You’re my hero

When Jodie Grif­fin, 37, from Tet­ten­hall, went into labour, her eight-year-old son took charge…

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Hear­ing the front door slam one af­ter­noon, I knew my eight-year-old son Mar­cus was trudg­ing in. ‘How was school?’ I called. ‘Mum, I learnt some­thing re­ally in­ter­est­ing to­day,’ he said very se­ri­ously, plonk­ing his bag down.

‘Go on then?’ I said, kiss­ing the top of his head.

‘Some­times, when mum­mies and dad­dies have a spe­cial cud­dle, this can make a baby,’ Mar­cus said very mat­ter-of-factly.

‘That’s very good,’ I replied, try­ing not to laugh.

My part­ner David, 41, and I had been told by Mar­cus’ school that his year would be hav­ing the birds and bees talk soon, so I’d been ex­pect­ing this.

It was a good thing that he’d learnt the ba­sics, too, be­cause, a few weeks later, I had some news.

Sit­ting Mar­cus down at the ta­ble, I pat­ted my belly.

‘Mummy’s got some­thing ex­cit­ing to tell you,’ I said. ‘There’s a baby in my belly.’

As Mar­cus sat there in si­lence, I could see his brain work­ing.

‘Did you and Daddy have a spe­cial cud­dle?’ he asked. ‘That’s right my clever boy,’ I grinned.

When his younger brother Alexan­der, now two, was on his way, Mar­cus was a bit too young to un­der­stand, but now, he was full of ques­tions!

It was so sweet, and David and I were glad that Mar­cus was ex­cited about hav­ing an­other si­b­ling.

At my 20-week scan, we found out I was hav­ing a girl.

‘Yes!’ Mar­cus grinned ex­cit­edly when I told him. ‘I’ll al­ways look af­ter her.’ That week­end, we took him to the shops with us.

‘She’ll look cute in this,’ Mar­cus said, point­ing to a sweet lit­tle pink dress on the rail.

‘We’ll buy it for her as a gift from you,’ David smiled.

The next few months flew by, and we chose the name Freya for our daugh­ter.

And, be­fore we knew it, my due date – 5 No­vem­ber – was fast ap­proach­ing.

That evening, David cooked me a spicy curry – I’d been crav­ing it all day.

‘Let’s hope this baby doesn’t come out with a bang!’ David joked, adding more chill­ies to the mix.

‘There’s no chance of that,’ I moaned, stroking my huge belly. ‘She’ll be late like the boys were.’

Both Mar­cus and Alexan­der had been 12 days over­due, and I’d had to be in­duced both times.

So I had a feel­ing Freya was go­ing to take her time, too. And I was right. ‘When’s the baby com­ing?’ Mar­cus would ask me ev­ery day.

Even­tu­ally, I was booked in to be in­duced on 14 No­vem­ber.

But the day be­fore, I woke up in the morn­ing and the bed was wet.

Wad­dling down­stairs, I found David in the kitchen.

‘My wa­ters have bro­ken,’ I said. ‘We need to get to the hospi­tal.’

Get­ting my hospi­tal bag to­gether, David bun­dled me into the car and off we went.

My par­ents, Linda and Michael, came round to watch the boys.

Ar­riv­ing at the hospi­tal, my con­trac­tions were close to­gether, although not too painful.

‘You’re only 4cm di­lated,’ a mid­wife said.

‘Try the birthing pool, that can some­times get things mov­ing.’

Strip­ping off, I climbed into the warm wa­ter and in­stantly felt my body re­lax. ‘This is nice,’ I smiled. By now it was 1pm. ‘Come on, Freya,’ I whis­pered, stroking my bump.

But in­stead of be­com­ing more fre­quent, my con­trac­tions slowed to 20 min­utes apart.

‘I don’t think any­thing’s go­ing to hap­pen soon,’ the mid­wife said. ‘You’re bet­ter off go­ing home for now.’ But I was wor­ried. ‘I’m not

sure,’ I said.

‘We don’t live too far away,’ David soothed. ‘We’ll come back when she’s ready.’

So, a bit ner­vous, I went back home.

‘Where’s Freya?’ Mar­cus asked, frown­ing. ‘She’ll still in my belly,’ I sighed. My par­ents went home and I tried to get comfy in a T-shirt and pair of jog­ging bot­toms.

David cooked din­ner and we set­tled on the sofa to watch the telly.

‘How are the con­trac­tions?’ David asked af­ter we’d eaten. ‘Same,’ I shrugged. At about 9.30pm, he went to the kitchen to do the wash­ing up.

All of a sud­den, I had a des­per­ate urge to push! I took a deep breath.

