Well, I cannot believe how quickly I became poorly last week with the most dreadful head cold…possibly flu …I could hardly hold my head up and even my teeth ached! I am so much better now although a little weak! So I do apologise for missing my blog …this one may be a little longer than normal…but it might make up for not having something to read last week!
As you know from my last blog I love the Autumn…but there was one Autumn time that I missed altogether…that was when I was expecting the ‘Cutie-pie. ’ Previously I did say that the birth of the ‘Cutie-pie’ was a whole different blog…and this week I am going to write about it!
This is his birthday month and incredible to think that he was born 14 years ago! When I watched him tonight preparing his ingredients for his cookery lessons in the morning I found it hard to believe that those years have flown by. He was expertly chopping baby sweet corns, garlic and spring onions; as well as his peppers and ginger. When did he grow up? He is taller than me and has broad rugby player shoulders, a mass of thick, straight hair…but when I look closely I can still see the cute baby of all those years ago…the long eye lashes, the chubby smile and the sweetheart shaped lips! I often get the overwhelming longing to cuddle him tight because he was such a cuddly baby and I miss that closeness. He was such a precious, special baby. I know all babies are precious, I know all mothers will say each child is special for different reasons and it’s true.
I once asked my mother did she love us all the same…and how did she manage to love 4 children the same amount! She said she loved us because we were so different; there were lots of things about each of us that made us special to her. She said that her love was like a cake and that when there was only one child that child[my big sister] got all the cake…when I came along we got half the cake each and once my first brother came along we each got a third of the cake. I was most dismayed when she explained that with the arrival of my youngest brother we each then got a quarter of her love. I was not impressed…first of all it meant that my sister had had all my mother’s love…but my bit was chipped away as I had to share it almost as soon as I got it! I know she did love us and she certainly didn’t mean to show any favouritism but I always felt my ‘Big sister’ was special because she was the first baby; my youngest brother was special because he was the last baby; and my other brother was special because he was the cutest, cuddliest child, probably who the ‘Cutie-pie’ takes after! A family member did once say that out of all her children my mother worried about me the most… [I can often see why!] They also added that once she had met my young man [the ‘Future Hubby’] she knew I was happy and she no longer needed to worry!
Well, as you all know from a very early blog the circumstances in which the ‘Cutie-pie’ was conceived I shall not repeat myself by telling that tale, suffice to say though that he was what the midwives termed as a Valentine Baby…conceived around the 14th February and due around the 6th November. Thing is I was unaware that I was pregnant and was teaching one afternoon when a dreadful overwhelming sickness knocked me off my feet. My class were 8 and 9 year olds and wise beyond their years; as I suddenly slumped over the sink at the back of the class I could hear them…
“What’s wrong miss?”
“Is she drunk?”
“Give her some space…dad always opens the window when our Pam is sick…”
“What did you have for dinner miss?”
“My mum does that when she’s preggers…”
After recovering long enough to finish the lesson on Adjectives and Nouns I raced to the toilets during the break. I had to wash my face and sit down. I was hot and sick and had the worst headache of my life. Two of the little girls from my class were actually waiting outside the loo for me and offered to get help. Seriously, they were the most considerate class I have ever taught. As I walked the rest of the class along the corridor they were asking if I was okay and would I be ‘in’ tomorrow as it was P.E. [Heaven forbid anything could interfere with their favourite lesson of the week!] That night I was unable to keep any food down. The thought of being pregnant fluttered through my mind but I was so ill I decided it was a virus. Three days later I was desperate. A visit to the doctors was the best way to deal with this and I thought she’d probably just give me a prescription for something to settle my stomach.
“You’re not pregnant are you?”
“Chance would be a fine thing…I really would like it to happen…but now at 40 I think I’m going through the menopause…” My mind whirred into action. All the symptoms were there and as she looked at the urine test results I realised that perhaps London had been a successful trip after all! I was shocked…delighted…scared and sick…literally. Good job doctors are used to all that nonsense eh?
Family, friends and work colleagues were all shocked but happy and a little worried knowing my past history with pregnancies…this would be my fourth time but to date I only had one child…the ‘Intelligent-one’.
