Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Hoping to Move On

This post was originally published on my self-hosted WordPress site.  For a whole host of reasons, that didn't work out so, ta-dah!  Back here.

Original post date: 16 December 2014

It's here. The eve I've been dreading.
I wanted to write this tonight because I don't want Woody's birthday to be darkened with my PTSD.  But I had to get it out there.  I hope people can understand.
All day I've been thinking about sitting on the antenatal ward, waiting.  Waiting for a bed to become free.  It never happened.  Eventually we asked to be discharged on the promise of being induced the next day.  The weather was horrible that day and I'm glad today has been a bright sunny day, so unlike this time last year.
I've also been thinking of someone who did have her baby a year ago today.  If she's reading, I'm sorry.  I had intentions of posting a card through her door for her son but chickened out, she's probably the last person she wants to hear from. But I think of her often, of the horrid things I said, of the way she made me feel, of my own issues which I projected onto her and the childish way I acted.  And I'm sorry for all that.
I'm scared about how I might feel tomorrow.  I so want to enjoy the day, it is, after all, Woody's first birthday.  Something momentous, and joyous.  But I'm worried I'm going to have these niggling thoughts in the back of my mind.
Really, it's the 18th I should be worried about.  Maybe that's the day I should have my funk, enjoy Woody's day tomorrow, and be prepared for the sinking feeling come the 18th.
Woody was born at 11:47 (a time etched into my mind as it was the time I frequently woke in a cold sweat for weeks after his birth).  So really, the shit didn't hit the fan until the early hours on the 18th.  I should fear that date more.
And what is it I'm scared of?  I think the flashbacks.  They've been getting more frequent the last few days.  The things that happened, the way I felt, the things I told myself.  Like an out of/in body experience.  As in, I can clearly, vividly remember lying there, under the blanket, being attacked with needles.  And then of lying in HDU, the darkness of that ward, the painful surges of morphine through my veins.  It is vivid.  Really, fucking, vivid.  It's real.  It's become a really sad part of my life.
There are lots, LOTS of people who think I need to let go but I don't know how.  I am seeking help for that though.  I meet with a therapist on Friday to see if she's the right one to help me overcome not just this, but all the other things that have troubled me for the last 15 years of my life.  If she's not the right one, I will carry on searching as I have to fix myself.
On a brighter note, I'm working on some lovely things to share the rest of this week, time will tell whether I find the time to bring them to fruition.

Monday, 28 April 2014

I'm Still Here.... Just

This post was originally published on my self-hosted WordPress site.  For a whole host of reasons, that didn't work out so, ta-dah!  Back here.

Original post date: 28 April 2014

Hello, to my very few readers (and probably dwindling by the second with all my bad mood tweets and flare ups lately!)
I just wanted to say I am still here, but my PTSD and depression are taking me over at the minute and therefore I'm basically a piece of shit to everyone I encounter. Sorry about that, I don't mean it, I seem to have a horrible gremlin living inside me at the minute and I don't know how to get rid of it (if only it were a tapeworm....!)
I'm planning on following a couple of May writing/Instagramming prompts to hopefully make things a little more interesting around here.
In order to save my sanity I'm trying to keep away from Twitter at the minute but I will be spamming the shit out of it with my May posts.
I know I'm at the bottom again and that I'll come back up but it takes a little while and I have to concentrate hard (which is hard for someone who has a slight case of ADHD at times!)
Anyway, hopefully you'll join me for the hopefully Merry Month Of May.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Dear Scarlett, Happy 6th Birthday!

This post was originally published on my self-hosted WordPress site.  For a whole host of reasons, that didn't work out so, ta-dah!  Back here.

Original post date: 25 March 2014

Dear Scarlett,
Happy 6th Birthday!! My word, how time has flown. I cannot believe that six years ago I was getting ready to meet you, and at 12:34pm on 25th March 2008, you came feet first out of my tummy and into our lives. We have the photos. They're kinda gross!
You changed our lives in ways you cannot imagine. And both Daddy and I are incredibly proud of you. We tell each other most days how lucky we are to have such a bright, clever, helpful, funny little girl. Everyone loves being your friend. You're such a dude.
As I said last time, I know it hasn't been easy for you since Woody came along, he takes up a lot of our time now and he cries a LOT which can be very tedious. But he loves you so much, we can tell, you always get the biggest smiles and giggles from him. We're very proud of the way you've taken to being a big sister, we really cannot wait to see you grow up together.
You are going to get spoilt rotten today you little monkey, I can't wait to see you open your presents!! We've gone a little crazy this year as you've put up with quite a lot this year so far. Hope we're not setting a precedent!
I'm looking forward to coming to your school this morning to see the garden that you and Daddy made at the weekend and seeing the gardens of your classmates. I hope it hasn't all wilted overnight!
We'll do something special at the weekend, just the three of us, just like old times. Maybe we can go to the cinema and see the new Muppet film? It'll be totally your choice what we get up to.
Hope you have a lovely day at school,
Mum xx

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Dear Woody, Sorry For the Delay

This post was originally published on my self-hosted WordPress site.  For a whole host of reasons, that didn't work out so, ta-dah!  Back here.

Original post date: 12 March 2014

I know a lot of you have been waiting for a Dear Woody post.
If truth be told I haven't really known where to start.  The problem is, if we were to start at the very beginning (which is a very good place to start), it all just feels too raw and scary still.
I know it can be really hard for some to understand what I went through.  It's not even about the fact that my uterus ruptured.  It's not even the fact that I thought I would die (well, it might be a little bit about that).  I feel absolute, all consuming sorrow when I think about Woody's actual 'birth'.  I often can't bring myself to say he was born, or even that I gave birth.  He was delivered. I refer to his birth as 'The Event'.  He was wrenched from me.
Again, I know that can be hard to understand, the idea of not having given birth.  "What does it matter?" you might ask.  Those who knew me whilst I was pregnant will know that I was VERY positive that I was going to have an amazing birth experience.  I was a total bloody hippy about it. Every time I visualised his birth, I imagined that glorious moment of all consuming love as he was placed on my chest, for skin to skin, and amazing, immediate bonding and the rushes of hormones we can only dream of.
But that didn't happen. And instead I am haunted, daily, by the image of his purple, lifeless body being plonked onto my tummy, the cord being cut and him being whisked over to the resuscitaire.  Where they began calling out numbers and times and saying things that scared the shit out of me, and Andy.
And then it goes hazy, because then I went into shock and my body started shutting down and I had to literally fight for my life.  And I couldn't concentrate on Woody.  There was nothing I could do for him at that point.  I just had to trust that the Doctors and midwives looking after him would make him better again.  Whilst I prayed they could do the same for me.  And then, I didn't see him until he was 36 hours old.  Bye bye hormones and glorious moment of birth and bonding.
I know, I really, REALLY know, people are just trying to gee me along and cheer me up and get me back on my feet when they tell me that I should be happy we survived, and to try to move on. I've suffered from depression before.  This isn't depression.  It feels deeper than that.  The hole I'm in feels darker, and deeper and more lonely some days.  Only some days, but on those days, there's not a lot anyone can say, just let me know that you're thinking of me.
I've discovered that birth trauma can be quite a lonely place.  People wanted to hear my story to begin with.  People were concerned, and shocked, and glad that I was alive and so was Woody.  That we were both doing okay.  I felt I was on a pedestal.  I've been called a hero.  I survived that.  I fought it.
But there comes a point where I've told everyone I know.  And I daren't talk any more.  Everyone has heard it.  I worry people are starting to grow bored of hearing me talk about it.  Even the counsellor at the hospital seemed uninterested this week (although a screaming Woody may have had something to do with it, it was a bit of a waste of time this week).
I don't know what I'm getting at with this post.  It's my usual rambly nonsense, and I hope I haven't offended any of you.  I just needed to let everyone know that I have days where I feel all consumed by what happened.  It's okay, I know that's hard to take.  It's hard to see someone you know and care about in pain, although mental pain is really hard to empathise with I know.  It's okay.  You don't need to say anything.  I know things like this make people feel uncomfortable, I get that.  I just need everyone to know I'm still hurting.  I will never get over it. Not fully. It may heal, but I will always carry with me the sense of loss I feel over the situation.
All that's left to say is to my darling boy, I am so glad we survived it baby, me and you kiddo. You're my hero.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Dear Scarlett - 5 years,11 months

This post was originally published on my self-hosted WordPress site.  For a whole host of reasons, that didn't work out so, ta-dah!  Back here.

