Pedro’s a girl
When I was pregnant I was certain I was having a boy. “I know it’s a boy” I’d say. “I can just picture us with a boy”. I’d tell anyone that would listen that “I’d had a dream it was a boy” and that “he looked just like he was kicking a football over his head on the scan!” It wasn’t that I didn’t want a girl but more that I was far too busy planning for the arrival of my son to consider it.
We found out we were expecting just as we’d booked an all-inclusive holiday to Cuba. Perfectly planned – I had visions of my husband Mark (AKA The Rum Pirate) drinking the bar dry and me throwing him looks of disgust, feeling nauseous and podgy but really I was too excited to care.
So once we got the all clear to fly after our 12 week check, we called the bump Pedro and skipped off on our travels constantly trying out boys names with our surname. At this point I’d have put money on us having a boy. “There’s just no way it’s a girl. I have this feeling… I know I’m right”.
Wrong. On the 2nd February 2014 at around 10pm, bang on Pedro’s due date, I gave birth to our beautiful baby GIRL Dorothy Mae Gardner.
Not a boy. Definitely a girl.
The best girl in fact. One that at a mere 15 months old has already taught me so much about strength, love and staying positive in the face of adversity. She’s like a tiny, lazy Bear Grylls (without the awful branded clothing) that has battled with severe acid reflux since the day she was squeezed, pushed and pulled into this big bad world. Some of the worst times saw her suffer multiple seizures a day until she was diagnosed correctly and given the right combinations of meds to keep the acid reflux at bay.
It wasn’t quite the start in life that my husband or I had pictured, planned or hoped for her but the cards had been dealt and thankfully over time, all three of us have been (mostly) kicking reflux’s butt ever since.
But let’s rewind a bit, back to the days of blissful ignorance when all this Mama had to worry about was if she’d planned everything she needed to buy for Pedro into her “Having a Baby” spreadsheet. Yep, I spreadsheet. About everything. Literally. It’s an addiction.
I had an amazing pregnancy. I felt happy and healthy and was only sick a handful of times.
I’ve always loved my job so I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t apprehensive about going on maternity leave and being left behind but that was really the only stress I had to deal with at the time. I was worried about distancing myself from my career for a while but at the same time I was ready. Ready to start a family and work hard at being a good mum, sure that I’d figure out the rest as I went along.
In hindsight I was pretty sure of a lot of things. Sure I was having a boy. We know how that turned out. But more than that, sure I’d cope. Of course I would, “after all I work in advertising. I’ve dealt with my fair share of babies and tantrums”. Plus I’d planned it all. I had spreadsheets and notebooks and websites and “feelings”. I thought I’d take to motherhood easily, roll up my sleeves and just get on with it. “I mean, how hard can it be right?”
What became painfully clear to me later on was that I hadn’t planned for what happened when nothing goes to plan!!! “Whhaaaattt!!!” That truly blindsided me.
It was clear pretty early on that Dotty was calling the shots and inevitably she had us on the back foot from day one. Almost nothing happened the way I thought it would from the moment she was born and to this day, I’m still trying to get my head around that.
Aside from the demonic mooing, the unspeakable things that my husband can never unsee and the horrific pain of squeezing my 7lb 3oz bubba out of an orifice that was NOWHERE near prepared for it, my labour was a good one. Relatively quick at around 10 hours and I was lucky enough to give birth to Dotty naturally. I needed a little bit of help towards the end by way of gas and air, an episiotomy and a kiwi. When I say Kiwi, I mean the plunger type piece of medical apparatus they used to yank her out with… it wasn’t like Mark stopped to feed me tropical fruit whilst I pushed or anything… in hindsight he probably should have, selfish git.
Once she was finally out, one of the midwives said the words “It’s a girl!” Still panting like a dog trying to catch my breath, I didn’t say or do much in reaction. I could see that she was grey and puffy and I hadn’t heard her cry yet so was staring wide eyed in her direction waiting for her to make a sound. After what felt like an eternity there was an almighty wail and we breathed a sigh of relief. I felt my eyes close and when I opened them I was looking at Mark. He was smiling and crying but I wasn’t. I was silent, knackered and probably in shock. All sorts of things were running through my head, ‘Am I alive?” “Did that really just happen?”, “Did they say girl??” “Fuck that hurt!”, “Is she ok?” “I hope I don’t kick that nurse in the face when she stitches me up”. “Why aren’t I sobbing?” “I’m pretty sure she said girl…” You get the idea.
As soon as they put her on my chest the tears began to fall down my cheeks and the floodgates opened. This is the part that you really can’t explain to anyone until they’ve been through it. How you feel in this moment when you’re handed your newborn and you hold them, feel them against your skin and realise that they’re yours. It’s entirely overwhelming and almost too much for your heart to handle. I was bowled over. We both were. Our baby had arrived safely and we were now her parents. Life was perfect and nothing else mattered.
“Pedro’s a girl” I whispered as I looked into her tiny scrunched up and marvellous face.
And then she shat on me.