Today, munchkin, you are finally coming out.
So far, 5 doses of Prostyn, the eagerness of your granny and the impatience of your mother have had no effect whatsoever. Today, all that will change.
Surprisingly, I have slept really well (surprising because I can never sleep on Christmas Eve, and the suspense of this is killing me far more than that). I have had my Last Supper (well, last sip of water) and now all that is left is a final encore of waiting.
Even more surprisingly, I am calm. I think this is because I know what is about to happen. There are no ifs, ands or buts. There is just this. My caesarean, and then you, my sloth of a baby.
Of course, not everything can go to plan. When your father finally arrives, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Of course he looks dishevelled. Of course he is wearing his favourite lucky rugby shirt. Of course he looks as if he has slept in a hedge. However, what your father never looks is worried, and yet here he is, head in hands, looking everywhere but out, frantic with panic cos he has just remembered that 4 days ago I asked him who he would choose if he was faced with saving only me or you. Now he remembers.
I have never ever ever seen him like this. He slides down the wall and sits with his head in his hands, propped on his knees. He paces. He cradles his head again. He provides excellent humour material. He paces again. This is not my movie star boyfriend. This is a man whose life is about to change, and he doesn’t know which way, or with what effect.
Unfortunately, all this comedy is having a far from funny effect on me. My serenity is rudely interrupted by an osmosis case of diarrhoea. All my calmness has been abraded away by your Daddy pacing around and exhaling doom n gloom. Suddenly the reality of the Caesarean hits me. Needles. Spine. Inefficient anaesthetic. Sliced open. Unable to screeee-
I am wheeled gingerly to the delivery ward, all my many bags stacked around me, next to me, on me … and suddenly the big moment is here.
After 9 months of lusting after you, visualising you, anticipating you, salivating over you, suddenly I am not ready. I am not ready to be a mother. I am not ready to be a mother for the rest of my life. And I am certainly not ready to be a mother today.
But life is sometimes like a rollercoaster (Ronan) and right now I am at the top of that first incline you know the one that seems to go up and up and up forever at an impossible angle and you feel the curve is so steep that you are actually going backwards hanging upside down clinging on for dear life …. And that there is a lifetime of twists and turns ahead, some dizzying, some scary, some just downright exhilarating. But above all else, you are strapped, bolted and pegged into this rollercoaster of life and from this moment on there is no getting off.
The pit crew are great. Professional, chatty, breezy – after all, to them this is just another day at the office. They explain things to me and I nod, but I have too much energy to nod, so instead my whole body shakes its agreement.
Annoyingly the movie star boyfriend is no longer gnashing his teeth and is instead laughing at me. Would you believe it !!?? He explains that now he is calm because it doesn’t affect him now. Charming to the last. He neglects to apologise for successfully transferring all his nerves over to me. Bastard, he is enjoying my anxious ripples. Little Miss Got To Be In Control hopelessly out of control – somehow I fail to spot the humour.
The anaesthetist gets ready. Her assistant uses his hand as a tourniquet – bloody hell, never shake that man’s hand – and the drip goes in. I am perched on the end of the bed concentrating fiercely on my breathing, fixing my gaze on a specific object, but nothing helps, because all I can see is the smug face of my grinning boyfriend, gleefully enjoying my nervousness.
Turning the dial, he decides to start a conversation, knowing that I am not capable of words. I blow replies, too scared to nod or move in case important needles go astray.
And here it is, the key moment. I fight to relax as the needle aims for my spine. I can feel every goosebump, the blood rigid in my veins. My nostrils flare and I feel the needle pop in. Immediately my right thigh jerks. It’s a bit like horror movie acupuncture – there is electricity hurtling down some damn meridian from my spine to my thigh, but bizarrely it amuses me (hey, I loved acupuncture). Alert, the anaesthetist stops. Thinks. Begins again. This time the speed limit on the meridian highway is well and truly smashed and I jump, startled. The anaesthetist slows up and offers the reassuring words – “this might mean it won’t work. So if we find out it hasn’t –“ (how how how will we know it hasn’t?) “-we’ll have to give you a general.”
But but – a general … I may never wake up from a general. Worse, how will I ever bond with my daughter if I have a general ? How will I know she was plucked from me ? How can I bond with someone when I have no proof she hasn’t been swapped out on the ward while I was still asleep?
I have to be laid flat very quickly so that the anaesthetic can spread up my torso. If they are too slow, it won’t work properly. If I could move, I would move very fast, but instead I allow myself to be handled and positioned. I stare at a cracked tile on the ceiling and I breathe very deeply and very determinedly.
They move me now to a proper bed, and this is when it gets weird. I know they are about to move me, so I prepare to help them, by turning my body, lifting a buttock, tilting, shuffling … except I don’t. Nothing happens. I feel as if I can move, but I can’t. I feel completely normal (though enervated) yet obviously I am not normal, because I cannot move. So instead I burble with nervous laughter and pretend I am enjoying the experience.
Now the critical bit. They begin testing whether the anaesthetic has worked. I concentrate extremely hard. First they prick me all over with a little needle and I have to tell them where I can feel it and where it disappears. Then they get an ice spray out, and again, in some places I feel it, and in others it just disappears, into a void where sensation used to exist. They agree the local has worked. But how do they know if it has worked 6 layers beneath my skin ? How can they tell that my womb is frozen, that the blood won’t hurt, that I am ready to be gaped wide open ?
I am wheeled into the operating room, my lucky homemade CD on the stereo and my movie star boyfriend by my side (now togged out in his blue scrubs) trying to hush soothing thoughts into me. I stare up at the only thing I can really see, a beautiful light above the bed which looks like a spaceship hovering in the ceiling.
The Movie Star Boyfriend is doing his best to keep me calm, but it’s not really working, so I reassure him – “I’m OK. I’ll be fine as soon as I know they’ve started.”
“Started ? They’re about to pull her out !”
What ???? I have been lying there for 10 minutes, sweating as I waited for the blade to pierce my skin, my subconscious and my pain barrier, and all the while the anaesthetic had obviously been working. Nobody bothered to tell me, after all, it is not as if I am a significant player in the day’s events. Most of my miff however comes from having missed the gush of water – I am assured there is the best part of an Olympic sized swimming pool on the floor, but I cannot see, I cannot feel and I refuse to laugh cos no one told me we had started.
So before I have a chance to relax into anticipation, you are plucked from me into the light of the spaceship and you are not happy darling, oh no, not happy at all.
I can feel nothing and I realise I feel absolutely nothing.