Theresa and I travelled to her home city a week before the baby was due and settled in at her parent’s home. We checked in with the hospital with all the medical records from the pregnancy.
To our surprise, a few days later Thomas arrived to stay nearby. His excuse was that he missed us.
At 11 pm when my contractions were at the right strength and interval, Theresa phoned Thomas and they drove me to the hospital and had me admitted. There was some confusion over the roles of Theresa and Thomas, with the staff assuming he was the father. He solved it simply by declaring Theresa as my birthing partner and himself as the errand boy who would sit and wait outside the labour ward.
The midwife was so impressed, she let him in when we agreed, and he sat quietly on the other side of me. He also fetched the two of us some fruit juice when we were thirsty and peeled a banana for me when I demanded something to boost my energy. He supported me when I wanted to sit up. He insisted Theresa eat a sandwich he brought saying that Theresa must be strong for me.
He left while they administered the spinal block, and returned saying he had reported progress to both sets of parents.
He took photos when asked of the two of us and blushed when a nurse offered to take a picture of all three of us.
When the baby finally was born, Theresa was allowed to clean off the fluids and carry him over to me. Thomas stayed and talked to me telling me what a beautiful boy he was. Then there he was in my arms, my beautiful baby, our baby. Theresa said, “I never realised I could feel so much love”, and that was exactly how I felt. Thomas had tears running down his cheecks, unchecked. While Lisa and I cooed over our son, Thomas went and phoned both sets of parents for us.
Once I was settled back in my ward Thomas left so that Theresa could help me have a clean up, and get ready for some very much needed sleep. Then she also went back to her parent’s house to sleep. It had been a long night.
Theresa’s parents arrived to see me that evening and expressed much happiness. Then the baby was brought in, and Theresa’s mum also cried, smiling all the time. She said “I believed I’d never be a grandmother, how can I thank you?”
The next day my parents also arrived. They were a bit surprised to find Thomas also there but it did seem a case of the more the merrier for the happy occasion.
As I was in a private room, everyone was allowed in to see me. Theresa and I still hadn’t decided on a name and Theresa announced that it was time for the naming ceremony. During the discussion that followed it turned out that both Lisa and I had an ancestor called Edmund, and another called Thomas.
As we both have happy associations with the names we decided that he would be Edmund Thomas. My dad, Theresa’s dad and Theresa went off to register the baby, leaving the mothers with me. Thomas came in, with pencil drawings of Edmund Thomas, sleeping, lying in my arms, being held by Theresa. He said this was too important not to have them.
On the second day the paediatrician came in looking worried. Edmund was experiencing some difficulties. We phoned my dad to see if there was any history in my family of early baby deaths, seemingly unexplained. Dad being a doctor could give full details. Then she asked about the father. I said I wanted nothing to do with him. The doctor said that it would really help if we found out if the family history included babies very ill or dying in the first week after birth. If there was a history on either side, then it was worth some somewhat invasive tests. Otherwise they would continue aggressive support treatment.
Theresa had been with me the whole time, holding hands. She and I looked at each other in horror, nothing could be allowed to affect our baby. She said “I’ll get the information you want, no matter what I have to do to get it”. I started to cry, this was too much, our baby in danger and we now needed Philip.
The doctor explained exactly what we needed to ask about. Theresa left immediately to go and see Philip, driving straight to the capital and to the embassy.
Thomas came with me, supporting me, to go and see Edmund. I cried to see him in an incubator with monitors and tubes.