Birth Day – to euphoria and back.

Long time, no blog. I’ve been debating whether to post this one. But here goes:

She was due on Christmas Day, but I knew she wouldn’t come until my mind was at peace. I was worried about who would take care of J and D while I was in hospital and made the mistake of asking my mum if she could come. It was a no, of course.

I arranged for my sister to come up from Wales instead.  And I knew then that my body would release the baby. We spent a final day as a family of four, walking on the common, in a rare burst of sunshine.

The following morning, secure in the knowledge my sister was only hours away, the contractions started.  I ran a hot bath and D insisted on getting in too.  J hung over the side, laughing at my ‘boobies’ and instinctively pouring water on my stomach when the pains came.  ‘Let the baby out, so your tummy stops hurting,’ he said, while D mimicked my breathing.

Unhusband was worried. ‘Lasciare la mamma,’ (‘leave Mummy alone’) he said, trying to prize them away. But their love and humour was all the analgesia I needed.  Eventually, they went downstairs to eat fish fingers. By the time my sister arrived, it was time to go.

In hospital, the contractions came in unstoppable waves. I was like a piece of debris; tossed around, crashed against the shore, by this merciless force, trying to hold faith in the promise of new life after the storm.

Somewhere on the horizon, the midwife’s voice filtered through. ‘You need to get her out.’  And suddenly, there she was.  Purple, silent, limp.

The screech of an alarm, a troop of doctors, then silence again. As quick as she’d been born, my baby was gone. Minutes ticked by like days. The midwife tried to assure me she was just shocked, needed help to breathe. Eventually they brought her back. Still a little grey, but so beautifully perfect. How could I ever have doubted if it would feel the same third time round?

I spent the first night gazing at her, overwhelmed by the love something so tiny could inspire.

The next morning J and D came bounding in to meet their new sister.  I couldn’t wait to begin life as a family of five. But then the paediatrician spotted something.  Two more paediatricians were called. And instead of strapping our newborn into the car seat, we were shunted to Special Care, then cardiology, then x ray.  J and D weren’t allowed to come, which meant Unhusband couldn’t either.

I was wheeled away by a porter who stank of fags, down corridors that stank of piss. I clung to my precious newborn, like a lioness guarding her cub, shielding her from the threat of norovirus, and the nosiness of strangers.

I watched helplessly as they lay her under a menacing piece of machinery. It just felt wrong. So wrong. Everything inside me  was screaming at me to pick her up. But I didn’t. I watched as they radiated her tiny body. I will worry about that forever.

I don’t want to focus on the first day of our daughter’s existence.  But at the end of it, we were told she had a hole in the heart. And my own heart splintered with shock and sadness and fear.  

We hope it’s nothing more complicated or significant than that.  We have to wait. We hope it will heal. We hope she won’t need surgery. I hope it wasn’t my fault. We hope she will grow up strong and healthy. We hope she will fill our lives with joy and love and laughter. She does already.




About Becky Dickinson

Mum of three. Writer, blogger, grower. Trying to keep my head above the compost heap.

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  1. Lovely to see you back and huge Congratulations. My heart goes out to you, my own daughter suffered heart failure at 6 days old with a suspected hole in the heart (which in her case turned out to be caused by something different). She turned 15 in Dec.
    I so hope your daughter does well and doesn’t need surgery, and that she grows up, strong, healthy and happy. Don’t put any energy in to possibly blaming yourself (I did), it won’t have been your fault, just keep your energy for your family and lovely new baby girl.
    Much love to you all xxx

  2. Congratulations of the birth of your daughter. I understand the concern and the guilt of feeling it it your fault. I always worried that what I had done had caused the boys conditions. But welcome to the world little girl

    • Thanks Jen, I always love seeing pics of your boys on your blog – they look fab to me, so you’re obviously doing something right!

  3. My heart went out to you reading this. They had to whisk away my second baby straight after she was born and those few minutes seemed like hours. I am glad the doctors picked it up straight away for you – Fingers and toes crossed that it heals up by itself xxx

  4. Lesley says:

    So sorry that the birth of your beautiful little girl did not turn out to be that beautiful, perfect experience that you had hoped and planneed for. Life can be very cruel. Many babies with holes in their hearts need no surgery as the holes close spontaneously. Hopefully she will be in that group. If not, I am sure you will find a hospital in whom you have the confidence to go through with the op, safe in the knowledge that in the long term she will be much fitterr as a result of what seems to be the most ghastly, invasive surgery.

    I wish you and your baby, and all your family a long and healthy life together.

    • thank Lesley. She is doing well at the moment. I think too much emphasis is put on the birth experience really, when all that matters in the end is that the baby is ok.

  5. Lorna Claydon says:

    Hi B.
    I hope by now all the warm fuzzy moments of life with a new born have put the drama and fear of her birth in a different light. I know it is hard to see natures most beautiful workings medicalised. Its funny isnt it how we consider it qiute nromal to strap a newborn into a car seat and drive around in a metal box to get home, with hundreds of other metal boxes coming at us from all directions, containing people who couldnt give a toss about our baby, all of them a potentially fatal threat. And yet we struggle, in a hospital, filled with poeple who have elected to spend their live taking care of people, who came to work to that day to save (our babies ) lives and who spent years training to use those machines, machines that get more checks and safety inspections than any car or lorry. Maybe our preception of risk is skewed by our familiarity with the car and our unfamiliairity with the inside of an X-ray machine , for the risks of the former far outweight the riks of the latter. Maybe holding on to those thoughts will help next time you have to hand over your little bundle for her follow-up tests. xx Lorna ( ps I realise I am a little biased but I know my work place is filled with the most amazing people who really do care)

    • Hi Lorna, thanks as always for your wisdom and perspective. Yes, it is lovely having a newborn again (though already she’s not quite as newborn as she was!) You’re obviously in the right vocation and I’m sure you’re an amazing doctor. Hopefully we will meet others like you – though I’m hoping we won’t need to see too many! xx

  6. Congratulations, Becky.

    I hope that things are clearer now, and that you are able to enjoy your family of five -
    very best wishes to you all,


  7. Congratulations on the birth of your baby girl! I read the comments and there is not much I can had to all the wisdom that has already been shared. All I wanted to say is that I hope you are all enjoying your life as a family of 5 :)

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