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By Katrina O'Brien

From usual beginning at domestic to unforeseen start within the outside to deliberate Caesareans, those touchingly own and humorous stories illustrate how the strategy of arrival is less significant than the affection the kid unearths whilst it eventually arrives.

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The stitching was horrible. All I wanted to do was close Birth Stories Text 10/2/05 2:52 PM Page 45 THE SHORT DISTANCE BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH 45 my legs and relax for a moment and I was left cringing at every feeling from then on. She said that in six weeks I wouldn’t know she’d been there, which wasn’t strictly true. Apart from the stitches I really enjoyed giving birth to Patrick and I don’t think his birth could have been better. I felt I’d worked hard and produced something amazing. And to go through that pain was a learning experience for me.

And if I needed to have an emergency Caesar, then fine as well. Whatever got me through. I had a real craving for iron a week past the baby’s due date in October 2000, so I ate a huge steak for dinner with Andy. Then, at three in the morning, I woke up to what felt like a little hand squeezing my tummy. I’d had Braxton Hicks contractions before, but this was very different. I’d read every book in the world and had everything prepared—the birthing-ball, the stopwatch from the BBC. So I climbed out of bed, switched on CNN like the good journo I was, and sat on the ball with the stopwatch in my hand.

It was all a bit herbally and I’m not really a herbally kind of person, but in this case I was quite happy to try it and it seemed to work. The contractions were thick and fast—half a minute apart at most—and the midwife suggested I try different positions. But whenever I moved I regretted it because I felt I’d lost control. I’d become fixated on two things— the warmth of Darren’s hand and the warm spot on the metal trolley that had the drip attached to it—and I knew I could manage the pain if I could feel both those things.

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