This time 10 years ago, I was terrified.
I’ve been in and witnessed things by that point in my life that had sincerely scared me, but nothing was comparable to this.
The possibility of losing a baby. Again.
Every move my baby made was just a tiny, quick wearing off injection of reassurance. Every time the Braxton Hicks were getting stronger and stronger, working up towards the real thing, I felt my heart race.
I just wanted her born and home with me and her Daddy. I wanted the three of us back in our safe space, working each other out in the light of her arrival.
I had a great consultant, Dr Wright she was called. She usually only managed multiple births, which is how we’d met, when I was carrying my now long lost, heaven bound twins.
When I was having Daisy, my rainbow baby, she agreed to take me on as one of her regular ladies.
She was never judgmental, she was never rude, no matter how much I rambled about how easily it could happen to me again and I could lose my rainbow.
Instead, she heard the rising terror in my words and instead of telling me to stop being silly, she got it.
48 hours before my first rainbow was born, I came in for a stretch and sweep. It’s a grim process and frankly hurt like hell, but the payoff was potentially a labour trigger, so I just got on with it.
The longer a baby is still in my womb, the greater the chances of something going wrong that I can’t stop. I wasn’t going to let my body let this baby down too.
After the stretch and sweep and news that I was finally dilating, I went off home after booking in for an induction on the following Sunday, which was her due date.
I think the rising panic had made my consultant agree to it more than there being any physical need for her to arrive sooner rather than later.
Still, as I got home, my maternity leave already underway, I prowled and paced the hall of my house, rubbing my gigantic belly, telling my unborn babe that I was looking forwards to meeting her and that her older sisters were acting as guardian angels, watching over her.
Finally, I woke up on the Saturday at 5:30am with a jolt of pain that petered out… then was followed by another a few minutes later.
The dance between my body being terribly confused about how to handle labour and my mind wanting it over with so I could keep my baby safe had begun.
An irregular labour settled in for the next 24 hours. My contractions were fierce, but refused to turn into any measurable pattern. As Saturday morning turned into Saturday evening, I rang the maternity unit, telling them I was in labour, but they were adamant: I had to be in a measurable pattern or don’t come in.
When it got to midnight, I’d had enough. The pain was excruciating and although the distance between them was uneven, I had to go in. I refused to take no for answer and got there in the earliest part of Sunday 28th September.
To add to my worry was my husband. Not my rock, more an entire mountain range of love and support, he had only just passed his driving test. It had never really come up before – the need for him to drive, until is finally dawned on him that if I had to have a C-section, I could be off the road for weeks and he’d have to do all the driving for a while.
Two weeks prior to our dash to the hospital, he had passed his test first time and had been put on our cars insurance.
Now, the biggest job of his new driving career presented itself: transporting his labouring wife and unborn daughter to hospital.
To be fair to him, he did it, with minimal panic.
I tried to offer bits of advice: “second gear”, “keep your foot on the foot-break when you wait at these lights” and so on.
When he did ask me for advice, it could only be dispensed conditionally, depending on whether or not I was working my way through a contraction.
Then we were there. Two corridors. A room with pink walls. Then a transfer to a bigger room, lit with wall lamps rather than the big overhead ones.
People. A midwife called Carrie. A paediatrician on standby in case there were any complications and my husband, holding my hand.
Pain, sweat and tears later – she was handed to me. White-gunk and blood covered – I had never seen anything more perfect – other than her older sisters. With shaking hands I received my new baby and undid the round pink buttons on my nightie so I could tuck her in against me. I wanted her warm and safe. I wanted her where she belonged – with me.
Then there was danger.
All the horror my body had agreed not to unleash on this baby, all that pent up hell, suddenly burst its banks.
There was so much – too much blood.
As I cooed and soothed my baby, my body was in absolute danger. I didn’t understand at the time, but I was bleeding to death and was minutes away from death.
My new baby, who slept through it all, was taken from me and wrapped in a white hospital towel and handed to my husband.
Within moments, there was a medical team surrounding me in the half-light of the room, gabbling incoherently above my head. There were words addressed to me, “you could die” and “we may have to remove your womb” were said, but it didn’t matter.
As they hurriedly wheeled me out, I kept my eyes on my baby in my husband’s safe arms. “It doesn’t matter if I die”, I told him as I passed. “She’s okay and that’s all that mattered”.
A brightly lit room, an operating theatre was my next venue, people chattering a hundred miles away in my consciousness, not really making sense to me. It was like trying to make out a voice with your ear pressed to a shell.
Then pain. So much pain and lungs were full of slime.
I woke into daylight, choking into my oxygen mask all the grime my already weak lungs had accrued during the surgery.
I called out, confused as to where I was and where is my baby?
But that was 10 years ago.
What has taken place since is incredible – because she is incredible.
I have a child with a kind heart and sweet disposition. She cares, she helps and loves and so brightly.
I look at her every single day and I cannot be more thankful for her. She is beautiful, sincere, beautifully behaved and magically stubborn. She empathizes and loves with her arms flung out wide to the world. She is beyond precious, beyond deeply loved and I appreciate her, adore her and admire her every single day.
The storm were I lost my daughters, threw me a double rainbow: Daisy and Willow.
10 years of her and I cannot wait to see whatever time I have left on this earth will show me of her.
I am blessed, truly, madly, deeply blessed.