Eternal Flame

On Thursday I was listening to the radio.  Recently I’ve had the radio on in the house in the afternoons.  I used to pass my days at home in silence.  I like to work in silence and I find background noise distracting, but it also means that I can spend over 8 hours a day in complete silence, which sometimes seems to make me just too thoughtful, too introspective.

So my plan is that a couple of hours of Radio 2 will break that up and give me some contact with the world outside of my head and my computer.

Yesterday I was listening to the radio and a song came on that make me literally shake and made tears run silently down my face.  That song was “Eternal Flame” by The Bangles.  Not everyone’s first choice for a song to move you to tears but for me this song is very special.

When I was pregnant with Nico I determined to have the “good birth experience”. The one I didn’t have with my daughter.  When I was in labour with her I asked the midwife for pain relief and she replied “no, you should suffer, you wicked sinful girl” So the MN and I made elaborate plans for our perfect home birth.

By incredible luck our midwife lived a few houses away on the same side of our road and she agreed with the plan about having the baby in our bedroom surrounded by everything familiar and with our specially made music playlist so that our baby would be born to the sound of lovely music.  I bought a new nightie,  new bed linen, I made a playlist tape (oh yes, those were the days of mixed tapes!) and the MN worked hard to finish off all the DIY to the bedroom.  Everything was going to be just as perfect as we wanted it to be.  But life so seldom is interested in our plans is it?

Two weeks before my due date the hospital discovered that they had made a mistake and given me someone else’s blood sugar results.  So when a few weeks earlier I was told that my blood sugar levels were great, they actually should have told me was that I had incredibly high (almost off the scale) level gestational diabetes and needed a total diet change and monitoring.  But I had spent almost my whole pregnancy in blissful ignorance of this.

So all our plans were off and instead I was booked in for an induced hospital birth on my due date.  Bum!  However, we arranged with the hospital that we could use their “family room” which was then a very new idea.  A hospital room in the maternity ward, but laid out like a normal bedroom with wallpaper, pictures, a bed of normal width and height, arm chairs with cushions etc.  We thought it would do.  It was a non-scary room and owing to my previous birth experience I was already having the heebie-jeebies, so I needed there to be a lot of non-scary around.

Armed with our cassette player (front loading Sony, only the best in high tech for us!), my specially made mixed tape, my water spray, cologne, sucky sweets, clean nightie, dressing gown, hair brush and bag of yellow baby clothes (because we didn’t know if it was going to be a boy or a girl and as everyone knows, that means lots of lemon to cover both possibilities) we went in on my due date.  My mother had arrived the night before to stay with us, take my daughter to school and keep things happy and normal for her.

Again, things didn’t go quite as planned.  After the initial injection I had a few contractions which gradually faded away to nothing.  By that evening the midwives conceded nothing was going to happen that day and I sat up in bed eating toast very unhappily by 9.00pm and the MN went home.

Bright and early, on the dot of 8.00am we were once again a sea of activity.  The midwives arrived, the MN arrived and they tried again.  I knew it was 8.00am exactly because we had turned our cassette player over to “radio” and were listening to the news.  As I had my inducing injection again it was announced that the UK was accepting applications from Britons wanting to train as astronauts.

Simultaneously my injection kicked in, the MN announced he was going to apply to be an astronaut and a massive contraction threw me off the bed and onto the floor.  I threw up all my toast from the night before and we knew were in business!

I strapped on my TENS machine and we got stuck in.  Most of the next 3 hours I don’t really remember.  The 10 metre long corridor between the room and the loo became like an endless frozen wasteland, with me clinging to the walls when things got bad, but we also had lots of giggles along the way.

By 11.00am, only 3 hours after it all kicked off, we were nearly at the finishing post.  I became rather obsessed with the pink candlewick bedspread I was lying on and after a few gasps of gas and air treated everyone in the room to my theory of how the candlewick bedspread reflected the waves breaking on the Grecian shore.

But in all the fuss no-one remembered to put the cassette player back onto “tape” and instead it stayed on “radio” which meant my mixed tape was never played and instead – with his blue, blue eyes wide open and staring all around, my son Nico was born to the sound of The Bangles singing “Eternal Flame”.

Yesterday, it was the first time that I had heard that song again in many years.  Suddenly the words took on a whole new meaning “Is this burning an eternal flame?”  I know the answer now. Yes it is – it really is.

On the whole I think Nico did much better than my daughter, who was born to the strains of “Hey fatty bum bum”.  Nuff said.

With Bunny


7 thoughts on “Eternal Flame

    • Thank you so much for your lovely comment! The first midwife – Hammersmith Hospital 1980. I think all she saw was a homeless teenager about to become a homeless teenage unmarried mum and in her value set that was just a great big dollop of negative. She kept shouting “sinful, wicked girl” at me whenever I made a sound. Happy days eh? I must blog about that too sometime and amazingly, I think I could make it into quite a funny story!

  1. beautiful post, brought smiles and giggles remembering the plans made and realities of birthing experiences. I was very keen on natural birthing and been inspired by the guru Michel Odent, nothing must cross the placenta to stupefy baby ( should have questioned his manly enthusiasm). Managed that bit but overdue delivery was in hospital overseen by a nurse called from her quarters so that she could deliver her first baby. She arrived in a pink uniform carrying a red belt with her hair half up, she was promptly commanded to secure her belt and hair before proceeding to my bed at a level of decibels that ensured baby was wide awake and to attention. No longer feel frustrated that the best made plans of motherhood from that day onwards often fell flat, like yourself just feel joy from the continuing bond of being Mum .

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