Tuesday 3 November 2015
Warm and sunny
RJ's birthday (26 years old)
I will be the first to admit it. I didn't want children. It was not that I had thought it through and considered the many years of responsibility and cost and restrictions that may put many people off. I was scared stiff of giving birth and had not, in my tortured imaginings, been able to get past that step. It didn't help that my mother periodically would recount how she had been in labour for three days when having me and how much agony it had been. She never then went on to say how thrilled she was to hold me for the first time. That really would have helped. What if I had, like her, a lazy baby who refused to leave the warm salty cocoon and face an uncertain new world?
If I had stayed with my former long term partner SJB, I would have remained childless as he was also unenthusiastic. When, years later, I found him on Facebook and discovered that he was married with one child, you could have knocked me over with a feather. The power of love. The subject of this blog post.
So, after finishing with SJB I was back home again and met, through Ms Noddi, the man who has now been my OH for 29 years. We were introduced on a blind date and married 14 months later, to the day. He was keen, from the outset, on having children. In fact he wanted five (at the start). It took him three years to persuade me and then, in the midst of doing my Chartered Accountancy training - a job for which I was fundamentally unsuited and which I loathed with some intensity - I finally cracked and agreed to stop taking the pill. I blame the Royal Institute of Chartered Accountancy for turning me into a mother. I still hadn't passed my finals and thought, at the back of my mind, I am over 30 and it is bound to take a long time to get pregnant. With a bit of luck, it wont happen at all. Six weeks later I was on the end of a telephone line and in shock and horror. If I hadn't been in a phone box, I think I would have fallen over - my legs were that weak. How on earth could it have happened so quickly.
Everyone else was thrilled for me. I wasn't thrilled for me. I was about to be taken over by an alien parasite. I was dead pleased at the idea of giving up accountancy. The months passed. 1989 was a very hot Summer. I was frequently out on audit. For a refreshing change, because I was pregnant, the clients didn't put me in a shoe cupboard and not give me any coffee. They had me in the main office and gave me a fan, all to myself. I began to enjoy being special and cossetted. My belly grew. At six months, having failed my finals again, I gave in my notice and stayed at home and sewed and decorated and did the garden and it was absolute bliss. I stayed relatively small until the last month or so. I got used to being poked and prodded and having armfuls of blood and flagons of urine taken away. Pregnancy is not for the prudish or timid.
I arrived at full term and the baby was not showing any inclination to come out. It ran around in my belly and I could see the reverse imprints of its head and feet and hands as it punched its confining walls of skin. One week passed and then two and the Pediatrician told me that the baby was the wrong way round and because I was an elderly Primigravida (charming) that he recommended a Caesarian section. This avoided the nightmare scenario that I had been playing in my mind for my whole adult life so I readily agreed. I also wanted to find out what variety of baby we had produced. It was going to be like the best early Christmas present ever. I had come around to the idea of being a mother by this point.
So to Furness General Hospital and I was admitted to a ward and the C Section was programmed for three pm the next day. OH left and I was there with a room full of other very scared and very pregnant ladies. We tossed and turned all night and periodically one of them would shriek and be taken away. It was like being on a lunatic ward. Hours passed. Just when I (and my lively parasite) had nodded off, I was woken at midnight by a nurse carrying tea and toast. She told me that would be the last food and drink I would be allowed before the operation. Six hours later, they inserted a catheter and washed me down. Some of the ladies looked far less pregnant and were lying, pale and exhausted and twitching on their beds. Wails issued from the nursery down the hall. Everyone else got breakfast and I was sneaked some tea when the nurse wasn't looking.
OH reappeared at mid day and stayed with me until I went down to theatre. Drip in arm. Catheter stinging down below. Nurses wearing floral hats. Lights passing overhead and the rattle of the trolley. Surgeon. Gas mask. Oblivion.
Some time later I woke up and was in post op. The nurse in the flowery hat was bustling about. I could hear and see but my mouth didn't work and nothing else either. I finally managed to get out the words 'is my baby alright?'. The nurse smiled 'yes - you have a boy'. 'Where is he!!!' "Don't worry, he is fine. We will just take you back to your room and bring him to you". My insides felt like they had been boiled in oil. I was convinced that they had forgotten to give me any morphia. More rattle of the trolley. Back to a small private room and OH and he was smiling. The door opened again and the nurse wheeled in my baby. My RJ. In little fish tank on wheels. He had pure gold hair and huge blue eyes and his tiny pink head poked out of a white hospital blanket. And the nurse lifted him out and I held him for the first time and I loved him totally and completely and .... fiercely. We wept together. Joy and wonder and relief.
And that is what they don't tell you about children. How they change you for ever. How they are always with you - whether you are actively thinking about them or whether they are just on the edge of your thoughts. Like a beautiful bubble, they are with you on your wand for such a short time and then they float away on their own trajectory. True love. Love for ever and beyond.
And now my baby is 26 and has yet to find someone to love him in even a fraction of the way I do. He says he doesn't want children.... I very much hope he finds someone to change his mind.