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From fear to Father Christmas … the difference a year makes

December 17, 2012

This time last year I was in hospital, I was terrified that my unborn baby, my precious Spaniard was about to die. The Spaniard had been an active, bouncing, kicking little soul inside me and then suddenly, 3 days after being involved in an incident in a taxi in London, it suddenly stopped moving. I was taken into the maternity hospital and together we were tested, scanned and watched over for an incredibly difficult three weeks.

Its heartbeat was being monitored three or four times a day every day, we were being ultrasound scanned every day and I had endless blood tests. Three different consultants took us under their wing and explored so many options; was the placenta failing, had the baby had a stroke, did it have anaemia … they ruled everything out as all the tests came back clear, but still there was no physical movement … until on 21st December The Spaniard suddenly started to move again, inexplicably and incredibly. That 14 days was one of the hardest times of my life, I don’t think I’ve ever felt fear like it. Christmas didn’t even come into the equation, I was oblivious to the bits of tinsel appearing in the ward, I didn’t hear a single Christmas song and I bought no presents … it was irrelevant, and that’s a hard thing for a Christian to say, but for me it felt like that. My prayers every day were for my unborn small person and a miracle.

I wrote the words below on my blog during this week last year … it sums up how utterly afraid I was and how bleak things were.

“I’ve tried endlessly to be positive, to be calm and to be patient – but I do feel a very real terror, and I think it’s important to acknowledge it, that I may never meet my little Spaniard, I wake up at night willing it to move, I lie and stare at the heart monitor my finger poised on the button I’m to press when / if it does move just pleading internally with it to give me a sign. I am realising now that if our little person does make it to the outside world, the chances are that it will be a poorly baby and we and it will have much more to deal with – and that feels bleak and frightening. I have been for a couple of short walks as they seem to clear my head, I’ve sat and prayed in the chapel in the hospital and I’ve stared out at snow, at rain, at the moon and the sunrise looking for answers.”

“Come on Spaniard … do what you can, you’ve come this far (34 weeks and 3 days now), been such a miracle and proved so many people wrong.  I’ll do everything in my power to protect you, you’ve got the most amazing doctors and midwives on your side and you have so many supporters out here waiting to meet you and willing you on. Just do all you can little one.” tells that chapter of the tale and the beginning of daring to contemplate Hope’s birth.

Our miracle did happen, and our prayers were answered when Hope was born safely, and thankfully seems to have had absolutely no ill effects from that terrifying time (though they never did get to the bottom of why she stopped moving so totally for so long) … and here we are a year later and a very different week, one that this time last year I didn’t even dare to consider might happen.

This week Hope met Father Christmas, she went to a wonderful playgroup and played together with 3 other little girls born the same week she was and her ‘toyboy’ baby Alfie … then this morning Hope was the littlest angel in the nativity play. Proud Mummy doesn’t even begin to describe how it felt … and humble, grateful … and also heartbroken that it should happen the same time as the horrendous events in Newport, Connecticut knowing that so many families there were having their worlds shattered. The prayers I said during the lovely service this morning were for them, and of gratitude for my Hope.

Seeing Father Christmas on Friday was just wonderful, we all sat round in the playgroup with tambourines and sang Jingle Bells and in he came in a big red cloak with a wonderful white beard … and he handed out presents to each child … every present had a child in the group’s name on it .. it was magical in a wonderfully ramshackle chaotic toddler / baby group kind of a way. Hope is the only one of the gang of 4 born within a few days of each other who isn’t walking yet, she sits and analyses and chatters. She solemnly watched the others go and get their little presents … and when it was her turn she reached out and then held the present between her thumb and forefinger and started intently at Father Christmas, when I told her to say thank you she chatted to him and waved. After he flew off to deliver more presents we had a party, everyone had bought something to contribute … Hope particularly enjoyed the jelly … her first experience of it. Her little present was a lovely hard backed book called Baby’s Christmas Story which she really enjoys and has chosen from the line up of books to have read to her each night since.

This morning we went to join the rest of her little friends and be a part of the Salvation Army nativity pageant … all Hope’s gang of girls were angels and Alfie was a shepherd … little Frankie was Mary and was so proud especially when she dropped the baby Jesus with a resounding thud into his manger.

It was a perfect perfect time; family, fun, music and the wonderfully familiar story and carols. One of the joys I’ve found in motherhood as been the bond with other women, that felt especially strong today as we all carried our small charges to the front for the big performance. The highlight of which was singing about the cows in the barn singing moo moo moo … and the little girl with the rather floppy but perfect star outfit on.

So … there we were, a family enjoying something that is I’m sure very normal to many people but to me was one of the high points of my life so far. Hope in her first nativity play. We celebrated afterwards with hot chocolate and sausage rolls at the farm shop (she loves sausage rolls from there … hand made … scrumptious), and then a wonderful walk on Grantchester Meadows before Hope tucked into her supper of broccoli, sausage, cheese, grapes and water … and finished off with a little gooseberry ice cream… YUM.

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