No, itõs fine, I thought. But there it was again. ‘David!’ I yelled. ‘I need to push, now!’ ‘Are you sure?’ he said, run­ning in.‘i know,’ I said, writhing around

in agony. Just then, I no­ticed that Mar­cus had come into the room, and was look­ing at me, star­tled. ‘Mummy’s fine,’ I told him. ‘Don’t worry.’ David phoned the hospi­tal right away. ‘She needs to push,’ he said. Then his eyes widened. Hang­ing up, he said that we’d need to call an am­bu­lance.

Pain was tear­ing through my tummy and the urge to push was get­ting stronger.

Just then, Mar­cus grabbed the phone and di­alled 999, giv­ing the op­er­a­tor our ad­dress.

‘I’ll go out­side to watch out for the am­bu­lance,’ David said.

We lived on the school grounds where I worked as a French teacher and David as a care­taker.

Peo­ple of­ten had trou­ble find­ing our house.

So David ran out­side to wait for the am­bu­lance while Mar­cus handed me the phone.

‘Is there any­one else with you?’ the op­er­a­tor asked me. ‘Just my sons,’ I panted. ‘They’re eight and 17 months.’

‘Right, pass the phone to your el­der boy,’ she said.

So I passed the phone back to Mar­cus, then pulled off my jog­ging bot­toms and knick­ers.

As Mar­cus lis­tened to the op­er­a­tor’s in­struc­tions, he nod­ded his head. ‘I can get tow­els,’ he said. Then he ran up­stairs with the phone still pressed against his ear. A few sec­onds later, he was back with a stack of tow­els from the air­ing cup­board. ‘I need to put them un­der you, Mummy,’ he said to me. ‘Good boy,’ I smiled, lift­ing my­self up. Mar­cus quickly slid the tow­els un­der me. I couldn’t imag­ine what he was think­ing. Labour was trau­matic enough for an adult, let alone an eightyear-old boy. ‘You know Mummy’s OK, don’t you?’ I asked him. ‘This is just how ba­bies come out. You’re my hero!’ Mar­cus was lis­ten­ing in­tently to the op­er­a­tor again. I could hear her telling him to check for the head. Mar­cus bent down and peered be­tween my legs. ‘Yes, there’s a head,’ he ex­plained calmly. Then he screwed up his face. ‘And loads of green slime.’ I couldn’t help but laugh. ‘OK,’ Mar­cus said sud­denly, plac­ing the phone be­tween his ear and his shoul­der. Then he moved his hand un­der the baby’s head. ‘I’ve got the head!’ he said. Scream­ing out in pain, I just had to push. Freya’s body be­gan to emerge. ‘She’s com­ing!’ Mar­cus said to the op­er­a­tor ex­cit­edly. Now there were just the feet to go. Just then, David rushed in with the paramedics. ‘It looks like we weren’t needed!’ one laughed. ‘Well done,’ the other said to Mar­cus. ‘Let us take over now.’ With all the com­mo­tion, lit­tle Alexan­der had wan­dered into the liv­ing room to see what was go­ing on.

Mar­cus, al­ways the pro­tec­tive big brother, took his hand and led him to the kitchen ta­ble for a story.

‘One last push,’ the para­medic said to me.

Then, at 10.04pm, Freya came out with a loud cry.

‘Hello gor­geous,’ I cried, as she was wrapped up and handed to me.

She seemed per­fectly healthy, but the paramedics wanted to take us to the hospi­tal to be checked over.

‘I’ll stay with the boys,’ David said.

At the hospi­tal, the mid­wife who’d sent me home ear­lier gasped when she saw me with Freya.

‘We weren’t ex­pect­ing that!’ she cried.

‘Thank­fully my son stepped in,’ I ex­plained, telling her all about how in­cred­i­ble Mar­cus had been.

‘He can have a job here when he’s older,’ she laughed.

Freya weighed in at 8lb 7oz and was per­fectly healthy.

At 3am, David and the boys came to fetch us.

‘Here’s the hero!’ the mid­wives cheered, rub­bing Mar­cus’ hair. He turned bright red. ‘You are my hero,’ I told him. ‘There aren’t many broth­ers who can say they de­liv­ered their sis­ter.’

‘I said I’d al­ways look af­ter her,’ Mar­cus smiled.

I couldn’t be­lieve how calm he’d been through it all.

David and I bought him a Lego Nin­jago tem­ple as a thank you present – he de­served it.

Now, Freya is a year old, and peo­ple still talk about what Mar­cus did the day she was born. ‘Mum needed me,’ he shrugs. David and I aren’t plan­ning on hav­ing an­other baby, but if we do, I know we’ll have help on hand – Mar­cus the mid­wife!

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