* Its taken me almost 2 weeks to write this post but I got there in the end*
Exactly 4 weeks ago today the newest member of our family made his entrance. He was only 1 day over his due date which is not bad timing for a first baby I don't think. But this is why I have been a bit quiet lately, I've been rather preoccupied with getting to grips with my new role as someone's mummy. Needless to say both the Wig and I are totally in love with the baby and I was over the moon to have a little boy. Not only because I find boys less confusing than girls, but also because it proved I was right and that was a little winkle on the 20 week scan and not the umbilical cord as some people tried to tell me.
Babies have long nails when they are born.
Thank you to all our friends for the lovely cards and gifts.
To say that the last month has been a roller coaster would be a huge understatement and sadly the birth and my experience at the hospital was not at all what I was imagining. I think sometimes events can happen to you in life that mean you are not quite the same person as you were before, and this was definitely one of those events. Not just because we had a baby.
Saturday 26th May started off pretty uneventfully. The Wig and I went for breakfast at The Elk in The Woods in Islington. Little did we know this would be our last breakfast out for some time.
It was a glorious day so we decided that later that evening we would have a BBQ in the garden.
On reflection, I think some of my waters had broken in Waitrose while we were buying food for the BBQ at around 1pm, but we went home and I started having contractions. They were quite irregular but bearable, however we phoned the hospital anyway who told us not to come in until the contractions were 3 in 10 minutes. So the Wig suckered the TENS machine onto me and we had our BBQ.
At 1am, 12 hours later, the contractions were still going but were very irregular. Again we phoned the hospital to see if we could come in and were told again not to until I was having them every 3 minutes or the waters had definitely broken. Half an hour later my waters definitely broke so we finally went to hospital. I dont know if it was because it was a Saturday night and there less staff working or what, but I really wish we had been told we could have come in earlier. It felt like they didn't want us to come in.
When we arrived at the hospital, it was confirmed my waters had broken and that also there was meconim in the waters (the baby had been to the toilet in the womb, usually as its in some distress I think and then there is the risk that the baby will swallow some of its own waste. Not good). However, the midwife decided it was not "bad" so rather than just get the baby out asap via caesarian, I was sent to the delivery suite. How they decide if its bad meconium or not bad meconium is beyond me. From my NCT class I know how many more staff are involved in performing a C-section and the cost of performing one so in hindsight can not think this decision was based on anything other than financial/staffing factors. It certainly wasn't based on the well being of the baby.
After a few hours in the suite, the contractions were still irregular so the decison was made to induce me. I was given a tiny pill which brought the contractions on so hard and fast that I was crawling around on the floor. I knew that giving birth would be painful but being induced with no pain relief was horrendous. The gas and air did nothing and a pethadine injection didn't even touch the sides. In an hour I had dilated 3cm but the contractions were still irregular so I was given an epidural. Then the midwife shifts changed which is where the problems really started. The new midwife didn't seem able to put a drip in my hand which started me worrying that she didn't really know what she was doing. The anesthetist arrived to give me an epidural and the midwife hadn't got any of the equipment ready that he needed which created an extremely awkward and tense atmosphere. He was basically bollocking her in front of us. After this she kept disappearing. Once the epidural finally kicked in I felt that lots of liquid was coming out of me and mentioned it to the midwife when we saw her. "Its just your waters" she kept telling me. I later learned she could have given me a catharter and I was actually sitting in my own wee for hours.
After a few more hours Wig noticed on a monitor that the baby's heart rate was dropping. The midwife did not spot this. But after he brought it to her attention she told him to pull the emergency cord and all hell broke loose. The room suddenly filled with around 10/12 people, I'm not sure exactly how many there were, and they put an oxygen mask on me. They then said they would do an emergency C-section but this idea was quickly abandoned as there was no time. They then dropped the end of the bed away, put me in stirrups and I was told to push. I remember this being incredibly frightening as I couldn't feel if I was pushing hard enough or not because of the epidural. They attempted the ventouse 3 times but 3 times it failed so baby was eventually delivered via forceps with an episiotomy at 10:30am. Thinking about it now it still upsets me. It was the scariest moment of my life and such a shame that things turned out the way they did when I had been so calm and relaxed about the birth. I know that you have no idea how a birth will turn out but this was nothing like I could have imagined.
As there had been meconium in the waters we were told that baby would be monitored for 8 hours. Monitered by whom I'm not sure as no one came to see him all day and the appalling midwife left us on our own almost all day. We had to pull the emergency alarm for a 2nd time during the afternoon as baby was being sick and she was no where to be found. At around 7pm I was taken to the ward (still asking when a Dr could come and check he was ok and still being told by the midwife that someone would come soon), Wig was kicked out due to visiting hours and I was left with our baby who had not been checked all day, had not eaten anything and was still vomitting all colours of the rainbow. By 10:30pm that night I was extremely distressed. We had been waiting for the Dr for 12 hours. So again I asked/begged, please can someone come and look at the baby. The baby Dr finally showed up and took the baby straight to the Special Care unit where he ended up spending the first 5 days of his life. I believe that if we had been given a different/competant midwife this wouldn't have happened. The more time that passes I feel more and more angry about things but am trying not to get bogged down by it. I ended up staying in hospital for 4 days on a ward without my baby but surrounded by new mums and their babies. This despite the fact that we had told the midwife we would pay so I could stay in a separate room off of the ward. We also completed the form to be able to do this and she assured us I would be put into a room by 9pm that night. Needless to say it didn't happen despite there being empty rooms available. So I ended up staying in blood stained sheets for my entire stay from where my drip had got knocked out of my hand on the first night while I was trying to stop baby from choking. On my 3rd day on the ward I finally got to see a Dr to discuss why the birth had gone the way it did. I needed to talk to someone about it to confirm it had been a bad experience basically as I had sat on my own for 2 days in a daze about everything and also not being told what was wrong with the baby or when we could go home. The Dr told me "it was a catalogue of things really, but you were basically unlucky". And that was that. So the baby's first week of life was spent wired up in Special Care with me dragging my stitches and hemorrhoid over to see him at all hours but too scared to pick him up. Not what I would have wanted at all.
But now we are home and getting used to our new lives. The experience of the birth turned me into a bit of a nervous wreck actually, distrusting of all medical staff and very anxious. When we got home things with the local NHS did not improve. We had a midwife supposed to visit us at home who didn't turn up for 3 days, a midwife telling us the baby wasn't putting on weight, another midwife telling us he was putting on too much weight, an appalling GP who needed to refer us for something who did not want to then when he finally did he wrote the referral to the wrong place. Every step has been a struggle but hopefully we wont be needing their services again for a long time.
I understand now that nothing can prepare you for having a baby but we are doing our best to make him as happy as possible. I think he may be in danger of being a little bit spoilt but I don't mind, I feel so sorry that he had such a horrid entrance to the world that I feel like I want to make it up to him every day. We took him to a cranial osteopath as a little treat the other week and the lady told us he didn't need to come back for anymore sessions as he seemed so content and relaxed so hopefully he will stay like that. I on the other hand don't feel at all relaxed. The sleep deprivation is brutal and I have taken to dressing like a mad person but I feel very lucky to have such a beautiful baby. I also thought I had started to smell of cheese but this ended up being some Philadelphia that had got trapped down the back of the fridge (true). As long as he is ok, then I am ok even though my standards at home have dropped severely since his arrival...
A plant has grown through our front window.
So, I'm not sure how often I'll be able to write on here, the days seem to just disappear, but hopefully now things are settling down I'll be able to write more regularly than I have been. I can't guarantee what I'll be waffling about since my horizons have reduced considerably but I'm sure I'll find something to say.