It’s All About The Temperature
Christmas was approaching and it was too be our first Christmas as a little family spent in our home. I was still at home looking after Nadia while Ken worked. Money was a little tight, but we were coping. It wasn’t like we had to shop for three as Nadia was on baby food and formula milk which was provided by milk tokens from the government, myself and Ken did not eat that much portion wise.
I was okay at home with my routine but lately I was getting tired during the day and by the evening I was so ratty that even Nadia got on my nerves. Ken and I started to have little snappy arguments. They weren’t bad, but it sometimes had me on edge. I was off my food too. Mum said I was run down and was not having a good diet. I was still breast feeding in between so it could be that my immune system was low, she urged me to go and see my Gp hoping he will give me a prescription for some tonic or vitamins.
I did, and after I explained all what I was feeling, he got the nurse to take my bloods and I took a urine test and advised me to drink plenty of water and rest.
The doctor called me back in later that day. I sat down in his office as he turned my way. He said I needed some tonic but not because I was rundown or anaemic, but because I was pregnant! My eyes had shot wide open in shock, then looking back, all the signs were there. The feeling nauseous in the evening, ratty, off my food and lately the metal taste in my mouth. He asked me if I was okay with that news and I had smiled and said yes. He examined me and judging by my dates estimated I was six weeks gone. I was given a couple of appointments and he wrote up a letter to send to my preferred hospital and said they would send me an antenatal appointment in the post. He said congratulations and I left. Walking out the building a million thoughts ran through my mind… two children, what would Ken say, how will mum and my friends react, two babies in nappies, what I would do different in labour… Labour! I smiled, in fact I grinned as I said out loud the delightful thought that sprung to mind ‘gas & air Yes!
Ken was at work; I was bursting to tell him. It was killing me to stay silent, the more I thought about it the more I was loving the fact another baby was growing within me.
When he finally came home, I had composed myself. I wanted to feel his mood first after his long day, what if he wasn’t as excited as me? He kissed me and said evening and I smiled. He knew something was up and asked if I had been to the gp. ‘Yes; and he gave me his diagnosis this afternoon as he saw something, he saw a baby!’ Ken looked up ‘what?’ ‘you heard’ I smiled as I saw the twinkling in his eyes, his eyes always shone as diamonds when he smiled. He stood up chuckled and kissed me. He joked saying he now realised why I was so moody and snappy of late. I told him the doctor said I was about six weeks according to my menstrual cycle dates so very early days.
I wasn’t one to keep news of a pregnancy until after twelve weeks pregnant, I was letting my family and friends know I was expecting, after all, I was married now so it was no shame in it. The feeling was so good mentioning I was pregnant without fear of a backlash of negativity. Everyone we told was so happy for us, especially our parents. The thought of another little Nadia was pleasing to many, she was a beautiful baby in looks and temperament.
Christmas day was so lovely, in fact it was beautiful. My first time cooking my very own Christmas dinner, serving it in the special silver dishes we received as our wedding gifts and as I couldn’t drink alcohol, we had apple tango in our posh wedding champagne flutes. The best part of Christmas day was Nadia took her first steps. It couldn’t get any more perfect.
Weeks rolled into months; time seemed to fly by. This pregnancy was nothing like Nadia’s, I grew as big as a whale, my hair was really healthy, and it grew as did my feet! From a size five to a size seven. I waddled like a duck when I walked, it was quite comical. It was quite a hot summer which didn’t help. It was so different being heavily pregnant in the summer than in the winter which I was before.