Original post date: 25 February 2014

Dear Scarlett,
My darling girl. I cannot believe how grown up you are. Sometimes a little TOO grown up. Monday evening for example, you came in and immediately kicked off as I asked you to put your Rainbows uniform on. You're getting a little too good at the hand on hip, gesticulating with your chin! You do make us laugh, you are such a character, it's just a joy to be around you.
At the minute you're well aware that it's 28 days to your birthday and you keep asking me when your party is. Let me explain, mummy is not the go-to for maths. This question keeps requiring me to subtract 3 from the number I've already had to calculate. This hurts mummy's brain. Ask me about English or spelling, ask daddy about maths and science.
I watched you on Sunday and it made my heart swell. You know what you were doing? Putting on your socks. And it reminded me how amazing you are and that you can do so many things for yourself, and I think having Woody, who cannot do ANYTHING for himself yet, has reminded how awesome you are for being able to do so much. You are your own individual being.
This first dawned on me when you were about 19 months old. You had been walking a very short time but you soon became master of it. You came toddling in to the bedroom (at that time, we still shared the house with nanny, and we had a sofa and the big telly in the bedroom!) and you toddled passed the end of the sofa, this little blonde head, bobbing along independently. So independently. You've always been keen to assert your independence. And it was at that point that it really struck me, you were a proper little mini person.
Now, don't get me wrong, you'd been pretty damn awesome up to that point, but suddenly, it struck me that you were your own person. And that struck me again on Sunday.
You've had to be quite self sufficient the last few weeks, what with your little brother coming along, in slightly crazy circumstances. We will discuss these circumstances when you're a lot older! I admire you for mostly just taking it all in your stride. You've been ever so good at being patient, and I do not blame you for getting annoyed a few times, you have every right to.
My sweetpea, you've been our baby for more than 5 years, had our undivided attention. But this screaming Mr Grumpy Woody has come into the world and turned it all sideways. Not upside down. Just sideways. And you're taking it so well. He loves looking at you, you really are the most interesting thing in his world and daddy and I are SO excited to see you grow up together. Our precious sweetpeas. Two peas in a pod.
You're back at school today after half term break. You came home in tears from Rainbows as you're having trouble with another little boy at school. And it makes me so cross, we've been having trouble with this little boy for ages and you just do not deserve it.  You're such a kind, honest, funny little girl and you don't deserve some little sod hitting and kicking you.  I hope you can rise above it (although, you're too much like me and you're more likely to lash out, try and restrain yourself petal!)
You're doing ever so well at school, your spelling and writing is just brilliant (just like mummy!) but you need to get a bit better at reading.  That's our fault too - it's always such a rush after school, but it's no excuse!
Keep being your creative self. I know I complain about all the junk modelling everywhere when you've emptied the entire recycling bin to build a model of something, but it shows how incredibly imaginative and creative you are. For example, your Lenor hat from last week. You nut! So funny! And your drawings are always amazing, I love it when you draw us something. You're better than daddy and I at that!
I was never very good at finishing letters and it seems I'm still no better at it.  All I want to say is we love you and keep being you, because you're just fabulous.
All my Love,
Mummy x

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Scarlett's Big Haircut

This post was originally published on my self-hosted WordPress site.  For a whole host of reasons, that didn't work out so, ta-dah!  Back here.

Original post date: 22 February 2014

Yesterday, Scarlett did something pretty momentous.  She had her hair cut off.  All of it (well, yknow, nearly all of it).
This is momentous for two reasons; Firstly, Scarlett has had her hair cut probably a total of 4 times in her nearly 6 years of life and secondly, she agreed to donate her hair to the Little Princess Trust so that her hair can be made into a wig for little girls who have lost theirs during cancer treatment. 
Andy had always been quite protective of Scarlett's hair, it took her a good 18 months to actually get any hair following a rather severe case of cradle cap and as it's gotten longer, it's also gotten darker, so the very tips of her hair really are the last of her baby blonde.  But, we'd all had enough of trying to brush out the tangles and I was fed up of the kids at school pulling her plaits out and it coming home looking like a bird's nest.  And it wasn't really much fun for Scarlett any more.
She woke up yesterday SO excited to be getting it cut and kept displaying where on her shoulders she wanted her new hair to come to.  In the end, it's gone a lot shorter than we'd anticipated but it really suits her and she is over the moon!
My mum bought her a Palace Pet from Build a Bear workshop, something that she can Treasure (literally, that's the name of the cat) forever and remember the day she had her hair cut off to donate to another little girl.
I am so immensely proud of her, she took it all in her stride, I think it's only as an adult perhaps that it hits you what it's going to mean to another little girl to have new hair.
I want to say a big thank you to Claire and her team at Blush & Co in Locksbottom for cutting Scarlett's hair and giving her a wonderful new style, she was spoilt rotten yesterday!
Well done Scarlett, my beautiful, grown up girl.

Thursday, 20 February 2014


This post was originally published on my self-hosted WordPress site.  For a whole host of reasons, that didn't work out so, ta-dah!  Back here.

