Little Cesca is a week old today. At times it seems as if she has been here for much longer than seven days, mainly because everyday is a totally different one than the day before. We have good days which for me are characterized by long stretches of sleep during the night – last night being the best example, when she mustered an impressive five hour stretch (after literally milking me dry for an hour), and the panicky moments when I start feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of the whole situation, when all the help in the world still does not change the fact that as much as it is rewarding, motherhood is also at times the loneliest job in the world, for there are some tasks which only you can do. But then special moments come along, when it’s just me and her, and after studying my face and looking at me for several minutes (I know her eyesight isn’t 20-20 at the moment, but still…), she gives me her beautiful smile and I feel myself bursting with love for this small being, who has brought so much love with her arrival.
And talking about her arrival, allow me to share with you the tale of how Cesca Martina Farrugia came into this world…
Cesca’s due date was the 19th of July. As I have already said, I moved here to Malta on the 31st of May, in order for me to settle down here and prepare for her birth surrounded by my family. I thought I had around seven weeks of doing that, whereas time proved that I only had four! A and I had carefully planned his visiting dates with great care, knowing full well that there was a chance that all our plans could be reduced to nil at the whim of a moment, if she decided to change her arrival dates. A had four days planned from the 30June/1st July to the 4th of July, and a 12-day visit right around Cesca’s due date.
My fear all along was that she would end up arriving at the end of his 12-day visit and not give him enough time to spend with her. Another fear, much bigger than the one just stated, was that A would not be here when the actual time arrived.
A left Heathrow, London on the 30th of June, and was bound to arrive in Malta at around 12.30am Friday morning. In all his visits, I have always gone to pick him up at the airport, and this time round the plans were the same. However my mother put her foot down and refused to let me go to Malta on my own, and after a heated argument, I gave in and rented him a taxi instead to collect him at the airport and take him to Cirkewwa, in order for him to catch the 2.30am ferry.
That evening I was invited, along with my aunts and mother, to my cousin’s hen’s party, which more than a party was actually a lovely dinner held in a lovely place in Qala. Dinner started at around 8.30pm and when we finished, I took my car to the Mgarr Terminal and left it there for A to use when he arrived in Gozo. I then had mum drive me to Victoria, to our place, and at around midnight I went to bed, all eager and excited that A was arriving in a couple of hours.
Lady Luck was definitely with me that night, for A’s plane arrived earlier than scheduled, A’s taxi driver was a tad more eager to show his speeding skills than normal drivers, and in short, instead of the 2.30am ferry, A caught the 1am ferry, which left a bit later than scheduled, since that night, Malta was hosting the Isle of MTV concert in Floriana. Since lots of Gozitans crossed over to the bigger island for the event, the 1am ferry stopped the boarding of cars at a certain point, and let in more foot passengers. Of which A was one. Therefore, instead of arriving home at 3.15am, A was with me at 1.45am, at which time I woke up, welcomed him and helped him unpack his hand luggage – which ironically contained my Pregnancy Week by Week book, since I was eager to catch up on the latter part of the book dealing with labour and birth.
I guess the joke was on me.
We slept at around 2.30am, and up till that moment nothing was different or felt strange. Sure, I was suffering cramping back-pains in my lower back region, and was not comfortable at the least. However I managed to sleep till 4am, when I visited the toilet.
It was then that things seem to have just spiralled out of control.
During my 4am loo-visit, I had my ‘show’, just as period-like pains started in my pelvic area. I went back to bed, woke A up and told him what had just happened. I knew that the ‘show’ did not necessarily mean that labour was right around the corner, and for that reason I told A to go back to sleep because he had had the longest day ever – work, drive, flight and ferry, and I knew he was exhausted. But just at that moment, the most awful pain came over me, so awful I had to get out of bed and lean against the wall, groaning in pain. A was up in a second, not sure what to do, never having seen me like that before. I looked at him and told him “I think I’m in labour”.
