I was in two minds about writing about this weekend’s events. Purely because – well, what a thing to record and remember.
But I did actually have a scare with Bill’s pregnancy, where I was suspected to have pre-eclampsia, and I wrote about it and, do you know what, I’m glad I did. Because I don’t really want to forget any of my pregnancies. Better or worse. And I don’t just want to document the good parts either – because I want people to read my updates and find them useful and honest. Otherwise – I suppose, why bother?
I absolutely live for the weekends now. You just do when you get to this stage don’t you? You live for a couple of uncomplicated days that aren’t fixed to commutes, train times, meetings and routines. I personally find being at home with Bill much easier, and we started Saturday morning with a few chores, before going to the library to get some new books, and hitting ‘bear café’ (as he calls it) that’s in our little village (it’s bear-themed and very cute). That’s our thing. It stems from the weekend when Mark might not stay over, back in the early days, or when Mark has football. And we love it. Just me and my buddy. That day, Mark was actually building furniture for this little girl’s nursery, so he stayed at home, and we ventured out just us two. Holding hands and chatting about how we could see the shape of a stegosaurus in the clouds in the sky.
When we came out of the library with 13 new books, and a very happy boy, it had begun to rain so we hurried across to the café and ordered ourselves some lunch and a cake. And a hot cocoa of course – Bill’s drink of choice.
We read some books and the windows of the café were all steamed up and I remember thinking that this was a good day. I just felt happy and content. And as we paid, the two lovely girls who worked there asked about my bump, and Bill told them he’d bring his sister back to see them soon.
It was one of those days where you just expect things to go right. I felt all dreamy and just happy to toddle around with my little boy.
I’d made a grocery order that morning, to arrive the following day, but that meant we had nothing in for tea, so we crossed over the car park (the library, the café and Waitrose all sit around a small car park, which sits at the back of our house – we really hadn’t gone very far) and went to the shops for a few bits.
When we were done, and I’d been convinced to buy a certain someone a Peppa Pig jelly for dessert later, we wheeled the trolley to get as close as possible to the secret gate that leads to our house. I say secret – you really don’t know it exists unless you know to look for it. It saves me so much time as we can just nip through our garden when we need something. I did my best to hold a big bag full of books, and a big bag of shopping, and hold Bill’s hand too. And we pushed through the bushes, and opened the gate, walked down the steps, closing the gate behind us. We walked carefully over the bridge, and up a couple of steps that lead us to the main bit of the garden.
It makes my garden sound very grand, but it needs lots of work. We closed the second little gate behind us – we have short fencing up to keep Bill away from the brook at the bottom of the garden) and made our way towards the back of our house.
It was raining really heavily at this point. And I shouted to Bill: “Be careful you don’t slip!”
We have a big picnic bench covering part of our flagstones, so we had to walk around it on the grass, and I was scared that he might slip and fall. Seeing him make it across, I rushed to keep up and then I felt myself slide.
And is a moment before you fall isn’t there? Where you do you best to balance. And you think – oh God, will I manage this? And it feels like time is slowing down.
I felt my right foot slide across the muddy grass, and I realised that I couldn’t balance with bags, and by the time I’d thought to drop them, I’d already landed. I hit our conservatory – just the corner, and ended up face down on the flagstones, my knees at the very edge of the grass, and barely able to hold myself up to protect my belly.
And it was then I sobbed. I haven’t cried like that in such a long time. But I felt stuck. I looked down and saw squashed cheesecake. And I felt a sting in my thumb, my left knee, and my elbows, and my back had completely seized up.
I remember shouting: “Please, somebody help me.”
And then the tiny little thud of feet and a sweet voice: “Mama! Mama! What happened? Oh Mama, it’s okay. Don’t cry. I’ll look after you.”
He helped me turn over on to my back. And he helped me up. And dragged my bags – they were far too heavy for him – around the back of the garden and towards the front door.
I remember shouting for Mark at the time, who panicked and thought I’d gone into early labour. He got us both in, and went to rescue Bill from the bags, and sat me down on a towel and held me while I cried.
Bill was most concerned about my thumb, which was bleeding, and started to make me tissue bandages. And giving me hugs. His little brow furrowed as he concentrated and tried to work out how to make me better.
All I could think about at the time was this baby girl. I sat there for a good 20 minutes just willing her to move. Please move. Please move. I couldn’t remember if I’d managed to protect her enough. Please move.
Eventually, when she did, the tears started again, with relief.
And it was then I decided to ring the labour ward to be checked out. I almost didn’t, thinking they would think I’m silly. You hear of an adult falling over and you laugh. Clumsy thing. But I needed to know she was okay. And the midwife I spoke to said I was right – come in straight away.
