|Posted by sarah on September 8, 2000 at 3:25 PM|
I went into labour on August 15th - more than a month early. I had spent almost the entire pregnancy having contractions, being sick and experiencing pain, so initially dismissed these as Braxton Hicks and Alun went off fishing. I had been having contractions for several hours but they became intolerable and regular by about 11pm. At 3am Alun was finally home and I had to get to hospital - quick. We dropped Elaina off to Alun's mum and dad and went in. I was examined and found to be in established labour. (I knew that!) The doctor came to see if I wanted to try a breech delivery (ha ha) and I suggested, firmly, that we go for a section please.
I was prepped for theatre and then a spinal block was inserted which made me numb - and knocked off most of my respiratory muscles. I had to trust these people around me to keep me alive and I had to talk to myself to keep a grip and not panic. Alun was brought into the theatre and there followed an agonising period during which the baby was delivered. I wasn't in any pain, but I was so scared. As soon as this little bundle was put into my arms and was alive I felt utter euphoria and looked at Alun who was in tears and the only thing I could think was that I would do it all again for him.
Our little baby boy looked quite cute and elfin-like. I was aware that the paediatrician had kept him for a while and I picked up a bit of a dodgy vibe from the medical team who seemed a little over-enthusiastic about telling me everything was OK. Then Alun went off with the baby and they spent an hour stitching me up. I asked Alun to phone my parents to tell them the baby was born and he phoned my dad first.
Finally I went to the ward and was back with Alun and the baby. I allowed myself to feel the enormity of what I’d done and to tell myself that I HAD done it. All that worry could finally be lifted, couldn't it? But I was still not completely sure.
Then Alun passed the baby to me and in an instant my fears were realised when I looked into baby Geraint’s eyes and one thought flashed into my mind. Down's Syndrome. But I then told myself not to be so daft.
The doctor returned. I could feel that vibe again. He fiddled about with Geraint and then said "There’s something I’m not happy about. I’m wondering if this baby has Down's".
"I am too doctor", I replied. Alun physically jumped. At that moment I felt my whole world come crashing down on me. I couldn't be instinctive and just enjoy the emotion of having this new baby. My intellectual side had to kick in and I had to think. Hard. I'd had literally minutes enjoying the moment and now I had to deal with this. I looked at Alun and just said ‘Sorry.’
There were no tears, they would come later. Instead I had to endure dealing with the medical team trying to deal with the situation. Nurses were saying that the baby's eyes were the same shape as mine and the doctor was probably wrong and that we should wait for the results of the blood test. I just said to Alun that he could not hold onto the hope that it wasn’t true. The nurses wanted us to move to a side ward and were watching us, waiting for the emotional eruption, which never came. Alun spoke for both of us when he said "he's here, he's ours and he's stuck with us and that’s all the is about it."
We spent the next few days dealing with the realities of having a new baby and my surgery. I was determined to be upright and out of bed within 12 hours of the op. Alun had to go and phone everyone and let them know the baby had arrived. People came to visit - including Angela. My first visitor was Elaina. She was so happy to see the baby. It made me realise that things could have been a lot worse. Shit, the baby could have died or have received a brain injury at birth. But my joy was tinged with sadness - I would have to tell her and soon. And would there be disappointment or even embarrassment - or shame - for her? So many mixed emotions.
Geraint had low blood sugar and on his first day was subjected to blood tests and I had to feed him some formula milk. Then he developed jaundice (more blood tests) and we gave him photo-therapy in an incubator. He began feeding and my milk came in on day 4, which was very painful. I was warned he may never take to breast feeding, but that made me more determined for us to succeed.
People kept arriving with huge bouquets of flowers. I felt so protective of my baby. I would look at him and think - what now? I tried to remember all the medical complications I'd learned about Down's Syndrome at a special seminar I’d attended as a physio while pregnant.. Knowing that Alun was going to back me up - and Geraint, come hell or high water, allowed me to believe we could handle this situation. And I told myself that how other people felt about the situation was NOT my problem and that I shouldn't try to take that on board.
Finally I'd had enough of hospital by Sunday and we came home. I walked around the garden sobbing. I felt joy and elation mixed with deep sadness. I felt fearful for what the future held for Geraint. But when I stopped and really thought about it, I realised that we can't predict for any of us what the future will become - so why worry? I had also developed an alarming lump in my breast (which turned out to be completely fine) but that actually helped me. 'I can cope with Down's Syndrome' I said, half in prayer 'but please God, I won't cope with breast cancer as well.'
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