I’ve never been a fan of hospitals. As a child I didn’t have any hospital experiences – my sister was the clumsy one, breaking her arm or biting a hole through her tongue (yes, really). My first overnight stay in a hospital didn’t happen until I was 26, after giving birth to my new baby.
When I had my pregnancy dating scan and then my anomaly scan a few weeks ago, my husband was with me. I was nervous – partly because I don’t really like hospitals and partly because I was worried about the results of both scans.
But on Friday night, at around 10.30pm, I had to go to hospital on my own. As I sat in the back of the taxi, trying ever so hard not to vomit all over the leather interior or sob too loudly, things shifted sharply into focus.
Around half an hour earlier, just before going to bed, I had experienced a bleed. It wasn’t a huge bleed, but it was there. And kept being there every time I checked. I was then sick (probably because I was scared) and felt short of breath, as I panicked. I genuinely thought I was losing my baby.
As the dark fields rolled past through the taxi window the driver asked if everything was OK. “I don’t know yet,” I replied, stifling a sob. I looked out of the window and thought of all the stupid things I’ve worried about during this pregnancy so far: weight gain, puffy feet, trendy maternity wear, the colour of the nursery. Inconsequential things that don’t matter. And I hated myself.
I had to wait in a delivery room on the labour ward until someone was free to come and see me. Tiredness enveloped me, in between bouts of nervous nausea. The (self-proclaimed) Northern Love Machine had rung my parents and I knew my mum was on her way. With a sleeping three year old upstairs at home it wasn’t an option for the NLM to come to the hospital with me – another thing you don’t think about when you’re pregnant with a second (or third) child.
And so I waited. And while I waited I heard the cries of a brand new baby in the delivery room next door. The new mum was having a shower in the bathroom in between the two rooms. I could hear their conversations and the soft cooing over the tiny new life. It took me back to those precious few hours after the birth of Frog and reminded me how much I wanted to meet this new baby in the autumn.
My mum arrived a little later. Followed soon after by a midwife. I nearly vomited again when there was nothing but a blank, static, fuzz as the midwife checked for the baby’s heartbeat. And then it came. Thudding loud and clear. A strong, healthy heartbeat. Of course I cried.
I’ll never forget the kind, calm and reassuring manner of that midwife. She held my hand as the doctor arrived to do an uncomfortable examination and try to find why the bleed had happened in the first place. I still felt nervous as I looked to the ceiling. But I held onto that healthy heartbeat and made a silent promise to start properly looking after myself and this tiny life growing inside me.
I was not going into early labour, the doctor confirmed. She could find a couple of possibilities for the bleed, but it had settled and she was happy to send me home. She told me she couldn’t promise everything would be OK, because pregnancy can be unpredictable, but that she thought it unlikely she would see me again before my baby was ready to be born in a few months’ time.
I was sent away with instructions to try to take things a bit easier, not to worry and (by the midwife) to give myself a break.
And so here I am. Yesterday passed by in a bit of a blur. I didn’t get to bed until gone 2am on Saturday morning, but I slept and our plans for the day were scaled back. But I don’t mind admitting that today has been tough. I’m not a natural sitter. I see things that need doing – washing that needs putting on, work deadlines that need to be met, a child who needs entertaining. I’m a do-er. I like being busy. It takes conscious effort to slow down and step off the treadmill of daily life.
But I’m determined to do it. The next few months will be calmer. Less frantic. More focussed on the important things. I’m pledging right now not to keep pushing myself. I’ve made some big work decisions – or rather, the decisions have been made for me – and I’m trying to remind myself that I don’t always need to be set on GO GO GO at every second of the day. As much as it frustrates me, I know I need to slow down.
I never want to experience another night like Friday. I’m trying to be relaxed about it all and not let my over-active mind fret over what I can’t control. But I can, at least, be a little kinder to myself and to this baby my body is working hard to grow.
Any tips you have for slowing down and forcing a usually busy person to take a step back are much appreciated.