This time two years ago (at 10 to 10) my youngest daughter, Squishy (just to clarify it’s not her real name) made her way into the world on my living room floor to the strains of the Mickey Mouse Club House theme tune. You see not half an hour before my then 14 month old son had been sitting on the sofa, eating his breakfast and being distracted by a bit of early morning tv as midwives arrived and my husband and mother tried to fill my birthing pool. Things moved so quickly that the pool got less than half way full and no one thought to turn off the tv. I was rather too distracted to ask anyone to do it either.
Things happened so quickly that my sister very nearly walked in on the middle of it all. She decided to swing by and see how the labour was going, she opened the front door, heard the midwife say “one more push and baby will be here!” My sister had only received the call to say that I was in labour half an hour before.
My active labour was recorded as 45 minutes. I went from 2 cms to fully dilated and baby delivered with 2 pushes in that time. I don’t think I so much gave birth as she launched herself out like a human cannonball. Squishy got her name because when she was born she was so chubby and almost perfectly round (she kind of looked like Baby Poof from the Fairly Odd Parents). She had massive chubby thighs and the midwives and my GP all commented on how usually good the muscle tone in her legs were. It had never occurred to me before she was born just how much of a part the baby plays in the birthing process. I had tended to think of them as a sort of inert passenger but Squishy’s birth made me realise she while she maybe didn’t do quite as much work as me she did a fair portion of it.
I guess it makes sense when you think about it. One of the reflexes they test in babies after their birth is their stepping reflex. If you put their foot against a hard surface they will push away from it. During labour, the uterus contracts around the baby, pressing down against their feet and in return they push against it, helping to move themselves down, firstly with their head applying pressure to the cervix and stimulating the oxytocin feedback loop and secondly moving them into the birthing canal and beyond. I think Squish was coiled like an olympic diver.
Two years on and she continues to surprise and amaze me every day. She is so completely her own person, her personality is so different to her siblings. She’s funny, she’s thoughtful (she caught me crying during the miscarriage and asked me if I was okay, before throwing her arms around me, kissing my forehead and saying “shush, it’s okay mammy”), she’s ridiculous (she spent much of yesterday riding around on a rocket, wearing fairy wings and a cowboy hat), she is so uniquely her.
And I never thought I would still be breastfeeding two years later, but I have no hope of weaning anytime soon, she insisted on getting her morning boob before she would even consider opening any presents. Now she’s sitting wearing a Rapunzel dress, holding a Rapunzel doll and watching Tangled.
I am so very blessed.