Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Heard but not seen

It's 1:00 PM on Sunday the 9th....

I am physically, emotionally, and mentally drained and exhausted.

But that's nothing to how my wife must feel... She has been labouring actively for well over 12 hours. Before that she had been in pre labour for another 24 hours. Before that, she has had 2 weeks of on and off pre labour. It's been exhausting. But it's about to get interesting....

I'm sitting on the chair next to my wife's bed. Behind me a monitor is making a rythmic beeping noise. Around me, people are working, smoothly, efficiently, quietly. Masks, gowns, caps, all make it look like something surreal. Like I've walked into a movie scene. Except, that's my wife lying there, and I'm trying not to think about what's going on behind the sheet draped in front of me.

That's when I hear it. A cry. Repeated, and strong. The stunned look on my wife's face must be a reflection of my own. But still I can't look. because if I do, I'll faint. I haven't eaten for 24 hours, and haven't had more than 3 or 4 hours of sleep in the last 48 hours, and the one thing I want to do right then is look over the curtain. But no. I don't want to faint, again. Just enjoy the sound for now. the sound of our baby girl crying. A healthy strong cry. But I still can't afford to look. Fainting right now would not help things.

The cry stops as she is soothed. And then I look around the curtain as she is taken to one side. She is cleaned, and wrapped in a blanket. I am told I can go over and see her. She is gorgeous. Dark, almost black hair, little wrinkly hands and feet, and of course, a very different head shape from what she will have in a few hours. Her temperature, pulse, and respiratory signs are checked and noted, and then she is weighed. She looks small... But she weighs 3.65kgs (7 pounds 10 ounces). That's  more than I would have guessed just from looking at her. She is 54cm long, so the ultrasound technician who had told us she was quite long was right.

And then I can hold her. Her eyes look up at me, and I can feel the weight of the last 3 months disappear. I hold her, and she seems happy. Her skin is a rosy colour, except her hands and feet, which are wrinkled and a little paler and bluer.

I walk back to my wife, and the look in her eyes speaks volumes. The one thing she wants to do, she can't do right now. The motherly instinct to cuddle the baby has to for now. Because for her it's not over yet. The baby is brought over, and I hold her in front of Cherith for a while. So she can see her, talk to her, take in the reality of it. But then it's back to business. The baby is placed back in a hospital bassinet. And the work of repairing the damage begins. 15 minutes later, Cherith is stitched up and ready to be wheeled out. The sheer exhaustion, multiplied by the amount of painkillers she has been given in the last 10 hours, are taking their toll. For 6 hours, she can't keep her eyes open for more than 2 minutes. Unfortunately, she also can't seem to sleep for more than 10 minutes. Unbeknown to anyone at the time, she is reacting to one of the painkillers.  Sweating, nausea, and lightheadedness soon follow. She manages to feed the baby, and then it's all over for that night.

When I come back into the hospital the next morning at 7:30, Cherith looks a lot better. The staff have indentified the offending painkiller, and the symptoms slowly go away. Still she has to stay in bed. The extra oxygen she was breathing in has been taken away, the drip follows a little while later. Finally she can get up. But still she has to be very gentle about it. She can hold her baby properly now though. Only for short periods, and then she has to lie down again. Not only does she lack energy, but her abdomen feels very much like it had just been cut open and stitched back together again, which of course it has.

It's over though. For nearly two months we have tried everything to stop Cherith going into premature labour. And it worked. She made it past 41 weeks. Then for 3 weeks we have tried everything to bring on labour and make it as easy as possible. And all that is over. The baby has been brought into this world, albeit a little differently to the way we would have wished. But what we wished for most is a healthy baby, and a healthy mummy for the baby. And that wish seems to have come true.

So when they say, "Children should be seen and not heard", forget it. Sometimes it's comforting to hear them, and know that they are alright.

P.S. I fainted when Cherith was given a needle. I hate needles. Especially watching them being put into other people. Apparently it was a graceful slump onto a chair and from there the floor, but I wouldn't have a clue.


  1. Oh Ben, thanks so much for sharing this! It was really special getting to feel like i was there for Cherith's birth thanks to you. I praise God with all my heart for bringing Katherine safely into the world. I know you'll be wonderful parents!

  2. Praises the Dear Lord Jesus for a safe delivery! I didn't know y'all had written these posts. But they are beautiful!! I know what it is like to faint... So thankful you went into a chair first though. Oh the story is so sweet an so is the baby! Praying for Cherith to heal especially! In Christ!