First night of your life, curled up on your own

Hubby’s cousin had a little boy on Wednesday. I have been eagerly awaiting the birth, as the fate of several hundred tons of Harry’s clothes depended upon this new family member having a willy. Score! We waved the incipient parents off gleefully a couple of weeks ago, having cheerfully – and mercilessly – shoehorned a baby gym, baby bouncer, baby bath, baby play arch, baby playring, baby toys and baby books into their boot. Presented with the glad news on Wednesday, I started washing and ironing like a woman demented. (I actually passed waaaaay beyond demented last night when, despite a major, fundamental house search ransack, I could not find a bag of tiny-baby size outfits. New baby boy would fit them beautifully for 2 or 3 weeks; they were expensive and deserved another airing. They are still, bewilderingly, missing. Demented is now a dot to me, and I am thinking of ripping up floorboards to look underneath, just in case. If YOU have hidden them, it’s not fucking funny anymore. Tell me where to find them and no-one else needs to get hurt.)

I also had pots of girly fun making a nappy cake. I have made pink ones before

but never a blue one. Squeee!

I really get my creative rocks off messing about with netting and ribbon. I was a happy bunny.

So it’s odd that I’ve spent the last two days crying. I did when another friend had her little girl, too. It’s not that I’m jealous of their actual baby. Dear me, no. I’m already up half the night shoving a boob into a wailing child as it is.

Births are generally intensely joyful things for families, but before Harry’s arrival, I couldn’t participate in anyone’s Happy Family vibes at all – the pain of not having my own was so dreadful. But now Harry is here, I have swung violently in the other emotional direction, and a new baby sends me into paroxyms of excitement. Stupidly so. The memories of my own labour come rushing back, and I feel a heady, wonderful exhilaration in recalling the profoundly awesome experience that is giving birth to a child. All my emotions start running close to the surface.

But of course, it’s at that point that my reminiscences all go a bit Pete Tong. I hear about episiotomy stitches and I wince in sympathy, before I start brooding on the fact that my own second degree tear was completely neglected, as I had no spare capacity to think about it. I hear about the first painful attempts to breastfeed, and I’m all ‘OMG, Yes!’ until I remember that I pumped, agonisingly, blisteringly, for days before Harry even got near a nipple. I am sent the first photo of a tiny, blissfully sleeping face, and I coo, before I remember the horror of ventilator-violation that was my first picture – now waterstained –  of my son.

I have texts from the proud new Mum and Dad who are sat holding their new son, the staff having quietly melted away, and I’m aching with happiness for them – and aching with sadness for myself, and the hell that awaited us when we left the delivery suite to see our child.  I’ll never have the joy they’ve just had. Never. I’ll never carry a baby to term.

I should be over this. My son helped me – in his very own, unhelpful fashion – load the dishwasher today. Life has moved on so astoundingly far from where we were. And what’s more, our hell was a tiny one. It could have been so very, very much worse.

But I’m obviously the easily-traumatised type. Because I’m still damaged. I’m still so totally fucking damaged and crying and all I can remember is the plastic box they put you in and the needles they stuck in you and the noise of the alarms when your oxygen sats and BP dropped to nothing and the machine that breathed for you when you stopped and the doctor’s face when he said he was concerned you might be brain damaged and the hole in your heart showing on the ultrasound screen and the horror when the baby next to you died, and the guilt of letting you down, and the bowel-shattering fear when I wondered whether you would live or not.

If I want another child, I have to face the nightmare that is premature life, or death. Don’t know if I can.

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