My daughterWell, here’s my girl.

Charlotte Sylvia was born by caesarean section at 13:53 on Sunday 18 January.

There was meconium in the waters when they broke on Saturday, and I didn’t dilate properly (only got as far as 4-6cm). After 24 hours, they decided that I was too exhausted and drugged up to go on – which I was – and into the theatre I went.

It didn’t take long, but the doctors said that because my womb was so distended after a long not-quite-labour, they had to take whole thing out of the stomach cavity and stuff it back in again. Or something like that – I was out of it. The upshot is that I lost around 3 pints of blood and it was all over the place. All I knew was that I was very sleepy and I could hear a lot of vacuum suction thing they use in ER. M looked a bit green as well. He had to go and check up on the Vitamin K injection process, which was on the other side of the screen. He said that his eyes flicked over to the table, and all he thought was: “fuck! that’s a lot of blood!” and couldn’t bear to look any more.

They sewed me up OK (very neat), and put me on a transfusion and into the High Dependency Unit – the labour ward equivalent of intensive care, I suppose. Anyway, it was very cold and dull, and people kept asking me lots of questions about what time I did X or Y. But I was nowhere near a clock or a window, and I was still out of it, so I must have sounded like a right fool. Mum came to see me, but she didn’t stay long because she was so shocked at how ill I was. M stayed until they threw him out.

Worse than that was that there was no room for me on the maternity ward, so the following day I had to go into what they thought would be a quiet corner of the pre-labour ward. Fat bloody chance! I don’t know who I felt more sorry for: the poor groaning women in various stages of latency and pain, or me with the screaming, hungry baby. I couldn’t produce milk because of the c-section, but that didn’t stop various midwives pushing and prodding my breasts into poor Charlie’s little mouth (and it is a little mouth) and pissing us both off mightily by telling me that it would all come soon. Charlie did a very good assault job on the midwives in the breastfeeding clinic with her Flying Fists of Death. After two days of this, I had to practically beg for some formula, just to get something down her. I’m still rather distressed about having to mainly bottle-feed her – these girls are producing the milk now, but Charlie’s so traumatised by the whole early days feeding thing that she screams the house down every time I wave a nipple in her face.

Anyway, the paediatrician passed Charlie to leave last Tuesday, but the doctors said that they wanted to keep me under observation. Later on that day, every woman in Camberwell decided to give birth early, so the quiet corner filled up with a very loud, fecund, chatty woman and her various offspring (nice lady, just loud); a silent, unfriendly woman who snored worse than me all day and all night, and deeply resented having to share a ward with a baby; and late at night, an emergency admission who was in the process of miscarrying her twins at 5 months. The poor woman was in constant agony, and bleeding everywhere. M arrived at around 10.30am on Wednesday morning to find me curled up (as far as you can be after a c-section) on the chair next to my bed, clutching Charlotte and saying: “Get Me Out Of Here. Now!” A few more hours of snarling at various medical professionals, and we were out of there by 6pm.

I sound very ungrateful, but I’m not. The actual care I received was wonderful; the people were caring. highly competent, medical professionals and I gladly put my life, and my child’s life, in their hands. What annoyed me were the little administrative inefficiencies – like being put on the wrong ward, where there were no facilities to bath and care for my baby; and having to beg for milk; and having to wait six hours to see a doctor to get discharged. I occupied a bed that another woman could have had, and I saw them queueing up in the corridors.

So, anyway, what’s she like? As I thought, intelligent, warm, sweet, loving, and the most beautiful child I have ever seen – even if I am biased. She’s also stroppy, demanding, and doesn’t suffer her foolish parents gladly. Interestingly, I think she has a very musical voice, and I have high hopes for this one.


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