While Jay and Em are holding Baby C, Jay comments that she is still in a fair amount of pain. The midwife explains that this is because she still has to deliver the placenta. I become aware that the midwife and the student midwife have both had a go at tugging the cord to help deliver the placenta but that the placenta is clearly not playing ball. “Is the placenta taking its time,” I ask casually.
“It should certainly have been delivered by now, but sometimes it does take a while.”
Jay is not as responsive as I thought she would be considering the gift in her hands. This worries me. Is she overwhelmed by giving birth, by becoming a mother. Should I be thinking of arranging counselling for her?
The placenta finally breaks free and is delivered. We all cry for joy for some reason. “I still want to push.” Jay says.
“That’s okay, that’s just your uterus starting the process of going back to it’s normal size. If you want to push you can.”
Jay pushes and two large clots that resemble closely the look of a liver shoot out onto the bed, followed by a pool of fresh red blood. Knowing how “Un-medical” Em is, Jay says, “I’m sorry you had to see that, Em.” She is clearly weak. Em immediately strokes her hair and tells her not to be silly. The nurses and I tell her the same thing. The nurses then scoop up as best they can what was on the bed, cover Jay over and tell her to relax. She starts shivering so they bring her a couple more warm blankets. Baby C is still on her chest. They suggest that she try to breast feed him. She does and it is like watching a duckling take to water. He just opens his mouth and latches beautifully. All I know is that I am witnessing an amazing gift. I know that I am privileged to have been wanted here, to be able to share this moment. Jay and I, our bond is set for life, as is mine and Baby C. I saw him take his first breath, and now his first meal. Honoured is just not good enough as a word.
I am still worried about Jay though. She is still out of it and a bit unresponsive. I was definitely expecting more emotion. I guess everyone is different.
Suddenly, drawing my undivided attention from Jay, I become aware that there are way too many people in this room. I glance around the room. There is an IV, and various other medical equipment. There are at least ten people in the room. Jay is then asked to give Baby C to “Dad” as they need to put an IV into her. Suddenly, I realise that something is wrong. “Is there something wrong?” I ask, praying for “No” as the answer.
“Jay,” the midwife looks at me. I feel like an axe is about to drop. “Jay, has lost two litres of blood. She has had a post partum hemorrhage and we desperately need to get fluid into her.” I look at Jay who is clearly not with us completely. There is doctor on each limb (feet included) desperately trying to get a vein into a body that usually reluctantly supplies one and now is definitely not giving one as it slowly shuts down. I stroke Jay’s hair. “Love, you have lost a lot of blood. They need to get an IV into you and also take some blood.”
“Jay,” the midwife says, “keep taking the gas and air as we need to push hard on your stomach to push more blood out.” Jay sucks on the gas and air. They push hard on her a number of times and each time a small amount of blood is released. She winces with each time. Eventually the blood stops coming. The vein is still elusive and now more doctors are trying in each arm and foot. Eventually, a male doctor has found one in her foot. And another doctor finds a precarious vein in her left arm. It is enough, they feel, and fluid is pumped into her. Jay’s lack of reaction to the pricking of her limbs tells me she is totally gone. She has an intense phobia of needles.
“Mum. What’s happening?” She hasn’t taken in what is going on. I stroke her head and lean in close to her ear. Calmly, I tell her what is happening.
“Jay? I have to check to see if you have torn, okay?” She nods. I am dying as my 19 year old is put through yet more indignity. “Jay? I am afraid you have two tears and one is a third degree tear. He was a big baby and delivered very quickly. We will have to take you to theatre. We are just going to get the theatre ready and then we will come and get you.”
And almost instantly, the room is quiet again. Em is still holding Baby C in the corner and for the first time in an hour, I remember him. “Em, are you okay?” I say. He nods. I don’t believe him. I can only imagine how overwhelmed this must be for him. I used to nurse. I know the terminology, the way things work. This must have looked like an episode of ER to him. I stroke his arm. “Baby C is happy,” I say. Em nods.
“Mum, what is happening?” Jay asks. I tell her that she is going to theatre, that they need to repair the two tears, that she will have to have an epidural as a general is too risky with the amount of blood she has lost. I cannot believe I am having to tell her these things. How much is one 19 year old meant to take. Why can’t the universe just let her enjoy her baby?
A nurse comes in and tells Jay that she will need to express some milk as it is expected she will be in theatre for a couple of hours. A couple of hours? My heart is breaking.
They help her express the milk, and then they come for her from theatre. Em walks up to me. “Do you want to go with Jay to the theatre, Sarah?” Every maternal fibre in every cell of my being is screaming, YES! YES! YES! I want to go and be with my daughter, to know that she will be okay and that if the loss of blood is going to take her that I am the last person she sees, that she knows how much I love her. But I know that Jay wants Em. Em is her rock now. He is her family. I look up at him. “No, you go love. It’s important she is with you.” As they wheel her out with Em by her side, I am praying to every God I have ever read about. “Please, please, please keep her safe.”
I look around the room. I realise that Baby C has been left in the baby crib. I look down at him. Jay hasn’t even had time to enjoy him. I pick him up. Cuddle him. Hold him close. Hold her close. I close my eyes as the tears roll down my cheeks. Fear has gripped my very soul. Please universe, tell me that Cameron’s path is not to experience life without a mother.
I wait a good while. Then Em walks through the door. Jay has been taken to theatre. She was upset at having to have the epidural and we laugh at the irony of her wanting it so desperately only two hours before. I place Baby C back in his crib. He grumbles and as I am raising my arms to pick him up, Em has beat me to it. “Come on, buddy,” he says. I can’t help myself wondering if Em would let me be a part of Baby C’s life if anything happened to Jay. I dismiss the thought almost as soon as it has appeared. I do not want to tempt fate.
Another hour goes past. The midwife comes in and says she wants to weigh him. He weighs 3,710 kilos or 8lb 2oz. He is a big baby. They dress him in his proper clothes and he is wrapped up in the blankets that Jay and Em have bought for him. He is now finally their child. But Jay is not there to see it.
They give him the milk that Jay has expressed before finally, we are told that Jay has had the surgery and that all is well. We are to meet her in the post natal ward. The relief is enormous and I silently say a prayer of thanks to God and the universe.
We walk up to the ward with Baby C in his crib. Jay arrives looking exhausted, but a lot more alert. All she wants to do is hold Baby C. THIS is the reaction I had expected, had hoped for, when baby C was born. Em handed Baby C to Jay. She could not feel her legs, so we helped her to get comfortable enough to hold him. He is fast asleep.
I know the time has come for me to leave the new family to enjoy their time together. I do not want to go. I never want to let Jay out of my sight again. But I know I must do this. This is the lament of motherhood. We have to let go of the beings to which we have given life. I kiss them all goodbye, hugging Jay just a little tighter than usual, though I doubt she will notice. I kiss baby C and draw in that beautiful baby smell. As I walk away, some 10 hours after arriving at the hospital, I glance back at the new family. So young and so much to look forward to.
It has been one helluva journey, this pregnancy, but what I have learned is a great deal. Teenagers can make fantastic mothers given enough love and support and very little criticism, and young grandmothers are the best because they get to enjoy their grandchildren for the longest time!