Thomas James Birtles Couser, 18 June 2005

More photos:

Thomas at 3 months
23 June
25 June
26 June
the end of June

Born at 8am French time. Weight 3540g (7lb 13oz), 49 cm long.

I am amazed at the power of the human body/subconscious mind. I had quite an anxious week while Patrick was in Norway (coming back only two weeks before the due date), then still felt a bit worried about Thomas coming before Mum and Mike arrived on Friday 17th June. They actually arrived in time for lunch and during the afternoon we were joking about phoning them up at the campsite that night to check their phone worked. So they were quite surprised to get a phone call about midnight to say that, in fact, Thomas was on his way. I think I must have suddenly relaxed. We've had plenty of kind offers from friends and neighbours to help out, but it was great to know that Mum and Mike were there to look after Sophie.
(The next paragraph is about the birth, so skip it if you're not interested in the details!)
Anyway, none of us got much sleep that night (apart from Sophie). Mum and Mike spent the night at our place, while Patrick drove me up to Tarbes to the Clinique. It all seemed to happen quite slowly at first, so, around 5am, when I didn't seem to be getting anywhere, I gave in and asked for an epidural. I probably needn't have bothered, because by the time the anaesthetist arrived and administered it, I was almost ready to start pushing. The doctor decided to give me some help with the ventouse, which I think shocked Patrick a bit. At least I couldn't see it.
It was all over by 8am, and Patrick and I were left for an hour or so with Thomas plonked on my chest for a bonding session. Then we were wheeled through to my room. Because I haven't got top-up private health cover, I couldn't have private room, but the place wasn't full, so Thomas and I were given a double room to ourselves.
I must admit I was quite keen to get out of the clinique. It was a nice enough place and everyone was very caring, but the room got so hot - it was over 30 degrees outside every day we were there. Also, the mornings seemed to be spent having people coming in to clean, check Thomas, bath him, etc, which often meant having to get him back to sleep again. Then the late mornings/afternoons were nice, with visits from Patrick, Sophie, Mum and Mike, but the evenings got a bit boring.
It wasn't easy to get out though. The standard stay is 4 nights and I only wanted to be in for 3. Every doctor seemed to have a different attitude to this, but they eventually agreed, saying I'd have to bring Thomas back for his Guthrie test the next day. In the end, they just did it a bit early.