In which G.M. Norton recalls the scariest day of his life.
Today marks a happy but poignant day for your favourite protagonist – the birth of my youngest daughter.
There are three candles planted in her birthday cake this year. To look at her now, you would never guess that the day of her arrival into the world was the most harrowing experience of my life.
I will never forget the moment her blue body slithered out of my beloved and into the arms of a team of nurses. No cry. No sign of life. More medics rushed into the room where they crowded round a table that my darling daughter was lying down upon. It was the longest five minutes I’ve ever experienced as they tried to resuscitate this precious baby. Our baby.
While this was happening, my beloved was losing a lot of blood as the midwife urgently tried to help deliver the placenta. In shock, my beloved was too distracted by what the medics were doing, crowded around our baby who we had planned a whole life for. The cot which my eldest had first used had been carefully put back together. The nursery had been decorated just waiting for the arrival of a baby. Our family were waiting too, for news about a healthy baby along with the usual details of weight and time of birth. My eldest daughter was particularly eager for the news she was now the big older sister.
For those five agonising minutes, my beloved and I were waiting for one thing - to find out if our baby girl was alive. My poor beloved, who had been through a horrific 16 hour labour looked across at me, repeating the words, “She’s not breathing. She's not breathing.” I tried to reassure her, putting on the bravest face I could muster as I told her everything would be okay. Our daughter was going to be just fine.
Despite my reassurances, my stomach was in knots. I felt physically sick. My mind was praying to a God that I don’t believe in.
The moment we heard our baby make a noise, to see a sign of life, I could no longer retain my calm exterior and rushed to the bathroom to retch. I was so relieved. So thankful. So grateful to the doctor and the nurses.
That wasn’t the end of the worry though. But it was enough, there was enough chink of light, enough hope to get us through. Our baby girl, more than 9lbs of fat, was rushed away from us to receive more medical treatment. We were told to wait.
An hour and a half passed by before we were told we could go and visit our little girl in the special care baby unit. Our daughter was lying in an incubator with various tubes attached to her.
That evening, it was explained that our daughter appeared to be having brain seizures. That she may need to be taken to another hospital that specialises in these things.
We were still so very thankful. She was crying in distress, her little arms held up to help her deal with what was happening to her. But she was alive, and she looked like a fighter.
It was another couple of days before I had the chance to hold her in my arms for the first time. The seizures had stopped, the doctors were growing more and more optimistic.
She had a brain scan a few weeks later and we were told she was perfectly healthy, with nothing to worry about. Apart from spending too much time in my oddball company, that is.
Three years later and here we are. She’s got a bicycle for her birthday, she loves singing nursery rhymes and playing mummies or doctors. This week she's made a special request for yellow shoes and unicorn pyjamas.
I realise this is a step away from the usual tweed related buffoonery but what I’m trying to get across is that life is precious and unpredictable. Be the best person you can be and enjoy every moment you can with the people that matter. I'll be spending time with my little family.