sweat and tears, an episiotomy, and the scariest set of forceps I've ever seen (not that I've seen many), Amelie was eventually hauled out of Lisa, waving, and with a massive bump on her head.

One hour old.The labour ward and associated operating theatre are on the 13th floor of the main hospital tower block, and as Amelie was born, the most gorgeous red sunrise was breaking over Roedean School on the horizon. To be honest though, I barely noticed. Amelie was handed straight to me, and I was led out to the recovery room, where I sat for fifteen minutes holding my daughter and wondering what had become of Lisa.

To my enormous relief she was fine, and within half an hour I was running down to A&E to retrieve my car. Childbirth might be amazing, but the biggest miracle is that I didn't get a parking ticket.