Original post date: 20 February 2014

Well, I've sat here for 5 minutes trying to come up with a snappier title and failed miserably so there you have it, debrief. It is, after all, about my debrief.
On Tuesday afternoon (18th February 2014) we went to meet with the consultant who had seen me during labour and ultimately returned to put me back together again.  Lovely midwife was also there and I was so grateful that she had called to move my appointment to the end of a clinic as we ended up being there nearly 2 hours.
I didn't quite know what to expect.  We started talking simply about how I was feeling but we quickly moved on to the crux of the issue; was I given too much Syntocinon?
The simple answer was pretty much yes.  I was surprised how easily the consultant admitted it.  I had gone in there expecting them to want to cover themselves but as a friend pointed out to me, it's not worth their while and the NHS have learnt that honesty is the best policy in order to get people to trust you again.  I couldn't agree more.
They admitted that the Syntocinon should've been managed better.  I asked whether it was increased at the rate usual for a standard induction and the drug chart would support their admission that yes, it probably was.
I felt such relief, and relaxed so much.  They had confirmed what I had suspected.
I asked whether the Syntocinon had contributed to the rupture and they agreed it had.  Again, huge relief.  Whilst she couldn't say confidently that my uterus wouldn't have ruptured without it (because that is something we could never prove, nor would I want anyone to prove or hold anyone accountable for), she felt that it was certainly a major contributing factor.
I raised concerns that the midwife who looked after me that day wasn't very experienced and they agreed that a different midwife should've probably been assigned to me.  I feel sorry for the midwife in question, I think it just all went over her head a little bit.  To be fair to her, she followed procedures, she increased the Syntocinon the required amount, at the required times, but it should never have really been increased with me.  I was labouring quite well on the smaller amounts.  The consultant showed an emotion that suggested she knew this, and remembered having to ask for the Syntocinon to be turned down on two occasions.  By then the damage had begun however.
We also raised concerns that she wasn't very encouraging.  I mentioned that the only times she really spoke to me were to complain that she couldn't get a good enough trace on the baby or to ask why I hadn't had an epidural yet.  I said I found it really disheartening and that I didn't feel at all encouraged or supported in my decision to continue to breathe through my contractions, as I had planned and practised.  We mentioned she had pretty much said, "I told you you would need an epidural" when my resolve did eventually break.  We also raised that her continued faffing with the monitor had probably put the anaesthetist off and contributed to the epidural not being sited properly.  They were disappointed to hear all this.  They sort of shook their heads but didn't comment too much on it, just apologised that we felt this way.  I felt bad ratting out a midwife, but sometimes, you just have to be honest about the care you've received.
The consultant admitted that since my experience, she has made a point of writing, "Experienced Midwife needed during labour" on women's notes.  She said those in charge should read the notes and see the complexity of cases but in my case, they clearly didn't, so she makes a point of doing it now. I appreciate so much that new midwives need to learn things as they come up, and I'm sure VBAC's, especially induced ones, don't come up that often.  I would've much rather them say, I'm not confident in handling this, can I perhaps have some help from time to time.  Sort of like a CPD exercise almost.  At the same time, the ward was so busy there wasn't much room for anyone to assist or oversee fully.
I talked about how I felt about the whole thing; guilt, sorrow, anger. I said I felt embarrassed that despite all my research I still allowed myself to be submitted to a Syntocinon induction.  Above all else, that's the overriding thing I feel.  I knew it shouldn't have been done yet I submitted so willingly.  I think I was so determined to have my VBAC that I was maybe blind to the increased risk.  More fool me.
I talked about how I felt robbed of my chance to have a perfect birth.  That I often felt I didn't deserve hat had happened because I was so confident and positive about birth.  At this point I could see lovely midwife had teared up slightly.  We'd had many conversations about what I did and didn't want during labour whilst I was still pregnant and she was always so supportive.  She called me yesterday to follow up briefly and told me I should be proud that whilst it did go wrong in the end, I stood up for my rights and choices in birth.
I was pleased with how much they had clearly learnt from what went wrong with my case.  The whole team involved have had a debrief, especially as the consultant was concerned about them suffering from any after effects from witnessing what happened.  She is the personal mentor to the Dr who delivered Woody with the forceps and they have had a few conversations about the birth to understand what happened and what could be improved.
I asked whether I could ever class it as a successful VBAC since Woody was born vaginally.  She sort of smiled, then deadpanned; "No, nothing about this birth was a success!"  Other than the fact they saved me.  I'm here, and so is Woody.  It could've been a hell of a lot worse.
We really wanted to congratulate the whole team on how well they dealt with the emergency. Some day I really hope to see some of them again and thank them personally.  If any of them ever stumble across this little corner of the internet, thank you.  You saved my life and that of my baby and you should all be incredibly proud of the job you do.  I hope one day to join your ranks and continue the amazing work you do.
I mentioned that I was keen to carry on talking about my experience and should they ever want anyone to talk about rupture to students or midwives or whoever, I was really happy to be involved.  She said I should come and talk at one of their team meetings and so she's taken my number to try and get something arranged.  Which is exciting.  I'll get to rub shoulders with a whole room full of actual midwives (I'm a midwife fan girl, I'll admit it!!)
Andy and I came out and both agreed how relieved we felt.  I don't think we'd call it closure, I don't know if either of us will ever have closure on what happened.  It was the most traumatic thing we've ever been through, it has brought us closer together, Andy and I, I think we both have a new found respect for each other in a way, the things we both experienced that week.  But we felt very relieved and immensely grateful and thankful to everyone involved in helping put me back together again

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Tuneful Tuesday: Follow Me, Follow You

I'm afraid this week's post has me teary eyed as much as last week's one did.

This week I have chosen a song which has meant quite a lot to me for some time.

It's no secret that I really quite like Genesis.  I want to do a full Tuneful Tuesday post dedicated to my special, sometimes secret, love for Genesis.  But they're very personal to me, and along with the Beatles and Pink Floyd, really are the soundtrack to my childhood.

The song I have chosen today however has me quite emotional every time I hear it.  For two main reasons.

Firstly, it reminds me of my dad.  I'm sure I recall dad singing along to it as a kid (I'm sure mum and dad will contradict me on that).  It was a song I really toyed with having as I walked 'down the aisle' (or rather, across the courtyard) on my wedding day.  This was my plan, until I realised dad and I would be in tears by the time we got to the barn and so I dispensed with the idea.  Something I sort of regret.  The first verse in particular has me in tears.

Secondly, it was on the radio whilst I was in hospital.  I was on the postnatal ward, and over night they had Magic or some similar radio station playing in the office.  I was having my obs done at some point when I heard the strains of this drifting across the ward.  I laughed, and had to explain to the midwife why.  She didn't seem to understand, but hearing it faintly just comforted me so much.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Looking Back/Looking Forward - 2nd February 2014

I'm linking up rather late this week with Hannah's TWTWC (We've had a very busy few days...)

Looking Back

We had quite a busy week last week.  We have finally got our house on the market (I say finally, it's actually only taken 2 weeks from the decision being made to us signing with an agent) so the week has been mostly filled with tidying and de-cluttering.

I managed to do the school run twice last week in the run up to this week which is basically the start of the daily morning school run.  Scarlett will continue to go to after school club for the time being - she enjoys it and has lots of friends there and it's better than coming home and listening to Woody cry!

My hospital notes arrived on Wednesday and made interesting reading.  Nothing we didn't already know though, but it has been really good to put a timescale back on what happened - my sense of time had completely disappeared.

Wednesday also saw Woody's hip scan at the hospital.  I felt slightly strange as it was my first trip back to the hospital since Woody was born, thankfully a different building and it wasn't as bad as I had imagined.  Woody was very well behaved for his scan and I'm pleased to report he's had the all clear.

My lovely friend Emma took me and Woody to Ikea on Thursday where I bought things I shouldn't have done (isn't it like the law to go to Ikea and come out with unnecessary purchases?!)  Andy had taken the car seat adaptors with him in his car so this was Woody's first trip out in the big boy seat on the pushchair, he seemed comfy enough but I wish we had a cosy toes for it.

The biggest news of all is that I'm driving again! Watch out Worcester Park, Stirling Moss is back behind the wheel!  Woooohooooooo!!

On Saturday my friends Jo and G came down for the afternoon.  Unfortunately I'd been suffering since Friday with a terrible ache in my tummy and by Saturday afternoon I was in agony - I had to leave my poor friends in charge of a screaming Woody for a bit until Andy came back from a children's party to take him off their hands!!  But they came bearing awesome gifts - Jo has proved herself to be rather good in the craft department and made us a Scrabble letters frame with our names and G gifted Woody with his very first Threadless tshirt.  My friends rock.

Sunday was a day of partial rest (we've started using these vented bottles from Tommee Tippee and they seem to be working wonders for Woody, he's back to a regular 3-4 hour routine which meant on Saturday night we had nearly 8 hours sleep (minus an hour for Andy as he did the 3am feed!).  We had a lazy morning in bed followed my a manic afternoon of tidying and boxing stuff up ready for photos to be taken of the house on Monday.  Weekends are always best when rounded off with a trip to Pizza Express. Perfick.

Even more photos this week....

Clockwise from Main:
  • Sleep deprivation gets the better of us and we resort to finding this possibly the most hilarious thing ever.
  • Scarlett was off school on Monday with a 'tummy ache' (I think we'd had a terrible night with Woody).  Nevermind, cuddles and Up were a good prescription.
  • We made it to Sainsbury's on the bus!
  • My hospital notes.

