Monday 2 April 2018

Woodland Resurrection

At Epiphany I started the journey - the woodland CAL to create a double bed blanket for our cosy home.  I set out to turn my project into a mini pilgrimage - my days of walking the hills and plains may be temporarily on hold, but that doesn't stop the journeying of the soul.

My maternity leave started on Monday 26th February, and I was due to have our second child as we approached that great feast of Lent, St Patrick's Day. My first born boy was delivered early, so in my mind it seemed likely that in the first few weeks of March we would welcome our new addition. Thus, time was pressing and I had a long list of things to accomplish: exam papers to mark, remaining lessons to plan, baby clothes to wash and sort, a cot to set up, etc. Life was busy.

And so it was that I began part 6 of my woodland pilgrimage, a section of colour transition, looking up towards the sky through the treetops, colours that remind us the breezy fresh air which feeds the earthy woodland floor. As throughout the crochet journey I took time to think about each colour and set of stitches, seeing what reflections surfaced. 

Pistachio - sometimes known as the 'happy nut' because it looks like they are smiling, pistachios are associated with good fortune, health and happiness. They are mentioned only once in the Bible (Genesis 43:11) - the gift that Jacob sends with the 11 brothers to the man Joseph, in charge of the food supply. The best gift that could be taken, that which was most longed for. That story, of course, ends with the best gift - the reunification of Joseph, his father and his brothers. The bringing together of a family.

Duck Egg -  an appropriate colour for someone who could now rest a cup of tea on the belly as if it were a tray. This colour brought reflections about the life developing within. Who would our little person be?

Silver - a colour with many meanings, but often associated with feminine energy, with intuition and natural energies which flow with the tides; the colour of the moonlit night. I was beginning to think carefully about the birth of our child now, expecting that any day our newborn could arrive.

My pilgrimage through the colours of my blanket was repeatedly interrupted, my stitches were not flowing freely. Sickness came to our house, my husband and son were both struck with flu and I developed a hacking cough. My Ma also was struck by an awful flu. Meanwhile, each night I had bouts of strong, almost regular contractions which made me think 'tonight is the night', only for them to dissipate to nothing, leaving me exhausted the following day. A trip to the midwife reassured me that all was well with the baby, that the contractions were being caused by malpositioning and that some yoga exercises and careful focus on posture and activity should sort everything out. I was not yet due and so should relax. This advice was wholesome and served to be very effective. Contractions stopped, I rested and recovered.

Storm Blue made me think of that beautiful passage in 1 Kings 19: 11 - 14. Elijah is feeling alone and without support. The Lord tells him to go and wait for him on the mountain. 

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, 'What are you doing here, Elijah?'
What with everyone being under the weather, preparing for the baby and the 'false labour' I was tired, and feeling a little frayed around the edges. My twin sister said to me, 'Ina May (the great midwife) would be asking you, 'what is stopping you having this baby?' The truth be told, with my support team unwell and snow on the ground, I felt I needed spring to arrive and people to mend. So we approached 40 weeks, and I waited on the still small voice within.

I finished my blanket! I was so delighted with it, I looked beautiful spread out on the bed and would be perfect for our little family to snuggle under.

So along came Thursday, March 22nd. My mother, husband and boy were feeling better. My brother was visiting from Ireland. I was relaxed. The contractions grew through the afternoon, I called my husband and made arrangements for my boy to stay with my Ma. At home my husband and I lit the fire and the candles, put essential oil of sweet orange and frankincense in the diffuser and relaxed. I arrived at the John Radcliffe Hospital in established labour. Having delivered by first born via C-Section, we were hoping that this baby would be delivered naturally. However, after a short time attached to the heart monitors it became clear things would not be so simple. Baby's heart beat dropped each time a contraction came. Soon the room was crowded, and my husband was having to make tricky decisions as I was unable to respond to questions.

I had a spinal anaesthetic at 9.55pm and our little boy 'cried at birth at 10.03pm'. It was a category 1 C - Section, an emergency caused by a rare complication: the complete rupture of my uterine scar from my previous section. Our little lad had taken a wrong turn and entered into my abdomen, bringing his own and my life into danger.

The midwives and doctors at the hospital diagnosed and managed this difficult labour expertly. They remained calm throughout, and guided myself and my husband through the situation with care and reassurance. To them I will be eternally grateful.

I returned home on Palm Sunday, 25th March. And, I finally got that Ta Da! moment I had been waiting for: our little family all snuggled under our woodland blanket in our cosy home.

Happy Easter to you all!