I didn’t know what to do about Bill. I was worried how long it might take. Would they let him in with us? I didn’t want to be alone. But would he get bored and grow restless? I wasn’t sure. I knew my family had plans that night. I tried my mum and dad, but they were already out, and I didn’t feel I could ask anyone else at the time. So we all went together.
I remember crying again as we pulled away from the house. I didn’t know what to take with me and everything I had for baby and birth was in a huge pile in her nursery, untouched, behind boxes of furniture we had yet to build. And I felt so unprepared. Part of me was encouraging: “It will be fine. It will be fine.” But the other part was doubtful. In that moment, you don’t really know if a check is a check or not.
We arrived, and Bill had dosed off in the car. Normally he’d wake in a foul mood, but he was all smiles and it’s like he knew. I had a bag of snacks and drinks and the iPad for him, with headphones, and some books. And all I’d managed to do for myself was get changed into dry clothes and bring a bottle of water and my notes.
We knew the labour ward was going to be busy – we’d been warned – so I was prepared for a wait. But I wasn’t prepared for how hard that wait would be.
With Bill’s scare, I had a quiet confidence that everything was going to be okay. I was shocked of course, and upset, but I just had a feeling.
But this time around I was in pain, my muscles starting to hurt more, and we were sat beside people waiting to visit new additions, with giant pink bottle balloons, and happy faces. And I was trying my best not to cry. Mark reached for my hand and kept checking on me. While Bill disappeared into a world of toy animals and YouTube’s finest.
You could see women in labour. Hear faint noises. And I just wanted someone to tell me my baby was okay. I felt selfish and so unlike me. But when someone came to get us, warm and apologetic, I could have hugged her.
We were shown to a cubicle. And I felt so strange seeing the bed opposite to me, and to the left, as that’s where I was monitored with Bill. Mark and I had said that our last scan would probably be the last time we’d be here until she was born. And now we were here and this, well, it wasn’t part of the plan.
We waited a little longer, Mark and I lying side-by-side on the hospital bed, and Bill taking the padded chair for himself. I remember holding Mark’s hand and thinking, when the bed jolted backwards and the weight of both of us had made it the headboard change position. We managed to fix it into place again, but I remember it being the first time I’d laughed for the last few hours. It made us jump and look extremely sheepish…
We were hooked up to be monitored – one for her heartbeat, one to test for contractions – and my urine was tested, my blood pressure taken and my abdomen palpated. I was asked how I was feeling and I felt her catch my eye to make sure I was being honest and didn’t brush it off.
And then we just waited.
The lady next-door was also hooked-up, and the sound of her baby’s heartbeat filled the whole ward. I strained to hear our little girl’s by comparison, so I just focused on the numbers going up and down. Up and down. And my contractions, or tightenings, ranged from a 3 to a 12. So nothing really at all.
After some time had passed, our midwife checked the readings and said, after ten more minutes. We could go.
And in that moment I felt so relieved. I just wanted to know that she was okay. I could feel her moving more and more, like she was doing my best to reassure me herself. But knowing that people who knew what they were doing, and people who I could trust, felt happy, was a relief to me.
I was handed back my notes. And I was told to come right back in if I was worried. And we left, feeling lighter than we had in hours.
On the walk to the car, we passed the gift shop, and we bought Bill a Thomas the Tank balloon. Because, it was only once I’d allowed myself to calm down, that I realised that my little boy, was actually my hero.
He was the one who heard me cry. Who helped me up. Who tried his best to look after me. And I honestly don’t know how I’d have gotten up and gotten to Mark without him.
We ended up home, after a rainy drive back. And there’s something about getting home after an experience like that. All of sudden, you feel like it’s made of gold. It’s so precious. It’s everything. It’s safe and warm and peaceful. And we just cuddled together as a family and I honestly think all three of us felt grateful.
I woke the next day feeling very sore – I kept finding scratches and bruises and I realised, in all of my worry, I’d not even considered how I was feeling physically.
I rested. And barely moved. And decided to let work know ahead of time that I wouldn’t be in the next day. I felt stiff, sore and very vulnerable. And it did me the world of good to have an extra day of staying still.
Now? I feel grateful. I feel annoyed at myself. I feel frustrated that this has happened and made me one of those people who is scared in case she slips or falls again. I saw the skid mark in the grass yesterday and shuddered.
It could have been so much worse.
But it wasn’t.
And so, I’ve learnt the hard way. I’m definitely taking a step back and slowing down now. In all of my haste to get things right for this little girl, and for our family, I’d become far too invested in the future, even when it’s just about the next steps that get me from wet grass to the door.
This could well be my last pregnancy.
And I’m not risking it again for the world.