It’s Day 12 in the Baby F household (Day 9 since we left the hospital) and all is well. We’ve worked out a pretty good routine of feeds and sleeps and nappy changes and baths. Baby F is gaining weight and her parents look only slightly dishevelled and worn out! We’ve also discovered the strategic value of an evening bath It’s all about sleep.
I was telling you about the birth, wasn’t I? There we were at 7pm on a Weds and the operation was about to begin. I was a bit thrown by the boom incident and also thinking I’d lost my ring but I soon got past that. I think we were both feeling a mixture of anxiety and calm. L had a spinal and so was pretty calm and a bit drugged-out. Looking at the two gynaes that were doing the operation, I felt very reassured. They are colleagues of L’s and are both excellent doctors. We were in good hands. (So relax and enjoy the show.)
But there’s something about an operating theatre that puts me on edge. This one had an odd (to my mind) mix of clinical precision and almost DIY. You need a plank for your arm to rest on? The anaesthetist whisks one out from behind a trolley and it almost looked like he’d made it earlier. At the same time it’s a very sterile and high-tech environment. Instruments beeping and sucking, surgical masks everywhere, packs for this and that. Drips, trays, gurneys. A very far cry from the birthing pool that we saw on the DVDs in antenatal class! No russian gymnasts here having orgasmic births and catching their own babies under water.
I wasn’t paying much attention to what was happening ‘down there’ but the medical staff were all focus and concentration. After 25 minutes there was a sort of ‘schloop’ noise and some lifting and moving of bits around and the baby was out. Looking a little vexed and covered in vernix. And giving a healthy cry!
The paediatrician took her off to the trolley to do the APGAR score and then she was wrapped up tightly and given to us. L said she looked exactly as she imagined her from the scans. But since my imagination had seen her as both a turtle and an alien baby, she looked surprisingly normal. A little frustrated bundle of waving arms that was none too happy to be out of a warm uterus and into a busy operating theatre.
But what a relief to have such a cute healthy baby and a healthy L! We took a few cellphone pictures and then it was off to the nursery while L got stitched up. I was worried that Baby F might have been traumatised by the operation and so was trying to ensure that we got her back to L as quickly as possible. The nurses, however, seemed to take their own time and were blissfully unaware of any urgency to get her back for some skin-to-skin contact. So off we went to the nursery, Baby F and the nurses and I. On the way we passed the glass to the waiting room and I gave a relieved thumbs-up to the grandparents and L’s brother.
And then the nurses were weighing and measuring her and making their notes. And I put my hand into the incubator and tried to soothe her by checking her rooting reflex. Which promptly got her to start sucking quite determinedly on her wrist. And she waved her little arms and legs around as if quite relieved herself to finally have some wriggle room.
After what seemed like an age but was more like five minutes, we could wheel her off to L in her recovery room. It was heartening to see how easily (after a few attempts) Baby F was able to latch and start sucking. The next few days are a bit of a blur: feeds, visits from family, balloons, gifts, nappy changes, endless hours of baby-gazing, fussing, help from the nurses, meals, catering evaluations and, most valuable of all, SLEEP. And just as we were comfortable in one room the nursing staff would whisk us off to another one. L started off in a 4-bed room and gradually made her way to a private room where she stayed for about a day and then it was back home.
Where, incidentally, I finally managed to finish a book (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society). That’s a discussion for another day. Thanks for all the good wishes