I’m writing this up a couple of days later, simply as I’ve not had the time since the big event.
Niamh Ann Purdie is our daughter and she was born at 14:50 on July 25th 2012, weighing in at an eye-watering 10lb 7.5oz (4.7kg approx). She is absolutely perfect in every little detail. Here is her story. Or at least some bits of it which seem relevant. Or funny.
First up, she almost wasn’t called Niamh. After rattling names around, and exchanging blows on more than one occasion we had settled on Eilidh. Unfortunately, some utter munter happened to ask Gillian what she was going to name our little bundle of joy. As any proud mother probably would, Gillian told her. A few weeks later, aforementioned bint appeared with hew new baby girl: Eilidh Ann.
She stole our baby’s name that we’d spent weeks arguing over. Worse, there was every chance that Littler Miss would be in this girl’s class at primary school in a few years. So back to the drawing board.
Niamh had been a backup name anyway, and Gillian did give me final decision as she’d named the previous two nippers. After some soul-searching, I decided to forever hate the evil woman and go with Niamh. Actually, I prefer it for several reasons:
- It means “bright” or “radiant”. I like that
- It’s the name of an Irish goddess
- It has its own provenance, i.e. it’s not a different version of another name. Look up Iain and you’re redirected to John. Look up Eilidh and you’re redirected to Helen.
- Niamh was the warrior queen of SlÃ¡ineÂ mac Roth from the 2000AD strip, a queen not content to sit back and simper but instead was up front with her husband, protecting her children and cutting down swathes of the enemy with whatever weapon she had to hand. I like the idea of this in a daughter.
So, Niamh it was to be. Although I really wanted the old Irish spelling (Niaá¹), I was over-ruled on the basis that people wouldn’t be able to get that last character on a keyboard. Pff.
Just for interest, names bandied around and discarded included pretty much all of the small handful from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Trillian, Tricia, Random, Fenchurch, Eccentrica…) and a fair few female scientists (Marie, Grace, Ada). Oh, and SkullKrusher – the name I used to refer to her during her 9 month, 3 day tenure in Gillian’s belly.
Ann has family significance. One of my grannies has already had a few children named after her on that side of the family. My maternal grandmother hasn’t and I’d always had Ann in mind for a girl. As luck would have it, it’s also my mother-in-law’s name so that helped it find favour.
In the run-in to the due date of July 22nd, we’d had conflicting information from scans and proddings. Little Miss was quite a sizeable baby and Little Mister noticeably bigger. First impressions were that this one would be smaller. And then not. Maybe 8 1/2lbs. Yeah, well. Those three extra days were obviously serious construction time.
After a little false start a day or two ahead of time, little baby SkullKrusher decided to start making serious motions around breakfast time on July 25th. Without too much of a rush, we grabbed what we needed and sneaked out without the kids seeing us just in case it was another false alarm. By midday we were in a little cubicle at the Southern General, Gillian wrapped in straps which monitored her contractions which were definitely getting stronger and more frequent. Around 13:00 they moved us to the ward to while away the time until she was ready.
Well, great. No telly, my mobile battery low and Gillian and I twiddling thumbs. Not to mention peckish. I took her order for a sandwich and wandered over to the car to get her purse – the canteen in the hospital doesn’t take plastic.
My thinking was “drop sandwich with Gillian, go to McD’s wander back, kick heels, stare at walls…”
This didn’t happen.
By the time I got back upstairs, Gillian was gripping the bedsheets like she’d float into orbit otherwise and informed me through fetchingly clenched teeth that they were about to move her to the labour ward. Bloody hell. SkullKrusher wasn’t messing about.
Sandwich unopened and uneaten, we were whisked downstairs and into a nice little room with a very uncomfortable looking bed and very comfortably professional staff. They settled Gillian down and I floated around near the head end courtesy of strict instructions given by Gillian. I’d been warned by her mother that she’d likely call me lots of nasty names, demand that the baby goes into reverse at some point and – once she got into the gas & air – would start spouting utter bollocks.
I had also been told not to hold her hand or rub her shoulders etc. I know she just doesn’t like this kind of thing when she’s ill at the best of times. The idea of having my future wife’s fingerprints permanently embedded in the back of my hand alsoÂ dissuadedÂ me from reaching out… to begin with.
There will now follow very little grizzle or gore, I promise. The next few paragraphs are pretty much what I remember in a very rushed and very short period of time.
After a brief examination, where everything seemed to be going fine, the attending midwife (I assume it’s a midwife? I didn’t ask) was calling for some assistance when Gillian let out a belter of a primal scream. The midwife looked around. “Are you feeling the urge to push?”
Gillian managed to growl something that sounded like a “yes” and was instructed to just go with it and push when she next felt the need. As I’d been doing, I proffered her my hand. Unwitting and just instinctive, despite previous instruction and the fact that I kind of rely on working non-broken digits to earn a Â living. This time she grabbed it, for which I am very glad.
Birthing isn’t easy. It’s painful. I can’t begin to comprehend how much. Despite the upcoming end result, watching the woman you love and have chosen to spend your life with in such pain without being able to so much as offer her physical comfort is not a pleasant sensation. The relief I felt when she grasped my wrist was huge. Partly as it made me feel that I was finally helping in some small way and partly as she was far less likely to snap those bones that the skinnier ones in my fingers.
The midwife had just about got her gloves on when the head made an appearance.
Now hang on. I’ve seen births on telly – real and dramatised – and this doesn’t happen. There’s supposed to be hours of screaming, groaning, swearing, threats, cajoling, pushing, panting, breaths, tears… Nah, bugger that. That’s inefficient. Gillian’s far better than that.
Push two got the head out.
A couple more breaths, a howl that told me either “here we go” or “my army and I are about to pour over the hill and lay waste to your puny township” and push three resulted in the single most amazing, wonderful, tear-inducing, memorable, fantastic, staggering (etc., etc.) moment of my entire life.
The birth of Niamh Ann.
Gillian was only concerned that the baby was OK, obviously. All she could say was “is she OK? I can’t hear her crying.” She was. I could hear her gurgling as the midwife and other staff cleaned her up and began to wrap her. The first little cry stopped Gillian dead and the first actual tears I’d seen sprang from Gillian’s eyes.
I’d been bubbling since I saw the head. And grinning like a loon at the same time. A very strange combination, but there simply is no equivalent event or chance to experience such emotions. Hell, I’m welling up just remembering it all.
With very short order, the slimy, red, scrunched, screaming little bundle was handed to mummy.
I have never in my life seen something so beautiful.
I’m not generally an emotional person. I don’t form bonds easily. I’m actually quite a loner. But in that moment right there, I knew there was no way anyone would ever be able to harm this little bundle of squodge while there is breath in my body.
She’s just wonderful. Healthy, strong and worth all the nights’ sleep lost due to mummy’s snoring.
Welcome to the world Niamh. Mummy and I love you so much that words fail even a verbose potty-mouth like your daddy.
P.S. I ate the sandwich while we moved up to the maternity ward.