The weather seemed to be deterioating quickly; just as quick as the contractions were coming. After much deliberation of where we should go to have the baby, we decided to stick to plan A and go to Cherbourg. The alternative was Bayeux, which I would have preferred; however, Emma decided that it would be Cherbourg all the same.
The stress levels were pretty high before we left for the hospital, due mostly to the snow. I have lived in a city all of my life and have complained in the past when the snow made my journey to work that bit longer. As we are now living in a rural part of France, it almost seemed like we were isolated from the outside world. Would the roads be clear or would I be delivering the baby in the car whilst trapped in a snow drift. This thought crossed my mind so many times along the way and this thought did not help my blood pressure one bit!
So far so good, we thought. The roads were not as bad as we first thought and the stress levels seemed to be stabilising. That was until we reached the outskirts of Cherbourg. My wife uttered the fatal words "That's it, we are almost there. Nothing to worry about now". Nothing to worry about, apart from the snow that seemed to be falling at a great rate and the road starting to become a worryingly shade of white.
In the distance, the bright red of tail lights signalled the impending doom. The thought about delivering the baby in a snow drift came back into to my mind and the stress levels were raised to Defcon 1. For those of you who do not know Cherbourg, there is one important factor to note. To get into the city, there is a steep gradient and although I am not an expert with physics, one thing I do know is that whilst travelling downhill, you have more momentum. More momentum and less grip on the road means delivering the baby in a wrecked car.
In England, we have a car that has an automatic handbrake; however, this is not the case for the car we have in France. After sliding and having a near miss with another car, I decided to pull over and wait. I had seen the snow plough and the gritting lorry pass in the other direction and my logic told me that it would come back. As we are in France, this logic does not seem to work in the same manner. We waited for what seemed like an eternity and as many cars passed me on their descent, I felt my male pride take over and decided to go for it. I wondered if the snow plough had stopped at the top of the hill in order for the drivers to have a smoke and a chat. No doubt organising their next strike to bring down the Sarkozy government.
With my male pride at full power, I slowly started to make my way down the hill. I could see that my wife was nearly in tears with the stress of the situation. Me too; however, for the record, I had a fly in my eye. I kept shouting "merde" at the car. This stupid car wanted to go sideways down the road. This stupid French car didn't want to go straight and this raised both of our stress levels to maximum. I wont write the words that I shouted at the car but I am sure you will get the idea. By this time, I was sweating and the car started to steam up. In the heat of the moment, literally, I had forgotten that I had the heating on full and, was wearing my wooley hat and gloves. This heat did not help the nerves, especially when I felt the sweat running between the cheeks of my backside.
After more expletives, the car decide to start bleeping at me. "Jesus Christ; what now", I shouted. My wife indicated that the I had left the hand brake on and that is why we were going sideways down the steep gradient. My male pride was hurt now and I didn't know what to say. I did what most men would do in this situation and sulked.
One of the things that seemed to be working well in this car was the rear view mirror. In this, I could see the flashing lights of the snow plough and the gritting lorry. My wife did not see this and I knew this, so I became all macho. "I'm fine now", I said, rather unconvincingly. I regard myself as being a reasonable clever person who is aware of my surroundings. Because of this, I pulled over the car to the side of the road to let the oncoming snow plough pass. I could not believe my eyes when I saw the cars behind me start to overtake. After another round of Jesus Christ's, I sat there in amazement. The cars were trying to overtake me, despite the trecherous conditions. Do they not have rear view mirrors in their cars? To add insult to injury, the driver of the first car that passed me had the audacity to flash a disaprooving glance and shrug towards me for holding him up. Bloody French!
When we finally arrived at the hospital, it became apparent that despite the contractions, the baby would not be born that day. My wife was disappointed as she has a thing with dates. She thought that the 1st of December was better than the 2nd. All I could think was how I could bring my blood pressure down.
As we live far from Cherbourg and due to the poor driving conditions, the hospital admitted my wife and kindly allows me to stay too. After a poor nights sleep on the floor, we were greeted with the news that my wife would be induced. He was to be born on the 2nd of December after all.
At 1445, Loïc was born. Weighing in at a healthy 4.340kg, he made us both cry with joy. No doubt the crying also helped to relieve some stress as well! Another night was spent sleeping on the floor but as we are very much in love with our new son, I did not notice the bad back and stiff neck as much as I did before he arrived!
They say that love can make you do strange things. When I look back, which is one of the reasons I write this blog, I will no doubt see that we have done some strange things! Exciting, stressful, sad and happy things; but no doubt strange!