It’s the same every birthday but I can’t help but fondly remember their birth. Each one was magical and unique in their own way. With my first-born, her birth made me a Mum.
As it was my first time, I approached the labour of my first child with rose-tinted glasses and romance. As with the pregnancy, I read and listened to what I needed to, but left the rest to intuition and hope. I really had no idea at all what I was doing; I didn’t really throughout it all. I remember when we decided to ‘try’ for a child. We had been married for a couple of years, we had a house and a dog, it seemed the right time. However, for some reason, I felt slightly awkward about it all, almost like I didn’t feel grown up enough (I was 31!). Anyway, I knew I had to take folic acid but I was worried that someone I knew would see me buying it. No problem, we got in the car and drove to Weymouth, 30 miles away, just in case! It was all very exciting. We had been ‘trying’ for six months when I had a chance conversation with someone about conception. From this chance conversation I found out that you could only get pregnant at certain times of the months. What?!? How was it, that I was 31 and had only just found out this critical piece of information. It kind of summed up my naivety and looking back it really makes me smile. My sex education at school clearly missed out a key piece of information but at least I knew how to put a condom on a banana.
Once I was armed with this key piece of information, we conceived quickly and announced the pregnancy at 4 weeks + 1 day to family and friends; I was so excited. Whilst I knew we were going against the grain by telling people before the 12 week scan, I wanted to share the excitement because I knew they would be there to support me if things went wrong. The pregnancy was pretty uneventful, I blossomed and puffed up quite spectacularly and as the due date drew closer we prepared for the big event. I was armed with my birth plan and labour playlist on the iPod; Oh, how I look back and laugh. We dutifully attended the antenatal classes and heard over and over again that a first labour could last a long time and stay at home for as long as you can. That’s so much easier said that done with your first. The unknown nature of labour made any decision-making about going to hospital difficult; where was that balance between too soon and too late?
The due date was 22nd May 2004, FA Cup Final day, Manchester United v Millwall. I had twinges the week before and these had escalated enough for me to call Mr Brown at school on 21st May and announce “it was time”. Dramatically, he was in assembly at the time, so it wasn’t long before everyone knew “it was time”. Over the next 36 hours we popped back and forward to hospital, we took the dog for walk, watched the FA Cup final whilst timing contractions (15 minutes apart, what did I know!). The due date came and went and we were finally admitted to hospital at around 2am on Sunday 23rd May. By now, people had become quite tired of asking what we had because he/she had still not arrived. We had a ball in that maternity ward. We listened to our labour play list, I floated around in the birthing pool (as per my birth plan) as Mr Brown read the newspaper. My Mum mocks me to this day for texting saying “this is a doddle”.
As the sun shone and set on May 23rd, I was transferred from the local midwife-led unit to Poole Maternity Hospital as the labour was not progressing. By the time I arrived at Poole, so too had my extended family. Parents, brothers, sisters and partners were assembled waiting for the birth of a new generation. What followed next was the breaking of waters (not on the birth plan), doses of syntocinon (not on the birth plan) and the swift use of ventouse (also not on the birth plan). Our beautiful daughter was born naturally (on the birth plan) at 23:36 on Sunday 23rd May 2004. The exact time I became a Mum.
And so, a happy 12th birthday to my wonderful daughter – thank you for making me a Mum!