So it came about that I was to have a baby…things were different than previously in that I didn’t need the bed rest that had secured my success with my first born and I was told this pregnancy was viable and there was no need for the hormone injections either. Instead I was capable of working full time…well I say capable…I had a bucket in my stock room, bottled water, packets of dry ginger biscuits and packs of moist wipes. This was my survival kit. As I said earlier…the most caring class I had ever known came into their own. As soon as a wave of sickness came over me they sprang into action: one child would get the water, another would get a biscuit, another would run the cold tap in the sink…because we were on the top floor I could not get to the ladies loo on time. These wonderful children carried on with their school work whilst I ‘honked’ up for England at the smell of chalk, pencil sharpenings, crisps, school dinners, paper towels, exercise books. You name it; it made me puke into my bucket in the stock room. They never batted an eyelid or caused a fuss and as the weeks went by they loved asking about the baby and seeing the bump and oohhed and aahhed at the scan pictures. By the time the summer holiday break came they were all budding midwives and were bringing me little socks, hats and toys for the baby.
My maternity leave started shortly after the new school year began, by which time I was waddling and struggling to get up the stairs let alone teach! Fortunately I was put in charge of teaching small groups of children but by the end of the afternoon I was ready to sleep! My maternity leave couldn’t come soon enough and the weeks stretched out in front of me…I was going to spend the rest of September resting and then in the October I was going to potter around organising the new nursery. Yes you’ve guessed it…nothing goes to plan does it!
I had a full, wonderful week with the ‘Intelligent-one’. We played shops, jigsaws, puppet shows; we cuddled up in the afternoon for naps and watched cartoons. This was to be a special time, just the two of us before the new baby. Then I woke up one morning with a niggling pain, as the day progressed my head felt as though it would burst and the sickness returned. By the time the ‘Hubby’ came home I was beside myself…the pain in my side had got worse and I began to panic that I was losing the baby. At the hospital I was monitored, my blood pressure was up and that was it…I wasn’t going home…ever! Well, slight exaggeration…not until the baby was born. What? Yes, that’s right. I was given steroid injections to help the baby’s lungs develop as he was going to be born early. My mind raced away with me, the baby was too soon, too early to come yet and we were facing the possibility that we could more than likely lose him. [Yes I knew it was a boy…I had a feeling early on and then the last scan I had had before coming to hospital it was 99.9% certain that this was a boy!]
I was moved to a delivery suite, prepared in a gown and wired up as if I was on the way to the moon. The beep, beep, beeping of the machines and weird but wonderful sound of my baby’s heart beat resounded around the room. I couldn’t move for machinery but I’m thankful for that monitor…I watched every flick of the lines as they zig-zagged on the paper as it rolled out of the monitor showing us that there was still a life ticking away inside. Then of course it began to hit me that I was now going to have to go through heaven knows what to deliver my little sweetheart…as the panic set in I began to shiver…I began to cry…I began to shake and the awful feeling of ‘Oh My God I can’t do this’ shook me to the very bones and I prayed so hard.
Very slowly things began to calm down…with each visiting doctor different opinions were discussed and I even passed a silly joke that perhaps the baby had reacted to the coffee I had been drinking and that had made him hyper…mmm well never joke in front of consultants that’s for sure! Utter nonsense of course but as things seemed to be settling down and my blood pressure was lowering I was to be moved to a room. The ‘Hubby’ was allowed to go home and I was to get some rest; I would be monitored during the night. It’s a strange thing with me really…as you know when I need to concentrate I can fall asleep…and sometimes the most stressful situation causes the worst tiredness and I need to close my eyes…which of course I did…and I fell into a deep sleep with my hands on my stomach where my baby’s feet were poking out as if he had stretched and fallen asleep too. At one point during the night I awoke to see a tiny grey haired nurse sitting on the chair, the room was cool and there was a little light shining in from the ward; she smiled at me and I went back to sleep, feeling safe. During the morning rounds I thanked the midwife for having sent someone to sit with me and that it was a lovely, comforting idea. She explained that no one had stayed in the room with me, they’d all popped in and out during the night but I was peaceful and the monitor showed the baby was fine…mmm spooky but in a way reassuring…who could it have been?
Well further investigations revealed that the placenta was in the wrong place, the baby was lying on it like a cushion and I could go into labour at any point…the correct name for this is Placenta-previa. Basically the placenta blocks the baby’s way out, the waters break, the placenta drops and the baby lies across the exit area as opposed to head down. [Apologies if you are eating whilst reading this!] There was only one way out for this little chappy and that was a Caesarean…but not yet…oh no…they were going to get me as far as they could and in the meantime I was staying in hospital because they could get me upstairs to the theatre and perform a C-section within 7 minutes…oh boy this was too frightening.
