20 February is always a memorable date for me, as 20 February 2001 was Joshua’s due date.It was when Doctors and midwives told us that he would arrive and it is when he should have arrived. At the time, mothers were allowed to go two weeks overdue before they were induced, but we had no monitoring of the baby during that time. The date was arranged to be induced, we were to present ourselves at hospital on Sunday 4th March in the evening, if the baby had not already made an appearance, which he did not of his own accord.
So my husband left me in the maternity ward, in a shared room, and he went back home again. Both of us expectant mothers were given a pessary to induce us and almost immediately, I began to feel different and I was sick. I was uncomfortable, could not sit still so I decided to have a bath and when I got out, I was in pain and was given paracetamol. Even though I knew why I was in hospital, I did not connect my stomach pain with labour as it had all happened so quickly. The nurse called my husband to bring him back and I was taken to the labour ward, much to the irritation of my room-mate.
I don’t have a clear memory of the next part, maybe due to gas and air and possibly due to nature’s self-preservation, but I recall that every time I shut my eyes and opened them again, more medical staff were in the room. There was a sense of urgency to get Joshua out quickly and I was told that I would be prepared for a Cesarean if I could not push him out. That was enough incentive and he was delivered ,but taken away – although my husband says that that they laid him on my chest briefly first, I have no memory of our first cuddle.
When the Doctor came to see us later in the day, he said that the placenta had stopped working at some stage, and that he was a much lighter baby, at 6lbs 3, than he was going to be and that his skin had gone “baggy”. So as I say, Joshua should have been born on 20 February and then his future might have been very different. I am not sure if he had his stroke during that fortnight or during his birth, but I cannot help but feel that it might not have happened at all if he had arrived on his due date. If that had happened, he would have been 18 today and like his peers, he might have been going to the pub for a pint, going to town dancing or taking his girlfriend away to Bruges. But ‘what ifs’ are not helpful and neither is hindsight, as we are where we are.