Ken left me at mums and took Nadia to drop Daniel to a cricket match the other side of London. I was alone as everyone had gone to work. I was restless and decided to pop down to the shop for my much craved for pineapple juice, stopping off at the dry cleaners on the corner, I chatted with the couple that ran it. They were a lovely couple. As we spoke a sharp pain cut across my stomach which winded me and I doubled over. The lady, Mrs Bannerman asked if I was ok as I composed myself, I said yes it must’ve been a Braxton Hicks although I thought to myself it was rather strong for that. No one was home so I prolonged my conversation with them. Seven minutes passed and there it was again, now we all panicked as I doubled up and groaned. Mrs Bannerman got her husband to call my mum at work as she was closer than Ken was. Ken wasn’t answering his phone and I was sure although I was thirty-eight weeks gestation, this baby was coming. It caught me off guard as I expected it to be the same as my last experience. As if my body had its own automatic alarm clock the contraction came again, I held my breath involuntary; the pain gripped me. Mr Bannerman tried calling Ken one last time and by a miracle Ken answered. He explained the situation, but Ken was too far for me to wait and decided it was best I get to the hospital and he’d meet me there. Mum was on her way. I had to get to the house to get my hospital bag which was packed and ready and to call the labour ward. I waited for the last contraction to pass and Mrs Bannerman walked with me slowly to our house. By the time we got to the house there was mum pulling up and at the sight of her gave me a sigh of relief.
Mum rushed in the house to grab my bag and quickly called the hospital. They were expecting us and after I danced and rocked the next contraction away, we got going.
This labour was quick and it seemed that Ken was going to miss the birth as after just a couple hours I was ready to push. Ken had rang and said he had dropped Nadia off at his sisters and would be right there.
I thought of where his sister lived and rolled my eyes, I looked at mum who was holding my hand and rubbing my back and I fell into tears, I was scared, I wanted Ken, I needed to hear his voice and feel his touch. He always had a way to comfort me and say the right words to make me feel safe. Times when I would have flashbacks when we made love, images of indecent touches and accusing words that showered me with guilt. Ken would hold me in his arms and gently kiss the nightmares that tormented me.
Mum consoled and encouraged me as best as she could, after twenty long minutes the door burst open, it was Ken, oh the relief. I was ready to push; the gas & air had my head feeling nice, but it was time to let go to feel the urge to push with force (you gain wisdom and knowledge from your first labour!) My body trembled uncontrollably immediately after the baby came out, it was all over. I heard the words ‘It’s a boy’ a boy! What did they mean, it must be a mistake, my family don’t have boys!! I panicked and burst into tears. Ken was lost as to what was wrong and I didn’t want to hold the baby, there had to be a mistake. He quickly went out the room to get my mum telling her something was wrong. She came rushing in ‘Maria what is it, what’s wrong? Sobbing I explained ‘I don’t know what to do with a boy, I’ve only ever had nieces and my baby at home is a girl, why have I got a boy?’ Mum smiled and said well darling you only get two offers male or female and we take what’s given and be thankful. I still wasn’t liking it and spoke out my concerns, ‘how do I put his nappy on, is his little willy supposed to fit up or down in it? And how do I potty train, would he stand up or sit down?? Wouldn’t he miss?’ I sobbed out these words and Ken and mum did everything they could to suppress their laughter. Looking back, my concerns and fears were so ridiculous and humorous but they were so worrying to me at the time.
They comforted and reassured me and celebrated that this was the first grandson for my parents, first nephew for my brothers and sisters. I smiled. The midwife, after I had calmed down, brought over the swaddled baby for me to hold. I looked down and a burst of love covered me like a warm blanket and I kissed him as he slept.
As this was our first son, Ken named him, his name was Rishon, a Hebrew name meaning First boy. Ken had Daniel off course but Rishon was our first.
Again, I stayed at mums initially for some help but only for two weeks as it was more hectic having Nadia as well. It was a little cramped and I missed the comfort of my own home.
Things got back to normal quickly and we slipped in our new routine well. Ken was having problems at work and began smoking a lot heavier. He stayed out longer and more often on Friday nights with the lads which began to irritate me, no longer was I a part of that. I was now the stay at home mum with two young babies. It was upsetting as I hardly saw the girls and I missed being able to go out clubbing, especially with my cousin Shantel.