Clockwise from Main:
  • This costume was reduced in Saino's and I literally couldn't exist - I want one in my size!
  • Woody in his big boy pushchair seat at Ikea.
  • After nearly 7 weeks of not driving, I'm finally back behind the wheel - my first trip was a 90 minute amble round the countrysidey areas near us in an attempt to get Woody to sleep and give Andy a solid chunk of sleep (90 minutes, wowee, don't have too much!!)

Our awesome Scrabble picture with our names made by my super friend Jo - Can't wait to move to give it a permanent home, for now, it's next to the tv.
Woody's first Threadless tee from Mr G.  It's a little big for him at the minute, but it should fit him towards the Summer I hope.

Clockwise from Main:
  • Chillaxing in bed on Sunday morning - we definitely need a bigger bed, Andy and I are clinging to the edge!
  • Woody choosing his first Pizza Express dinner!
  • My boys

Looking Forward

I'm hoping for a slightly calmer week this week.  I've had a horrible cough and cold and my tummy has been so sore from coughing - I'm bending myself double to protect my scar and it's starting to hurt!  So I'm going to just take it easy, shame I have to be up and out every morning for the school run but hey ho, it's exercise and I desperately need that at the minute.

I'm not really sure if I have a goal this week.  I like to set myself a goal, really I just want to get through the week without spending any more money!!  It's only the 4th and already I'm basically out of money (I'm so crap at budgeting!)

Hope you all have a good week!

Tuneful Tuesday: You Got the Love

I've been wanting to write this post for a few weeks now.

I don't want to say too much about it.  I loved the version which was released in the 1990s with Candi Staton.  However it's the Florence+The Machine version I'm sharing with you today.

The day I was discharged from hospital, December 22nd 2013, it was on the radio as we drove home.

The lyrics seemed to reflect precisely how I felt about Andy and his support in the preceding week.  Tears came and poured, silently.  Scarlett asked what was wrong with Mummy.  Andy told her I was just relieved; relieved to finally be out of hospital and on my way home.  It's true, I was so relieved and so very thankful for Andy, Scarlett and Woody.

I haven't listened to this since then.  It felt too raw, it still does feel too raw.  Listening to the lyrics again I want to offer them up to Andy; it's true, all the words are true, they really reflect how thankful I am for him and his love and helping me get through an experience I will never fully recover from, in many ways.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Looking Back/Looking Forward - 26th January 2014

As part of my new weekly feature where I look back at the week and look forward to the week ahead I'm linking up with Hannah over at Make, Do and Push! for her The Week That Was Captured #TWTWC feature again.

Looking Back

Another up and down week in terms of recovery, I have to learn that just because I feel better does not mean I should start bending down to put washing in the machine and least of all lift Woody's pram into my parents giant car (lesson learnt there...!)

I managed to do one school run last week which was an achievement, felt very good when I got back from that.

I also managed something quite momentous on Thursday which was to get out on the bus with Woody into Worcester Park.  I had a bit of a paddy first thing in the morning when I realised Andy had my bank card.  My original plan had been to get the bus to Sainsbury's.  With hindsight, heading to WP was probably the better idea as  it meant I wasn't heading back laden down with shopping (I would've gone to Sainsbury's and ended up buying too much stuff - being payday the cupboards were bare, the temptation would've been too great to basically do a big shop!!)  I was especially proud as I would never have gotten the bus into WP or Sainsbury's when I wasn't pregnant.  Even when I didn't have the car, I would've just stayed in rather than break a sweat!  So it's especially pleasing that I did it 5 weeks after the 'event' and with Woody in tow!

Lots of photos this week...

Clockwise from Main:
  • Woody having a little sit on the sofa - we had comments that he either looked like my dad or Phil Mitchell....
  • Little rabbit slippers that I finally put him in - it's funny, we buy all these little things (he also has a tan pair of mocassins!) and yet, they're not necessarily that practical (a post for another time!)
  • I've developed a bit of an obsession with matching my bibs (Funky Giraffe, can highly recommend) with my muslins (M&S, again, really quite good)
  • Andy 'helping' with the washing - in reality I had literally dumped all the tumbling onto him so that I could sort it all out!

Clockwise from Main:

  • Our little Scarlett, doing what she does best - junk modelling.  Bane of my life as the kitchen is covered in bits of sellotape and scraps of card, but she's happy doing it. She's such an arty child, I think she gets that from me.  We need to spend more time with her, I feel awful for saying it but Woody has taken over more than we expected.  I'd love to be able to spend an entire day with her, just doing what we used to, cinema, Pizza Express lunch.  Just some dedicated Scarlett time.
  • Woody is getting a bit too big for his Moses basket already I think.  I've bought a couple of sleeping bags for him as I think we're going to make the cot transition in the next week or so.  Might also help with him a routine?!
  • The sling.  Note it says, One size fits most, on the box.  Size 24 obviously isn't most as it doesn't fit me and is going back...

Clockwise from Main:
  • Woody on the bus!! With my lovely Lin&Leo changing bag.  Still so proud we managed this!
  • Woody in the sling. He was quite comfy but we got terribly warm together and after just 10 minutes he was all sweaty and I wonder if that's because it was a bit snug on me.  It's a shame but I'm looking into getting a stretchy wrap instead.
  • Walking bag from the bus stop (via the corner shop for a celebratory can of Irn Bru....
So, that was our epic week, how was yours?

Looking Forward

This week I really need to try and take it slightly easier!  I really did do too much a couple of times this week and really left myself feeling terrible.  I saw the Dr on Friday and she was quite cross at me for lifting the changing bag, let alone anything else!  Andy has also been very cross with me at various points for lifitng and bending, so I really need to learn to just take it easy!  I think school and back is probably the most I should attempt this week.  I also need to eat much better as I've had indigestion so bad on a couple of occasions this week I've been writhing in agony!

I'm looking forward to seeing friends this week, we've got various visitors due this week so that's fun.

We'll also be advancing our future plans and hopefully getting the ball rolling there.

Woody has his hip scan on Wednesday afternoon so happy thoughts for that would be great.  Scarlett did not enjoy hers so I'm not looking forward to it with Woodster.

Have a good week everyone!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Looking Back/Looking Forward - 19th January 2014

Today I'm linking up with Hannah over at Make, Do and Push! for her The Week That Was Captured #TWTWC feature and trying to start a new weekly post of my own where I want to look back at the week gone but also set a couple of tiny goals or things I'd like to achieve in the coming week.

I've been following Hannah's posts for a while but have finally decided this week I'm going to participate in #TWTWC and hopefully, knowing I need to share some half decent photos, or just events of interest, each week will spur me on to get out and about a little more and start taking photos again (you wouldn't believe I have a degree in Photography...!!)

Looking Back

This week started quite badly with a major wobble over my recovery progress, I overdid my activity last Sunday and left myself feeling very low and in pain during Monday.  Thankfully my mum and Godmother were visiting so I had help; I feel bad because I left them to it whilst I had a sleep (which I was so grateful for!).  I started a course of antibiotics for this un-named infection and started to feel much better by Wednesday, and have started to get into a little routine.

