Wow – these past 2 weeks have been an absolute whirlwind… where do I start!?
On Friday 10th April, I gave birth to a gorgeous baby boy. His entrance into the world wasn’t an easy one (as you will see by my labour timeline below!), but he made it here safely!
In the early hours of the Wednesday morning (8th April), I started to get contractions. They were fairly light as first, and I wasn’t sure if they were actually contractions at all (I thought they might be Braxton Hicks). Once I was sure (at around 5am) I woke Mr B up. That was the start of nearly 14 hours of timing my contractions, which were erratic throughout the course of the day (going from every 3 minutes, to every 30 minutes, to every 10 minutes). I was strapped up to my TENS machine (which i’m not sure if it actually worked, or if it was more of a distraction technique). We broke the day up by trying to be as “normal” as possible, watching Pawn Stars on the History channel! Then, at 18:45, I was replying to a text message and I felt a “pop” in my stomach. I froze. I looked at Mr B and said “I think my waters just broke”. I gingerly stood up, and rushed to the toilet. Sure enough… there it was…! From the toilet, I called the hospital, and they advised coming in. So I called my dad (who had been “on standby” for 2 weeks!) to come and pick us up and take us to the hospital.
When we arrived, we went to the Birthing Centre… it’s meant to be a centre for low-risk home-from-home type births. It was quickly decided that I would not be giving birth there, as I had a bartholin cyst, which could block the exit for Baby B. No problem; moving me to the labour ward would mean that I could have an epidural! So they found me a side room in the labour ward for me to continue to contract. By 3am, I was exhausted, and they finally gave me some pain relief (pethadine) so we could get some sleep. It certainly did the trick, because the contractions all but stopped. This was a relief for both of us as poor Mr B had been going through each and every contraction with me (I’m surprised I didn’t break his hand or do his back in!)
I was booked in for an induction at 18:30 the next day (they have to induce you if you haven’t gone into established labour within 24 hours of your waters breaking). So the day went by, and I didn’t go into established labour… so I moved to the induction suite at 18:30 and found myself strapped up to 2 monitors; one monitored Baby B and one monitored the strength of my contractions. I was sitting there, contracting away for around an hour and then the alarm went off; Baby B’s heartrate was plummeting. We pushed the alarm bell, but no-one came. Mr B went to find someone, and I started to panic. A midwife appeared, and checked the monitor. She was concerned and got a doctor for another opinion. It was explained to me that each time I was having a contraction, Baby B’s heartrate went down, and they they were going to keep a close eye on it/me/us. She gave me an internal exam to see how dilated I was. At this point, I was 4 centimeters dilated, and so didn’t need to be induced. Off to the delivery room I went! Strapped up again to the monitors, I was given gas and air, which was loooooovely. I requested an epidural too. Sweet relief! It took a while (and you have to stay incredibly still… difficult when the contractions are coming thick and fast), but if you are even considering one, I would say GO FOR IT! The pain of the contractions disappeared. I was then attached to a drip to speed up the contractions. After a little while, the room started to fill up with people. A doctor (who I had seen earlier in the day) said to me that Baby B was in distress, and they wanted to get him out. This meant an emergency c-section. Certainly not part of my birth plan, but that went out the window the moment I stepped into hospital. It was then a blur of doctors, midwives, anesthetists. I had to sign a form to say that I understood the risks. And then it was GO GO GO! I was rushed down the corridor (it was like a scene from Casualty) to the delivery room where there seemed to be even more people! Everyone introduced themselves, and got on with their job. A screen was put up in front of me so I couldn’t see what was going on (I had no intention of watching them cut me open, thank you very much). With Mr B by my side, we waited. I felt no pain… just a pressure of them digging around inside me, pushing and pulling to get Baby B out. After around 10 minutes, the anesthetist announced that we had a baby boy, to which me and Mr B both laughed – we couldn’t believe it. We were convinced that we were going to have a girl. But then… no crying. Nothing. Baby B was whisked off for the APGAR check and we heard a little squeak. That’s our boy. They were worried about his breathing, which was erratic. Turns out, Baby B had the cord wrapped around his face twice, and was presenting brow first. So he didn’t make it easy for himself! It was explained to us that Baby B was to be sent to the Special Care Baby Unit, so that his breathing could be monitored. I got to have a quick look at him, but wasn’t allowed to hold him.
After spending some time in the recovery room, I was taken to the maternity ward. A 4 bay room, with 3 other women, all of whom had their babies with them. I didn’t have my baby with me. Just a bed-bound woman, wearing fetching surgical stockings, unable to feel her legs, bleeding below and with a catheter in… and an empty crib next to her. I tried not to let it get to me, but it was upsetting that I couldn’t hold my baby. I felt like I was missing out on that precious bonding time, that the books say is so important.
Mr B took pictures of Baby B in the SCBU, in his incubator and brought them back to show me. Broke my heart seeing him like that.
Visitors came to see me, and were whisked off by Mr B to see our baby. I was left behind just wondering how my baby was doing, and missing out on that first reaction from close family. I know he was in the best possible place, but it’s just not the sort of thing that you mentally prepare yourself for.
Later, when I was wheeled up to see him, he looked so tiny in the incubator. I was told that, if I could feed Baby B, I would be able to have him on the ward with me that night, as they were pleased with his progress and he was breathing normally again. That was all the incentive I needed. I fed him, and Baby B was brought to us to stay the night.
As I had a c-section, I fully expected to stay in for a couple of days. After a number of tests, it was discovered that Baby B’s CRP levels were above the normal level (a generally acceptable level is less than 5, however Baby B’s had shot up to 12) which indicated that he had an inflammation, which could potentially lead to an infection. So he had to stay in for 5 days, and have twice-daily doses of antibiotics. Again, we knew that this was the best place for him, but we just wanted to be at home with our baby and to start our lives as a family. That’s difficult to do when you have (well meaning, obviously) midwives coming in every few hours. Although they did bring painkillers with them, so I can’t grumble too much! Haha. And being in hospital for such a length of time meant that we had all of these experts on tap for any questions we might have (when he was massively sick for the first time and there was blood in it, we just pressed the button and the midwife arrived to tell us it was nothing to worry about.
Baby B was weighed again 5 days after birth, and he had lost just 4oz, which was great. It meant that he was doing really well (if he had lost more than 10% of his birth weight, we would have had to have stayed in longer).
On Wednesday 15th April, we were discharged from hospital. We put Baby B in his car seat and headed home. The thrill of being able to walk into my own house, with all of our own things was such a joy.
I would like to thank the Special Care Baby Unit at the Princess Royal University Hospital. They took care of my son so well the 5 days we were there. They have a gorgeous selection of hand-knitted blankets to buy for a small donation (available at the hospital) and they also have a Just Giving page (www.justgiving.com/specialcarebabyfund) if you would like to make a donation.
This is the start of a wonderful journey; I’m already 2 weeks in, and wouldn’t have it any other way.