Thursday, 13 March 2008

My sister

This is a piece of writing by my sister, Alexie. She was recently present at the birth of one of our friend's daughters. Alexie is currently in year 11 and wants to be a midwife when she 'grows up'. She wrote this piece for an assignment at school: a reflection of something that has changed your life (or something along those lines).
I want to share it here because it is a beautiful piece of writing, an incredible and inspiring story, and because I am so proud of her!!!! (just beware... it may make you cry)

Here it is:


Come on, baby, I thought, staring at the still empty crib. Hurry up! We can’t wait to see you. I looked over at Cindy and her husband, who were also staring longingly at the crib. She put her hand on her stomach as another contraction began.

“Ooh! A good one,” she panted, with an angrily determined look on her face as she focused on her breathing. I sank into the recliner, eyelids heavy. I wanted nothing more than to curl up and sleep like a baby myself.

The call had come at one thirty in the morning. I was already prepared. I’d gone to sleep with the phone on my bedside table in anticipation that tonight would be the night. But, 18 hours later, we were still waiting. They say that a watched pot never boils and testament to that we were watching and nothing was happening. An attempt had been made to quicken the labour but the effects of the gel were already wearing off. I looked at Cindy's stomach and saw the flutter of movement as the baby kicked around. At least we knew she was alright in there.

George, Cindy’s Greek balding obstetrician, came in followed by Jenny, the midwife. The combination of the shirt George was wearing and the fact that Jenny referred to him as ‘Georgie Porgie’ made it really hard to take him seriously. Nevertheless he had a serious job to do. As the gel wasn’t working, it was now his job to find out what was holding the labour up. It was the second time that day that I had sat in on the procedure and it was still just as awkward. Suddenly I was acutely aware of the beep of the foetal heart monitor slowing down rapidly and Cindy’s face contorting with emotion and fear. It was then I realised that I needed to be listening to what George was saying. I caught the last two words, “emergency caesarean”.

I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. The blood drained from my face as my heart quickened pace. I felt really cold and I wanted to shiver but I stopped myself. This time wasn’t about me. It was about Cindy, Stuart and the baby. I needed to be strong for their sake. So I pushed my feelings aside and went into working mode. Helping Stuart put pressure stockings on Cindy. Stroking Cindy’s hair as they put in the IV. Cleaning up her belongings. Opening doors. Pulling on scrubs. Finally they wheeled her through the theatre doors and there was nothing more Stuart and I could do but wait. And pray.

I still cannot believe that a man 20 years my senior was drawing his strength from me. Stuart was leaning forward with his head in his hands, tears pouring down his face. As I went to put my hand on his shoulder he reached out for me and gripped me tightly. He was clinging to me and trying to pray but the words wouldn’t come out. So I stepped in and finished it for him. I felt like weeping with him but I couldn’t. Not yet.

At 8:28pm, after almost 19 hours, Sumaya Angel Mignon W-- was born. The relief I felt when I could hear her cries is like nothing I have ever experienced. Just knowing that she was safe stirred even more emotions and I couldn’t help but let tears escape down my cheeks. When Sumaya was placed in his arms for the very first time, Stuart gazed at her with a look of absolute awe on his face. This was the moment we had all been waiting for! “Hello, Sumaya. I’m your daddy.” He said softly. It is one of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever witnessed in my short life: a father holding his child for the first time. Sumaya opened her eyes and looked around, viewing the world and her new surroundings. “Did you want to hold her?” he asked. I didn’t know if I should. Cindy was in there, unconscious and unable to hold her for another few hours at least. I didn’t know if I should hold her before her own mother. But somehow I sensed that Cindy would want me to. Stuart placed her in my arms. I ran a finger gently over her cheek. I don’t think that there is a thing in this world that is as soft as the cheek of a newborn baby.

I was sitting in the room when Cindy came back. She was lying on her bed with all sorts of tubes coming out of her. She was whimpering in pain and in some ways reminded me of a baby – needing to be looked after and loved. She was calling out Stuart’s name. “I’m just getting the baby.” He said.

“I don’t want to see the baby just yet. I want to see you,” she replied weakly. He moved to her side. Another beautiful moment. The two of them whispered their love for one another and exclaimed their delight in their new daughter. Then I heard Cindy call my name quietly. I walked over to her and kissed her forehead. “How are you?” she asked. I was shocked. How was I? She didn’t need to be worrying about me. I was fine. She was the one I needed to be worrying about.

“I’m fine. How are you?” I replied.

“Sore.” Her face contorted with pain as a contraction began. Her finger pressed the morphine button. Without thinking I put my hand on her head and started stroking gently. The contraction passed but I kept stroking her head. “That feels really nice.” she whispered before closing her eyes.

Everyone keeps telling me how brave I was but I still can’t believe how brave Cindy was. It is amazing how much strength God gives people when they ask for it. I will never, ever forget the day Sumaya was born. It was a long, exciting, scary day all rolled into one. At first I thought Oh no! The experience of watching my first birth has not gone to plan. But now I realise that it was the best possible experience. I learnt more than I would have if the birth had proceeded normally. It’s funny how in stressful and desperate moments God lets your true potential shine. If the birth had gone to plan and nothing had gone wrong, I might never have discovered that I contain a strength inside me from which others can draw…a strength I know is only in me because of God.

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