The “delivery” or “operation” had been scheduled for 7am, then was postponed to 1pm, then at 11.30am V was suddenly told it was time, and was wheeled away. I didn’t even really have time to see her as she disappeared, and there was a flurry of activity as I tried to intercept the doctor and the nurse sent both me and V’s mother on errands to buy the same thing from shops downstairs.
Eventually we reconvened behind the giant metal door on the stairwell that led to the operating theatres, and V’s mother cornered the doctor to ask what the situation was. He hadn’t seen her yet, but stentoriously listed his dire warnings and strode away. We hadn’t given V’s mother much detail before, so this was a bit of a shock to her.
Eventually we were shooed away and told to wait on the 10th floor obstetics ward.
V’s mother sat on the chairs, I did some pacing for a while before giving up and sitting down too. Somehow I’d passed through panic into relative calmness, not something I really understand to be honest. We waited there for an hour and a half before the baby emerged from the lift in a bassinet, and got the merest of glimpses of him as he was wheeled to be weighed and measured. He was as white as chalk, though that quickly faded into a normal skin colour.
We waited another hour and a half for V to return. Obviously I was excited about the new baby, but three hours in the operating theatre is just too long. I kept walking over to the lift thinking “she has to be coming out now, it can’t be any longer” and the doors always remained shut. Then suddenly she was there, hooked up to an astonishing variety of machines and looking the very essence of ‘pale and weak’. Later we found out that she’d needed well over a litre of blood.
Soon after V’s mother had to leave, and the longest shift began. V needed constant massage, changing of various drips and cleaning up of blood, and was in too much pain to get out more than a couple of words. The nurses would help, but that required going out into the corridor and nagging them, and there was that newborn baby to take care of too, of course. It was a long night, but amazingly we each managed to get an hour or so of sleep, mainly due to the fact that the nurses had moved us to a room with two beds.
We were sharing with a woman who’d had premature twins, both being kept in the intensive care unit. She had her sister-in-law staying on her fold-up chair, and she seemed to be either a midwife or a nurse, and was willing to help out a little when I realised how little I remembered about taking care of newborn babies. Together we got through the night.
The next day V was a little better, though still looking far from healthy. I was doing my chores on autopilot and waiting for sleep, and had barely time to take in how nice our new baby was being. Perhaps our expectations were set low after the baby in the 6-bed ward, but he seemed to like sleeping and drinking milk a lot, and wasn’t that keen on crying. My only complaint was that he kicked his bedclothes off every half hour, but he might just’ve been too hot (they really do love to wrap them up tight here).