When I was a teenager I remember friends at school jokingly referring to our family as The Cosby Show. That was probably because as the only non-Caucasians at school we were not only outside of their normal frame of reference, but also super-close and supportive as a family.
My two younger sisters and I rarely go a week without exchanging some repartee on Whatsapp or on the phone, and gather together like birds to the nest for family occasions. It was one of the things that cemented Mr.G and I together, that we both value the bonds and connections to our families.
This weekend we had planned to head down to my parents' to celebrate a few things - my youngest sister (on the right) visiting with her baby, who we don't get to see as often as we might like (but thank goodness for smartphones!); my younger sister's birthday (she's the one in the middle), and hopefully to celebrate the arrival of her third child, as she was due a week before.
Sometimes though, the best laid plans of mice and men and all that...
On Friday evening I got a text from my sister letting me know that she had started getting some contractions. Given that I had planned to be there for the birth, we've all been on high alert for two weeks now, so when I got her message I grabbed my bags and headed off for a train to South London. Let me tell you, a central London train station at a quarter to one in the morning is not a pretty sight - or smell!
I finally arrived at her house at almost two in the morning, and after a couple of hours it was time to head to the hospital. Fast. Dad and our youngest sister stayed with the little ones, while Mama and my sis climbed into the car and I grabbed the keys and drove like the wind to the hospital. Oh how I remember how not fun having contractions in the car is, especially when speedbumps are involved.
The next four hours dragged and yet flew at the same time if that makes any sense at all. At the time, every minute seemed to be taking eons. The harsh bright lighting of the labour ward was uncomfortable, but my sister was absolutely in her zone. She is a force of nature. There beside Mr.G and I for the births of both of our babies, it meant so much to be there with her for hers. I'd been there for her first, and then the second had been too quick. Once again though this time, she calmly chose to have no pain relief, and just rode the wave of each contraction despite intense tiredness and the pain. Her mantra was the same as with her first, and the same as mine with my two: "this too shall end!"
Time ticked by, and finally she was coming into the home strait - I stood straddling the bed while she gripped my hands, squeezing the hell out of them, rocking and breathing in unison. I think that we both screamed at the same time at one point as my bruised left hand will testify to, but more importantly, out came the newest addition to the family...
Welcome to the world!
His two sisters were in to see him before he was even two hours old, as were Dad and youngest sis. It was an incredible and magical moment. Shattered but awed to have been part of it and to watch how incredibly strong we humans - we women - are. Just when we think that we are floored physically, emotionally, those reserves of spirit rise up to push you through.
Written with my sister's full permission, and linking to Magic Momentss, as it may well be one of the most magical this year.