Dear Missy,

You’re here! You’re here, and you’re beautiful and amazing and it feels like you have always been here, that you’re meant to be here. It’s amazing how quickly the love comes, and just how much of it there is. I wasn’t prepared for how much I was going to love you. Everyone tells you about it, but it doesn’t matter how much you work it up in your head, nothing truly prepares you for the rush of love – and with that worry – that comes the moment you are born. And, I know it sounds flaky, and not at all like your Mum, but the connection I feel we have is incredible. I feel like you are an extension of me. My God, I love you so much. And, it’s not limited to me. Your Dad feels the same way. It’s so hard having to share you with each other, let alone others. You truly are the most wonderful thing that ever happened to my life.

How it all began: Peeing on a stick

Now, before I get too sentimental and exclude realism altogether I did want to tell you about your birth. Let’s not get silly now and pretend that the moment you were out I forgot about the birth, or the difficulty of pregnancy. Apparently hormones will kick in that will do this, so I want to write it down quickly before they come in and sweep away my realistic view of the birth.

You came via c-section on a gorgeous Friday morning. The day was uncharacteristically warm and sunny for winter. We were the second procedure for the morning, which basically meant us sitting in the hospital for hours (we got there at 7am), just waiting and getting more nervous. I was extremely nervous. I think I was most nervous about the spinal needles. I was worried about being paralysed. I was also worried about you.

At about 9.30am someone came in to tell me it was time to get ready. I had on a hospital gown, a hat, and a bright pink dressing gown that your great aunty gave me in a box of joke presents. It was a bit loud for my taste, but worked perfectly for the hospital. We walked down to surgery, the midwife next to me, your Dad behind me, and with me reaching my hand out for your Dad continually. I was told that your Dad would go off and get changed and would be allowed to come in after the spinal needles, once I was on the operating table. I was so nervous that I just kept touching him, wanting him with me. Fortunately, he got to stay with me until I went into theatre, so we sat there in silence, neither of us quite knowing what to say. I also think your Dad didn’t want to say too much as he was conscious of the fact that he had to keep me occupied in theatre while they took you out. As you know, your Dad isn’t a massive conversationalist, so this was putting a lot of pressure on him to come up with enough interesting stories to keep me distracted for up to half an hour.

Just after 10am they wheeled me into the theatre. At this point, I had a drip attached to me – I forgot to mention the undying thirst I had at this point given I wasn’t allowed to drink from midnight the night before – it seems so cruel to make a pregnant woman fast before a procedure!

The theatre was full of people, somewhere between eight and 10, all of whom had a role in your delivery. I was introduced to a man – his name escapes me – who would coach me through the spinal needle. The anaesthesiologist was from the UK, which calmed me somewhat. There’s something about an English accent your Mum finds reassuring. So, at some time after 10am your Mum was sitting on the edge of a hospital bed, her arms around a man about the size of your father, hugging down, as the anaesthesiologist put a series of needles into her spine, the first few being a numbing agent, the last being the spinal anaesthetic. Then suddenly I felt a tingling of my legs, and they pulled me onto the operating table.

It’s a funny feeling being awake, but having little sensation. They ran ice over my face and stomach to test how I was feeling, and then a little scratch for the same. At this point your Mum was overwhelmed with nausea that I could not control. So, in a very undignified manner I lay on the table, with my head to the side as a nurse held a bag to my face so I could vomit the little stomach content I had. They immediately gave me some medication to stop the vomiting and after about five minutes I seem to have calmed down.

At this point, your Dad came in, dressed head to toe in scrubs. I had previously made a few jokes about George Clooney in ER pulling it off better. It was quite funny, and your Dad was resistant to photography – I got some though! You will have seen one in your bedroom, our first family photo.

The procedure began without warning. I felt pulling in my stomach, tugging, like they were moving lots of things around. The anaesthesiologist popped his head up and asked me if I’d like to know when they started. I said OK, being a bit confused as I could feel things already. He laughed, saying, “we already have!”. I remember feeling relieved that it wasn’t going to feel different to what it was.

Your Dad kept talking to me. He told me about our friends who let their baby sleep with them every night. I can’t remember what else he told me, but I just kept saying to him, “Keep talking to me bug, I don’t want to think about what they’re doing”. And, to his credit, he kept talking to me, stroking my face and making me feel OK. I tried to tell him what it felt like, how it was a weird sensation, because though I couldn’t feel any pain, I could feel them pulling.

Suddenly, the midwife came over and said, “She’s nearly out”. I was so excited, here you were! You were coming. “She’s coming out feet first, look,” said the midwife. They pulled down the cloth separating the bloody mass of stomach from my face and I could see your feet coming up and your little bottom. Then all of a sudden they stopped pulling, and the curtain came back up.

“What’s going on? Is she OK?” I said, feeling alarmed. There were mutterings. I don’t know who told me, but your head was stuck. The same head that wouldn’t budge with the ECV. That explained a few things. I looked at your Dad and he looked at me, and we both silently hoped that you would be OK. We didn’t want to say anything. The pulling continued. It felt like it went on for an eternity. At the time I remember thinking, “What if she can’t breathe properly? What if she suffocates in there while they try and pull her out? What if she’s not OK?”.

Suddenly the curtain came down again and they showed me you. It was 10.42am. The first thing I looked at was your privates, yup, you were a girl. You were also purple and floppy. You didn’t look like the babies I had seen born on television. You weren’t alert, you weren’t crying, you weren’t moving at all. “Stunned,” I heard someone mutter before they hurried you over for your tests.

