Just like that, the baby that I never truly believed would be, is here with us all, our little family complete.
Baby Gabrielle entered the world on Wednesday 12th August, at 10:09am. I had been experiencing contractions since 2:30am on the Monday, finding myself moo’ing like a perturbed cow through the pain that didn’t seem to intensify or get more regular, but my God did it hurt! My grip reflex has never been very good thanks to the CP and Kev teased me about it every time I grabbed his hand. But he soon realised how much pain I must have been in when I managed to hurt him too.
I was exactly 39 weeks along when we turned up at the maternity ward for our scheduled section. I felt big, heavy and sore and very ready not to be pregnant anymore. But i still didn’t really believe there was going to be a baby. There were 2 other expectant mums there that morning so we assumed we were in for a long wait. But I was groaning through a contraction when the surgeon came to introduce herself and by the end of the consult came another and her team agreed that they were neither mild nor as far apart as I’d insisted. I have no idea if it was actual labour or just Braxton hicks sent to torment me, but it was enough for them to decide that mine would be the first section of the day.
I have absolutely no guilt about turning down their offer to see if labour progressed naturally. I actually thought I might, but you know what? No. For this CP mummy, pregnancy has been enough. So instead, they asked if I felt up to walking into the theatre next door.
“What, now?” I asked, suddenly terrified. “Have the baby now? But I need the loo. Should I go first?”
The midwife smiled as she helped me get my walker. “No need. You’ll have a catheter in in a minute!” It broke some of the tension I could feel in me.
It was the same theatre Squidge was delivered in 3 years and 8 months ago. Looking around at all these people in scrubs bustling ready to bless me with another daughter, it suddenly felt like no time at all had passed. I tried to remember the strength I’d had that day, the determination to have Squidge with me overriding the fear. But it didn’t feel so easy this time. I had medics on both sides, looking for veins for needle after needle, another feeling the ridges of my spine for the spinal block.
I was frightened, terrified as another contraction came that I’d jump and paralyse myself. Of course, these wonderful professionals had more skill than that, but oh, I began to panic. The lovely midwife Nina consoled me, kept me calm and brave until the block swept down my legs, Kev constantly reassuring me that our baby girl was fine.
My anaesthetist, Stacia, was amazing, letting me complain of the tiniest ailments and keeping me well as we waited for that first cry. I was so anxious not to miss the announcement this time because this time, I didn’t know my daughter’s face and that cry would be the first thing to tell me she was real, that my wretched body had done everything right in getting her safely here.
I just kept saying: “There’s going to be a baby in a minute. We’re having a baby. We’ll have 2 babies’, trying to bring my new reality into focus as I felt distant tugging inside me, trying not to get caught up in decipheringthe medical commentary swirling around me. It’s the strangest feeling to be so far removed from your own body.
“Here she is. Hello Gabrielle!” we heard our surgeon, Tabitha say. And even before the first cry, the first sight of our new baby daughter, we heard: “Ooh, she’s having a wee! Sorry Mum!”
And then, that beautiful, lustful cry. If it could have, it’s like my body jerked, 9 months of emotions catching up with me, the year we’ve had. I burst into tears and all I could say was “She’s real. She’s real.”
Nina showed her to me briefly and Kev went with her to observe the first medical checks. It was awful not being able to follow them, my daughter little more than the sound of her cry at first. It felt like they were checking her over forever as I continued to cry.
There wasn’t enough room for me to hold her on the table, the screen up further than it had been with Squidge. I was also mindful that the COVID-19 regulations meant that Kev would not have long to cuddle with his new princess so I did not press to hold her until I was sat up. But from that moment to this, I haven’t wanted to put her down.
I am utterly captivated by her very existence when I have doubted it so often. I did this. My beautiful family is complete, my sole focus on this earth & I couldn’t be happier.