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Sep 11 / Caro

Touring the Maternity Unit

This morning, we were amongst a group of couples who gathered in the foyer of the not yet fully open, brand new hospital where I’m scheduled to give birth in a couple of months. We were there for a tour of the facilities, designed to make us feel more comfortable and familiar with the environment in which our lives will change forever when we become parents.

The tour was helpful and informative. We started by trailing through the all-hours side entrance that we’d use if arriving in labour in the middle of the night. We walked along the corridor to the lift and my mind wandered to a point in the future when I might be walking down here in an entirely different frame of mind. I felt sad for a moment that it probably won’t happen like that. Unless I go in to labour myself ahead of the induction that it is looking more and more likely I’ll accept.

We trundled up in the lift and along to the delivery suite. As we clustered in a large delivery room, I took in the thoughtful touches. Medical equipment cleverly screened by partition curtains to make the room feel more homely. Lighting that can be dimmed, and air conditioning that can be controlled independently. The ensuite bathrooms. A radio and even TV. The resuscitation unit that cleverly folded out from the wall and would remain entirely hidden if there was no need for it. And suddenly I was overwhelmed. Looking at the floor, biting my lip and desperately trying not to cry.

I want a natural delivery more than anything. But better than that, I’d like a “normal delivery”. Even if I achieve my natural birth, I’m unlikely to arrive in spontaneous labour. The resuscitation unit won’t remain hidden as they’ll almost certainly want to the paeds to check out my “high risk” baby. No matter how homely the room, I can’t escape the medicalisation of birth that is so often the subject of criticism. Yet at the same time, I was feeling the natural fear and apprehension that any first time mum must feel, about what labour will actually be like and whether I’ll actually cope. And finally I was imagining the moment I’m fixated with. The moment when they place my baby on my bare skin and he or she looks at me for the first time. The moment I hear their first cry and know that they’re ok. The moment I become someone’s mum and Ian becomes someone’s dad.

It was a combination of emotions that hit hard. Try as I might to hold it in, a tear ran down the side of my nose, and dripped on the floor. If it doesn’t work out, as is likely, the way of my ideal, it won’t be the last tear I cry in a delivery room.

But then, if it works out the way I dream, it won’t be the last tear I cry either.

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