It’s St Patrick’s Day and the title of the post is a play on that well-known Irish saying, ‘To be shoore! To be sure!’
She was pregnant with her second child and the baby was due slap, bang on the day that honour’s Ireland’s Saint Patrick, that is, 17th March. Loyal to all things that remotely hinted of his Scottish ancestry, her father-in-law would have none of it. No grandson or granddaughter of his was going to be born on St Patrick’s Day!
The 17th of March dawns and she, the saints preserve, goes into labour just after dinner. The first-born grandson is quickly dropped off at the grandparents and excited hugs and good wishes abound.
‘Don’t you be having my grandchild on THIS day,’ warns the father-in-law. How will he ever live it down if the grandchild enters this world on that Irish person’s day! He shudders to think about it! NOOOO! It will never do! She smiles affectionately at her father-in-law.
Her waters have broken and the contractions are seven minutes apart. It is now 10.30pm and oddly enough, she is feeling calm.
11 o’ clock! Hmmm, still an hour to go before midnight! The contractions are now five minutes apart. Still a while to go, the nurse predicts. Sipping a lump of ice, she periodically glances at the huge clock on the wall.
11.25pm and the contractions are now three minutes apart. Something tells her that this baby won’t come on St Patrick’s Day after all.
11.49pm and the contractions are getting intensive! Not surprising when they are now around two minutes apart. The nurses cheerfully smile and remain passive.
11.57pm and the contractions are seesawing between a minute and a half and two minutes. Her brows furrowed, she concentrates on her breathing.
11.59pm. ‘Get on with it!’ she thinks as she begins the repetitive ‘puff-pant’ exercise taught at the child-birth classes.
12. 00 Am. Her eyes are glued to the ‘second’s hand,’ which move slowly up. Tick, tick, tick! Unhurriedly, it sweeps past and the minute hand then moves to 12.01am!
She is mildly surprised at the gentle rush of expelled air and is only then aware that she had been holding her breath. Her laughter sounds almost hysterical with relief! Her father-in-law need not worry as it is now the 18th of March.
12.30am and the contractions are less than a minute apart. The room appears to be filling up with more nurses and they move around with a professional and assured air.
Her gowned and gloved gynaecologist arrives, assesses the situation and takes over. It is now 12.53 am.
‘You can push now,’ he says. Whaaat!! She continues to puff and pant and is startled when her husband’s face looms close to hers and he gently urges her to push.
She finds it disconcerting to change in midstream but tries to push. Holding her breath, she bears down with sudden determination.
‘Keep pushing,’ urges the doctor who looks up at her. Clamping her jaws, she shuts her eyes while bearing down. ‘The head has appeared! Give a really big push’ he encourages.
She feels like she is tearing in two but screws her already beetroot-red face up and grunts aloud. Much to the fascination of her husband, the veins are protruding on her forehead. Although alarmed, he is soon distracted when the doctor announces that the head is through.
It is 1.02 am and she is exhausted. “Just one last push,’ urges the doctor.
Taking a deep breath, she bears down and can barely hear the chorus of encouragements from the medical staff. She keeps the momentum up and is dismayed to hear that she needs to push again.
‘Give it all you got and keep going … you’re almost there,’ the doctor advises.
Once again she puffs out a drawn-out elongated and almost unearthly groan and hears a roaring in her head, before hearing the cheers, followed by, ‘it’s a boy!’
Sinking back into the propped up pillows and drawing in air, she is vaguely aware that she has another son. It is 1.07 am on the 18th March.
Ten years later!
Her father-in-law is researching the family tree and is both delighted and ambivalent when the search extends back to the family’s roots in the United Kingdom. Further research leads to ancestors in both Scotland and … !!! It can’t be!! Her father-in-law adjusts his spectacles, rubs his eyes and stares aghast!
IRELAND??? What rubbish!!! The McLoughlins are Scottish through and through! This is impossible! But it is there in bold print! The McLoughlins come from Ulster in Ireland!
‘God has punished you, Dad,’ her husband exclaims and then roars with laughter.
‘So your grandson would have done alright if he had actually been born on St Patrick’s Day,’ he adds.
‘It pays to be sure! To be shore, to be sure!’ he quips.
© Wendy Robinson 2014
In Ireland the inevitable never happens and the unexpected constantly occurs. ~ John Pentland Mahaffy