Can I cross this off my Bucket List?
I have got to that ‘certain age’ where I feel I am running out of time. This feeling has not been helped by the last year-and-a-half of lockdowns when we were all virtually prisoners in our own homes – not able to socialize, travel in the UK, go abroad or do anything at all really.
There are still many things that I want to do and many places I still want to visit or re-visit. What should be the predominant choice – travel to a completely different location in order to ‘see the world’ or return to some of those idyllic locations that I loved once and will probably never see again?
I am now frantically trying to cross off things on my bucket list and one of the must-do choices on my list is to be present at a live birth. Ok, so I’ve had two children of my own, so I should know what it is like, right? But, as you can imagine, I really wasn’t in the right position or mindset at the time to take in exactly what was going on!
I honestly wouldn’t have minded attending a complete stranger’s birthing experience – any old stranger would have done – but I struck lucky when my single-parent-by-choice daughter asked me to be her birthing partner. However, my daughter had a Caesarean delivery, so now I can’t decide if I can legitimately cross this experience off my bucket list or not.
My daughter didn’t have proper contractions with me there soothing her, rubbing her back and telling her how to breathe. Nor did we get to decorate the delivery room with candles and mood lighting, although we were able to play music from my daughter’s chosen play-list. On the plus side, my daughter didn’t shout, scream or swear and we were entertained by a pseudo Ant-and-Dec male nurse duo that kept cracking jokes and making us laugh.
I actually felt quite important as I donned my ‘scrubs’, overshoes, mask and a bouffant cap to keep my hair covered. It didn’t matter that I had no idea about the forthcoming procedure because I actually looked quite the knowledgeable medical professional and an important part of the Caesarean circus about to take place.
Instead of contractions, there was a spinal injection. Instead of mood lighting, there were overhead LED surgical luminaires and, instead of one kindly midwife, there was an anaesthetist, consultant obstetrician, anaesthetic nurse, theatre nurse, midwife, obstetric nurse, a student and a few other title-less individuals – about 10 in all!
Fleetwood Mac played comfortingly in the background, but was soon drowned out by the clatter of surgical instruments and the dialogue of instructions passing back and forth across the operating table.
Sat at the ‘head’ end of the operating table with a big blue curtain held up to stop my daughter and me peaking at what was happening further down the table, we were privy only to the voices of the surgical team and a bit of pulling, pushing and tugging. All of a sudden we heard the wail of a baby – the most miraculous sound imaginable and then the midwife said: “Here is your baby!” She held the baby aloft above the blue curtain and we both saw a beautiful baby boy. After that, it was all systems go to clean him and do all the necessary checks that happen post-birth, during which I was privileged to be invited to cut the baby’s cord. What an experience!
So, can I cross off my bucket list ‘wanting to be present at a live birth’? It definitely wasn’t a conventional birth or the sort of birth that I had imagined it would be. But a new human being was delivered safe and sound; I witnessed the highs and lows of the mother; I was involved as much as possible in the birth and saw the miracle of new life unfold before my eyes. The fact that this new life was my grandchild was a double whammy and an experience I will cherish to the end of my days.
Yes, this is one more thing I will be crossing off my bucket list. Next one – a trip to Bora Bora!