The end of the beginning

Four days from writing my last post, and my poem to little Ziggy, I have returned home from hospital and am now back in hospital again. But everything has changed. Everything is different. I am different.

So where do I start? At the beginning most would say, but our beginning was Ziggy’s end. Or was it?

I’ll start from Thursday night having just finished writing After the Storm and publishing it on this blog. I’d started the poem a few days earlier but hadn’t got around to finishing it. Despite knowing what a big day lay ahead of us on Friday and that I really should get some sleep, something inside urged me to finish that poem. The whole house lay dormant as I look at the screen in front of me, yet the words came more effortlessly than I’d expected and before I knew it, the poem was complete. I read it back to myself several times; my heart breaking a little with every word, yet feeling a slight sense of relief. I desperately wanted to finish it before… before tomorrow. And I had.

I pushed the “publish” button to post my poem on the web, and sat back, sighing deeply. The night were almost over, and with it, so was my pregnancy. So was our future as we knew it.

I suddenly felt a huge gush from within me, and as I stood, blood fell to the floor. I ran to the bathroom, calling out for my husband as I did. I felt a huge cramp and with it came more blood. My husband stood in the door, helpless and not knowing what to do.

Calm, I thought, Focus. I picked up the phone and rang the hospital. As I did I started to doubt myself. Was I over reacting? The information leaflet said there may be a little bleeding but the midwives had said to go straight in if I started bleeding like a period or experiencing pain. I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time by rushing in unnecessarily. Besides, the hospital was 45 minutes away, and we had two children fast asleep in bed who would need to be woken and taken to our friends overnight. Oh no! We would have to disturb our friends. What if they were out for the night or entertaining?? As the phone rang, the cramps started to come in waves which doubled me over slightly. I was trying to remain calm, but the fear was taking hold of me, and as the midwife came on the phone, my voice cracked as I tried to explain who I was.

“Madame Lambie?” she asked. She knew who I was. I felt so relieved.

“Oui, oui, c’est moi,” I cried. I explained what was happening and she asked if I was bleeding like a period. Well no, I thought, normally it doesn’t gush out all over the floor quite so dramatically! My husband, bless him, having never experienced a period, casually said, “There’s not that much blood.” What was he expecting? Night of the living dead, blood and gore, a massacre perhaps?

The nurse said she felt I should come straight to the hospital as it sounded to her as if baby were on its way. My heart increased ten fold. I felt sick to the stomach. I replaced the phone receiver and tried to make sense of it all. My baby was on its way.

I immediately called our friends who had agreed to have the boys the following night. Luckily they were home and still awake, and told us to bring the boys to theirs to sleep so we could get straight to the hospital.

Glad I had been my usual over organised self, I grabbed the pre packed bags for the boys and frantically shoved a few extra things in my overnight bag. My husband started loading things in the car as I went upstairs to try and rouse the boys. Both were in a deep sleep, and my eldest cried as I told him we needed to leave. I explained quietly that mummy needed to go to hospital. My youngest asked innocently if my baby was going to come out. Bless him. Despite our long delicate talks, he just didn’t understand what was going on.

After lots of cuddles and apologies for waking them, they reluctantly left the comfort of their beds and wrapped in dressing gowns and wearing Minion slippers, got into the pre warmed car.

Apologies for too much information, but I had developed the sensation of needing to… erm… pooh! I know, I know, I’m a lady and ladies don’t do things like that. But come on, lets be real here. Ladies do pooh, and especially after they have gorged themselves on their friends delicious homemade steak pie and creamy mash earlier that night. Although I must confirm to male readers that in comparison to our male counterparts, ours is glittery and does smell of roses. Anyway, I was in a dilemma. I knew I would be examined upon reaching the hospital, and the last thing I wanted was to be prodded and poked with a tummy full of the proverbial stuff. Yet, I was also scared to go to the toilet for a few reasons. For those of you who have had babies before, you will know that just at the time to push the baby out, you feel the urge to pooh, and this is your cue to push. I was concerned that my sensations may be a cue that baby was coming out and the last thing I wanted was to birth my baby over the toilet. Nor did I want to go to the toilet, push too hard, and accidently push my baby with it. I’d heard so many stories of babies being born into toilet pans, and this was not something I wanted for my precious angel, if it could be helped.

So I held on, as we drove through the pitch black country lanes which bounced me around in the passenger seat of the car. It all seems like a distant and very surreal memory as we pulled into our friends driveway and they came rushing out to gather up the boys in as “normal” a fashion as possible. I cried as I kissed my beautiful sons goodbye and told them to be good boys for our friends. They both hugged me tight and told me they loved me. My youngest son said he hoped I ‘got well soon’. Again, bless his innocent soul.

I told my husband to drive slowly. For two reasons, one because I was still cramping and now the urge to pooh was quite pressing. Yet two, because this was it. The moment I had been dreading for a week now. The moment I would have to go to hospital and say goodbye to my pregnancy, and more heartbreaking, say goodbye to my baby. The slower my husband drove, the more time I had to savour this time and postpone the inevitable.

We had to go to Accident and Emergency as the main hospital doors were closed, and fortunately for us there was a space right outside so I only had to walk a few metres. My husband carried everything as I waddled uncomfortably towards the A&E entrance. I noticed a pretty nurse standing outside smoking, who looked at me as we walked in and took the corridor to maternity. She called after us. “Madame Lambie?”

She was lovely. And warm. And gentle. Her name was Cecille. She guided us to a room in the maternity ward. I couldn’t tell you where it was or how to get there as I was in a daze. I only know now it was room 15 and it was tucked away slightly away from other rooms, for obvious reasons. She offered to speak English but I insisted she spoke French. I personally feel it is so important to speak the native language or even ‘try’ to speak the native language at all times, even in difficult moments like this, and I know the locals appreciate it. And I was prepared. I’d done my homework.

She examined me. I was scared. My experiences of being examined in the UK were not good. They were in most cases (not all!!) rough, painful and a little traumatising. Cecille was delicate and took her time, and the process did not feel intrusive at all. After she finished, I noticed thick blood on her gloves and lots of it.

She told me I was 1cm dilated and that our baby’s head was right behind the cervix opening. I needed to know… “Is my baby still alive?”

She frowned and gently shook her head, and with it, I shook. Heavy sobs that came from a depth within me I hadn’t cried from to date. Cecille comforted me as I wept onto her shoulder. My baby was gone. It’s heart had stopped beating. And at that moment I asked myself if I had known the moment when their heart had stopped. I think I did. The minute I had finished writing After the Storm, and sent it to be published online, I had given permission for my baby to let go. I had found a peace within myself to allow my baby to leave me and go onto its next place, in heaven, or wherever they were needed in a higher place. With the words ‘our hearts will beat again’, my baby’s heart had stopped… but they would beat together again. I felt sure of this. This belief comforted me then and still comforts me now.

It was agreed that I would be allowed to rest, rather than starting the labour that night, but I was closely monitored throughout the night in case labour started naturally. My husband was given a fold down bed to sleep in and he very quickly fell into a comatosed sleep, snoring loudly. I didn’t sleep straight away. I lay there, tears trickling across my cheek as I  looked out at the night sky, thinking about my precious baby and my final hours of pregnancy. Soon my baby would join those stars in the sky and shine brightly each night to remind me of the blessing that was bestowed upon me, if only for a short while. I fought as hard as I could to stay awake and admire those stars, silently praying for them to look after our baby who would be joining them soon. I battled with the urge to close my eyes in order to savour and cherish every precious moment before…

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