My baby turned 4 months old last week, marking the inevitable end of what has been an immensely enjoyable and fulfilling period of maternity leave.
I thought that this would be an opportune moment to document Candace’s birth story here on Bubsicles. It’s now or never.
I took 3 weeks to journal Coco’s arrival back in 2011 and less than 2 weeks to blog about Claire’s in 2013. It’s taken me far too long to get down to translating the memory of Candace’s birth into writing and it’s fast losing its vividness as fresh, new memories – each one as precious as the last – jostle for space in my head.
Candace was estimated to arrive on 19 June. Give how Claire had unceremoniously shot out in 2.5 hours at 38 weeks, everyone joked about how we had better be prepared for an unexpected home birth or to receive our baby in the car en route to the hospital. I planned for my maternity leave to start on 11 June – partly because I expected Candace to have arrived by then and if she hadn’t, I envisioned myself enjoying a leisurely time at home lounging in air-conditioned comfort while waiting for the baby to arrive (an experience I was robbed of twice when both previous babies arrived early.)
I didn’t expect to end up cutting short the wait. When reporting to my gynae that there was still no sign of the baby arriving, I decided to have my labour induced on 15 June should it not have commenced naturally by then.
When people asked about my choice to induce, I would joke that I got bored – nothing to do at home while waiting.
The truth is that I felt really anxious to meet my baby. To hold her in my arms.
The anxiety seems almost silly, given that this is our third child and not our first. I hadn’t felt the same pressing need to see the first two and left the decision on when they wanted to arrive to them. In fact, I was rather horrified when the previous gynae asked if we would consider inducing Claire’s birth and thought “Why would I want to forcibly evict my baby from the comfort of her home?”
I can’t quite put a finger on the exact reason why I wanted so strongly to hold this baby so soon.
Maybe because having 2 kids under 3 kept me on my feet all day, leaving me little opportunity to track the baby’s movements in utero. I would sink drowsily into bed at the end of a long, tiring day and startle in panic when I suddenly tried to recall whether I had felt any kicks that day. Too few kicks, I would think, as stories of still births ran amok in my tired mind. I would drop off into an uneasy, nervous sleep, fervently praying that she was alright.
Maybe it was because I had grown accustomed to not having time to myself over these years. I couldn’t just sit around and wait. Busy mamas simply do not wait. I had to do something and I grew impatient for the birth to happen.
But as I dig deeper into my heart, I find what could be the most plausible explanation for my intense anxiety and eagerness to have my baby arrive. NOW. Candace is our surprise baby. Our hugely unexpected never-in-our-lifetime dream come true. After 3 rounds of IVF that yielded 2 precious bundles of joy, we had written off all chances of conceiving naturally. Then came the bizarre onset of epilepsy that, which each devastating seizure, repeatedly killed the possibility of embarking on our much-awaited frozen cycle. My hope of seeing baby no.3 anytime soon ebbed with time. When we found out in October last year that I was pregnant, it seemed unbelievable. Unreal. How could this be? What did we do to deserve this gift – this baby who chose to come to us just like that? With IVF, we had to work hard to earn our babies. To have been able to conceive naturally seemed too good to be true. My memory of the pregnancy is dreamlike. Every visit to the gynae was the proof that I needed that this baby was real. I needed to believe that she was really coming to us. As I grew more and more emotionally attached to the baby inside me, I also became increasingly nervous that she could be taken away – as easily as she came.
That was why I had to have her – to see, feel and believe that she was real. Our real live baby.
And 15 June 2015 was our chosen date to meet her.
(To be continued…)