Perhaps these things are unconnected with what came next, perhaps not. Being kind, being good (which, as I’ve said before, is not the same as being weak — no matter what some misguided individuals think), is a big part of who I am — it makes sense to me, to spread happiness and joy wherever possible, to help wherever needed, whether that be another human or a bird.
Before the birth, I found I did not cope as well with the stress as I would have liked — if stress is to do with me alone, I find it easier to deal with, makes plans, reconcile with it, but add in someone I love and a situation where there is little I could do but support, and I struggle.
Nothing went according to plan — there was extra monitoring needed before the birth, as her little heart was not producing the peaks it was meant to, instead having a relatively flat line of beats. On the 14th, Aurélie went for more monitoring and was told she would have to stay in the clinic, in order to continue being monitored and for inducement. I arrived a short time later with the bags, and we waited, a tiny heartbeat the soundtrack.
The staff at the clinic were outstanding, and even with my language difficulties (my French is getting better, and technical medical terminology is surprisingly easy, compared to some other things!), I could follow most of what was happening.
There was little sleep that night, with more monitoring, a bath, and then morphine. The following morning, the baby’s heartrate had not altered, the contractions had slowed, and she remained high in the womb. Not a good combination, and the gynaecologist did not hesitate to recommend an emergency caesarean.
Aurélie was instructed to shower, and I barely had time to change out of my scrubs into my normal clothes, before she was being whisked to the operating theatre, and I was becoming be-scrubbed once more. I was left in a room whilst the surgery was performed, not for very long really, but enough time to think, deeply, over all that might go wrong, and all that might go right.
Then our daughter was brought to me. I heard her before I saw her and, I know it sounds weird, but I knew that cry before I set eyes on her. She was washed and weighed and measured and I was asked to write the tiny bracelet which was affixed to her wrist, my hand slightly shaking, but the words thankfully as legible as my handwriting ever is. 3240 grams and 50.5 centimetres long.
I was left with her next to my skin for a considerable time, as Aurélie was sewn up and repaired, and being able to see her eyes open and look at me, mouth searching, tiny fingers grasping, was a powerful thing. I shall, no doubt, write more about this at some point, but needless to say, I am very, very grateful for modern medicine and a staff who were second-to-none.
The amniotic fluid was tainted, she was blue, and I sadly have no doubts that, were this France a hundred years ago, or certain parts of the world today, I would have lost either my partner or the baby or, quite possibly, both. That’s a strange thought. We stayed in the clinic for six days in total and, again, I am very grateful we could, in our own room, even with bed and breakfast for me.
Now, approaching four weeks later, both mother and baby are doing very well indeed. As am I, full of happiness and tired relief. We are both full of love and joy and I’m sure there’ll be more about the peedie (Orcadian for small) thing in coming months.