It has been two weeks since I went into labour. Sitting in the same seat I am now, just having finished a roast chicken sandwich (that God himself orchestrated- I was protein-ed up for this delivery) the contractions started. They started at 4 minutes apart. No pre-amble, no work up to it. Just BANG- full blown labour. I was at the hospital 2 hours later, having sat in the bath for 45 minutes. My mum was getting antsy for us to leave. If we'd waited any longer we'd have needed an ambulance.
Two hours after they started, I was at 5cm, waiting on the anaesthetist to give me my epidural. This was the single best decision I have ever made. If you are on the fence at all, I could not recommend the epidural more. It did slow my labour down a little, but given the breakneck speed it was at, this was no bad thing. I spent the last three hours of labour chatting with my mum, husband and nurse, and watching a cracking game of Sunday Night Football (Patriots-Broncos- was brilliant.) It was exactly what I had envisaged for labour. The hard work of the start meaning I got to really experience it, but relief when I was fed up. It was my ideal.
Pushing wasn't great. Basically, for reasons of anatomy (mine, not hers) the baby was never going to come without help. After 4 hours, they got the vacuum out and she was born in two pushes. There had been meconium much, much earlier but I wasn't worried (being a nurse served me well on so many occassions, I was always calm) and I was right not to be. Her apgar score was 9 when she came out. As good as any baby ever is. My husband went over to be with her whilst the NICU team checked her over, and she held his finger tight the whole time. He said half the team left straight away, the others had 'Christmas faces on' as they cleaned up a healthy, content baby.
Pushing out the placenta was the most satisfying part of the whole process. I never expected that. My doctor said 'Congratulations, you are no longer pregnant' as I pushed it out and I felt amazing. I needed quite a lot of stitches, but the epidural and the extra drugs they gave me made the whole thing quite good fun, chatting away to my doctor (who happened to be on call that weekend) and the camper-than-christmas nurse assisting her. I was relaxed and happy. I held her half an hour after she was born, when they'd finished with me. I could have pushed to have held her sooner, but I wanted my repair to be the best possible, and a squirmy baby wouldn't have helped.
Once I had her, the nurses left us all alone for 2 hours skin-to-skin. We let her feed (she managed 50 minutes. Seriously. 50 minutes.) We moved to the post-partum ward and we all slept.
Two weeks. She was officially born on a Monday, at 2.04am. A ridiculous time, I wish they'd just rounded it up to five past. To me though, she will always have been born on the Sunday night. Late, after a long walk on the beach and a leisurely lunch and a blurry afternoon of pain and a brilliant game of American Football and a late night of hard work.
I am no longer wearing maternity clothes or taking pain killers. Pregnancy is starting to feel distant. She can see us and the cat and her favourite toys- a Snowman rattle and a Zebra that makes farting noises. She is quiet and content- she rarely cries, but is constantly on the move. Her arms and legs are in constant motion, even when asleep. She feeds so well- figuring out the latch long before I did. She was back at her birth weight a mere 5 days after being born. She seems to be efficient in everything she does. No nonsense or time wasted. Her cheeks are pudgy and kissable and she is happiest when cuddled up with her daddy. Or Granny. Or Grandad.
She has constant gas, and spends most of her days upright as we try and help her shift it. She never gets distressed though, even when covering herself (and us) in vomit. Despite this, she sleeps amazingly well, waking me every 3-4 hours for a feed then dropping herself back off to sleep with gurgles and happy little noises.
I can't really explain motherhood after just a fortnight's experience. I know that if I think about her too much, about her mere existence in our lives, about the way my husband looks at her, about the fact that we were this lucky when it is completely undeserved, I want to cry. There is a constant undercurrent in the back of my mind, it goes 'luckyluckyluckyluckylucky' and I just let myself soak it in.
The scary bits are still to come. Another paediatrician visit to check her weight tomorrow, where I'll find out if I'm doing enough to feed her and keep her growing. The responsibility feels overwhelming at time. It makes me want to grab a bottle so it will be someone else's fault if she's not where she needs to be. My husband goes back to work tomorrow, so I'll be on my own at night. My parents leave on Friday, something I can't really begin to contemplate yet. My mum has been incredible. She is my number one breastfeeding cheerleader, telling me I can do it, that it'll be easy and pushing me so that at just 12 days I managed my first feed in public. She's given me the tools though, and that's the best I can ask for. We'll be heading back to Scotland in the spring, taking a bouncing, chubby cheeked baby with us. Until then Skype will have to suffice.
So that is the story of Katherine Eileen Thomas, born November 25th weighing 6lb11oz, 19" long. Two weeks old (tomorrow).