July 19, 2012
At about 4.30am on 14 July 2012, Will turned and asked me if I was alright. 2 hours 45 minutes later, our son Hugo William Downes was born. Neighbours were called to look after Ollie and Max, bag was already packed and in the car, we drove in the dark to the hospital, cursing over every speed bump that seemed to bring on a contraction. And it was an intense labour with contractions every 5-7 minutes from the get go, which meant I went from half way there to ready to push in about 30 minutes after arriving at the hospital. The pain was unbearable and every contraction made me feel like I couldn't do it. I remember feeling out of control, pleading for someone to help me, trying to push and feeling helpless, the birthing team telling me I had to get the baby out, out, out now... and then when it felt like it couldn't be any more unbearable, he was born.
The euphoria of giving birth is really something spectacular. I had previously only ever had labour induced and was able to manage the pain of contraction upon contraction with an epidural. This time, we decided to wait, and while we'd booked to be induced this week (at a week over), we were hoping labour would happen in its own time, and I would be able to experience that feeling of recognising the baby was coming, and the build up of labour, rather than the intense experience of being subject to the artificial hormones and pain relief. I got my wish. I can't say I was altogether happy about it at about 7am on Saturday morning, but to have got through the experience the way we did, makes me feel like I have lived an amazing experience.
I came home the next day, and since then, it's been about the little milestones, first bath, first feeds, first poos (mine, not his)... and we are getting to know little Hugo, who is (in my husband's words) very cute and very loud. He is also as soft as soft can be, so soft he hardly feels like he is there when you stroke his cheeks and that brand new hair on his head. Sometimes (like the moment he was born) I see Max in his face, and other times, Ollie.
Ollie and Max? I think it's going to take some time for the little men to come to terms with what's going on. They have been incredibly sweet, but I think it's hard for them to see me absorbed with this new baby, and they are struggling somewhat with Hugo's intense crying noise, which we hear a lot because he doesn't like to sleep unless it's on me or Will and doesn't like to be left alone. It is again somewhat overwhelming, this feeling of surging love for all three of our children, even if it is interspersed with complete exasperation at not being able to meet everyone's demands all at once. Ollie and Max are still so young, at 3y8m and 2y3m asking them to understand the impact of a newborn on our lives is so far beyond reasonable, I just need to remember that every time they act up or don't do exactly what I need them to do.
And so, we are new parents again and every day is a new experience. Our future has been reset again. I'm trying my best to cope with the early days of breastfeeding, postpartum recovery, lack of sleep and complete lack of the predictability and routine that I normally thrive on. The relief of being on this side of things relatively unscathed keeps me going. We have three sons. We are a new family. We are happy. We are blessed.