So the smallest Swinney threatened to put in an early appearance this week. I had a stomach upset on Saturday night while in Eastbourne to speak at Radiant 09, and started having contractions during my seminar. A kind lady in the front row timed them for me.
I was in hospital for Sunday night and they gave the baby steroids to mature her lungs. By this point contractions were coming every two minutes ( for the uninitiated among you, this is quite frequent). I was given a room on the labour ward, and heard the agony and ecstasy of four new lives arriving into the world before morning came and I was allowed to go home.
It was back in for Tuesday and Wednesday nights, since things hadn’t calmed down and at 35 weeks it would have been a bad idea to give birth anywhere without a paediatrician. This time i was in an anti natal ward. The first night was mayhem. The nurses had accidentally double-dosed a lady with labour-inducing drugs causing her to be “hyper-stimulated”, which means she was living in the hell of one giant unrelenting contraction. Opposite me was a poor soul who couldn’t stop vomiting. I could hear people begging for epidurals and wailing that they were ready to push and moans and doors slamming and men shouting but the labour ward was full and there was no where for any of these tortured people to go. If I had forgotten quite how bad giving birth can be, this was a timely and unwelcome reminder.
During the day times, I met an interesting cross section of society. A nineteen year old girl told me by the tea machine that depending on when it arrived, her baby could have any one of three fathers. I overheard a debate about how soon it is possible to go out for a cigarette after delivery and whether you could get away with smoking out of the window during labour.
I am home again now, and back to the waiting game. I was glad to have the experience of staying in hospital. I realise quite how little insight and understanding I had for what this is like- the feelings of isolation and powerlessness and boredom and discomfort are overwhelming even for a short period of time. I have also become very aware of the many things I have to be grateful for-
-a comfy bed
-a husband and friends who swoop in and take care of the details of life when I let go of the reins
-a daughter who is secure enough to take unusual events in her stride and who at two years old has the verbal dexterity to greet me on my return with “I am HAPPY that you are here again. I did MISS you and I love you SO much.”
-the competent and free care of the NHS (go Obama! It is a great system when it works.) only a ten minute drive away from home
-the fact that I have never had reason to stay in a hospital before other than to give birth to Alexa.
I’ll keep you posted.