He programed my cell phone with a reminder in case I forgot his birthday, but I was able to reassure him that I would never forget:
- being almost a month overdue
- having stomach bug which eventually put me into labour and spending the whole night on and off the toilet
- the twelve hours of pain like nothing on earth
- watching 'American Gladiators' in the middle of the night when contractions were keeping me awake
- hearing his heart rate drop and knowing as a midwife that it was bad, but as a woman in pain, I didn't care
- feeling horribly guilty that I didn't care about the implications of his heart rate dropping
- knowing that things were going wrong when he didn't appear after over an hour of pushing
- seeing the doctor 'pop out for 20 minutes to do a manual removal' knowing full well he'd be gone for ages and wanting him to do something NOW
- having a forceps delivery because he was stuck (for those who know about these things, he was in a persistent occipito posterior position)
- knowing that I'd be closely working with the doctor who had just done unimaginably intimate things to me, in a few months as a colleague?!
I will also never forget
- the overwhelming joy and relief I felt when he was born and when I heard his first cry
- the look of excitement and wonder on his father's face
- the sense of achievement that I had birthed him without an epidural or cesarean section
Taking back control
Probably the single thing that sticks in my mind more than anything was being able to find out ourselves what gender he was - no one said anything to us. It was a little thing but it meant a lot to us especially as we (my husband and I) had just gone through a difficult birth and forceps delivery. I felt that the doctor handed back control of the situation to us by handing us our baby and encouraging us to look at what we had.
A salutatory reminder to midwives and obstetricians about what can come to mean a lot to people - things that we as health professionals never think about. Even now after all these years, I still remember Dr Andrew Hedges, a wonderfully compassionate man who turned a potentially serious situation into one of the most joyful days of my life.
In what way has a health professional made a difference in your life? As a midwife, what do you think you can do to make a difference to the women and families you care for?
In the meantime, have a wonderful birthday, Andrew. You really are my pride and joy.
PS: don't forget, now you're 18, you get to leave home!!