Ken started bringing home his frustration from work, he was snappy and we got into fits of shouting matches every other week, it was always a build up until it blew up. The children would cry which made me calm down so they to will feel ok. Ken would slam the door shut as he went out for a smoke and a walk. He would come back and there would be silence. I would get the kids to bed, have a bath and go to bed. I would pour a small glass of straight rum and knock it back just to take the edge of the hurt away and make sleep come faster. Those were the nights Ken would come to bed and hold me in his arms, they’d be no words but he would kiss me and before I knew it we would make love. That was his ‘saying sorry’ I was ok with it as the rum helped images stay away. I could get lost in an oblivion and fall into a deep sleep afterwards, our bodies entwined and at peace.
We headed into difficult times financially, I wasn’t working just receiving Statutory Maternity benefit and Child Benefit as an income which was very limited. Ken’s salary was stretched which did not make life any easier. He seemed to resent me staying at home even though we both agreed it was the best for the children. I then resented him for resenting me. He constantly gave me the silent treatment and so I would flare up in anger as I hated the rejection to my touch or the lack of response when I tried to speak about my day and what the kids done.
One evening, Ken was out of money and out of cigarettes and the cupboards were bare except for things to make breakfast, but it was dinner time! I made scrambled eggs, bacon and baked beans. It wasn’t a meal you would expect in the evening, but it was food and it was hot. The kids had eaten, bathed and in bed. I had made the meal in silence. I was fed up of the atmosphere in our home, I didn’t like it, it wasn’t us. Every time I spoke to Ken he grunted a response and I was getting so frustrated to anger, ‘for crying out loud Ken your situation at work isn’t my fault, stop dam well taking it out on me.’ No response.’ Ken I’m talking to you, why won’t you lis’ and before I could get the whole word out and finish my sentence, he got up with a fit of rage and flung his plate at me as he shouted ‘SHUT UP SHUT UP’ I turned to get out the way but the plate smacked me at the back of my head and I dropped to the floor. The next thing I knew I felt warm water trickling over my face, Kens voice mumbling quietly ‘look what you made me do’ look what I made him do?! I felt dazed and then it sunk in, I was knocked out. Ken had never hit me before. My mind was swirling with thoughts and then a wet warmness brought me back to reality, he knocked me out but he loves me, I know he loves me, he used warm water to wake me up and not cold. Ken knew how much I hated cold water on my skin; surly he cared enough, love me enough to use warm water, didn’t he? I looked up and the tears rolled down my face in silence. I didn’t, couldn’t say anything and Ken seemed too ashamed to. I got up slowly looked at him and brushed passed. There was baked beans and eggs in my hair, I wanted a bath. A hot bath to wash away the pain, yes not the food, the pain.
The tears fell with no effort, what the heck just happened? What was happening to us? We’ve now resorted to this. I ran the water my eyes blurred, the bathroom steaming. I stripped off my clothes effortlessly and stepped into the bath one leg slowly at a time it was scolding, once that leg adjusted to the heat, I put my other leg in and stood there. I held on to the sides of the bath and bent my legs slowly to immerse into the hot water. I couldn’t feel how hot it was, I was numb. As I sat there I whispered, ‘he used warm water he loves me, yes he loves me off course he loves me, he used warm water, I’m his wife, he asked me to marry him, I never forced him, he used warm water, yes he loves me, he didn’t use cold water, he used warm water.’ And so the mumbling continued whilst I sat in water that was too hot for me to be able to move.
I slipped down into the water once it got bearable and drifted off to sleep. I was awoken by Ken, I don’t know how long I dropped off for but the water was luke warm and all the back of my hair was wet. He called out my name and shook me. At first I forgot what had happened but it came back. I looked at him blankly, reached for my towel and got out the bath. I had no words, no energy to dry my skin. My towelled dressing gown was hanging on the back of my bedroom door and I reached for it and put it on and wrapped it around me. Crawled into bed and curled up like a foetus.
There would be no intimacy tonight to apologise. My thoughts swirled around seven words that wooed me to sleep… ‘He Used Warm Water, He Loves Me.’