Birth is a beautiful and incredible part of our human existence that warms our heart and scares us at the same time. The act of carrying a baby for 9 months without seeing its features or holding them in your arms requires an element of trust in God, to pray that this miracle will happen. At my age, the idea of having a baby has not even crossed my mind as the thought of it scares me, yet everyone around me nowadays is popping them out like crazy. However, there can be many complications that can happen in childbirth that scares people out of having this experience altogether.
My mother sat in her pyjamas, tracing the outline of where she thought I was, waiting for the small kicks that made her aware that I was listening, regardless of if I could see her or not. She caught my dad’s eye and smiled. “I remember when the bump was so small,” she said, reminiscing about the last few months. However, having a baby in the first place proved to be harder than expected, there were many attempts and disappointments, but now that she was finally pregnant her face was permanently content. Her eyes glowed, and a sense of serenity and peace filled her body. My dad smiled back, no words could express his happiness in this moment. His eyes suddenly glanced down to her ankles, his face tightened up.
“Your ankles… Are you in pain?” the purple and blue stains had viciously attacked her pure white skin, filling her delicate features with numbness and unavoidable pain; this was enough to concern anyone.
“It’s just been the last couple of days, think I’ve been overdoing it”, my mum said, covering up her own worry. She slowly lifted herself out of the chair; her face squirmed, but quickly turned into a smile. “See, I can walk perfectly well,” she said as she dragged her feet across the floor into the kitchen.
Despite her insistence that she was ok, days went past and the pain started to progress, making it harder and more excruciating to walk. The swelling on her ankles had grown and she struggled to do the simplest tasks, such as reaching for her favourite for a cup of tea. She decided that seeing the doctor was crucial, especially if it concerned the baby. A tinge of dread occupied her mind, what if something was wrong? What if she loses the baby? How would she cope? She shook her head violently, stopping herself from panicking out of control. Suppressing these feelings was the only option.
The doctor’s surgery was clinically claustrophobic, with the lighting so bright that it highlighted the tiredness on anybody’s skin. They made their way towards the waiting room; the silence was piercing alongside a mist of miserable and anxious faces. My dad tightened his grip on my mother’s arm and ushered her to the magazine table, trying to lighten the situation by finding a comical article. “Man’s head gets stuck in a dustbin… hang on how big is his head?” they both howled with laughter and ignored the stares; embracing being free for just a moment.
“Mrs Butlin.” the doctor called out of his surgery. This was it. My mother walked slowly, her ankles felt tenderer than ever that day, and she knew something wasn’t right. “Now let’s see what the problem is”, said the doctor as he examined her ankles. His face started to grow with concern after the multiple checks he had done; his features changed from a vibrant, welcoming smile to a frown which dented into his forehead. The blood pressure was of the most concern: he tried multiple times, squeezing her arm as if it was going to burst until finally he stopped. “By your high blood pressure and sudden swelling of the feet, I’m afraid that you may have preeclampsia. This condition causes the flow of blood through the placenta to be reduced. If not treated quickly this may have damaging effects on your baby. You will have to be taken into hospital for further checks and analysis.” My mother’s heart sank. With one hand, she squeezed my dad’s wrist while the other delicately stroked her bump. Concern filled her eyes, and her face was occupied with dread.
“You’ll be ok”, my dad said simply as they made their way inside the ward. My mum, trying to hold back the tears, did a weak nod, but attempted to smile nevertheless. As the doctors checked her blood pressure once again, it was clear that it was still high. She had to be monitored closely until things looked like they would improve. My dad stayed a night, but she insisted that he went home. Being alone meant she could clear her head, without anybody else worrying about her.
Hours passed and as my mum lay in bed, she was half asleep and half in an uncontrollable state of worry. The doctor loudly entered the room and woke her up instantly. “Just coming to check your blood pressures again, any headaches?”
“No, I feel completely fine”, she said, feeling surprisingly well, considering she had to be monitored every few hours. My dad came shortly after with chocolates, clothes and essentials from the house. “Thank you dear,” she said, with a weary smile. She spotted underneath the collection of necessities, a baby toy. She knew in that simple moment that everything had to be put into perspective, and regardless of any complications she had, a baby girl would greet her at the end of it. Her thumb stroked the material; nostalgia occupied her mind, remembering when she was a little girl.
Just as he left, there was a burning sensation at the top of her head which pounded so viciously that it felt like someone repeatedly hitting her with a hammer. The suddenness and the shock of it all left her no choice but to scream. Doctors from every corner of the ward rushed over to see what was going on, prodding and inspecting her like she was a human pin cushion until it was clear that she needed an emergency caesarean.
And there I was born two months early. My dad was the first one to hold me, as I was taken straight from my mother to the special care unit; I was only three pounds and four and a half ounces. He was delicate with my tiny body and managed to fit me into the palm of his hands; his eyes lit up in awe of the surreal moment. However, a tinge of unhappiness marked his face, with the realisation that my mother missed the chance of holding me first. His responsibility was more than that of a regular father’s at this point.
The doctor soon snapped them out of the moment; his hand loudly scribbled down notes with his forehead dripping with sweat. He slid his glasses down his nose as an indication of authority. It was not over yet.
“Your baby will be put into an incubator to help maintain her temperature; this can take weeks or even months.” Yet another piece of information to knock my mum and dad down. When would the bad news stop? “On top of that, she is slightly jaundiced,” said the doctor, softening his voice considerably, aware that he was the bearer of bad news.
There was nothing for my mum and dad to say to that, other than the promise that they would visit me every day until I was out. My dad kissed me and my mother goodbye, and a waiting game began. Fortunately, my mum came out of the hospital in a week and I was finally out in a month. All the anxiety and pain washed away when we could finally be a family, appreciating life in the moment and being thankful that everything was successful. Unfortunately if the technology and modern day equipment were not there to assist me, I would not have survived. A true miracle.