Perhaps it was the full moon; midwives say that maternity wards are always busiest when the moon is full. Perhaps it was the fact he sensed that if he came one day early, his birth date would be exactly double the numerical value of his brother's. Or maybe, he just couldn’t wait any longer to meet us.
At 5am we drove swiftly through the streets of west London to get to the hospital. The world around us was gently coming to life. Lights flickering on in houses, people walking with purpose through the streets. It’s funny the things that go through your mind; despite more pressing things to occupy myself with, I found myself wondering what on earth so many people were doing up and about at 5 o’clock in the morning.
The birth centre was silent and dimly lit when we arrived. Not one other labouring mother. Just me. I found calm in the stillness of it all. A short while later, the birthing pool was filled, the lights were turned down low. As I eased myself into the warmth of the water, it soothed the increasing pain of the contractions. The midwife sat one side of me, husband the other. A large clock on the window sill marked time. It seemed to move slowly. The light outside changed from dawn to daylight and the world outside became alive with the hustle and bustle of a new day. Insulated from it, the three of us stayed within the small room, silent and peaceful. Patiently waiting. As the rise and fall of contractions reached their crescendo, I knew he was close. Just minutes away from being in my arms. Relief. The midwife busied, getting a clamp ready for the cord, towels ready to dry us. Moments later, there he was; pushed through the water, into my waiting arms. My vernix covered water baby. He didn’t cry, but just looked towards me and made a croaking noise, as if to say ‘hello’, like it was the most natural thing in the world.
I’d tried hard not to imagine what he would look like, to not have a pre-determined picture of him in my mind. As it was, EB turned out to be more gorgeous than I could ever have imagined, a mass of dark hair and deep blue eyes. Not small, at 8lb 13oz, but in my arms he still seemed tiny, a scrunched up ball of minuscule fingers and toes and a tiny red rooting tongue as bright as a strawberry. Six hours later we bought him home.
His big brother is delighted with him. Their introduction, one of the most heartwarming, wonderful memories of my whole life. Pip, sweet, caring, and delightful, as ever. The genuine joy on his face at meeting his little brother and holding him in his arms is something I will never forget.
It’s been an exhausting but wonderful few days. It feels like EB has always been here. Already I can’t imagine life without him. Slowly we are adjusting to life as four. Three days in, EB seems a pretty chilled out baby. He sleeps most of the time and has embraced the challenge of tackling my increasingly swollen breasts with gusto. Pip loves his little brother and is adjusting well. He sings him lullabies when he cries, I am so proud of him. He seems larger to me now, no longer seems the little person he was three days ago. I keep telling myself, he is still the same, it’s just my frame of reference has changed. That he is still my Peter Pan. That there is no sense of loss, only the joy of gaining another.
Family and friends are visiting to pay homage to the new arrival, but in small periods in between we are beginning to find our new sense of ‘normal’. (Although frankly our new normal cannot possibly continue to include quite as much cake in Mummy’s diet - but for now, it’s ok). Feeling our way on this new journey, everything feels good, feels celebratory. I feel calm and contented. My boys seem calm and contented. We’re all a bit tired, but it’s all good. Happy Days.