Family Magazine

The Arrival of Benedict

By Mmostynthomas @MostynThomasJou
The arrival of Benedict Her name was Lynn, the midwife who stayed with us from nine o'clock through to morning: a larger-than-life beautiful black woman from Zimbabwe whose engaging warmth belied her eight years of working in the hospital. She had a deaf brother who had emigrated to Australia recently with his deaf wife, and throughout the night, would comment on how much Miles and I reminded her of them.
I was already consuming endonox (gas and air) vocariously. Lynn told me to breathe it only in between contractions, but of course I already knew that. It was the actions of someone scarred by birth trauma.
Just like last time, the whole of my pregnancy had gone without a hitch. Even when my waters broke the very next day following the false alarm that landed me in hospital, my prelabour was so steady it felt too good to be true. Just as my mother, who had driven Miles to the hospital, was about to leave, I burst into tears. I couldn't get my head round the possibility that, this time round, I really could have a more positive birth experience.
But I did, thanks in no small part to the high level of respect shown towards me by the staff at John Radcliffe Hospital and to Deaf Direct, who provided on-call BSL interpreters round-the-clock whenever necessary. I am only sad that I never received such fantastic consultant-led care last time.
The arrival of Benedict When my waters broke in the local Marks & Spencer, ironically I was tweeting my fears about the chance of that happening at that moment. The ambulance guy who picked me up was the same one who collected us when I had my false alarm.
"You again?" he quipped as soon as he pulled up. I had Isobel with me, while Miles was at home catching forty winks. Good job that he did, because as soon as he came to the hospital, I made him stay overnight. My mother came to take care of Isobel, then my sister-in-law took her home. Despite that, the prelabour went on for 24 hours, and at 7.55pm I was induced with an oxytocin drip.
The endonox was trippy. I remarked to Danielle, the SLI (sign language interpreter) and Miles, how spiritual this felt, but perhaps it was due to everything appearing in slow motion at a canted angle, as if I was filming some sort of Christian ritual.
"This," I motioned to the endonox, "best thing ever. I don't know how they managed without this in caveman days." At this point, Lynn checked the tube. "Whoops," she said, "I think it got disconnected." Once again, I breathed in the gas that filled the mouthpiece.
At around 10pm, an internal examination revealed that I was still 2cm dilated. Lynn discovered amniotic fluid lurking around the back of the womb, and released it. Almost as soon as the relief came at my waters being broken, the pain in my back intensified, and I turned groaning audibly towards my left, gripping the bed rail hard to get above the pain. I was sweating buckets and could no longer speak, resorting instead to BSL, one or two signs at a time. Danielle swapped on-call SLI duties with Carol, but neither could exchange pleasantries with me, so consumed by the pain was I.
The arrival of Benedict I know there are women who have been in first stage labor for longer than I have, but the build-up was so intense I couldn't bear it. POP! went the mouthpiece: I'd bitten it off. (I think I bit my upper lip too, so much so it bled.) I spat it out and clamped my mouth on the gaping tube, hand shaking involuntarily, before enquiring to Miles wordlessly as if it had never happened.
I went from 4cm to 8cm in two hours. That was it: I'd had enough. "Epidural," I mouthed, rocking on fours. "Epidural." I sensed concern in the air while various people in the suite liaised with each other, then Miles began to explain that my labor was probably too advanced... "EPIDURAL!" I hissed.
But first, for reasons of hygiene, I had to go to the loo. Lynn helped me towards the en-suite bathroom, drip still attached. I knew that time was running out, yet couldn't speed up my old-lady pace; the contractions were coming so thick and fast. Twice I stopped to demand more gas and air as I inched towards the bathroom door. Finally I sat on the loo while Lynn closed the door for privacy, then...
"GAS AND AIR! GAS AND AIR!" they heard from the other side of the door. It flung open again and I saw Miles lurch for the endonox tube on the other side - but it wouldn't extend beyond the delivery suite. Consumed by excruciating agony, I screamed, stamped my feet as if on hot coals, and clawed at the doorway until I got the precious endonox again.
So the anaesthetist could insert the epidural, I lay on my side on the bed, but shifting to the edge felt like torture. Next I knew, I felt something lock in my vagina and was told to get on my back.
"Push! Push! Baby's coming! Baby's coming! Baby's coming!" Lynn, Carol and Miles became an united chorus, egging me on.
I mustered what energy I could, pausing for breath intermittently. I felt a slither, then looked down to see a gloriously dark-haired head peering out. Miles, who stood at my left shoulder, had eyes on stalks.
I spotted Carol relaying to Miles. "I think the baby might be in distress," Lynn was saying. But I was still pushing. Suddenly the rest of the baby shot out, and she caught him in time.
"Wow," Carol said, overcome with excitement. "One o'clock on the dot." "Did he cry?" Miles asked - and then he did, very loudly, a sign that all was well. Benedict Jan Mostyn-Thomas, weighing 7lbs 7oz, had arrived.
The arrival of Benedict

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