Without further ado, here's my week in pictures

Clockwise from Main:

  • Woody turned a month old on Friday 17th January - I celebrated by taking some pictures of him so that we can compare his growth.  Here he is pictured with the first sleepsuit he wore, though I had no idea what he had worn, Andy assures me it's the case!  Someone also pointed out that the blanket I've laid him on looks a lot like graph paper so that's a happy coincidence. 
  • Our week began with mass bed invasion last Sunday morning.  We promptly started Googling 'Caesar sized beds' but at around £2,000 for a mattress, we might have to make do with an upgrade to a kingsize!
  • I got a new phone on Monday, which was exciting, I do love a new gadget.  I've been an Android user for 18 months now and I don't think I'd go back to an iPhone (I get my Apple fix with my iPad....!)
  • On Friday afternoon my sister came round and I managed to do my first school run with Woody.  It was a good test run and I was glad I had someone with me.  I can't believe it's taken a month after his birth to be in a position to do it, but I was incredibly pleased and proud of myself to have managed it. I've planned a different route to her school that avoids the big hills too so that's good.  I was shattered when we got back though, but I'm hoping to start easing myself back into it this week (not to mention, I HAVE to do it on Tuesday as Andy has to leave early to get to the Isle of Wight).
  • On Thursday Woody met his first buddy Joe for the first time.  Joe was born a day before Woody in the same hospital.  It was lovely to see Carly and catch up and also really reassuring (for me at least!) that they're doing similar things; faffing around at night, making odd grunting noises!  I personally feel really blessed to have met a friend who lives locally and is at the same stage with a baby and it's such a funny coincidence that our boys were born a day apart.
  • And finally another picture of Woody, dressed as a skater boy (showing how 90s I am there...!)
So there you have it, this was my week, how was yours?

Looking Forward

Briefly, I want to be more organised in most areas of my life this week.  I have no control over my body any more and cannot control how quick I recover so I'm hoping that by putting myself in control of other things (household diary and finances) I will start to feel more me again.

I'm aiming to do the school run at least twice this week, that's my mini goal - exercise and hopefully a start towards being myself again too.

Also, we're hatching a big plan which will bring massive changes in our lives so we'll be making our first enquiries in that area (although, for those that have followed some of our recent plans, the mortgage has not been forthcoming, so please don't get excited that we're buying our own place....!)

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Life List - Updated

So in an attempt to get my blog back up and running and generally be better at it I've updated my pages, including updating my Life List.  I've been inspired by a few bloggers to do a 2014 List so keep an eye out for that.  In the meantime, my accomplished acts:

  • Have another baby (check, did that in spectacular fashion... Woody's Roundup - Birth Story Posts)
  • Buy a proper pram for our next child (check, the gorgeous Mamas&Papas Sola, really impressed so far)
  • Grow my hair so it reaches below my shoulder blades (check, see here, but stupidly I got it all cut off before Woody arrived, which was really stupid, I miss so badly the ability to topknot it and get it out of the way!)

Friday, 17 January 2014

Woody's Birth - Part 5 - The Long and Winding Road

It's been a month since Woody was born. It's been a long, hard month. I'm still struggling with lots of things, mainly my lady parts being ruined and an infection somewhere inside which would probably explain some of the pain I've been experiencing in my uterus. Antibiotics are thankfully making that feel a bit better.

I have nerve damage in my arm, causing my left thumb to really fucking hurt at certain times. My right thigh is completely dead and incredibly painful. My taste buds are still a bit weird and my beloved iced water still tastes like horrible cheap mineral water. My tummy is still sore and sometimes I'm in agony with it. My foo is completely, utterly ruined.

But on the plus side my bruises have gone. I've stopped bleeding. My tummy scar has healed really well. I've lost a lot of weight. I'm not in general pain anymore. I'm not having the hot and cold rushes I was having. Most importantly I'm not waking up at 11:52 every night in a cold, sweaty panic.

I've made a list of things still bothering me, which sounds defeatist perhaps, but it means I can tick them off when they no longer bother me, and I can see that list getting smaller. I'm incredibly hard on myself sometimes because I expected everything to go according to plan and to be totally me again by now. As it turned out, it all went kinda wrong and I'm stuck in this awful place where I feel like I will never be myself again.

It's going to be a long journey back to me, but I'm already on that journey and I will get there. 

Last time I wrote fully I was going into theatre. I've started a follow up post 3 times now and each time I've just rambled. It's not relevant. It's not particularly interesting. 

The main points of my post-surgery hospital stay are thus;

I was in HDU from Wednesday morning, about an hour after I came round, to Thursday morning. They had ice in HDU and it was the most amazing, giant, heart shaped ice. They had soluble paracetamol too. And my lovely day nurse gave me a bed bath on the Thursday morning, which whilst kinda weird, felt SO good having just felt disgusting since Tuesday.

I hated most of my stay in Maternity HDU. Apologies for anyone reading this who that might offend. The truth is that it was the other ladies in that bay who made it unbearable, constantly ringing their buzzers for no reason other than that their babies wouldn't settle. One of them was quite ill, she would make all sorts of pained noises, but every time her phone rang (really fucking loudly, and with the most obnoxious ringtone), she sounded just fine, laughing and chatting away. Annoying much?! The midwife up there was lovely though.

My first shower was painful but relieving, and memorable only for the look on Andy's face when I opened my eyes whilst washing my hair with one hand owing to the giant cannula still in my right hand. I still can't imagine how it all must have felt for him. 

I was finally discharged from Maternity HDU on Friday at 2pm; it was 9pm before I was finally down on the postnatal ward, where my first words were, "Put me in that bed by the window!" The response was that it wasn't made up. "Well make it UP then!!" I later apologised to the midwife, she was utterly lovely, we had a bit of a laugh during both the nights I was on the ward.

I had been finally reunited with a poorly Woody on Thursday once I was back in Maternity HDU which was just amazing. My gorgeous boy had been through so much, I was shocked to see a cannula in his tiny hand. He was having antibiotics twice a day right through to the week. The birth had been a massive shock for him and births like that can apparently have a negative affect on bubs. He had a lumbar puncture but I still don't quite recall the significance of that. I was still a bit out of it and mostly left Andy in charge of Woody, which sounds awful, but I'm just not sure I could've taken it all in, I didn't understand what the Drs were telling me.

After two days on the postnatal ward and many trips back and forth to Neonatal for Woody, we were finally ready to go home. Looking back now, nearly 4 weeks after discharge I'm not sure how much I've progressed although I'm sure that I have. Progress just feels slow which is frustrating but I've just got to shut up and get on with it really.

A midwife visited me on the Sunday morning before discharge. I had only met her once, she had shown us round the Labour Ward and we'd had a chat at the end of the tour. When she visited me on the postnatal ward we had a really good discussion about what had happened and how I was keen to move forward, to help the team learn and to talk about my experiences with students if it would help them. She knew of my desire to one day move into midwifery and before she left she welled up a bit, she said she'd told herself not to get emotional, but she said she wanted to come and tell me she thought I'd be a really good midwife one day. 

I hope so.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Dry Your Eyes Mate

It's been a week since Andy shared his memories of the night Woody made his entrance into the world. I had to apologise to people afterwards as I think it made for quite uncomfortable reading. I know it did for me, and it happened to me, but hearing it from Andy's point of view was breathtaking in some ways.

It's also given me some good bragging rights. Now let me just clarify, it sounds odd I know that I want to brag about what happened. But I survived that shit. I survived losing 80% of my blood, cardiovascular collapse, my uterus tearing pretty fucking badly. I'm here to tell the tale. Yes, I am a bit of a legend, how the feck did I survive that?! I'm the wussiest person I know! (We're having the doorways at home widened as we speak....!)

It was bad. Really bad. But I'm here and so is Woody (making himself very known during the hours of 8pm-1am when he likes to have his 5 hour faffing around!).  I've got a little way to go in terms of recovery. I'm now on a course of antibiotics as I have an infection (where I don't know but judging by the nagging pains in my uterus, I'm kinda guessing it's in there). 

