In March 1999 I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, an incredible natural birth at the local cottage hospital. It had been an uneventful third pregnancy, and her 6yr old sister and almost 2yr old brother were very excited about her coming. In my group of friends there were four of us all pregnant, I remember sitting at a gathering, and thinking we were all thirty or over. One friend was in a refuge, another expecting baby number six, the other already had a child with serious health issues. I reasoned in my mind, that the probability of one of us having a child with a disability was quite high. From somewhere, I think from my heart a prayer went up, "Let it be me. I would cope. If it has to be one of us let it be me." I know it sounds fanciful, but that is what happened, and at the time I wasn't even sure that I believed in God. I shook the thought out of my head, reassured myself that we would all be fine, and carried on enjoying their company.
Her birth was incredibly quick, four hours from start to finish, we didn't get any further than the examination room in the hospital. Most of it is a blur now, but a few moments are clear. The midwife and my husband encouraging me to move as I was sat down, and apparently babies can't be born if you are sat on your bottom! I politely told them I would move when I was ready. When I was ready, it really was time, and the midwife opened the door and screamed to the student "If you want to see this baby born, you had better run!" In between contractions I remember calling on the spirit of my Grandmother to give me strength, her body lies in the cemetery next to the hospital. She was born with the cord wrapped round and round her, around her head, her neck, shoulders torso and legs. She was covered in bright red marks as if she had been whipped. The midwife handed her to me, and I asked when was the pain going to start, the midwife laughed and said "Your baby is here now, there isn't going to be any more pain." I started to cry, with relief. Yes, there had been sensations, and pressure, but I hadn't experienced pain as I had in my previous births. The student hugged me and told me that I made it look easy. That's because it was easy.
The baby was alert, wide-awake, looking into my soul and I knew she was the person I had been waiting for. When I had given birth to our son two years before, I remember when I was handed him for the first time I was startled by him. My first thought was "Who are you?" I bonded with him, and fell deeply in love with him very quickly. He just wasn't who I was expecting. Only a fortnight after his birth I was able to put it into words to my husband, and explained that I felt our son had sneaked in, and that there was still somebody out there waiting to be our child. I wanted to try for that baby straight away, but a dear friend who is a nurse, convinced him, that I needed a year to recover from the pregnancy and birth. So I waited a year, and then fell pregnant.
One of our GPs came in a few hours later and checked Emma over. It took a while to decide on her name. 'Bump' had been called Alice, but she didn't look like an Alice, we both said it at the same time. The name Emma came from no where. The girl who bullied me at secondary school was called Emma. This felt like an opportunity to neutralise the name, to get rid of that negativity. Emma means universal, everything. The GP asked the midwife what the red marks were, she was told about the cord, and seemed happy enough, and we were allowed home.
My Mother was waiting with the older children. When we were settled in and everyone had hugged and kissed. She told me she was so relieved to see that Emma was well, she had had awful dreams that Emma had been born disabled, dreadfully deformed. She tried hard to hold back the tears of relief as she held her. Mom had been convinced that Emma was going to be disabled. That just seemed so ridiculous, and a million miles away from the perfect baby girl in her arms.