So that was it…I was in hospital for the rest of September and as October approached I was beginning to feel so lost…and as the end of October approached I was institutionalised! [I actually only got to leave on the first weekend in November!] I was living in a bay with three other ladies who were in similar situations; one was having twins and needed careful monitoring and the other two were possibly premature babies…we were all facing C-sections and we had one thing in common…we were afraid of what might happen.
This fear strangely brought us all together. We began each day with a hot drink from the trolley, then we sat chatting away whilst wired up to the monitors, we were able to attach ourselves and note the recordings, we each had to give a urine sample and in our own jugs with our names on, we pottered around the ward tidying magazines, fluffing pillows and organising our laundry. We all sat with our feet up to eat our breakfast and filled in our menu cards like experts. We tidied our beds and closets ready for the ward rounds and in the afternoon we watched day time TV in the TV room to avoid being the only ones with no visitors…it happens when you are in for the long haul; partners cannot get the time off work. At night we all had a weep together as our loved ones waved us goodbye and then we settled down after showers with cocoa and cake for supper. The strange thing is that as the world went on around us we became safe in our bubble. We laughed at not having to do the shopping, cooking or cleaning at home; we got to know the nurses who treated us with kindness and fondness; we laughed at the different consultants as they did their rounds and we heard them repeating the same old blarney to new patients, we had nick-names for our own consultants and took bets on which ones would appear first. My consultant was a sweet little man who wore heels that clicked and for some reason he reminded me of the late comedian Dick Emery when he used to suck his teeth and smile…so he became known as Dr. Dick and as soon as we heard his heels clicking away one of the others would giggle and shout to me… “Quick get on your bed…your Dick’s here!” [I know, toilet humour...but we were desperate for a laugh!] The girl who was having twins had a smaller consultant and we used to giggle at the way one of his legs would disappear as he climbed on her bed behind the curtains to examine her! We got to know one another and formed a bond. They all had a similar sense of humour to me and one day we packed a G-string in my laundry bag…when the ‘Hubby’ came I produced it from my washing and said; “Thanks for the clean undies love…but who owns this?” waving it about! We fell about laughing as the ‘Hubby’ tried to explain!
The four of us hated Thursday afternoons as this was when there was a clinic and suddenly there would be a new surge of expectant mothers who would appear, have their babies and go home, whilst we were left behind. It was hard, during the night you’d hear the sudden movement and noises as someone would go into labour and be rushed off to the delivery suite…or worse still we would be woken by the clank-clank of the spanner as it hit against the side of the oxygen bottle as it was wheeled towards a bed where a young mother was giving birth…sometimes we dashed into the TV room to escape the sounds of childbirth…we did not need to be reminded of what was to come!
We exchanged stories and looked at each other’s scan pictures and one day we even did the ward sister a favour by talking to the new vicar who had come to visit the ward and no one else would speak to him. In return she made sure that the wonderful new, young Spanish, dishy doctor would have time to visit us on his night ward rounds! He was rather sweet and he had never seen a pomegranate before so we showed him what they were like inside [I had a fruit basket!] and this started a lovely, friendly relationship which comes in handy when you need a doctor!
Well the leaves fell off the trees, the mornings grew darker and the afternoons were dull. There was often a pink sky and the windows would mist over. I hated being stuck inside. I missed the smells of the Autumn and the walks and just about everything that’s so wonderful about the season. The ‘Intelligent-one’ brought me his conkers he’d been collecting, he would arrive snuggled up in his hat and scarf and little mittens, his cheeks rosy red and I just so desperately wanted to go home with him…I had never been parted from him for this long…in fact only once and that was when we went to London THAT weekend! I was missing my son, my ‘Hubby’ and my Autumn… and the Sister on the ward realised that suffering from cabin fever was not going to help me at all…so she allowed me one visit to the front door! With an escort, a young nurse, I was allowed to go down the three floors in the lift to the reception, stand in the doorway and breathe in that wonderful, fresh, Autumnal air…5 full minutes…and then it was back to bed! This longing to be home became worse as I gave the ‘Hubby’ instructions on how to make the bed … ‘What’s a valance?’ became a key saying amongst us girls! He also had to be organised with lists of shopping and how to tidy up in preparation for our relatives who were coming over from Ireland and also having a party at ours…boo hoo! I missed the best family party they have ever had…and even to this day they talk about my phone call! You see at night you had to queue to use the phone and I had rung at 9.30 to see how everyone was…
“Hello, it’s only me…anybody there? Oh you must be having a great party…don’t worry about coming to the phone…I’ll just go and have my cocoa…” they all stopped when hey heard the phone ring…turned the music down and then heard my message…imagine a large group of people standing still, in shock to hear my voice…and then look at one another…then start dancing again! Ah well! They did make up for it afterwards, my aunt…yes the one from Ireland…brought me a sausage on Irish soda bread sandwich the next day…oh boy was it good!!
