I know exactly what I was doing 8 years ago tonight. I was pacing around, demanding that my poor husband shove his fist repeatedly into my back. Hard. In response to his nervous enquiries about whether he was being a bit forceful, and didn't that hurt? I hissed at him to shut up and push. I also said a lot of bad words. Or at least thought them. It is perfectly possible that no words in the English language could have squeezed themselves through my gritted teeth.
I was in something like the 37th hour of labour and the novelty had worn off. I really really just wanted this baby out. He was having none of it. The staff on the labour ward had kindly provided me with one of those huge plastic exercise balls. Apparently, sitting on that made the pain of labour easier to bear. Balls, indeed. I lasted about 30 seconds before declaring that they all clearly had a bet on as to who could get a desparate pregnant woman to do the most ridiculous thing in the search for pain relief. I may have kicked the ball. I certainly wanted to.
By about 10pm, I had, as instructed by the midwives, hung on as long as I could. I was pooped. I wanted drugs. Husband went in search of narcotics, having first coached me through another three contractions. He then had the unenviable task of breaking it to me that there would be a wait while they found a room and a doctor. I gritted my teeth and hung on (not much else I could do, really). A midwife came round to say they couldn't find a doctor to administer the diamorphine. She took one look at me, rapidly and accurately assessed the level of my homicidal tendencies and said she'd administer it herself. Bliss. It didn't stop hurting, but it definitely hurt less.
Time dragged on. Midnight approached. Still no sign of baby. The midwife suggested we try to speed things up by breaking my waters. I agreed (frankly by that stage if she had appeared with a Dyson I'd have given it a go). Instead she approached me with a really big crochet hook. I don't know exactly what happened after that because I didn't look. I think I saw some of the staff surfing down the hall though.
Midwife then had a quick rummage and a look I really didn't like crossed her face. "Ah" she said. "That doesn't feel like a head....." (Bit of background here, I had pre-eclampsia first time round and a c-section. First Born was breech, and firmly so. My consultant had made it quite clear very early on that if Second Born was breech I was having another section, no argument. I agreed.) An ultrasound machine was produced out of nowhere (as husband muttered under his breath about why they couldn't have checked this eight hours ago) and confirmed SB was undeniably bum-first. And big.
So SB entered the world in the early hours of the morning of 10 April by c-section. We had the same music playing as was playing when FB was born: Husband's album of his own songs. Interestingly, the precise same track was playing when each boy was pulled into the world, backside first. I didn't see SB at first, being flat on my back, but Husband reliably informs me that SB was placed on my stomach and gave his parents a very appraising look. Sort of "Oh, dear, not sure about you two. We'll see....." He still gives us that look now.
Tomorrow that squirming, chubby lump of baby turns eight years old. I can hardly believe only 8 years have passed and yet at the same time, I can barely believe there was a time when he wasn't here. As I write this, Husband is upstairs chatting to the boys in the dark of their bedroom, a ritual I have mentioned before and which has now been formally christened "Daddy in the Dark". He is telling them the story of SB's birth, a special request after he told the story of FB's birth back in February. The same story I have just told you. Happy Birthday SB.