Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bella’s birthday blog (and a tribute to single mothers everywhere)

Today is Bella’s first birthday. In fact as I write this it is almost to the minute that she first looked up at me, opened her eyes wide and latched on to my breast. We were in a holiday-let bungalow in Winchester with views over the garden and golf course. The landlady’s daughter was a community midwife hence had no qualms whatsoever with me giving birth on her sitting room floor. Bella was delivered by the same midwife as Jemima, though our home birth plans did not work out first time round. This time it was perfect (the birth I mean, not the hours of agony before hand). Given that she could effectively have been born in any one of six different house-sits and spare rooms, none of which felt quite right to me as I tried to make my nest, and that Sheila was only on call for about three nights in July, the beautiful circumstances of Bella’s coming into this world really were a miracle. And I could swear she has been smiling ever since (teething nightmares aside).

Sheila and her co-midwife Sue stayed for tea and toast, put me and Bella in the bath and helped James clear up. They stayed for hours, making me feel like I was the only woman they had ever helped to give birth. Sheila even asked me for a CD of the music I had playing on repeat for nine hours. James never wants to hear it again – he said it was like being in a time warp where the only thing that changed was the intensity of my screams. (For anyone living in Phnom Penh the music was from Boom Boom Room – their female chill out mix. I never planned to have it as birthing music but once it had played through once I needed it with a passion. I still love to listen to it. I think I will put it on right now actually).

The rest of the day was spent resting in bed between receiving visits from family and friends while Jemima had a day on the beach with her grandparents. She had come home from her cousin’s house where she had spent the night, greeted her little sister with a mixture of excitement and indifference, not really understanding what all the fuss was about. My only anxiety over that time was how it would affect her and how they would get on. I found it incredibly emotional giving her a little sister and imagining the life change to come after nearly three years of her having me all to herself. Now a year later we have to try hard to remember life before Bella.

Today I cannot help wishing I was back in England in that bungalow bedroom being spoilt and cared for by family and friends. I am not complaining. Really it is lovely to be here in our own home in Phnom Penh. The sun is shining (of course) and the weather is cool. Jemima has spent all morning telling Bella she is ‘such a funny sweet heart baby’ and for the first time ever Bella sat patiently beaming in her high chair as though she knew something was up while I made her breakfast and we sang to her. But... you knew there would be one, this is expatria... James is away, Jemima is off school sick, and I have not slept for three nights thanks to their remarkable waking antics caused by anything and everything from needing to pee, 40 degrees fever, ants in the bed attracted by strawberry flavoured medicine, Bella’s tormenting teeth and a cockroach in the mosquito net. My mouth feels like it has lost all feeling and my face is sliding towards my feet... I thought kids were supposed to keep you young. I am quite fine really, but put it this way, for the sake of the kids I am doing a lot of meditation for emotional balance.

Seriously I am so in awe of single mothers and fathers. Maddy you are an angel! Last night at 3am, still not having slept, I felt I was on a slippery slide. I left Jemima and Bella in my bed and retreated to a quieter place, my parting words to Jemima being: “Bella may cry for a minute, just ssssshhhh her and she’ll be asleep in no time”. What was that? And what will come next? By Saturday will I be asking her to make my tea and take her sister for a walk while I lie in? By day it feels manageable again but in the dead of night when there is no one around to calm you down... I just don’t know how single parents keep their cool.

Anyway Jemima is tiring of making Bella’s card and is covering each crayon, or fish, with glitter glue, sorry, tomato ketchup, so I should probably go. It has been good therapy to blog after such a long while. Thank you for listening. I'll be back later to tell you about her tea party we are having this afternoon and a picture for you.

If you liked reading this, you might enjoy this.


Jeanette said...

Happy Birthday Bella!
This post made me laugh and made me cry...and nod my heads lots too!

Tanya said...

Arent home births wonderful!! My homebirth bub is now 14 but the day he was born is still etched in my memory as a powerful and awesome day despite 30 hours of labour and horrendous back pain caused by his posterior position.Our midwife and her family have become very good friends and are considered a part of our family.
His big brother on the other hand (18 years ago) was born in hospital because despite trying to organise a homebirth I was 19 and unmarried, a student and what did I know!! It wasnt the best experience I felt totally powerless and completely pushed around by a very bossy hospital midwife I had never met before. Two very different experiences, two very different boys, I know which I would choose again.

James said...

Hi babe, so good to read your post, you’re such a beautiful writer!! xxx

Georgie said...

Hello! Thanks all :-) Yey for home births I also had a more negative experience in hospital first time round Tanya. I am inspired by the fact that you can remember all these years on. Hooray. xxx

Caroline said...

Happy birthday Bella! Lovely to "hear" you again...great post. You give me hope after many long weeks of wondering if we'll ever get over the fear of having another child.

Hope you all have a wonderful day :)

Georgie said...

Oh you will you will! I was terrified - it took me a very long time to get over the trauma of Jemima's birth and the regrets of her first few hours outside the womb. Second time round I was seriously feeling sad that it would prob be our last time, just hours after the labour! My friends swear by hypnobirthing for a really positive labour as well as the actual delivery. I teach some of the meditations in prenatal yoga and really wish I had done it before. Also have you contacted your hospital about the 'after birth' thingy they offer? You can have a midwife visit you and go over your notes from your last labour and talk it all through with them and go over any fears confusion etc. My friend did this and said it was really healing and helped her move on. She did it years after her first babe was born. I also talked over J's birth with Sheila before Bella was born and it was very helpful and enlightening. Good luck! gxxxx

Ann-Marie Dewhurst said...

Happy Birthday Bella!

What a lovely birth she had. I did the 'afterthoughts' service and although the midwife and I didn't click at was very helpful in that it enabled me to identify exactly why I was still carrying anger about it. And writing my birth story helped loads too.

When you're feeling knacked out and lonely, just remember what an inspiration you are to other parents...I'm 'thinking' about starting meditation I've just got to 'do' now!! And that's thanks to you reminding me how positive it is.


Simon said...

Lindsay and I have been saying exactly the same thing about single mums, especially if they have no family support. We have been extremely lucky with Lily (now 2 weeks) that we have Lindsay's parents and that I am not rushing off to an office every morning, thus being able to keep Lindsay company during the nights.

Happy Birthday Bella!!

Anonymous said...

Ooh - happy birthday Bella - I thought it was later in the month! And yes a beautiful post indeed - and made even more emotional by James' lovely comment.
T xx

Georgie said...

What lovely comments. Thank you so much! Ann-Marie that is one for the comment of the month. Hope you don't mind! Bless you! Just back from teaching prenatal yoga so lovely to have all those bumps around! We do lovely baby hugging meditations :-) gxxxx