Friday, 11 October 2013

The Nine Month Wait

We took the test at 03.45 on the 17th March 2011 - St. Patrick's Day! Within seconds the blue line appeared to signify that I was indeed pregnant. What a moment that was! I just burst into tears and clutched my husband, relieved and truly elated to have finally escaped the nightmare that had consumed us for so long.
But no sooner had we found out the wonderful news than I was already putting pressure on myself to just forget the past and move on. How could I? We had been through a life-changing trauma that had uprooted our whole world and thrown us into disarray. And so, pregnancy was never going to be easy. Right from day one, I lived in constant terror that our dream would be mercilessly snatched away from us at any moment. I practically cradled my belly like it was made from the finest porcelain. I panicked if I accidentally nudged into a shopping trolley or if our springer spaniel  jumped and pushed his paw even gently into my womb area. I only wore elasticated waistbands or chest high maternity trousers (even in the very early days) for fear that anything tight or low-cut would cause harm to our fetus.
We did actually have a nasty scare on week 11. I had a small bleed one evening - not a huge amount, but it was red and it was enough to throw me into an uncontrollable panic. Upon ringing the out of hours emergency number, my husband was told that we would just have to attend the Early Pregnancy Clinic the following morning as it was "such early days in the pregnancy". For 15 long hours, we feared the worst before we were able to be reassured with an ultrasound scan image of our tiny 11.5 week old baby bouncing around doing acrobatics inside me.
I continued to suffer from tremendous anxiety though, especially in the first 6 months. I remember when I was at 17 weeks, I flew into a raging anxiety attack because my husband had leant on my belly a little while I was lying down. He applied minimal pressure, but it took me several hours to convince myself that he hadn't unwittingly harmed our baby. I also used to spend stupid amounts of time obsessively googling for reassurance if I had happened to accidentally eat even a tiny smidgeon of one of the forbidden 'danger foods', not relaxing until I felt a little bubbly pop of movement inside me.
By the time I reached the third trimester, my levels of stress dissipated greatly because I could feel our baby kicking and moving about on a regular basis. Plus, it was comforting to reach that milestone whereby she could potentially survive if I were to go into premature labour. But despite these reassurances, I was never going to let go of the fear of losing her until she was safely in our arms.
One and a half days before our daughter's arrival, my waters broke in the most undramatic fashion. So undramatic in fact that it took twelve hours of assessments and monitoring with various different doctors and nurses to establish whether it was kick-off time or not! Sure enough, by lunch time the following day, our baby girl decided to begin her descent into the big wide world. I won't lie - within a few hours of back to back labour and with the help of a wonderfully supportive midwife, we opted for the epidural. For some reason I do feel the need to confess my lack of heroics....but then, I think I'd shown enough courage  by that point. Plus, I was just so emotionally (and physically) exhausted that the easier option seemed right for us. I also believe that, coming from the world of IVF, I had lost so much faith in my body and had become so reliant on drugs and close monitoring that I didn't have the confidence to do it any differently at this most crucial stage of our journey.
And so, after twelve hours of blissfully relaxed labour, during which time I slept, chatted, munched on cereal bars and listened to soothing tunes, our darling daughter was ready for the big 'push'. And push I did, like a "true Olympian"......apparently. My husband, the doctor and the midwife were like excited spectators at a 100 metre race, shouting and cheering words of encouragement while I pushed myself beetroot purple. Those minutes before our daughter's birth, whilst unheroically painless, were truly exhilerating and pumped with the adrenalin of impending joy. Before we knew it, she was pulled out from between my legs and placed on my naked breast - our perfectly exquisite baby who, against all odds, had come to be with us at last.

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