Leaving Stephen, my husband, behind in the hospital corridor, the nurses wheeled me into the operating theatre for the birth of our first baby.
It had been a tough afternoon, and not just because I was labouring with a big rubber strap around my middle. The strap had sensors on it, monitoring my baby’s heartbeat. That was uncomfortable enough. But it was also difficult because things were not looking good. I’d had an epidural, and was on my way for an emergency C-Section. I was in a bit of shock about the way this birth was unfolding.
The hustle and bustle of the hospital dropped away as they rolled me through the doors into the operating suite. Another set of doors whisked by, and I was in the room where my baby would be born. All I could see was the ceiling. Painted a tired cream colour, the ceiling was busy with lots of “furniture”: lights, curtain rails, extendable brackets.
They moved me with a “One-Two-Three” onto another bed, and a screen was put up in front of me, over my chest. The midwife who had looked after us in the Labour Ward was still by my side. And the anaesthetist, who gave me the epidural, was there too to watch my progress. My obstetrician appeared out of nowhere. I’d seen him a few times already in the last 10 hours or so. First at my 40-week check-up that morning. Then in the Labour Room for a couple of visits during the afternoon. And here he was again – although all I could see of him were his eyes as he was masked and gowned up. But it was him all right.
The doctors and nurses didn’t talk much, and it was quiet as they did their life-saving work. I could feel no pain at all, thanks to the epidural. But I had a sensation of movement, like being in a train. My body was involuntarily being bumped around. It wasn’t until later that I realised this must have been the Doctor performing the surgery. It was the sensation of him reaching inside me to bring my baby into the world.
That Birth Moment
Suddenly he said, “And here we have a baby girl!”
They wrapped her up, and held her over my side of the screen for me to see. She wasn’t crying, and it was all very quiet. She had big brown wide-gazing eyes. I stroked her cheek with the side of my finger. It was beautifully soft and warm.
“Do you have a name?” someone asked.
“Yes,” I replied. “Her name is Marion Joy.” I was a bit sad. Stephen and I had expected to announce her name together. Not me on my own.
“Marion. What a lovely name.”
“It was my mother’s name” I said. I suppose my doctor joined the dots. He alone in the room knew that my mother had died of breast cancer a few years earlier. He alone knew I was motherless.
Then they took my baby away to the nursery. I don’t remember what happened after that. Suddenly I was asleep – and woke up in another room somewhere. Slowly, slowly I came to.
I was quite disoriented. Where was I? Yellow curtains surrounded my bed, and every now and then a nurse peeped in to see how I was. Too drugged up to make the connections, I phased in and out of a restless sleep.
It took me a while to register I had given birth. Incredibly, I was a mother.
And I felt completely alone.