Hi Again! For those of you who don't know, My wife had a pretty difficult pregnancy with our last child Marcella. My wife and I wrote the full story, here:
I wanted to share with you though, a smaller, more prose-ey piece of writing with you first though, based on my experiences of what I went through, during the emergency pregnancy. I hope you like it!
Born unbeknownst to the swirling storms around her. Her mummy is on the operating table, Her father in the throes of anxiety and tension. Her siblings, sensing the anxiety of something different, eagerly await news from Daddy, and settle into the new and unfamiliar babysitter's rules. Marcella's world, however, born in the hospital far away from their house is a blur of alien sounds and smudgy visions.
Will she see her mother?
Words fall on daddy’s ears, confusing and meaningless, as the squirmy beautiful pink flesh is handed to him. He jolts himself out of the mental fog to attune to what’s happening now.
“You need to be there for the baby’s first times- Her first bath, her first cuddle with daddy, cuddles with brothers and sisters”, the nurses words, a mixture of compassion and professionalism, are only heard as a numb metallic sound. “...So that when she wakes up, Her mother will have a record...”
“...When?” , thinks Daddy.” “...more like If?” It’s been four hours since she went into surgery and daddy’s heard nothing from the doctors - Nurses have come and offered cups of tea, and eagerly set a bed up for Daddy, calling the complications "a special case" and looked at him in compassion. The question, burning in his heart always being how she is, and the response, always: “We don’t know... We will let you know when we do”
“It’s been so long since I’ve bathed a baby” Daddy says, his hands and arms trying to remember the motions, struggling awkwardly. “My other children are so big now. She’s so small”. He says to the nurse with the kind, steady look on her face.
As Marcella is lowered into the green plastic tub with the lukewarm water, the uncomfortable squawking of not wanting to be disrobed stops. The warm safety of the bath covers little arms and legs and her chubby tummy. Maybe some remembrance is returning of that safe place of covering? Her eyes are wide open now, staring at the world with a slowly gathering comprehension. Just as Daddy has loved the other children instantly, this one he loves too- yet with a cloud of apprehension- This baby is a token of the dawn- borne from deep darkness, a token of the dawn to our family. The nurse takes a photo with her digital camera.
‘Marcella’s first bath’.
The squawking begins again as Daddy dresses her for the first time, since seeing her. Little Pink Dress. Stockings. Her face squishes up as the little limbs slide clumsily through the cotton. Daddy gives Marcella her first bottle, prepared carefully by the nurses. She fusses impatiently, then settles into daddy’s arms. Briefly he forgets about the maelstrom as he focuses on that tiny head adorned with sparse hair, and the beauty of her repose. It’s the first time Marcella has fallen asleep in Daddy’s arms.
Upstairs the bleeding refuses to stop, as the medical staff work together quickly, quelling the rising tension in the room with steely determination and knowledge of procedure. Blood infuses her almost as quickly as it gushes out. The room is filled with a rising urgency tempered by a strong urge not to lose be overwelmed. The clock watches on. Downstairs, Daddy is crying tears of anxiety in a parents room bathroom. It is the first time Daddy has cried in a long time.
It has been two days, as Daddy eats the overly salted chips, finding a quiet corner away from others in hospital cafeteria. Mummy is still sick, but she is alive. Today is the first time Marcella has been placed on Mummy’s chest. The doctors have moved the wires, as she was placed, naked against mummy’s bare chest. One of the lady doctors stops her vigil over the other patients to watch the two. There is a type of recognition without stroking, a type of acceptance without words, as the two share their first bond.
It is a Wednesday. Mummy is no longer grey. The wires and machines are gone, and her feeble body can assist itself. She has moved now, from the ward on the top floor to the maternity ward, surrounded by cards and baby toys, still close to the nurses in case a “situation” develops. She will be home soon, It will be the first time she has returned in four weeks.
Nothing has changed. Yet in other ways, everything has, and nothing will ever be the same.
The Head surgeon visited mummy for the first time since the operation. He speaks as a man incredibly relieved at helping to save this mummy, and gives mummy’s oldest child a little gift. The children want mummy to come home. They have had their first visit, some now have had their second. Xavier, the youngest is frightened. He’s forgotten the cuddles with mummy as he has slept somewhat coldly in the bed next to Daddy. It might take a while until he will snuggle with her again. Perhaps his first time might be the hardest.
It’s now been a year. There is no vortex of anguish left beyond the normal fluctuations of fortune mummy and daddy face in normal life. Mummy missed much of Marcella’s first things, but this last year she hasn’t missed many of the others. She’s seen her first real smile, and the first time she started crawling, she also helped her with her first taste of solid food, and felt the pain with her of the first teeth as they were painfully bursting through her soft gums.
Daddy loves Marcella, and loves that he has mummy’s love too, and they both hope they are present for every other "first" in Marcella’s life.