Thankfully my broken tooth didn’t cause me any problems. Initially I wasn’t sure whether I’d broken the tooth or a piece of a filling. The possibility of the latter caused me to panic slightly (as a child of the 80s with metal fillings) as I wasn’t sure if this could potentially cause issues for Chickpea. I buzzed the midwife who called the doctor to check. Understandably the doctor had a giggle at this before reassuring us both that all would be fine. I later discovered that I had in fact, broken and SWALLOWED a piece of my wisdom tooth, the irony of which was not lost on me!
I was scheduled for a c section but hoping that Chickpea would make a move of her own accord overnight. As I moved around and sat on my CUB, I had a real moment of clarity. My Gentlebirth training had taught me that it’s not in fact how Chickpea is born that matters but how I deal with the curve balls that come my way when things happen that aren’t necessarily in my birth plan or what I had wanted. I had carried her for over 41 weeks, she was “big”, healthy and beautiful even in her scans. If she wasn’t ready to make her way into the world by the conventional route, there was obviously a good reason for it. I had to trust my baby and my body.
Morning came and I was full of excitement and anticipation. I knew that we were just hours away from meeting Chickpea and holding her in our arms. In contrast to Starfish’s birth, I was not remotely nervous as I chatted to the midwife about delayed cord clamping and immediate skin to skin; 2 things that were very important to me. The Universe was on our side as we were in exactly the same room as we had been 2 years earlier when Starfish was born.
The anaesthetist came to visit and had a poke around my back. He explained that I have a curve in my spine which he put down to sitting in the wheelchair. I stubbornly made clear to him that he would not be knocking me out and that his colleague had managed to get the spinal right first go; no pressure! He retorted that had been 2 years earlier and my spine was probably worse now. When we went into theatre leaving my other half outside the door as is standard, I again reminded the anaesthetist that I didn’t care if he had to remove my spine and half my back, he was NOT knocking me out. I left him on that note and retreated inward with my visualisations and affirmations so that he could get to work. When I felt the familiar warmth and tingling down my leg, I knew he had been successful. He couldn’t resist telling me that I was one of the most stubborn women he had met (in a nice way though). I laughed and said I had to keep him on his toes.
A short time later my other half joined us again and said that he couldn’t believe it when he heard me laughing and chatting when he was outside, as though I was having a coffee with friends rather than being in an operating theatre. (The power of Gentlebirth). We continued chatting excitedly and within minutes there were choruses of congratulations and Chickpea was held up of the screen to us. Although I knew for many weeks I was carrying a girl, the sight of my daughter just inches away really blew my mind. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am the least girly person you will ever meet. How was I going to deal with 10+ years of pink, glitter and goodness knows what else?!
Aside from the girly wake up call, my word, she was beautiful! Remarkably like her brother in appearance but unlike Starfish who just squeaked to signal his arrival, Chickpea screamed the place down! She was briefly placed on my chest and I felt a surge of love and contentment, just as I had 2 years earlier. My beautiful baby daughter, so soft, so vulnerable, so worth every second.
Something that meant the world and made the day even more special was that while I was being fixed up to leave theatre, unlike last time, Chickpea and my other half were allowed to stay with me. She was weighed and we were told she was an impressive 9lbs 6ozs (4.25kgs). This is 1lbs 5ozs bigger than Starfish so it’s no wonder I was waddling around for the last few weeks. In recovery, just like her brother, Chickpea latched like a pro where she remained for most of the day (and has pretty much continued for the last 2 months!) We had countless hours of delicious skin to skin, which we were so wrapped up in that we forgot to take any pictures.
Starfish came to visit later that day with my mum. He was somewhat put out to see that his sister was no longer in my tummy but more on my tummy. When we asked him if he’d like to give her a kiss, he proceeded to give her a gentle but definite slap! What made up for it though was the fact that he could say her name with crystal clarity, the moment we knew we had definitely chosen the right name.
That night I spoke to the staff about when I could possibly get home. They were a little surprised by this request but said that if I could get out of bed, wash and pass a certain amount of fluids I could go home. Long story short, never one to shy away from a challenge, I completed all requirements and was home for my lunch the next day.
The first night back home was a little scary as I had pain at levels I hadn’t noticed in hospital thanks to the beautiful haze of oxytocin. At one point I was doubled over in the bathroom, Chickpea was looking for a feed and Starfish was impatiently waiting to have a story read. My poor other half was in a frazzle wondering who to see to first. I sat in the bathroom and we took a second to focus “Who is in biggest need? Let’s prioritise”. I sat in the bathroom while Dad soothed Chickpea and helped Starfish choose a story. He then came back in to help me make my way back to the living room. As I fed Chickpea and we all cuddled up on the sofa for story time, everyone was happy and safe. This was our new normal, our crazy, hectic, noisy family of 4. Bursting at the seams with milk, nappies, crumbs, sticky handprints, sick… but most of all, love.