We tried timing the contractions, but I knew they were coming fast and strong, so I told A to go wake up his father and have him come upstairs. Since his parents’ house is below our penthouse and his father happens to be a doctor, I was reassured that he was nearby and could advise me as to what to do. A came back a couple of minutes later, with his father in tow. When I told him what had happened, he told me to go the hospital, “better to be safe” were his words.
I now know that those words were meant only to temporarily calm me, because he knew that The Time had come. So at 5am we went to hospital, checked in the maternity ward where the midwife there led me to a delivery room, to check me up.
I do not know who was more surprised, A, myself or the midwife, when the latter exclaimed to me that not only was I in labour, but that I was 7cm dilated and ready to have the baby delivered! We were caught totally unawared, not even having our hospital bag with us. When I told the midwife that A was going to go get it from my mother’s home, she told me that if he left, he could miss the baby’s birth! So with that in mind, the midwife and nurse started scrubbing up, I was led to the bed, changed, and A and myself had some couple of minutes, in between contractions, to fully digest the news that the baby was soon going to be with us.
Around 15 minutes later, the midwife came again to check me up. The contractions were coming in quite regularly – a big one followed by two small ones. I was feeling them becoming more urgent in nature, however still had no real urge to push. At that time, the midwife told me I was nearly the full 10cm dilated, and would recognize the moment I would have to push. After a couple of minutes, the pushing still had not begun, so the nurse started me on the drip, which true to her word, was soon having me huffing and puffing away.
I remember A wetting my forehead and whispering words of encouragement. I remember me grabbing onto his hand, holding for dear life. I remember the midwife telling A to take a look at the baby’s hair as it became visible, and I remember me asking her whether the pushing was actually working, at which point the midwife started laughing and told me that I could feel the baby’s hair if I wanted.
I politely refused 🙂
The last pushes were quite painful and urgent, and I have no idea where the strength came from because although I had not been in labour that long, the contractions were quite strong and draining. However before I even knew it, the midwife told me the baby’s head was out, with the next contraction the rest of the body was fully out, the umbelical cord was cut, and baby Cesca was put on my chest, screaming for the first couple of seconds and then seemingly became calmer. The placenta soon followed. I looked over at A who was trying to take a picture – ‘trying’ because he was crying, as was I, who could not believe that in just over three hours from the pains had started making themselves felt, our baby was here.
She was born at 7.15am and weighed in at 3.105kg and measured just over 50cm. She has a full headful of hair, all straight and spiky and so so velvety to touch. At one week old she has started following the direction from where voices come from, she smiles in her sleep and sometimes gives off a pensive look. She hates anything confining her hands and is always fisting them up and touching her face (the nurses at the hospital referred to her as The Boxer). This proves a bit difficult to handle during feeding time, because trying to remove her hands from her face to start the feeding is no easy task. She has the hiccups nearly everyday, and her face becomes puzzled-looking as to what is going on then. I have learnt that once she is fed and clean, she can sleep for hours at a stretch, giving me time to catch up with things. Things like showering, visiting the toilet and having something to eat.
So with all the fears about labour and the actual birth experience with which I started off the pregnancy, the overall experience was much less painful and much more quicker than expected! Had I known what it would have been like, I would have saved myself the crying fits I had during the pregnancy, resulting from the fear of the unknown, and the useless reading of articles of mothers talking about their harrowing fifteen hour labour experiences. As the midwife and nurses told me, I was truly lucky to have such a quick and easy birth. One of them asked me whether I had been particularly athletic during the pregnancy. I told her that the only sporting I had done was a daily 30-minute walk during the last month of the pregnancy.
As I said before, Lady Luck was truly on my side. From the very beginning, starting with A’s arrival and resulting in our little munchkin of joy and happiness. Our Princess C 🙂
° Ironically, Sunday marked our one-year wedding anniversary. We had booked and planned a romantic meal a’ deux. Instead we got a much bigger and lovelier present ,)