It’s sort of ironic now, but ‘couple faces the apocalypse with a baby’ was always one of my favourite fiction tropes. I just never expected to be living it! Or well, it’s not quite the apocalypse of course. And we are all healthy here, luckily. I imagine that the lockdown has impacted us less than it has most people really. Jo works from home now, but she still works the same hours. And I am minding Freya all day, a baby does not have a pause button!
At times I fantasise about what this time could have been like for me if we didn’t have her yet – the writing I could have done! The time I would have had! But in truth I’m grateful of the distraction that having a baby provides, we are always busy and there is always more to be done.
Freya is thriving. At four and a half months she can roll over, grab objects and put them into her mouth, babble, blow spit bubbles, and sit with minimal assistance. She’s generally of a sunny disposition. We carry her in the wrap for hours a day, she is breastfed whenever she wants to be, she sleeps in bed on top of me, and we never let her just cry. All of that might seem outlandish to people of an older generation, but I can’t see us raising her any other way. She is happy, and so are we.Read more
This story starts in the sweet progression of days in November spanning between my due date and the date I actually gave birth, FIFTEEN days overdue.
I had always known – somehow, mysteriously – that this baby would not be early. I couldn’t have told you how late she would end up being, even in my wildest dreams I hadn’t quite thought that far, but I knew she wasn’t ready yet and I felt perfectly fine with that.
See, I never felt any hesitation about her from the moment I got pregnant. We tested early, expecting perhaps the faintest of positives, but there she was, strong and bright. We had a scan early, knowing we might not see her heart beat yet, but there she was, a rapid loud heartbeat. And so on, she was there, present within me from that very first moment two days after the frozen embryo transfer that my breasts suddenly grew and I knew it was her finding a home within me. So I had never doubted her and I wasn’t about to start now. She was happy in there, healthy, and strong, every test and scan and monitoring session said so.
As the days shifted on though, I was aware that my chances of delivering at home were starting to shrink. Legally the midwives could only help me until 42 weeks and I REALLY wanted to deliver at home, so eventually I tried to induce labour. I let the midwives ‘sweep’ (trying to widen the cervix to induce labour) me twice. On top of that we tried everything and anything under the sun at home. Teas and supplements, oils and massages and orgasms, anything! I also went to go see a cranial therapist, my yoga teacher, and a foot reflexologist.
But no baby.
I knew the risks were increasing as well. Going that overdue is not medically recommended, and all medical staff made sure to tell me that. A lot. At 41 weeks and 5 days the gynaecologist told me in gentle but no uncertain terms, that I was going against medical advice keeping this baby in and refusing an induction. I signed a form saying I was informed of the fact that my baby might die, which didn’t help my stress levels much! I went into the hospital for monitoring every other day as a compromise, but I did NOT want to be induced when baby was perfectly healthy and there was no reason to other than arbitrary dates.
If I wouldn’t have gone into labour at all I would have eventually consented to an induction, but only later that week. It turns out I didn’t need to though…Read more
I’m starting to see glimpses of it – the dream.
The fog in my head has lifted just enough that I can look at Freya and marvel at the fact that she is here. I can laugh at her antics now. Tickle her tiny toes, and kiss her round cheeks. I sing and bounce and rock her and feel involved and not as if the world is ending any second.
On New Year’s day Jo took Freya for two hours and I spent them at Starbucks writing down my birth story, words pouring out of me as fast as they could. I cried at the hard parts, silently and while hiding behind my chocolate milk foam cup, but mostly I was glad to have it written down. I will eventually share it, but for now it’s mine. I’m hoarding the experience, rethinking it still, my mind touching it and reshaping it every day.
It’s been seven weeks. My body has recovered enough that my milk production is finally improving. We still need to give Freya donor milk, but we might be able to stop it soon. I feel both scared and overjoyed at the thought. Seven weeks of struggle without knowing whether it would work out have left their mark, and I am hesitant to hope too much, even though it seems like it might just work out.Read more
Slowly, she starts sleeping a little more. We manage to eat one meal without being interrupted by screaming, then another, and the world stops spinning quite so desperately out of control. We even manage to host a small party and go out to brunch! Things that seemed utterly impossible even a week a ago are now within our reach again, and it makes us feel so much more human.Read more
I will write Freya’s birth story someday. But right now… I can’t. Parts of her birth were beautiful, and wonderful, and make me so proud. Other parts were emotional and difficult, and ultimately very traumatic.
The days after were incredibly hard. If I’m being honest, every day still is. Freya is a lovely baby, but my body has done a huge job bringing her into this world and I underestimated just how weak I would be after what happened.Read more