I have days where I feel great but then I do too much and put myself out of action for a good 48 hours afterwards. I'm still definitely not myself, which is hard, because I always imagined that 4 weeks after having the baby I'd be back on my feet, zipping around, going on coffee dates and generally being a hausfrau. But sadly not. I never expected to feel so pissed off at having to be so lazy!

So again I apologise to those for whom the preceding posts we're upsetting in any way. But we lived it and survived it and we want to tell our tale. It helps us. It also helps explain why I've not really been on planet earth for the last 4 weeks.

If you can take it, I'm going to pick up where I left off, in theatre....

Thursday, 9 January 2014

I Got Friend's On the Other Side.... - Andy's Story

Today I have something really special for you.  And I mean really special.

Andy's version of events.

I asked him to write something as a few people had said, "Gosh, poor Andy to witness all of that!" And you'd be right.  I read this last night and was just speechless.  Despite being there and going through it, I never really realised just how bloody bad it got actually.

Turns out, Andy's quite good at writing (well I think so anyway) so hopefully you'll find this entertaining in places despite being also quite traumatic to read in others.  He takes us beyond where I left off, for me, majority of the ordeal was over once I was knocked out in theatre, for him, that's where it really started...

Please leave him lots of love, comments, messages on Facebook and Twitter etc. as it's taken guts for him to write this down for me to share with you.  It's quite a long one, but please stick with it....

Over to Andy...

So, three weeks after the successful birth of our baby son, Woody, Amy has asked me to write down the experience through my eyes before my male habit of shoving traumatic experiences into a mind locker and throwing away the key commits the details of the event to some dusty corner of my brain!
I call it successful because here we are three weeks and two days on, and I am back in the office and Amy is at home looking after our little perfectly healthy Woody on her own.

For the 4 days immediately subsequent to his birth it really didn't feel successful at all, and indeed for the 48 hours after it seemed absolutely catastrophic, in the medical sense of the word rather than the dramatic.
This is basically the story of how four nearly became two, how I witnessed Amy tug on some hardcore inner strength to pull herself through a terrifying trauma, how I saw our son being brought back from the dead, and how I spent a significantly longer amount of time than I would have liked pacing the hospital thinking of the specific way in which I would have to tell Scarlett that Mummy wasn't ever coming home.

In other words, this is the story of Tuesday 17th December 2013.

So, I don’t know who will be reading this, that’s up to Amy, but I am assuming that whoever does read it will have read Amy’s words so there’s no great need to go into the detail as to how we ended up where we were on the morning of the 17th, that being in Delivery Room 5 at St Helier hospital waiting for Amy’s waters to be broken.

It started off better than the previous day, whereby we waited 12 hours for the same procedure to be undertaken, but only just. The labour ward consultant told us that Amy had made his day because she wanted a VBAC, as the vast majority of women who are having their first baby ask for a C Section, never mind those who are pregnant for a second time after a previous C Section. So that certainly buoyed me, and reasserted that at the end of the day this was something that Amy really wanted, and it was the right decision.

However, after waiting probably around 3 hours for our midwife to get to work, we were told that she had been reassigned and we therefore were given a new midwife. (This new midwife turned out to be fairly wet behind the ears, and leads to Question Number 1 on our list to ask the consultants during our debrief – was the midwife experienced enough to deal with the extremely delicate operation of inducing a VBAC?)

Anyway, Amy’s waters were broken as planned, and so the wheels were certainly in motion – ‘there was no turning back now’, as the senior midwife helpfully reminded us in a strangely apprehensive way (she did know that baby’s usually have to leave the mother’s tummy at the end of the pregnancy in any event, right?).
Anyway, after a good long walk around the sights of the St Helier estate and Rose Hill Co-op, and numerous laps of the lifts/stairs, there was little movement. So the Syntocinon was started, again as planned, around 5pm.

Almost as soon as it had, so did the contractions. I just rubbed Amy’s feet whilst we listened to Air (We hastily skipped the Goldie Looking Chain when ‘Your Mother’s Got a Penis’ started chiming out during one examination....).  I felt excited that the show was really on the road now, and pretty soon Amy was going to give birth and it was all going to be sweetness and light – a genuine sense of excitement crept over me.

Amy seemed to be dealing with the contractions really well over the next few hours. They were very regular, and despite the midwife telling her at every opportunity that she has never encountered a Syntocinon induced delivery where the mother did not require an epidural, Amy stuck at it.

After a few hours of the midwife continuing to ramp up the Syntocinon every 30 minutes despite Amy’s contractions being very regular indeed (Question Number 2), the contractions were now thick and fast, every 2 minutes, possibly 1 and a half. They were just relentless and intense due to the synthetic hormones racing round Amy’s body and she started to struggle a little.

To qualify this slightly, I've always maintained that Amy has a fairly low pain threshold, something I have ribbed her about previously. I now think, however, that her pain threshold is a moveable feast which she can control depending on how bothered she can be with dealing with the pain. On this occasion, based upon the intense contractions and the pain that I can only imagine Amy must have endured over the following few hours, I now know that she can take pain like a boss, no doubt about it.

Amy felt she needed an epidural, and so this was arranged. Amy was hooked up to monitors to ensure baby’s heartbeat was going along nicely and he was not getting distressed. Every time Amy had a contraction the heart rate would dip, but would then recover immediately (later the midwives and consultant would term these ‘typical decelerations’ and nothing untoward). I hated listening to the heart rate, as I had done at every appointment in the weeks leading up to the day, as I become obsessed and frantic at every change, higher or lower, and just sit there, ears pricked, teeth clenched, palms sweaty in a total stress. And this was no different, I was intently listening to the regular ‘bubuum bubuum’ at 140 bpm for hours, and then glaring at the screen when it slowed during a contraction and waited anxiously for it to return to 140.

Anyway, the midwife, it turned out, was even more obsessed than I was, as whilst Amy was getting into a very awkward position for the epidural to be put in by the anaesthetist, which naturally disturbed the monitor on Amy’s tummy, the midwife was going mad in a panic telling everyone she cannot hear the baby and basically telling the anaesthetist to hurry up.

Now this is a process whereby a long needle is carefully inserted between two vertebrae into the spinal column to a very specific depth to allow the drugs to numb the waist down, whilst not causing any damage to the spinal column itself which could cause nerve damage or indeed paralysis! All whilst Amy is moving about every couple of minutes with the contractions. The last thing the anaesthetist needed was the midwife flapping, but flapping she was, stressing everyone out! This, I felt, was really where I became aware that she was indeed inexperienced, and that the inexperience was now telling and having an effect on the situation. I was holding Amy tightly to keep her back in a stable position, and trying to calm this midwife down by telling her it is obvious that the monitor pads have moved, whilst looking at the beads of sweat collecting on the poor anaesthetist’s brow. Pandemonium,  and nothing had even gone wrong – yet!

Anyway, Epi line in, or so we thought, and panic over. Drugs started to calm Amy down a bit and taking the edge off the contractions, so that was good. I read the drugs packet and was ‘low dose epidural’, so I knew that there was more available if Amy needed it – which she did unfortunately.

Anyway, 8pm rolled around and it was handover time, goodbye to the panicked midwife, hello to the OCD one who spent the first 10 minutes tidying up the clutter which by now was taking up floor space and trolley space (with hindsight, this was a very smart move and showed professionalism down to the last detail, as the area was perfectly clear for the incoming crew and equipment when the elephant shit unexpectedly splattered all over the fuck off wind turbine a bit later).

The doctors were on their rounds around 9pm, and the leading consultant was thankfully one whom we have met a couple of times before and was familiar with Amy and our story to date. She knew what was happening and she checked everything out. Amy was progressing nicely at this stage, dilating well to 5cm, (I think!), and so it was agreed that they would come back in two hours and see where things stood. If Amy got to where they wanted her to be then the labour would continue, if not, they would take Amy for a C Section – as planned.

