Less than 24 hours after our ‘final supper’ as a party of six, I got a call from Stel to tell me she was in the car on the way to hospital – her waters had broken, five days ahead of her due date. Maybe I shouldn’t have topped up the chilli in the prawn and chorizo risotto I’d served up the night before…
I was brushing my teeth as my phone vibrated with her incoming call, and knowing what she’d likely be telling me, I practically choked and swallowed a mouthful of Colgate in a rush to pick up. It was happening, our canary in the coalmine was about to have a baby.
That evening, the hospital confirmed Stel’s waters had broken, but since she was not yet contracting, sent her back home. That night, I slept with my phone on loud, waking every hour or so to check it, and having intermittent dreams about labour and all sorts. Stel managed a little sleep that night too, until her contractions started at about 6am. When asked whether he’d managed to clock any sleep that night, Philpott beamed: “I slept like a baby, I knew I’d need it before a long day ahead”.
After four hours of increasingly painful contractions, and Philpott confirming that “So far, Bec’s favourite coping mechanism is all-fours”, they headed back into hospital, Stel eager to arrive, racing towards that beloved epidural she’s had her heart set on since day one.
I’m not sure whether I’ve previously covered just how petrified my Stel is of childbirth. It’s her one fear, and sits in room 101 next to the sharks that Fats places in there, and the snakes that I banish. So when Philpott tells me they’re on the way in, I’m absolutely beside myself with angst for my best friend. And I wasn’t the only one. Little Treacle started performing all kinds of frantic SOS movements which would continue until the arrival of BSP, and I had a full 24 hours’ worth of Braxton hicks, which I considered to be sympathy labour pains (on a much lesser scale, obviously) for my Stel.
At around 10am, Philpott and Stel arrived at the hospital and went offline, and we all waited anxiously for news. That news came at around 2pm: By the time Stel had arrived at hospital, she was 8cm dilated and it was “too late for an epidural”. Each and every person gasped in horror when receiving this news – an epidural wasn’t just part of Stel’s birth-plan, it was her birth-plan. After an hour and a half of pushing, the labour hadn’t progressed as much as the midwives and doctors would have liked, so they were going to make a decision on a C-section or an assisted labour very soon.
It was this news that had Dan and I in the car and headed to Jen’s house. I had an overwhelming urge to camp out with her, knowing we were both on tenterhooks, and could await the news together. Her face as she answered the door was a picture, and a perfect reflection of how I was feeling – nervous, excited, overwhelmed.
Gazza – Stel and Jen’s dad, and one of the nicest guys you could ever wish to meet – had arrived from Liverpool that morning, having jumped in his car the minute he heard his little girl was in labour. He was understandably incredibly worried about how Stel was getting on, and we’d all startle every time anyone’s phone beeped.
It was another hour or so before the call finally came, with Stel herself calling to deliver the incredible news that she’d given birth to a healthy baby girl, 8lbs 5oz, called Betsy Mae. We all cheered and jumped around, completely ecstatic.
Betsy Mae was delivered at 2.42pm in theatre with the help of forceps, and finally an epidural. Whilst understandably incredibly sore and tired, Stel was healthy and happy, and Betsy Mae was incredibly gorgeous, with a full head of dark hair, beautiful soft skin, and the most squeezable cheeks you’ve ever seen. Philpott has since told me he remains totally “in awe” of how Stel coped with labour, and I too am so incredibly proud of her.
After one night in hospital, Stel and Philpott arrived home with Betsy Mae, the most gorgeous girl in the world. I fell in love with Betsy the moment I held her in my arms, so I can’t even begin to imagine how intense that love is that Stel and Philpott feel. She’s truly magical, and I can’t get enough of her. This week I’ve managed three visits in four days, and I’m now counting the days until my maternity leave begins (16 working days)knowing that I’ll be able to indulge in unlimited Betsy cuddles.
So I guess for the next six weeks, we’re officially, 3 ladies, 2 bumps, and 1 baby. Betsy has made both Fats and I incredibly excited about what’s to come, and we can’t wait to see the three of them together.
So let’s hear it for Betsy Mae, and for my Stelios and her Philpott, the loveliest parents around.
You’ve won the jackpot, Betsy, being born into that family. And by ‘that’ family, that also extends to ‘our family’, because that’s all part and parcel of being one of the ‘3 babies’; you get the rest of us for free.