In 2 days I will be running my 2nd marathon, it’s kind of a big deal to me. Today is our daughters 7th birthday, which of course is an even bigger deal. When she was born I hadn’t even contemplated running. In fact, I remember sitting outside the hospital smoking a cigarette trying to think about what just happened and what we were going to call the ricicle – that was our nick name for the person growing inside Gillian’s tummy. We didn’t even know the sex prior to birth and had thought of some boy names but not really any girls -lol!
Why am I linking these two things together you are probably wondering? Well a marathon is a very real experience both physically and emotionally. The birth of a child is also a very real experience, physically for the mother and emotionally for the parents. Some births are planned and practiced for like a marathon; every last detail taken into account. Some are not, because that’s life, and like I wrote about in my London marathon blog, races don’t always go to plan and you have to adapt. The birth of our child was one such day!
It was the 26th October 2010, (a Tuesday). About 2.5 weeks before our lives were planned to change (the due date). Gillian was on her last few days at work. She planned to have an evening with friends. I was working on Cash in the Attic (oh boy do I have some stories from those days), and on a shoot at a contributors’ house somewhere near Croydon. They were a nice family but I was suffering with food poisoning and was just barely getting through it. Luckily the presenters that day were very supportive, as was the family.
Later in afternoon I got a text from Gillian saying something along the lines of “I think something is happening”. She said she was going to come home. I told the crew. I knew we had about an hour or so still to go and it wasn’t too far to get home so I got the job done. Then the lovely runner drove me as was in no state to drive at this point! All the way home I was thinking: Is today the day? Wait, my brain was not quite ready for this, we don’t even have the car seat! I got home before Gillian, then went to pick her up from the station. We came back, phoned the hospital, they told us to come in, so off we went.
Now if you want to read Gillians side of the story then here is her blog from 7 years ago.
From my POV this is what went down:
We got to the hospital and were taken to a room in the birthing unit. Gillian was convinced her waters had broken, (in a not so dramatic fashion, like a dribble), she was having contractions but apparently they were not, (according to the nurses).
We were told to go home and that Gillian should take some paracetamol, eat and have a bath!
We arrived home just after 9pm, I cooked us some pasta, Gillian was still in pain and the food wasn’t helping, so I ran her a bath but she had to get out feeling the need to go to the toilet.
That’s when it happened. The baby was coming, so I phoned the hospital, they told me to immediately hang up and call 999. They said a doctor would be on the way…
Within seconds I had Gillian lying on the floor on a bunch of towels in our tiny bathroom as the operator talked me through what to do to deliver our child, whilst also telling me that help was on the way. EEK! Then the head was coming out, it was halfway out when the doorbell went and I was told that it was the paramedic by the 999 operator.
I had to ask Gillian to “HOLD”, while I legged it downstairs, opened the door and legged it back upstairs just in time to support the head coming out. The paramedic was just behind me and we saw that the umbilical cord was round its head, (I say it as we had no idea if it was a boy of girl), I kept hold of the head while the doctor freed the cord. Then out Poppy popped, into my arms! Of course she was just a baby with no name at this point.
Meanwhile more ambulance people turned up. I think another 4 in total along with the midwife and student. They saw what was going on, took the baby from us and off to our bedroom to watch The Million Pound Drop while we waited for the afterbirth to come out, which didn’t take long.
To be honest, I think we were both in shock at this point. It was all very bizarre!
Our child had just been born on our bathroom floor, less than 2 hours after being sent home from the hospital!
The bathroom looked like a scene from the walking dead, not the really dull scenes where Rick talks for ages about some rubbish but a zombie massacre!
We had a house full of medical people, all watching TV and drinking tea.
At some point Gillian went to hospital in 1 of the 2 or 3 ambulances outside, I drove our car.
So at the hospital I really wanted us to come up with a name. I didn’t want her to spend a night without a name. I know some people wait and think about it but this has never been our style, we are quite an impulsive couple. So as I sat outside smoking I came up with the name Poppy. It had been the nickname of my great grandfather. Someone I barely knew or remember. I do have an overwhelming feeling that he was a very kind man though, so I suggested it to Gillian and after a little discussion it stuck.
To cut a long story short…well a short story shorter, everything was fine after a night in hospital. Gillian recovered from her blood loss, our child had a name and was healthy. We both had a life changing experience.
In fact, this was truly life changing and something we will never forget.
To our awesome daughter,
We planned for you, we didn’t plan for you to arrive in this way but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I can’t believe you are 7 and I look forward to watching and helping you grow into an even more beautiful person.
P.S. Poppy if you read this, smoking is not cool!
P.P.S. I am not available for home deliveries.
P.P.P.S. Cleaning up the bathroom the next day was not fun.
P.P.P.P.S. Gillian is really annoyed I didn’t take a photo of the bathroom carnage.