Then one night we four expectant mums couldn’t sleep and were sitting talking and laughing…suddenly one of them announced that she had laughed so much she had ‘wet’ herself…but as she got up from her bed it was blood that we saw…and the panic on her face will haunt me forever. She was too early to be in labour…the nurses were wonderful within seconds she was whizzed away…and we three were left sitting staring at the empty space where her bed had been.
We were silent; each one of us knew without saying what this meant and deep down we even knew that it could so easily be one of us. The early morning brought us the news of the birth of a teeny tiny girl weighing just 1lb. This beautiful little one sadly passed away and we were left shell shocked. The nurses showed us the card with her hand prints and footprints and a picture of her lying next to her mummy. Desperate to see our new friend we were left inconsolable and as a mark of respect the bay remained as three beds, no one new was brought in and we mourned the loss of a baby and grieved for the sadness of our friend and her husband. Days gelled into one another and then one night our midwife came to see us and let us go to visit our friend…she was in an isolation room as far away from the cries of all the other new borns as they could get…we hugged, we cried and we talked and I have never before felt as guilty for sitting with my ‘baby-bump’ as I did that night.
Well, shortly after this sad episode, the doctors decided that with just a few weeks to go before the original due date it was safe to perform the C-section and I was booked in and organised. The night before the student midwife came to see me and explained that my private area, ‘down there’ needed shaving and she had brought the necessary equipment! I announced that not only had I not seen ‘down there’ for quite sometime but I would be in danger of performing my own caesarean if I attempted to use the razor whilst trying to stretch over my bump! Ah well, I suppose it was good training for her, I was just thankful that the new male nurse was not on duty…how embarrassing would that have been? In the morning I had to have a suppository to help ‘clear the way’ so to say and I was so nervous and shaking that I found it difficult to clench my buttocks to keep it in! As the midwife came for me to check I had my surgical socks, pillow, tubes [don’t ask I’ve no idea what they were for…but I’m thinking they were something to do with drainage afterwards…!] she asked if I was okay…I explained about trying to keep my buttocks clenched and she laughed…
“For goodness sake…you’re not supposed to wait this long…you should have ‘been’ by now…get to the bathroom!”
By the time I entered the lift to the operating theatre the nerves were horrendous…this was serious…major surgery…but at the end of it I would have my baby boy. The operating theatre was frightening and full of nurses and my consultant and anaesthetist and I was wired up again and laid down with a screen in front of me. I couldn’t relax and to make matters worse the nurses were making polite conversation about my name and the choice of the baby’s name and how my name was so unusual…blah blah …then one of them said she recognised my name [not me…well I was almost 41, fat faced and huge belly…not quite the same as the skinny, buck toothed, frizzey haired school girl…!]it turned out that she had been at the same Convent as my sister and I and that her friend was the resident theatre nurse who had also been to the same school…OMG…nothing worse than the thought of someone knowing me and seeing me in all my glory! The mention of this other nurse’s name made me freeze…she had been the bully in my year and had taken great pleasure in making my life a misery…now she was in charge of my recovery…she’d probably want to stick a needle in me or stitch me without added pain relief…good God could the day get any worse?
“Pity she’s not in this morning…that’s a shame…”
“Yes, isn’t it?” I replied…mentally thanking someone up above for that bit of good news!
