Back at home now, all splatting around the family room after a life changing 24 hours. Yesterday morning; St. Patrick’s day, Eirene had our new baby. A baby that I delivered single handedly, in our hallway. We’ve called the latest member of the DragonDrop family – Annie Maureen (named after both of our mums). She’s a beautiful 7lb 6 ouncer. She’s perfect, feeding well and fitting right in. She’s getting stacks of attention from her siblings. Here’s the story of how she arrived..
Waters started to break at just after midnight last night but Eirene managed to get back to sleep until around 6 am. “Am I OK to take the dog for a walk?” said I.”I think so, in fact, I think I want to come with you.” said Eirene. “Are you sure?” I said, to which Eirene replied “Yea, it’s not going to come just yet.”. After our walk, Eirene had a bath whilst a friend and I moved a washing machine (broken) into the back yard and a washing machine (new) from my car to the kitchen whilst Eirene got dressed.
Towards this end of this delicate “to you, to me” operation, Eirene shouted down that we should go NOW. Ooh (thought I). My friend exited stage left.
Alarm bells started ringing when I got upstairs and Eirene said to “just leave the baby bag, lets just get there”. This same bag had been pointed out to me on more than a small number of occasions and it’s importance highlighted to almost scratched record proportions. This wasn’t good. By the time we got down the stairs, Eirene was pretty much well on the way and literally could not take another step. We’d got just past the door to the sitting room, where Jaygo was playing Minecraft and Sophie floated – a deeply concerned little 6 year old. Felix at this point was on the first floor landing, also (as to be expected) quite concerned. Their mother, the matriarch, the eternally strong, was in pain and not looking herself at all.
“I’m delivering!” was the next thing Eirene said, as I tried to cajole her to the now baby bag laden car. My reaction at this point was that I needed help. My friend who lives round the corner had just left, but I called him and asked him to get his better half (who is a nurse – a psych nurse, but still..) round ASAP. Meanwhile, I’d asked Felix to phone my Aunt, who thankfully asked “Has an ambulance been called yet?”
I’d not called an ambulance – the option had not actually occurred to me. By this stage, I was fairly sure Eirene would not be moving and baby would probably arrive at home. A barrage of questions from the person on the phone to (looking back) assess the general condition and danger, and an assurance that an ambulance was on its way. At the start of the conversation I stumbled over my words a bit – I remember thinking I’ve got to speak clearly or I’m going to be wasting time. By this point, the adrenalin was coursing through my veins. I remember feeling time slow down.
“Tell me what you can see” said the person on the phone. “The crown, I can see baby’s head” said I. At this point, I knew I’d be delivering the baby. This was a terrifying prospect. I’ve seen this next bit done 3 times before, but always been a few steps away from the business end, leaving that bit to the seasoned professionals. I was given step by step instructions from this point in. Perfect, precise and clear instructions. This alone was a massive assurance. I remember thinking at the time (strange I know) “that’s a really good script [if it was a script], the question vectoring to get me to this point have obviously been very well written, designed and tested. I’m in safe hands.. ” I was told to make sure I held the head and the shoulders when baby came out and warned that it would probably be slippery. I had the oddest of feelings – it was like I was watching someone, myself – I’m not sure – in a TV show. I could hear the dialogue but it all felt a bit unreal, or a bit ‘reality TV’. A bit of a deja-vu type feeling.
The next stage happened really quickly. Lots of things happened in quick succession. A white mass with a purple chord landed. Literally, in my hands. Instinct took over a bit – I turned baby so I could see her face, eyes closed, not moving. I slapped her bottom quickly 3 times and blew at her face whilst holding her under the arm pits with my thumbs supporting her with my forearms. A flicker of disgruntlement appeared on her visage before she spluttered once, spluttered twice then took her first breath. She then had a tiny little cry and I knew she was going to be AOK. My emotions were on overdrive, my body operating at a pure instinctual level. I think I still had the person on speaker phone guiding me at this point but I don’t think I could hear anything. Everything was focused on baby and when I knew she was OK the rush of emotion was eclipsing.
Meanwhile, the recovering Eirene’s instincts kicked in and she told me to pass baby. A surreal puzzle was the next thing to take place as I tried to negotiate how to carry out Eirene’s request. I had to pass baby under one of Eirene’s legs to free the umbilical chord. Baby went straight to breast and latched on. Good girl.
Just then, my friends arrived at the back door and I said “She’s had it, she’s in the hall”. I went back to tending baby and even started (attempting to) tidy when a loud knock at the front door, followed by the paramedics opening the door. I told them that she’d had it – quite matter of factly – but as Eirene was now sat on the hall floor with baby in arms, practically at their feet, this information was a tad surplus.
I didn’t get to the chance to say a massive thanks in person to the telephone lady. I’d like to. “Ambulance on site” was voiced into a radio and the boys in green took over. Those guys are amazing. Incredible, real life super hero’s. I’ve sung the praises of NHS before on DragonDrop, but to reiterate – times like that make one so humbly grateful for the NHS. I’m glad I had the chance to thank them in person for what they did, which was to take over the tricky part of the after birth and made sure Eirene and baby were well.
I was asked if I would like to cut the cord. At previous births (this is our fourth) I’d avoided the opportunity – I hear it’s ‘an option’ should I have wanted to take it but this time, it felt so right to do so. It dawned on me what I’d just actually done, and the symbolism of cutting the umbilical cord wasn’t lost on me. A pair of scissors was passed to me and after a couple of questions from me of exactly where to cut, then I severed the cord. A crunchy, sinewy thing. Sorry for that detail.
The next few minutes were spent with me in a bit of a blur but as the rest of the world came back into focus, I realised I had a bunch of other things to think about. Sophie was being thoroughly looked after so I felt she was OK (if not a bit shaken, poor lass), Felix was fine if not a little shell shocked and Jay? – still playing Minecraft. My aunt turned up – armed with everything needed for a home birth – towels, scissors the lot. At first encounter, the ambulance crew thought she was the midwife. BIG thanks to my amazing ‘support crew’ who took the helm and said not to worry about the clean up operation.
A second ambulance was stood down – apparently it’s standard procedure to send two ambulances in these situations – one for mum and one for baby. Thank God it was a straight forward birth and we didn’t need a second crew.We got in the awaiting ambulance – all three of us plus the two paramedics – and headed for hospital on [actual ambulance lingo] “a steady red”. I think this means steady away speeds but sirens and blue lights to get through the lights and junctions.
Upon arrival at the delivery suite, I joked how there was no need to worry, I’d already done all the hard work for them. The midwives – as ever in Harrogate – were fabulous. A thorough but empathic check-list of activity was run through and when they were confident that everything was OK, we were left alone for an hour or two. Eirene and I looked at each other, as the dust settled and both wondered if all that had actually happened. In our hallway? Who’d a thunk it?
A BIG BIG thanks to our ‘support crew’, the ambulance crew, the hospital staff and the lady on the phone who talked me in, from Eirene, myself and Annie Mo.