Monday, 30 July 2012

Ted: A birth story

Oh my Ted.
It took me months to write Arthur's birth story, and yours has been a much longer time coming. Two years have passed now since you came into the world, dramatically, making your presence known from the start as you've done every day since then.

Due on the fifteenth of July, 'that's ok' we thought, a full ten days before your big brother's third birthday. Your brother was big, but I was even bigger - most people thought there were two of you in there, it was such a giant bump. I couldn't wait for you to be born. 

But you made me wait, over two weeks by the end. Arthur's birthday came and went, a few contractions materialised in the evening (how could we have two born on the same day but three years apart? Neither of you would thank me for that) but amounted to nothing. The midwives kept an eye on you, sending me to the hospital for scans and checks, making sure you were still happy. No-one picked up that there might've been something amiss.

By day fourteen, I'd been booked in for induction. They couldn't wait any longer for you, despite your head being engaged and a 1.5cm dilation. When it came for the induction to begin, the midwife made a final check but couldn't feel your head. No longer engaged, it seemed. In the time it took me to walk from the ward to the scanning room, that head of yours was down again, and we began the induction again. For six hours I willed the contractions on, it felt as though they were increasing in duration and intensity, but when our time was up the consultant didn't agree. Next, they decided to break my (your) waters, a complicated procedure with an 'unstable' babe as there is a chance of the cord prolapsing. All went well, though, and it was only then that a diagnosis was made, three pints later, of polyhydramnios - excess amniotic fluid. An ocean. That explains your reluctance to be born - your head would engage but bob out again - and that's why I looked big as a whale. 

Once the waters have gone, time ticks by, every second counts in the vain attempt to labour naturally, without that dreaded drip I'd read so much about and feared more than anything. By 11.30pm, our lovely midwife Sharon told us it was showtime. The drip was hooked up and cranked up to 11 - we decided to go for it. In an hour and a half, I went from three cm to fully dilated - terrifying agony, although the gas and air helped a little bit. But the monitor told us you weren't happy either, and by the time I was ready to push I knew something wasn't right at all. The room filled up with nurses and doctors who made me lie on my back and held me down and shouted at me to push. 

Four minutes later you were born, blue as a bruise. The cord round your neck made it difficult for you to breath and you were taken away for oxygen, but your little lungs were fine and you let us know with a fine cry. Precious boy, you were a whole pound bigger than your big brother, weighing in at 9lb 8oz. After a few hours of recovery, a bath, and the best meal in the world - tea and toast - we headed up to the ward. Your dad had to go home but you and I lay together for the first time with you on the outside, as I tried to make sense of that fraught few hours. After a couple of hours of sleep and an awful hospital lunch, your dad brought your brother to meet you for the first time. We were four - a square now, not a triangle.

Our first weeks with Arthur had been so hard, but with you it was different. I was high on your heady new smell, your heavy warm body asleep on my chest. You made me see what all the fuss is about, and for that I'll be forever grateful.

Two years on and you are just so precious. Willful, stubborn, loud and strong, but also funny and sweet, generous and loving. You like to drink your milk from a tiny goblet the size of a thimble. You have suddenly become obsessed with Bob the Builder after nearly two years of resolutely ignoring the TV. You love to scoot fast and fearless, and as we watch you racing away we imagine the kind of dangerous career you'll pursue - driver of toxic substance lorries, deep sea diver, bungee jumper, mountain climber. You understand when people are sad and need a big Ted bear hug or a loud and firm kiss ('mwah!'). You are all blond curls, blue eyes and the longest eyelashes ever seen. But you're also a glint in the eye, a cheeky grin, a gappy, Pappy smile.

Teddy, we love you. Happy 2 x  
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