I remember my alarm going off at 5.30am like we were getting up to go on holiday. But we weren’t. We were getting up to go and have a baby.
I remember sitting in the hospital waiting room and the midwife coming to say we were first on the list and we’d be going down to theatre soon. That c-section we’d talked about, it was going to be happening soon.
I remember going onto the ward and putting on a gown and compression stockings and Leon getting into scrubs. We took a selfie. We look terrified.
I remember walking down to theatre and entering a room filled with strangers and implements and bright lights. I remember remembering to be brave.
I remember placing my trust and my heart into the hands of an anaesthetist I’d just met. I remember she was nothing but amazing throughout.
I remember what it feels like to park your phobias at the door – of needles, of incisions, of surgery – in the spirit of the greater good. Our baby.
I remember having a catheter inserted and realising that when I thought the upside of having to have the baby this way was that there’d be fewer opportunities for me to lose my dignity, I was wrong.
I remember losing all feeling from the chest down. I remember panicking. I remember calming down. I remember hearing “You’re doing really well, Charlotte” again and again and needing to hear it. Needing to be the child in the room for just a few minutes more.
I remember a sheet going up and it starting.
I remember suddenly chilling right out. I remember making jokes, people laughing. They weren’t funny I’m sure, but when a woman with her bikini line cut open makes a joke YOU LAUGH.
I remember feeling some pushing and some pulling and being absolutely able to handle it. I was doing this. Somehow I was letting this happen.
I remember that I’d almost forgotten what this whole procedure was for until the anaesthetist said “I can see a foot”.
I remember nothing and then everything. Time stopping and then speeding by. I heard “You’ve got to see this,” the sheet came down and our baby was there in front of us. A girl, they said, you’ve got a baby girl.
I remember that we laughed. A deranged, euphoric, overwhelmed guffaw at the sight of our giant, gooey, bright pink and white baby daughter, shattering our hearts with her very first cry.
I remember her disappearing out of sight and calling “Mummy’s here” as she shrieked from the scales. Mummy. Because that’s my name now.
I remember the moment she was placed into my arms, the softest, most precious bundle I’ve ever held.
I remember her looking straight at me, with these enormous, beautiful eyes that I couldn’t believe the two of us had made.
I remember looking at Leon and the world feeling smaller than ever before. There’s just three of us in it now. That’s it.
I remember the moment our lives changed forever.