The first glimpse of hope, two small lines in a window no bigger than my little finger nail. Feelings of joy, anxiety, elation and fear all rolled up into one complex, jumbly, emotional ball. It’s a secret, nobody can know yet. It’s killing me, keeping it quiet. Conversations about the future. Hand holding and promises. A flutter, a butterfly tickling my insides before that very first, definitive kick to the ribs. Everything is expanding and stretching, swelling with love and pride. I’m growing a human being with tiny toes and skin and a brain. Weeks of waiting (im)patiently. Cots and prams set up, little tiny clothes have been washed and put away into drawers, sitting idle. Scans, bloods, questions about mental health and support networks. Boy or girl? Pink or blue? I don’t care, just be healthy please little one. Lists of names and fending off questions from relatives and friends. Our excitement is off the chart. Fears about childbirth mounting – must not watch ‘One Born’, it’ll only make things worse. A trickle, did I just wet myself or could it be…the midwife seems to think so, the pains suggest it is so off we go. The bags are ready and, surprisingly, so am I. But it seems The Bear is not, he has other ideas. He wants to wait, he needs a bit more time. Apparently 43 weeks isn’t quite long enough. Pessaries are administered. Forcefully. Did you need to be that aggressive, luv? Gravity is my friend, but he seems to have forgotten how to do his job. Two days of pains and no movement. Bear ain’t budging and my waters have gone so we’re onto the hard stuff. We’re off at 100mph but it’s all happening too fast and Bear must be scared, he can’t do it. We’re rushing down to theatre on a gurney and I’m trembling from head to toe. Adrenaline and fear has taken over. Whispered voices. A needle to my babies head. Minds have been changed. We’re going back. “I need a wee”, I say. “That’s ok, just go”, says someone. I don’t want to. I’ll take some gas and a sick bucket though. The drugs do not agree with me. Time is passing both too slowly and too fast. Nothing seems to be getting done but I’m increasingly aware that time is running out for my baby. More needles to his head. How many times must they do that and why does it have to be the guy with hands like shovels that gets the job?! Why are there so many people in the room? Why are they arguing? Listen to me. Please. Another scratch to the head. Leave him alone.No, don’t, but please help him. Get him out. He needs us. My Mum has shouted and now they’re listening. What do I want? Oh so you remembered I’m here, bleeding and frightened. Isn’t it obvious what I want? I want my Bear out now, in one piece. He is struggling and I’m so scared of what will happen if this carries on much longer. They want to cut me. This is what I was most afraid of but now I don’t care. Just do it. Make the cut, help my Bear. The forceps are huuuuuge. I didn’t realise they’d be so big. Something pops. There is an audible ‘popping’ sound that comes from inside me. What have they broken? I’m going to be damaged but is he ok? He is. He’s more than ok, he’s stunning. Laying on my chest looking very dazed and confused while The Bearded Manc sobs at our side. The Bear smells like lemons, my insides must be really clean? There’s so much blood everywhere. Is that all mine? It’s everywhere and the placenta isn’t out yet. “Adam, watch your trainers”, I hear my Mum say gently, as The Bearded Manc tries to side step the dark fluid seeping towards him. It is flooding the room. The placenta is out. People are mopping the floor with bed pads and weighing them in a corner. Why? ‘To measure blood loss”, someone says, cheerfully. Oh ok. The baby on my chest is all I’m interested in. I’m mesmerised by him. Nothing else matters, not the tsunami of blood or the stitches, not even that ‘pop’. I need to shower but my left leg isn’t working still. ‘We’ll help”, says one of the nurses who swiftly wheels me in and props the door open in case I faint. Meanwhile, a team of people clean the room, doing their best to ignore the deflated, broken carcass of a woman washing in the corner for all to see. It’s a low point. Hours pass and try as we might, Bear can’t latch. He’s too stunned, I’m sure of it. A midwife milks me with a pipette. It’s a tad depressing. I must wee. I’m nervous. It stings like hell but I remembered the flannel trick so it’s not as bad as expected. The nurse wants to see my wee. She wants to know if I evacuated my bowels. Will the humiliation ever end? The ward is restless and so am I. I want to go home with my boys but I need blood and lots of it. It takes all night. Every feed is such hard work because I’m hooked up to the bloods but my Bear is calm and quiet (probably traumatised) and I feel like I’ve achieved the unachievable. In the light of the moon, it’s just us. I feel invincible. Tomorrow we’ll go home and learn how to live together but I know we’ll be just fine because I now know the depths of my love and strength. Thanks to him.