New midwife and a sense of calm restored. She knew what she was doing, and just got on with it. Amy still in pain and asking for top up of epidural regularly, and so the anaesthetist became a familiar face, and our new midwife was asked to keep topping up the Epi line every half hour to keep the pains at bay. But it didn't  and despite large doses of a more concentrated solution, the Epidural seemed ineffective (little did we know that the line wasn't in correctly, or had pulled out slightly, as during the birth I noticed that the bed was soaked behind Amy’s back, suggesting all or most of the Epidural solution had leaked straight out! Whether this was the result of the panic during the insertion of the Epi line, who knows (Question 3).

So at this point I sensed a slight change in the mood from one of control to one with variables. What if the pain gets too much and can’t be sorted, and what does this mean that the pain is still unbearable despite large doses of the Epidural.

Things progressed and at around 11pm Amy had dilated 8cm. Consultants were happy-ish, slightly less so that before, and spent a long time looking at the printout from the monitors – lots of discussions regarding the ‘typical decelerations’ and whether they were indeed typical, and it was becoming harder and harder to pick up the baby’s heartbeat with him moving around and getting lower and lower in Amy’s body. Someone had to physically hold the monitor (looks like a small round drinks coaster) in place on Amy’s stomach. Hands sufficiently numb from doing so on the part of myself and the midwife, the consultants decided the best thing to do to ensure that baby can be monitored was to place a clip on baby’s head. Amy winced at the idea, worried it would hurt baby’s head, but it was considered essential to ensure his health, and so this was agreed to.

The consultant had with her a doctor (who I am guessing was of some experience, despite being young, and was training to become a consultant herself). The doctor, (Dr Melanie), needed a couple of bites of the cherry to get the contraption to work and the process was explained a number of times by the consultant, which sounded like she was instructing her to put together an Ikea bookcase. She got there in the end, and the low grumbly ‘bubuum bubuum’ of the ultrasound monitor was replaced with the more familiar ‘beep beep’ of an electronic heart monitor. Crazy stuff really to think they can monitor the heart beat in this way from inside the womb, but this was really the lifesaving decision, without any shadow of a doubt, and it cannot be understated.

So, consultant/Dr Melanie decided to leave it another two hours, and would return whereby they expected Amy to be fully dilated and ready to rock n roll! If she wasn't, then again they would proceed to a C Section.

After they left the lights were turned low again and some peace returned, although the anaesthetist was called a couple more times to add to the epidural. At some point the senior midwife visited to check on things, and Amy asked about pains she was having, not just the contractions but a distinct pain on the top side of her uterus which were worrying her. We were all too aware that THE risk of a VBAC delivery is a ruptured uterus, and this was the reason for all the monitors and the strict timeframes during labour, so that the uterus isn't put through so much stress (which is also the reason why VBAC candidates aren't regularly induced, as an induction always puts extra stress on the uterus over and above a natural spontaneous labour – why did they use Syntocinon in the first place then? Question Number 4 – but perhaps the most pertinent).

The midwife dismissed it somewhat and they assured us that they could tell from the baby’s heart rate if there was anything untoward happening, as this would be the first sign before any pain. She even introduced a little acronym, FEAR, False Evidence Appearing Real. So with that we were confident that things were still going well. So the four of us, Amy, myself, baby and the midwife carried on as before. I rubbed Amy’s feet, Amy breathed through the ongoing contractions and the midwife went about her business.

Then around half an hour later, things stopped going well, and they did so pretty quickly. Suddenly baby’s heart rate dropped from the usual 140 down to around 30, and it didn’t recover. At this point the midwife sprang into action and asked Amy to move onto her side, so I helped her, but nothing changed. It was all so sudden that it didn’t really register, despite my phobia/obsession of those monitors. Nothing changed and baby’s heart rate remained rock bottom.

Battle stations.

The button was pushed and literally within seconds of the alarm sounding the once calm and relative empty room was filled with doctors, nurses and midwives. I have no idea whereabouts they all were in the hospital at that point, but it seemed to me like they must have all just coincidentally been standing outside the door at the very moment the button was pushed, as the room suddenly filled with blue as if the building was under the ocean and opening the door had let in a torrent of water.

There were Paediatric doctors, about 8-10 midwives and nurses, the anaesthetist and Dr Melanie who we knew from earlier. The head midwife pulled out the ‘stirrups’ from beneath the bed – I’d seen these black things at the bottom of the bed but had no idea what they were, now I knew. Amy was examined and was fully dilated, so the order came to push. Baby was getting worse and the urgency was growing. I held on to Amy’s hand and just waited for her to give me a sign of a contraction, at which point I just remember shouting at her to push with everything she had to get this baby out.

Suddenly there was the loudest crash in the background and the instrument trolley full with essential equipment somehow collapsed and spewed its precious contents all over the floor and out into the corridor. It was in the background and insignificant to what has happening to me and Amy inside our bubble, so my mind focused back onto Amy.

It occurred to me suddenly that she was giving birth, right here, right now, and it was happening so fast. Baby wasn’t really moving down and so Dr Melanie asked for the forceps. ‘We don’t have them’ came the reply. A rather stunned Dr Melanie loudly repeated her request, ‘Well I need them immediately’, and sounded more Scottish than ever (she looked pensive/concerned during all of her routine visits to our room that night that I got the impression she was a pretty stern and determined person who basically didn’t take shit, full stop). A few midwives flapped around near the door and repeated that they didn’t have them or couldn’t find them. Dr Melanie now just held out her hand and merely said ‘Forceps, now!’, and I genuinely would not like to have been the person to have told her they were still missing at that point. She was so calm but so forceful at the same time. All of this happened between contractions, and thankfully, finally the forceps were provided to her.

These were not as I expected, they came in two halves and she carefully inserted one side, announcing the same, and then the opposite side, again announcing that she had done so. She then fed one through the other and they clipped together. I just remember how clean shiny and well engineered they were and how they glided together so easily, they worked perfectly.

I can’t remember if this happened before or after, but Dr Melanie then produced a pair of surgical scissors and began cutting at Amy, calm, calculated, brutal. I've never seen flesh cut like that, and it was crazy. I knew what she was doing having read numerous books Amy had told me to read, but that didn't console me. The amazing thing was, Amy didn't even flinch, I genuinely couldn't believe it. I just squeezed her hand  and wished I could do something more.

So, Amy was having another contraction and with that I held her hand even tighter and told her to fucking well push! And I watched Dr Melanie as this smallish young lady looked as though she was trying to pull an oak tree down with her bare hands as she pulled the baby out. It shocked me how forceful she was, literally all her strength, grimacing and shaking with the strain! And out popped baby.

He was immediately placed on Amy’s chest for a second, before it was clear he was not well. He was passed to the paediatric doctors who had been standing beside the resuscitaire, one each side, patiently waiting for baby to be passed to them, at which point they sprang into action like a clockwork machine. The clock on the resuscitaire, a green LED clock, was started and the counting began out loud ’15 seconds, no breath’, ’30 seconds no breath, increase oxygen’, ’45 seconds, no breath, suction, ventilation’…. They knew what they were doing, however our baby was at that point not breathing, and his heart rate was still on the ground as it was just prior to delivery.

At this point, less than a minute after he was pulled out, it was clear in my mind that there was nothing I could do for my son. My attention had to be with Amy. It was clear that she was haemorrhaging very badly, and was visibly traumatised. The shaking began immediately, and I was sure that Amy was going to have a panic attack or a bloody heart attack due to the stress, so I did the only thing I could and that was lie to her. I told her that the baby was going to be fine, that he was ok and that she just needed to remain as calm as she could and to breath. She needed to breathe through it and try to slow her racing heart.

