Continuing the restoring of our old blogs, this was probably my favourite post that I have written to date…
Originally published on 18th January 2016. Just as a side note – I’m now a massive fan of the show.
Not a show I normally watch, my mum’s really into it and keeps saying I should watch it, and I likely will when I get some time, but after hearing so much about last night’s episode of Call the Midwife and the BBC’s handling of the subject of a thalidomide baby born in the 60’s I decided to download and watch it.
I’m so glad I did, although I spent most of the episode absolutely in pieces and was quite happy to hear Marla shouting from her cot for me so I could go up and give her a very tearful cuddle halfway through.
I won’t say any more about the episode, as I wouldn’t want to spoil it, but it was very respectfully done. Hats off to the BBC for it.
On the one hand, it reminded me in so many ways of Marla’s birth and has made me reflect back on the day. The looks around the theatre when she was delivered, I imagine were the same – although I wasn’t aware of them at the time, as I was lying on an operating table with my belly cut open, waiting for them to tell me everything was ok with the emergency c-section and that Marla was fine – Simon told me afterwards that everyone just looked around the room at each other like they didn’t know what to say and he knew there was a problem, he just didn’t know what. Then she was whisked away before either of us could see her, while the paediatrician examined her to check her over – presumably looking for any other birth defects. When he did finally bring her over to us his handling of the situation had room for improvement (to say the least), rather than telling us what the problem was, he had her wrapped up so we couldn’t see her hand and was really vague about giving us information – and to top it all off he actually asked me there and then (while I’m being sewn up) what medication I had taken while pregnant. So of course the first thought I had was “this is my fault “. The Midwife came over and gave me the biggest hug and looked really annoyed at him. I will always appreciate her for that.
I spent the first night of Marla’s life, lying wide awake in the post-op ward, looking over at her in disbelief and thinking that it was all a mistake, that she can’t be mine, that I’d go to sleep and wake up still pregnant and none of it would have happened. Finally it dawned on me that it was happening and all I could think of was all the things that she would never be able to do: tie shoelaces, ride a motorbike (although in hindsight this one is daft as we won’t ever let her near one – we are such hypocrites!), the list went on and on in my ignorance. It was a very emotional time and I didn’t feel that “rush of love ” that people talk about (although after talking to many other new mums it seems it’s not that uncommon not to anyway, but the traumatic birth probably had a lot to do with it), I felt ashamed that I hadn’t bonded with her and embarrassed about the thoughts I’d had.
But then the next day I was moved into a private room to recover from my surgery for a few days and finally get some sleep, I remember looking over at her and BAM! It hit me just how beautiful she was. I completely and utterly fell in love with her and realised that it didn’t matter about her hand, we would support her however she would need it all her life. Since then, through meeting other kids like her through Reach and seeing her grow for the last 2.5 years, I realise just how ignorant my first thoughts were – there really is very little she won’t be able to do, so far there hasn’t really been anything, certainly not of any importance, she just does things a little differently sometimes but she continues to amaze us. The only thing I would like to change now (realistically, as obviously I can’t grow her a new hand!) is other people’s attitudes to it.
On the other hand, the programme also reminded me how lucky I am for what Marla has, but also to be thankful for her being born in this decade. With all the positive focus on people who live with differences and disabilities these days, she will get the same opportunities as anyone else rather than being told she can’t do something.