It's Lise's twentieth birthday today so as a way of celebrating I thought I'd share the story of her birth with you.
She was expected to arrive on 26th May but in what we'd later learn to be typical Lise fashion, she hung around for about three weeks longer than she should have done before she eventually decided to appear.
By that time I was getting very tired of being pregnant. Norway was in the throws of a heatwave and I was stuck in hospital—in Buskerud Sentral Sykehus—fed-up and wanting the baby out.
One afternoon, during his visit, Dr. Jordheim—the doctor in charge of obstetrics back in the 90s—found me crying.
"What's the matter?" he asked, as they do.
"I'm fed-up," I replied. "I'm totally hopeless. I can't even give birth to a baby properly. I've been put on drips, given pills to put under my tongue, followed every old housewives' tale going and I'm still pregnant."
Dr. Jordheim sat on the bed and took my hand. "Mrs Jacobsen," he said. "I've been a doctor here for a long, long time and believe me, I've yet to hear of a baby that didn't come up sooner or later. Yours just happens to be later."
Somehow, those words cheered me up. The fact that he also promised that if nothing had happened by morning, I'd be taken down for a c-section helped a lot, too.
That night, after Svend (Lise's father and my ex-husband) had left at about eleven o'clock, I went out on the balcony to sit with some of the other expectant mothers. I can't have been out there more than ten minutes when I felt something happening. It wasn't like the Braxton Hicks' I'd been having - this was different.
In I trotted, found a midwife and asked to be examined.
"No, you've ages to go yet. You're still only on one centimetre." I'd been there for over a week so things didn't sound optimistic.
But the discomfort continued and I was sure something was happening. In I went again and grabbed another midwife. Would she examine me?
"But you've just been—"
"I know, but I want to be examined again. I'm sure something's happening."
Up on the bed, legs apart, midwife has a feel.
"Blimey! You're eight centimetres already. We'd better get you into a delivery room."
Svend was called, he rushed back up, and by the time they'd got me into the delivery room I was fully dilated and pushing. Now it's all well and good for midwives to say "don't push" but when you're body's pushing a baby out, trying to hold back is like trying to hold a tsunami back with a sack of sand! Get real - this baby's coming!
The delivery bed and the bed I'd been on had somehow become hooked together. The midwife and a nurse were shaking them, trying to move the bed away so that midwife could get into position, and suddenly my waters broke. Splash! They went everywhere.
"Don't you ever come near me again," I scream at Svend. "It's your bloody fault I'm in this pain."
"I'm sorry," he's saying, wanting to do something to ease things for me but knowing there's nothing he can do. If he touches me I'll get angry. That's the last thing I want when I hurt.
"You need pethadine," the midwife said.
"No I don't," I argued. We'd agreed that I wouldn't have anything at all. I wanted a completely natural childbirth.
Suddenly she's leaning over the bed with a syringe, sticking a needle in my thigh. I'm frustrated and angry... I punch her! Smack! She topples backwards and lands against the wall.
The baby's still coming. I can feel her head. I tell the nurse. Svend gives the bed one last pull and it comes free. The midwife dashes round, positions herself at the end of the delivery bed and plop! A baby lands in her hands.
It's five past midnight and I feel serene. The most beautiful child I've ever seen is placed on my breast, and she looks up at me with big blue eyes. I fall in love and Svend cries.
The wait and the pain's forgotten.
There's absolutely nothing in this world that can measure against the feeling of seeing your newborn baby for the first time. It's a moment I'll never forget.
This one's for you, Lise. I love you.