“Is she OK?” I asked, looking around helplessly from behind a curtain as they began to sew me back up. “Is she OK?” Nobody would answer me. The fear began to consume me again. About a minute went by and I lay there, worrying, tears welling up in my eyes, your Dad looking at me with concern. Then all of a sudden we heard an almighty scream, and someone said, “There we go”. I felt a release of tension at the sound of your cry.

A few seconds later Erin, the midwife came over and said to your Dad, “You want to come over now, Dad?” he nodded. He may have even asked me if I was OK. I nodded, and lay back, aching for you, aching to have you in my arms, to get a good look at you. I lay there as your Daddy went and looked you over, trying to avoid looking at my open stomach on the operating table. Your Daddy cut your cord – like calamari, he said – and they brought you over to me, all covered in a white film, and opening your eyes already, locking right on mine as you were put in my arms, wrapped in a blanket.

“I can’t see her properly!” I said to your Dad, and he pulled down the blanket so I could look at your sweet little head, your sweet little nose, your sweet little mouth, your lovely, lovely eyes. It was love, so much love. I was so happy to have you.

They took you away with Dad as they sewed me up, and I met the two of you in recovery. By the time I saw you, you had completely enraptured your Dad. That was it for him, he would never be the same again.

The anaesthetic had worn off for me by the time I hit recovery. I could put up my knees already, and the pain was like something I hadn’t experienced before. Apparently I was an unusual case (again!), most people have two more hours of numbness before it wears off. They had me hooked up to a hormone drip that made my uterus contract (to avoid a bleed-out I guess). Each contraction ripped through me as I felt the contractions mingle with the pain of a fresh wound. We were in recovery for some time, you taken from my arms as they tried to figure out a way to bring down my pain. They were worried about giving me too much pain relief because of my size. What they didn’t realise was that I’m very tolerant of drugs. Within about 20 minutes, two milligrams at a time, I was given 10 milligrams of morphine, along with a cocktail of other drugs to keep me going. Finally we got the pain down to a manageable “3” – they make you rate the pain out of 10 – I think the most I ventured was a “7”, I was scared they would think I was being over-dramatic, and maybe I was.

Then, we went to our room, where your first visitors were waiting (Gran, Pa and Aunty S), and very patient with your very stoned mother. You were weighed, a tiny 5 pounds, 10 ounces and handed around to a besotted family, already so in love with you within seconds.

The drama over, your Dad and I spent the day completely enthralled by you. We had asked for no visitors aside from immediate family on the first day, so we spent that time getting to know you, and trying to familiarise you with the breast.

Day two I spent a lot of time worrying I didn’t love you enough. I had lots of crazy, drug-induced dreams that had me thinking all sorts of things. I started to get very worried that I might get postnatal depression (See? Drama queen). I felt a little more assured by day three as the hard core drugs wore off. However, day three was also the day of tears, and it got even harder to contain those tears when we were told that you would have to go into an incubator for 24 hours. You were jaundiced, and they wanted you to be under a UV light for 24 hours. This meant that for a whole day you would drink my express milk (thank goodness my milk came in early and I had plenty to spare – I had to fight them on it though as they did want to give you formula) in the incubator, only coming out every second feed for some breast time. This meant I got to hold you for all of about 1 hour, 30 minutes in a 24-hour period. The only touching outside of that was when we wiped the poo or wee away and changed your change mat in the incubator. They had you naked, and the treatment meant you flushed your system, so poos and wees of interesting colours abound. It was a tough period, made even tougher by my raging hormones. Your Dad was also beside himself. He just wanted to hold you in his arms.

Day four was just love, love, love as your Dad and I cuddled you in our arms after missing you for 24 hours. You were OK. The jaundice was leaving the system, and you were safe to come back to us. We eagerly cuddled you, stroked you, talked to you. Delighted in changing your nappies, giving you bottles and life was suddenly good again when we were allowed to take you home. Our girl was coming home! I have to thank one of the midwives for that. At 4pm the paedeatrician wanted you to stay another night in hospital. Your Dad and I were prepared for that, but were disappointed. It was hard for your Dad, being without his girls for so long. The midwife said to me, “I want to wait until the next shift starts at 5.30 and get a second opinion, see if we can get you home.” I smiled at her, pretty certain we’d have to stay. Miracle of miracles they let us go home at 7pm. Part of me thinks they just wanted to get rid of the difficult woman in room 47. Haha! I wasn’t overly difficult, but some of the midwives were a bit pushy with your Mum and, like you my little miss, I need to do things in my own time. I may have been a bit short with some of them. But, as your Gran said, they shouldn’t have challenged an intelligent (her words, not mine) 32-year-old. It wasn’t like I was walking into this blind and uneducated – though I will acknowledge that they were very helpful for the most part, and the level of care I got for a public hospital was top notch. We got a room to ourselves the whole time and we have had two home check-up visits, all of which you passed with flying colours.

So, my little miss, that is the first few days of your life. For me, life is never going to be the same. Nothing can prepare you for the love you feel for your child. All of a sudden I don’t mind poo. I will happily get your poo on my hands if it’s easier to use a finger than a cotton wool ball. I am happy to wake up every few hours to feed you. I am happy to forgo sleep. I love not going out, but staying in, or walking down the street as a family to have coffee. I know your Dad is the same.

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