My whole experience of this birth and this baby has been so, so different from when I had my twins.
Starting from the beginning.
I started feeling a bit crampy, a bit weird, and just 'ready' the night before I was due to go in for my planned c-section. By 3am, I was on the phone to the hospital because I was pretty certain labour had started.
(My husband: "No it hasn't. You're fine." You're arguing with a woman who is in labour about not being in labour? Have you learnt nothing?)
By 5am, we were in the car roaring to hospital, as I was having contractions every 5 minutes, and things were starting to escalate.
I was strangely calm with the pain this time. When I was induced last time, it all came on so quickly and painfully, there wasn't time to get into any kind of Zone.
There were a few of us booked in sequentially for sections, and they shoved me to top of the queue once they'd seen I was dilating fast and a contraction was now coming every 30 seconds.
Should I have continued and gone natural/vaginal birth? I didn't think my pelvic floor was up for it, and by now, I was fully signed on to have my section. So off I went to theatre.
This time I wasn't rushed in there on a stretcher at 2am. I put my scrubs on, and was walked there, suddenly highly emotional, scared and all the feelings, so walked through the ward sobbing as they led me and the Brit towards the same room I had my twins extracted.
I bawled and bawled and they had to calm me down between that and the contractions.
I had such a lovely aneasthetist - Caroline - who told me she had had four c-sections, had done four years at Groote Schuur and another hospital in South Africa, and was generally amazing.
"This must be hard for you," she said, after administering my spinal tap, rendering me numb from the tits down.
"This is where you had Sebastian and Molly, wasn't it."
She had read all my notes and all the fine print. She probably didn't need to know my twins names, but she did. What a difference that made.
They even put some Magic FM on for me. So we could bring Florence into the world to a background accompaniment of one of the Bee Gees hits. Pure class.
We were excited this time round, not excited and terrified and sad. They pulled her out and showed me, and it was the best feeling in the world to see her for the first time. Like her brother and other sister, she has a shock of thick brown hair, and while she looks a lot like Sebastian, she looked most like Molly with her pointier nose. Even so, she was different - she was unique all unto herself.
A really nice weight, at 3.58kilos, and an excellent Apgar rating. We were ecstatic. They lay her on my chest, and I got to know her while she gripped my fingers with her little hands.
I wasn't knackered this time, having not had to undergo 18 hours of labour. I was itchy as all fuck, as one of the side affects of the anaesthetic was an itch, and mine had game. They had to give me an antihistamine for that, as I was starting to look a little scratched, after pawing away at my face and arms.
Florence also managed to latch on a lot easier than Seb. Being three weeks older than Seb at birth made a huge difference in terms of her sucking reflex and strength. Poor little Seb was so small and weak; breastfeeding the first few weeks was a harrowing experience. Flo has thus far been really easy on that front.
I could have tea and toast after a few hours, and the Brit bought me some of Chelsea's finest sushi.
But possibly the best thing about this experience was being able to go home 36 hours after having her. Last time I was stuck in hospital for another week, (and a week prior), so I went a bit mental/nearly had a breakdown by the time they released us from there.
It made me realise how small, frail and poorly my little Seb actually was when he was born. On antibiotics, needing heart and brain scans, having rounded feet from being cramped in the womb with another little soul. The repeated jaundice and needing to sit under lamps. The low birth weight. It all seemed endless and helpless, and I had no idea what I was doing.
Hobbling around and recovering from major surgery is so much easier and nicer in the comfort of your own home. It's been bloody painful, I can't discount that. Getting in and out of bed is fucking sore, I am still on painkillers 8 days later, and it's not easy.
Florence has had a littlebit of jaundice, so has been sleepy and lost quite a bit of weight - but she is on a three hour eating plan and getting better without the need for lamps or hospital intervention thus far.
The heatwave hasn't helped the sleepiness - I have to feed her while wiping her down with cold wet wipes.
But she is a little dream. Sebastian just adores her. All he wants to do is hold "Baby Fwowence," and he goes up to her constantly, to stroke her hair and say, "It's OK,' if she starts to cry. He is so doting, and it makes my heart burst.
I'm so lucky and grateful to have my mama here to help though. Ay yay yay. Sebastian still needs [more] attention than ever, and he has found a best friend in his granny. They have such a sweet little relationship, and he now calls for her in the mornings - not for the Brit or me! They have little conversations and she has helped me so much when it comes to meals and cleaning and passing me shit I can't reach because I'm flat on my back.
The sleep deprivation is something no new parent can get past, you just have to fight your way through it. And waking up every three hours is not pleasant. We're zonked. But again, perhaps it's because we are in our lovely new home, it's mid-summer, and we are not grieving this time - it's just not as bad.
She's still spanking, shiny new, so who knows what she will be like in a few days or few weeks. I don't want to jinx anything, but her first week has been relatively chilled.
PS: There's also a real sense of relief now. I won't ever need to have a c-section again. I have had three children; and with two extremely special miracles before me, my cup is full. I don't need anymore.