To my darling Charlie,
Firstly my love, welcome to the world. We are so thrilled to finally meet you and to have you at home. Your birth certificate states that you were born at the A & E department at Princess Margaret hospital, which is a shame because the real story is far more exciting. You were actually born in the back of the car at the entrance to the Nam Wan tunnel, on the Tsing Sha highway, delivered by your amazing daddy. When news of your somewhat unconventional arrival got out, there were some who thought we were joking, and it certainly created a stir. As one friend put it - "she had the baby in the car" news travels faster than plain old "she had the baby." So today, I'm going to tell the story, for you, and for the record, of the day you were born.
After a rough night, with your big brother waking a few times, I noticed in my sleep that I was having contractions. They weren't strong enough to wake me, or lasting long enough to worry me - I'd been having them on and off all week. At 6.30 I decided to get up and time them, and they were about 10 minutes apart and lasting for 30 seconds, nothing to worry about. I told your dad I thought we might have a baby that day and he thought (hoped) I was kidding. We all got up and had breakfast together and as we did I noticed that the contractions were getting stronger, lasting longer and coming closer together. It was also getting more and more difficult to breathe through them. I still wasn't too concerned and concentrated on relaxing and spending time with J. I called the hospital just to let them know we'd probably be in later and they suggested I take some Panadol and call back in 2 hours, "you're probably in the early stages and may have a long way to go," said the midwife reassuringly. I thought we'd better get organised just in case and got in the shower. I had three contractions in the shower and the hot water helped me through them. I remember thinking that when we got to the hospital I would have to get in the shower. When I got out of the shower and timed my contractions again they were suddenly coming every 2-3 minutes. I told Daddy we had better get going and by the time we got down to the car I was feeling the urge to push. The pain was quite intense and it took all of my concentration to breathe and relax. I watched the clock, knowing that each contraction would only last a minute or so, focusing on getting through the peak and back down the other side. Daddy drove faster than he ever has, but calmly and carefully. When we got to the other side of the hill my waters broke. I still thought we might make it to the hospital and wondered if I would be able to stick to my "drug-free" birth plan. I had a moment of disappointment as I realised I had barely had time to think about all the techniques we had learned at our Calmbirth class, apart from the breathing, as things grew more and more intense and I couldn't focus on anything other than what was happening inside me.
As we crossed the Tsing Ma bridge I began to think we might not make it after all, and the only moment I truly lost control, and my temper, was when we found ourselves stuck behind an "Alphard" (a people-mover favoured by the Chinese and driven by notoriously bad drivers). Mummy said some words that I hope to never hear come out of your mouth young man, and Daddy got us out of there quick smart. Minutes later, knowing there was a tunnel and another bridge ahead, we agreed that it was probably time to pull over. Some of the best advice we had received while I was pregnant was, if we found ourselves in that exact situation, to stop the car and go with it - so we did. The men from the tunnel monitoring station came running out as soon as we pulled in and your dad shouted "my wife's having a baby!" which quickly sent them running in the opposite direction to call an ambulance. I was already in the back seat and got up on my knees while your dad pulled out J's car seat and grabbed the towels and blanket we had packed "just in case." Dad said he could see your little head crowning and with two more big contractions, and very little effort on my part, you were out. Daddy caught you, cried out "it's a boy!" cleared your nose and mouth, and you let out a tiny little cry - and that was the moment I realised that you were actually here. The relief I felt was instant and indescribable, and after Daddy placed you in my arms we looked at each other and laughed with tears in our eyes. We had just delivered our baby in the back of the car!
Just the day before we had read up on what to do if we had to deliver you ourselves, not for a minute imagining that it would actually happen, and we both had complete faith that the other one knew what they were doing. I trusted that my body knew what it was doing and in the moment, none of the things that could've gone wrong entered my mind. It sounds crazy, but it was as close to our ideal birth as it possibly could be - free from interference and away from the stark and sterile environment of a hospital. Just the 3 of us, getting on with it.
Unfortunately the rest of the day wasn't as smooth, and the most traumatic part of the whole experience began when we arrived, by ambulance, at the Princess Margaret Hospital. I will have to save that part of our story for another day little bear, as you are starting to fuss and Mummy can't type with one hand yet. I will say this though, we shared a moment in the ambulance you and I, when I was able to feed you for the first time and you reached up and grabbed onto my finger with your tiny hand. You stole my heart, utterly and completely, and have continued to do so every day since. Your birth may have been a very exciting part of the story, but it was only the beginning.
All my love,