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"That Story I never wrote Down"


I have kept a journal ever since I learnt how to write. I wrote a PhD, I write a weekly blog.

I have hand written letters to my best friend ever since I could remember.

I wrote my first daughter's birth story minute by minute, stage by stage.

And yet, there has been nowhere else which documented my subsequent children's birth stories.


This is my third's: she came two hours after she announced herself. No fuss, no banging noises. We drank hot tea instead of champagne (our midwife had a really sore throat) and ate energy balls made by me, in my living room. I like them spicy. We listened to my favourite music, but I'm not going to tell you what - I will be embarrassed.


My middle daughter's story is the one which should have stolen the spotlight. It is the boss of birth stories, the raw deal. Yet it never got written down. What I am going to tell you now is little snippets pieced out of collective memory. Just like stories should be.


It all starts at 11pm the day before my mother’s birthday. They call it a feeling. I had a feeling we were not going to properly celebrate the following day, so I opened the champagne and gave her flowers and baked her a cake the day before. She remembers all this with fondness. She says that 7 years ago her birthday moved to one day earlier. And we continue to celebrate it, every year at T minus 1.

The following day, on my mother’s actual birthday, we sent my eldest to her childminder and the two of us (mum and I) set off for a stroll. We came back for lunch, then strolled some more. I won’t lie, I was in labour and I knew it, but I could not possibly imagine that labour could be brief, after the 48 hours of day (and night) time TV watching I had previously experienced.

At 4pm I light-heartedly phoned my husband, to let him know I was in labour. I must have sounded quite cheery, or this is the only way I can explain the fact that he left work at his usual leaving time, not a second earlier, and calmly made his way home, no drama.

The story changed slightly when he entered the front door. Our oldest daughter was in the back room with my mum, who for the next two hours had no idea that we had left the house pretty much as soon as Pawel had reached it. I do not think he had time to pee.

Our memories of the next few hours vary dramatically.

My mother: remembers having to open the door to a taxi driver who was asking for her daughter’s maternity notes (‘or they won’t let your daughter into the ward to give birth’) which we had hastily forgotten at home. She went to the bedroom to call me, apparently.

My husband: remembers rushing out of the hospital room to receive said maternity notes. He will always remind me my answer as he told me he was leaving: ‘Who’s leaving?’ I asked ‘Me, but just for a few minutes’, he answered. ‘That’s ok, as long as it’s not you’, I shouted, pointing at my most wonderful midwife.

I: remember eating a huge bowl of hot beans stew, a couple of hours later, in my own home. It had been a pretty quick and straightforward birth.

My eldest daughter remembers nothing, but loves her sisters to the moon and back.

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