Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Welcome to the world little Alfie

This morning I received a text at the ungodly hour of 3am. My surprise soon turned to utter delight as I read the text and learned of the safe arrival of a little boy, to be called Alfie. His mother has been on a journey that I know only too well and I found myself blubbing with joy for her when I read that the much longed for baby had been born.

For Alfie's mum, like me, has experienced the tragedy of stillbirth at term. A year ago her little girl Maggie died in the womb just as my William did some 13 years ago. Like Maggie's mum I was soon pregnant again although my first attempt ended in an early miscarriage. However, about a month later I was pregnant again (I was nothing if not fertile!) with Flora.

A pregnancy after stillbirth is no fun. When I was pregnant with Patrick I lived in sunny ignorance of any potential disasters but now I knew that the worst things could happen, that you couldn't trust in yourself or nature. Indeed nature could be indiscriminately cruel.

I tried to enjoy my pregnancy as much as I could but there were awful moments, like the week after I had a Nuchal Fold test when I was called by the clinic telling me the baby had an increased risk of being Downs. It felt as if everything was against me, as if I couldn't rest for a moment, that there was no room for cosy smugness - it was going to be a battle all the way through with myself and with life itself. Worst still I received this news when I was quite alone, with no one to support or comfort me. It felt as though someone was using me in a sadistic game.

Fortunately the hospital consultant put the Downs risk into a statistical context, explaining that the very fact that I had had a stillbirth at term increased the odds, even though it didn't really signify that much. And so I soldiered on, leaving work a little earlier than I might normally have done as the stress was extreme, and eventually giving myself up to an elective section at 38 weeks.

Flora arrived red, roaring and clearly cross to have been turfed out of the womb rather earlier than planned. To me she was unbeliveable, a gift I hadn't dared to expect. Part of me was too frightened to love her just in case she was taken away from me, how could I deserve her after failing so spectacularly before, letting everyone down? Patrick, then about three, was more sanguine, hardly noticing his new sister, far more interested in the Thomas the Tank Engine toys Flo had 'bought' him.

As time went on I realised that despite her delicate frame, this was a robust baby with a strong hold on life. She wasn't going anywhere and I allowed myself the overwhelming maternal feelings that were filling me up.

Even now I look at my children as they sleep and watch to see if they are breathing. Even now I wonder irrationally if 'someone' has seen me being too sure of myself and will take them away from me, telling me I don't deserve them. Mostly though I see that they have their own, individual stake in this life which is nothing to do with me and that's a worry but most of all a joy. I hope that Alfie's mummy and daddy will have the same joy - they really deserve it.

Welcome to the world Alfie. You are a very special boy.


Nickie said...

I do the "checking breathing" thing too - and probably will forever!! I have started again on my granddaughter (she stayed overnight at the weekend).

Alfie will always be a special baby to a lot of people.

Jenny said...

Glad it isn't just me. When you're doing it on a nearly 16 year old who is bigger than you, you know you're a Mum!

Through A Woodland, Craftily... said...

I still check my two are breathing - they're 5 and 13!

Alfie has got so many of us Internet Aunties - god help his first girlfriend, she will be quizzed to within and inch of her life ;D

A sneaky (((squeeze))) to you, Jen xxxxx