Welcome to Mars

On the 15th of November 2016 my partner and I welcomed our first beautiful child into the world. I sit here lost for words as I contemplate how to accurately express the wealth of emotion and pure joy that overwhelmed us that night and indeed every day since. My heart tells me it’s not possible to put this love into words but I will attempt to give you a glimpse of it as I outline the moments that led to the best moment of my life :).

overdue by eight days I slipped into bed around 1am on the Morning of Tuesday the 15th of November. My growing daily impatience had given way to exhaustion as it had the seven nights previous and I settled in ready for a long sleep but baby had other ideas! Not more than ten minutes after I lay down I felt a strong kick followed by a seconds pause before my waters broke. For me, the Adrenalin immediately took hold and I started shaking with anticipation as I called my partner to the room. I shakily stood up and dressed waiting for the contractions to start, wondering how sore they’d be. We called the hospital to let them know we were on our way and set upon the hour drive to Holles Street Maternity Hospital, Dublin. I remember staring out of the car window, quiet with a mix of nerves, excitement and wonder at the unknown. It was that proverbial calm before the storm moment when time seemed to stand still as I sensed I was on the verge of something universally life changing. My contractions started in the car as we bounced over city centre road ramps and before I knew it I was in a room on the labour ward, changing into my nightie, focusing on my breathing and experiencing intensifying contractions as my partner held my hand. A few hours passed and with constant contractions I thought “the birth must be soon!” I was so wrong! The midwife examined me and explained that I was not dilating and therefore not considered to be in active labour and would be moved to the pre-labour ward until I was deemed ready. I started to get scared, I was in so much pain already, how was this not “active” labour and did that mean it was going to get worse?!?!

I won’t go through the hours of contractions in detail but lets just say yes, I absolutely felt every minute of them but it’s true, you forget the pain so quickly and it’s worth it!  Eighteen hours later still with constant crippling contractions and no pain relief (as no pain relief options could be administered until I was in “active” labour) I had dilated just 1.5cm (I needed to reach 10 before I even started to push!) I was moved back to the labour ward as my waters had now been broken for an undesirably long time and it was important to monitor baby and I for infection. The doctor came to speak to my partner and I and explained that as my temperature had become very high and baby’s heart beat had slowed, he felt we needed to proceed with an emergency C-Section immediately. I was so exhausted I was happy to do anything in that moment to finally meet my baby but my poor partner looked worried as we had not planned for this. As first time parents-to-be we had attended all the classes, read all the books but somehow I had managed to overlook the possibility that I would need a c-section. We had no idea what to expect other than a few tips we had overheard in the classes such as “don’t be startled when there are twelve people in the room for theatre, it’s normal.”

The wonderful doctor reassured my partner that all would be fine as he waited in a separate room while I was prepped for theatre. I’m not a fan of needles at all but thankfully I didn’t feel a thing as the spinal injection was administered and I lay back dazed as the wonderful nurses, doctors, midwife and anesthetist buzzed around me. They were all so friendly and upbeat, they kept me calm. My partner was brought in and I focused on his eyes and his voice as we chatted about things I can’t remember while the surgery progressed. I was so afraid of the idea of the c-section and I have to reassure any mums out there who may have one that you feel absolutely no pain. It’s just a sort of tugging sensation as if someone is pulling at your tummy but it’s nothing I promise. When baby left my tummy there was a rush of people over to the baby table to check him over and I called out “Is it a boy or a girl?” We had waited soooo long to find out! Someone eventually answered “Boy, it’s a boy!” and a silence that felt like an eternity followed as we waited to hear our baby boy make his first sound. The midwife put a call out over the autocom for the pediatrician to come immediately and I got a serious fright, why couldn’t I hear him? I couldn’t see him. Was he okay? Thank God, a few seconds later he let out a cry that we have since come to know well and likened to the sound of a pterodactyl :). I heard the nurse call time of birth as 10.05pm. The midwife informed us that he had had a little mucous blocking his airways but they had successfully removed it using suction and he was going to be fine.

Our midwife brought him over to us and my partner held him up to my face as I was all tied up with various tubes etc. I kissed his cheeks and forehead and we cooed and laughed over him as he appeared extremely angry at having been disturbed and exposed to the bright lights of the theatre. His angry expression was hilarious! After a few minutes he was whisked off for checks and I was wheeled into the recovery room, with my partner at my side, to regain the feeling in my lower body etc. (I had been afraid of the numb feeling too but honestly it’s not so bad, it really just feels as if your legs are heavy and it wore off slowly but substantially enough that I felt a continuous progression and felt confident that all was okay.) Our midwife let us know that due to the slowed heartbeat during labour our little man would be kept in ICU over night for observation. I yearned to hold him but as I was recovering I wouldn’t be able to until the next morning. My partner went down to ICU to sit with him and take photos and videos for me :). It was 3am by the time I was settled on the post natal ward and my partner slept on the bottom of my bed as I sat wide eyed all night, excitedly waiting to see and hold our baby boy!

Early the next morning my partner and I walked down to the ICU and lifted our little boy from his incubator for cuddles and feeding. Words fail me when I try to type of the feelings that flooded my heart as I held him for the first time. He was the most beautiful, warm, innocent, perfect, pure representation of humanity that I had ever faced. It felt as if, after a lifetime of soul searching, I suddenly understood the purpose and meaning of life in an instant.

We had looked at various names while I was pregnant and had two or three girls names that we liked but there was only one name for a boy that I had fallen in love with as soon as I’d heard it. It was unique and strong and out of this world just like our little boy…..

Mars.

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