Welcome to the World Francesco Michael Giannandrea

Son of Karen Beasley and Federico Giannandrea
Born on the 15th of June 2012, at St Thomas’ Hospital, weighing 6lb 13oz

ede and I had expected to get married first and then try for a baby. But with my mum fighting secondary breast cancer, we had to learn to cherish every moment – and it made us realise that what was important to us was having a family.

We expected it to take six to twelve months, but it only took two. I hadn’t been feeling well, and Fede was sure that I was pregnant, but I guess I wasn’t ready to find out so I delayed taking a test. Even once I did, it came back negative for the first few weeks. When I fainted on the tube I took another test, and this time it was positive. The doctor recommended a scan, which showed that I was eight weeks and a day.

I’ll not deny it: I over-prepared for the birth. As a Virgo I’m a perfectionist, with a written list or plan for everything. I took both NCT and hospital antenatal classes, took the hospital tour, listened to CDs, did yoga with Fede, and yoga with pregnant friends. I joined a walking club, looked at websites, downloaded apps, and read more magazines and books than I want to admit to.

My birth plan was documented in detail – from yoga at home and a TENS machine, to a hospital birthing pool and discovering our baby’s gender on our own. I was due on 10 June, and I had an inkling that my child would arrive on time, punctual like his mother.

Imagine my surprise when 15 June came along, and still no baby! I was four days overdue, but I had appointments to keep, so I continued my busy schedule, despite some uncomfortable period pains in my lower back. It was a relief when I got home at the end of the day and, even though sleeping was impossible and the TENS machine felt strange, a hot bath soothed my aches.

Eventually, I timed the intervals to seven minutes. I then had a show, and this galvanised us to phone our on-call midwife team. As they were not available, St Thomas’ advised us to come straight in.

During our car journey I was really nervous, for three reasons: we had taken our own car, and my waters had not broken yet; I was convinced that I was going to punch Fede because of his mundane chit-chat; and I was worried that the hospital staff would say that it was too early and send me home.

I was already threatening to destroy our natural birth plan, and half an hour pacing a busy hospital reception didn’t help. Finally, at about nine in the evening, the midwife examined me and causally announced that I was already ten centimetres dilated!

I was taken to the birthing pool, where I relaxed with music, and gas and air. By midnight the intervals between my contractions had lengthened, which meant that my labour was slowing down, so my midwife forced me to return to dry land. I spent the next two hours pushing in various positions. My waters broke, but for some reason I was unable to push my baby out. I started to approach the maximum time allowed for this stage of labour and I was asking for increased pain relief. After waiting half an hour for the anaesthetist, I gave my consent for a spinal tap, an episiotomy and a forceps birth. I’ve learnt that there is no such thing as a perfect birth – a healthy mother and baby is all you can wish for.

A dozen staff surrounded me in the operating theatre. The next contraction saw Franci’s arrival. Fede cut the cord, and I saw my baby for the first time – a white bottom with male parts making its way towards me! It still makes me laugh that I saw my son’s bottom before I saw his face.

I stayed in hospital for two nights, and then Fede drove us home, very slowly. We were both nervous because we had this little person with us, and we had to be in charge. There’s a moment when you realise that it’s not just you anymore, and that you’ll change all your plans if they need you.

Being alone with Franci for the first time was strange, and I panicked when Fede had to go back to work as it meant nearly twelve hours looking after him all on my own! We got through it, though, and now we both treasure the one to one time we have with our son. The lack of sleep makes it very hard to be rational all of the time. There have been some big arguments in our house – about little things, but also big ones about important topics: responsibilities, and choices that we had to make. But we’re finding our way together now.

Sadly, I lost my mum half way through the pregnancy – we would have loved Franci to have met his grandmother, but it was not to be. He has three other lovely grandparents who all dote on him.

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