Yep, Ned Huckleberry came out quite fast after pretending to be on his way – I see now I was a little bit remiss to tweet/email/text and facebook the world telling them a baby was imminent when he actually wasn’t (must remember for, ah, next time)….Ahem. Anyway, on Wednesday night, 8 days overdue and after a day of the requisite labour-starterers (pineapples, nipple tweaking, etc), things began to look quite promising – so much so that I insisted Mark call Charlotte – former Houseguest with Extras – because, clearly, the baby was going to fall out any minute. So Charlotte gets out of her warm bed and comes to ours where I am wild eyed with excitement. Mark, ever practical, is in bed. And so I tell Charlotte to have a sleep on the couch but be READY.
Of course, nothing happens all night, and nothing happens all the next day. Poised, ready, Mark has the day off work, as does Charlotte, and we are all kind of bored and wondering whether we should stop the charade and go back to doing what we are supposed to do. The midwife, full of pity by this stage, offers to give me a sweep and get things started. It works, we get to the hospital quickly, I get antibiotics because I have GBS (some normal germy thing which is harmful to babies, apparently). In we go, I have a TENS machine hanging from my neck, I assume The Position (squats) with the Requisite Tools (swiss ball, lavender oil, damp face cloth, yadda yadda) and off I go for four hours.
At some point, a team of about six groomed doctors come in and line up, beaming, while I squat and sweat and groan and try to pay some polite attention to them. (This was a little tricky, and I may have been unconvincing.) Anyway, the message they were so keen to get across was that they have decided that the baby is going to be too big for me and I should really have an epidural. The shoulders, they said, may not come out, and if so, they will have to yank the shoulders out manually and This Will Really Hurt You. No pressure, mind (as they all stare and smile and murmur amongst themselves). So I say “OK!” because the idea of things hurting EVEN MORE is kind of revolting at this stage. Leaping to save me from an epidural though is Mark and Midwife – they know in my lucid moments I don’t want one, and once the drs scuttle out, they remind me that I can do this perfectly fine and naturally. So onwards I push, kind of fancying that epidural to take me away from the hideousness that is a baby exiting out of your bits, but fairly oblivious to anything other than Keep Going and Give Me That Gas and Air.
So the waters break, Mark asks me what THAT was all over his shoes – then the head comes out and for a minute, everything pauses – we all think the drs were RIGHT – the shoulders are stuck – this is going to hurt more than anything else I have ever felt – and then the shoulders slide out and a huge blue/black baby of nearly 11 pounds is born. A boy, again. Naturally, called Ned Huckleberry.
Onto the ward we go, at midnight, where 5 other women and their babies are crying/sleeping/getting stuck with needles/talking on their mobiles, etc. I try to sleep, and fail. Owing to the GBS I have to stay in for 24 hours. Right before we are released into the real world, the paediatrician discovers Ned cannot breathe very well, and is jaundiced and has something on his lung. So begins five days of antibiotics, light therapy, constant heel prick tests, three insertions of cannulas (ouchy iv needles), blood pressure tests, etc, etc. All the while, little Ned gets more and more bruised and squeezed and I go more and more mental. An overview, if you will.
Highlights Of My Hospital Stay
1. I did not have to cook, or wash dishes, or move around much. I just sat.
2. People brought me nice stuff (magazines, chocolates, delicious picnic food, books);
3. I managed to Finish “The Crimson Petal and the White” by Michel Faber;
4. No kids (just a wee cute baby).
Lowlights Of My Hospital Stay
1. The light therapy treatment for jaundice – Ned was in a fishtank with blue and yellow lights going for two days and two nights, with a tight mask to keep his retinas from burning out. That was pleasant to witness. I then had to wrap my head in a black tshirt to try and sleep. Then got put into another room when I cried a lot about my lack of sleep – they took me out of the ward full of six women, into a room with just one other woman – whose baby had to have the same bloody light treatment. The tshirt went back onto my head.
2. The ward of six women. It was loud, and the woman next to me harboured desires of becoming a recording artist. I know this, because she called her friends throughout the night and discussed these ambitions at length. And the merits of Beyonce vs Aretha. That kind of vital, 3am stuff.
3. The midwives would come in throughout the night and turn all the lights on. Not a torch, not a dim light, but big fluorescent overhead lights. Usually to poke the baby with a needle just as he had been coaxed into sleep. That was awesome too.
4. I missed the kids, and I missed Mark. It was so lovely to get home.
Anyway, onwards and upwards. Now comes the tricky part. Making that baby a good Gina Forder. Eeeek.