The advice of ‘Whatever happens don’t look up at the lights once you are led down on the operating table…you see too much reflected in them!’ raced through my mind! I was shivering and then got the fit of giggles to see the ‘Hubby’ dressed in a green gown and hat…green is definitely not his colour! He held my hand and we talked quietly whilst all the preparation was carried out…and suddenly I felt this strange sensation of tugging in my stomach area: not painful but ‘as if someone was rummaging in my handbag I was holding!’ as one of the girls from the maternity ward had explained after her C-section! Within minutes my Doctor Dick was holding my baby up so I could see him…absolutely beautiful…perfect in everyway…a full 8lbs and already crying for his breakfast! The excitement was overwhelming and I was desperate to hold him and kiss him... ‘Hello my little one… ‘
He squawked as they weighed him and checked him and then they wrapped him up in a blanket and handed him to the ‘Hubby’ who immediately kissed him and held him close to my face so I could kiss him too. Ah the relief…I just wanted to go home…we were now a family of four…complete…and I wanted to be at home safe and secure and hold my boys close…the doctors said goodbye and left and then it happened…
An alarm started beeping and suddenly I couldn’t move, couldn’t speak…what was happening? I felt sick and dizzy and I saw the ‘Hubby’ being ushered out with my baby, my ‘Cutie-pie’. I wanted to shout “Wait for me…don’t go… let me have my baby…” But no words came out…instead all around me there was movement, someone was injecting something into the tube in my hand…another nurse looked like she was on the table and pushing my stomach…there were voices…noises and from far away I could hear my baby crying and I thought then that I was dying…the beep beep of the alarm began to fade and I felt myself floating away from everyone…
my beautiful baby…my ‘Intelligent-one’…my ‘Hubby’…I wanted to tell them I love them but I couldn’t make a noise…I felt as though I could just get off the table and walk towards the door but I was floating at the same time … all around me was a sense of movement but quiet… a strange calm…no pain…no sound… just movement and from somewhere behind me a voice called my name and said:
“Stay with us…hang on…you’ll be ok…” and then the beep, beep was loud again, I heard my baby crying, I heard the nurses talking and I was no longer floating…
My recovery took awhile, these things happen I know but I never thought it would happen to me; strange thing is that I know there were three nurses in the room at that time as I could see them all doing what they needed to do to stem the loss of blood and get my blood pressure back to normal... no one was standing at the top of the bed by the machines but that’s where the voice came from…however, whoever was looking out for me helped me that day; I didn’t know the voice and I cannot say if it was a man or a woman speaking but I am thankful; I did recover and I was eventually wheeled back onto the ward where the others were waiting excited to see the new arrival…the ‘Cutie-pie.’
I never discussed the true horrors of the birth as it would have been unfair to the girls who were facing C-sections and I needed to put it out of my mind and set about enjoying my baby. The nurses and midwives were wonderful as I was too ill to look after him…they took turns to hold him, change him, feed him, bathe him; I was pampered and looked after. They used to take him for walks to show him to other nurses as he had the most “Kissable lips” one of the midwives had ever seen! He was simply adorable. One afternoon the midwife came and asked could they borrow him…our friend who had lost her little girl was preparing to go home and they felt she needed to hold a new born before she left…it could help her recovery…and I do believe it did…apparently she held him, she rocked him and she cried over him and thanked the nurses for the opportunity to hold a baby as she had no idea if she ever would get the chance again. So not only was the ‘Cutie-pie’ a real cutie but he was also special…for her and for me.
As we approach his 14th birthday I look at him and think: he has wonderful qualities; not just intelligent but lovely, kind, helpful…he is patient, fun loving, caring, thoughtful. He once said to me ;
“I will be a good catch you know mum because I will take my wife shopping and treat her to coffee and cakes…” and you know what he’s right…he is fantastic company; he seems to understand the important things in life and has great listening and reasoning skills. He is a great giggler with a fantastic sense of humour and love of practical jokes. He is easy to talk to and I have loved every minute of being his mum…or mummy as he calls me when he wants something!
I have loved him from the very minute I knew he existed…
quite simply he is great and he is my special ‘Cutie-pie’…although now he has requested that I refer to him as the ‘Intelligent-programmer-cutie-pie’ which of course I cannot refuse him … as he is nearly 14…
…Happy Birthday son xox…
…the three girls and I have kept in touch: the twins were boys, the other girl had a little girl and has a second daughter…and I am delighted to say that the young woman who lost her daughter is now the proud mother of three boys…