Ch37: Stolen Jan 31st
By lisa h
I wake to pains in my belly. It’s early, only five in the morning. The winter sky is dark and oppressive and I have never felt so alone. I’ve prepared best I can and have built a huge pile of driftwood in the harbour. It’s taller than me and takes up almost all the width of the shingle beach above the high tide mark. Maybe somewhere inside I knew my birthing day was fast approaching. I’ve been building the bonfire since the last time Ian dropped off supplies just over two weeks ago.
The pains aren’t too bad, and seem to be almost ten minutes apart. Maybe they are Braxton hicks. I remember reading about them when I was pregnant with Gemma. A bigger pain rips through me and I know, I just know that this is labour.
The weather outside is atrocious. I dig a few hot coals out of the aga and put them in a tin pail. Hopefully the wood for my bonfire isn’t too wet. I zip into my coat and brace myself before opening the door.
The wind catches me, it’s the gusts that are more dangerous, they hit like a brick wall, trying to knock me flat. Somehow I make it down to the beach. The rain doesn’t seem to have cooled the coals, if anything the wind has whipped them up and made them even hotter. They glow a bright red. I shove the pail deep inside my pile of wood and dump out the coals. It’s up to God what happens next.
I make my way back to the cottage. The night is pitch black, clouds hiding any star or moonlight. I can barely see the path, the ruins simply deep shadows in the corners of my vision. A pain crests and I have to stop, crouching down on my knees as I wait for it to pass. As soon as I can, I’m back on my feet.
The wind grabs the door as I try to get inside, bouncing it off the bedroom wall as I enter the cottage. Somehow I force the door closed and for a moment I don’t move, I lean against the door trying to catch my breath.
A bath might help slow things down and give the wood on the beach a chance to catch. I do realise the bonfire I made might not catch at all, it’s very wet from days of near constant sleet and rain. But I have to hope. I glance out the bathroom window as I start the water running. I think I can see a red glow on the beach and nerves flutter in my stomach. Then a pain hits me. I sit on the toilet seat, panting as it passes. When I look back out the window I think I really can see a fiery glow down there.
“Please wait,” I say to my stomach. “Let the fire grow, maybe help will come.”
I’ve saved the bonfire for this day, just in case me creating a signal made Ian stop dropping any food at all. Now labour has started, and the fear I thought I’d have hasn’t materialised. I’ve gone all practical, getting towels out, filling the bath, and putting water on the boil for tea. Another pain comes, they’re already getting closer together.
I root around in the medicine cabinet. There’s some paracetamol plus codeine in there. I take two then take two ibuprofen as well. No need to suffer if I can dull the pains even a little. It’s five-thirty. I decide I’ll go three hours before taking more. I’ve got enough pills to take me through seven doses. Then I’m stuffed. I hope Ewan decides to be a speedy baby.
The bath fills as I watch the glow on the beach deepen. I’m still not sure if it will catch properly as I turn off the taps and lower myself into the tub. More pains come and I tense, but the combination of pain tablets and the warm water make them bearable.
As the clock in the living room marks six with muted bongs, I realise I can see a light outside. The fire has caught and flames erupt from the pile and shoot sky high. There’s nothing more I can do, I am in the hands of fate. A feel an odd popping sensation and suddenly the bath water discolours between my legs. A sharp pain follows immediately and I grab onto the sides of the bath, puffing my way through the worst of it. As it eases off I collapse into the water.
My face is burning and I splash my face. God help me if I have twenty-four hours of this. I think by then if Ian hasn’t come I’ll be on my way to dying in childbirth. I don’t have time for morbid thoughts, another contraction hits and I’m grunting and holding my belly and then finally at the end, a scream escapes me.
The window is lit up by the fire by the harbour. As I wait for the next contraction I stare at the flickering light and wish with all my might that help will come.
I have a feel between my legs and I can’t feel the baby’s head yet. There’s an urge to push with each pain, and I’m so glad that I read up on labour before Gemma arrived early. I need to wait until I can feel the head, wait until he crowns.
More contractions hit, there barely seems to be time to catch my breath. I twist in the bath so I’m facing the other way, squatting and leaning forward, the water taking some of the weight of my belly. I hope this new position helps me cope better. My back screams in pain as the next one comes and the urge to push is almost impossible to ignore.
Somehow I turn around again and feel again between my legs. The clock in the other room sounds the half hour. How is time going so fast? A new pain starts and as it subsides I feel a lump between my legs. I check, and I think it’s the baby. As the next contraction begins I grab the bathtub handles, put my chin to my chest and push as hard as I can. I don’t get a chance to rest as more pain hits. I ride the contraction, pushing as hard as I can. Water slops out onto the floor as I collapse against the back of the tub. I pant, splash water onto my face and prepare for the next one.
I check between my legs and realise the baby’s head is out. Quickly I work my fingers around the neck feeling for and finding the umbilical cord wrapped there. I tug it free just as another contraction hits. I push with all my might, letting out a half grunt, half scream. There’s a slithering sensation and then a feeling of immense relief. I open my eyes and realise the baby is out and under the water. I grab him, noting briefly that it is indeed a boy.
“Come on, where’s the screaming, where’s the crying?”
He’s floppy, and going a shade of blue. I put my mouth over his mouth and nose and suck. Mucus fills my mouth, I release him and spit out the foul tasting stuff. Still he’s not breathing and he’s going purple now.
“Come on, take a breath!”
I hold him upside down and give a gentle whack to his back. Nothing happens. I hit harder, cupping my hand and then rub hard. He’s laid out on my knees now.
Suddenly he inhales and with the exhalation comes a weak cry. A second breath and a scream follows. The room is filled with an almost continuous cry from him. His skin goes from a sickly dark shade to pink as he drags in breaths and let out screams. Tears run down my face, I’ve done it, I’ve given birth.
I lay Ewan on my chest and together we cry.