By now, with baby not breathing after 3 or 4 minutes, I had subconsciously had to make a strange and horrible assumption. I assumed that our baby wasn't going to make it. How could he?! He wasn't breathing by himself and they kept telling me that every 15 seconds. So, with that settled, I had to somehow make sure Amy didn't die so that I didn't lose both of them. All I could to do in that regard was plead with her to calm down and I just remember leaning over her and telling her to look at me and that everything was fine and that she had just achieved something absolutely amazing and that he was going to be ok, and that she was going to be ok.

The midwives were frantically, but calmly, zooming around the room doing this and that to try and make Amy better. She was losing a tremendous amount of blood. Dr Melanie was now trying to stitch up any damage to stem the bleeding, but Amy was clearly going in to shock.

At 11.56, 9 minutes after he was born, baby cried. I cried. I couldn't believe it. I heard them say he had cried, otherwise I wouldn't have believed my ears. Then he stopped, then he cried some more. The two doctors (two people who will remain in my thoughts until my dying day, Dr Jonathan Sturgeon and Dr Judith Hall) were working on him constantly, shaking him, moving his arms like bird’s wings, prodding, sucking, listening, asking him to wake up in such a comforting way as if trying to rouse their own sleeping baby, rather than what they were actually doing, which was to shock our baby into breathing for himself. But it worked, and he was breathing. I was flitting between Amy and baby as much as I could and I could see he was now alert and crying, if a little floppy. The head midwife asked us if he had a name.

At that point I asked Amy, because she had to name him. I could not possibly have any part in that decision after what Amy had gone through to bring him into this world, and Amy confirmed Edward, ‘Woody’. And Woody was here.

They wrapped him up and Dr Hall gave him to me. I literally couldn't tell if he was ok or not, so I quickly showed him to Amy and then, panicked, I passed him back to the Dr’s so they could make sure he was alright. I literally didn't feel like I could be in charge of such a fragile and precious thing and I needed the professionals to tend to him right now to make him ok. After a little more fiddling and observation, Woody was taken straight up to the Neonatal unit for extra oxygen and monitoring. I wasn't sure he was going to be ok, and Dr Hall wasn't either, but he was breathing and that’s a start. The midwife kept reassuring me that he didn't go blue at any point, and that the Dr’s were forcing oxygen into his lungs throughout so that he would not be starved. I hadn't even thought about that until then, I just wanted him to ‘wake up’, and he did.

So, attention back to Amy. This is about 20 minutes after Woody was born, and Amy’s statistics were deteriorating on all fronts. Her blood pressure fell through the floor to something like 80/40, her pulse went up well over 200 and her breathing/oxygen sats were very bad. She was white like a sheet and her lips were disappearing. I kept asking her to have a drink, lucozade or something, anything, to get her to stay awake, stay alert and get better. I kept telling her that Woody was ok, he would be fine, which started to feel less like a lie by this point, and that she had done amazingly well. I wanted her to know that she had done so well, I couldn't really express it, but she had just done something so amazing, and brought our little boy safely into the world despite everything that had just happened to her.

She had an oxygen mask working overtime, and due to the shock they needed to warm her body up. They used ‘forced air warming’ or Bair Hugger Therapy, whereby basically a large inflated blanket is placed over Amy like a cocoon, and hot air is blown constantly under the blanket. I was sweating profusely due to the heat, but Amy was like ice!

This went on for what seemed like an age. They needed to get fluids into Amy to replace the blood. They needed to take blood to get a precise match for a blood transfusion, but this proved impossible, Amy’s veins were disappearing.

Thankfully, and I really do mean thankfully, Amy had a cannula in her hand where the Syntocinon was fed during the labour, and this was now the only point of entry to administer fluids to keep Amy alive. Without the correct replacement blood, they were using a kind of plasma-ish liquid which I guess is a short term generic substitute for blood. They hooked this up to the existing cannula and two midwives were squeezing the life out of the bag of fluid to get it into Amy as quick as possible. I guess they didn't feel like this was working and so they applied an inflatable cuff to the bag, similar to a blood pressure monitor cuff, and the head midwife pumped and pumped like crazy to get this bag of fluid squeezed into Amy’s body. She worked the pump so hard that the bag actually exploded like a water bomb, showering the fluid all over all of us. So, out came another bag and the squeezing continued.

The anaesthetist was in the meantime trying to get another line into Amy’s body, anywhere she could, however she was struggling. She tried a needle in Amy’s hands, forearms, arms, shoulders, feet, groin (using a 5 inch needle and an ultrasound scanner) and eventually neck, however it wasn't possible. She finally gave up, stating aloud "Her body is shutting down, the veins are closing, I can’t get another line in".

In the back of my mind Amy was on the brink. They were periodically coming in to remove surgical pads placed at the end of the bed in order to weigh how much blood was being lost. It was a lot, 3.8 litres it turned out to be in the end, so that is approximately 80% of her entire blood supply, and a class 4 haemorrhage – with cardiovascular collapse, apparently. She needed 9 pints of blood. Guess what I’ll be doing for my New Year’s resolution?!

It was approaching 1am when the decision was made that the bleeding could not be stopped, and therefore Amy had to go to theatre for surgery. She was to be put under a General Anaesthetic, and she had to sign a consent form that basically stated that should the need to arise for Amy to be given a hysterectomy, then they were allowed to go ahead.

It was all very quick, and suddenly Amy was taken away from me – wheeled down the corridor for the theatre. I said goodbye to her, and then followed her until she was out of sight. It’s a strange feeling of relief when someone is taken out of your hands entirely – not actual relief, relief is probably the wrong word, as at that point I was beside myself with worry, but a slight if very short lived respite.  I’d been through a similar experience with my dad, which ended badly, and so I was seriously unbelievably scared and anxious. (Obviously my dad hadn’t just given birth, but you get the idea).

At this point I walked back down the corridor to Room 5, and I was suddenly alone. All the Dr’s and nurses had disappeared, the bed was gone, it was just empty, when only a short time ago and still ringing in my ears, it was a hive of manic, focused activity.

But now I was on my own, not knowing if Woody was ok or not, and basically thinking that Amy wasn't going to make it. During the past couple of hours I hadn't allowed myself to think about this, there wasn't time and I had to stay positive for Amy, but now the thought burrowed its way into my head and I could no longer remain positive. The head midwife and her colleague, both present at the birth, came in and saw me and gave me a hug and I totally lost it. They tried to reassure me, but they weren't convincing and I needed more than promises to get me out of this, I needed to see Amy fit and well, and until then I was scared witless.

So all I could do was walk. I walked up to Neonatal to see Woody – he was doing much much better and Dr Hall said she wasn't too worried about him anymore, his cord bloods from birth were very very low in whatever it is they measure, however bloods taken an hour later were up to normal levels – he had bounced back and you wouldn't know anything had happened to him. Who knows if this will have any effect on him or not, (Question 5), but he was safe and well, and looking good, and ultimately in the very best place for now.

I couldn't possibly sit with him, however, until I knew what was happening with Amy, so I went down and out of the building and just walked for hours, returning periodically for updates. At first things seemed to be going well, there were some tears which they fixed and Amy would be out soon, apparently. However as I was walking down and out for about the 8th time at around 4am, I heard the words "They've had to open her up", and the head midwife gasping. I didn't even stop, I just carried on walking again and this time I was convincing myself that things were not going to go well. I tried as hard as I could to stay positive, at least outwardly when speaking with the midwives and Amy’s mum, however inside it was turmoil and I had the conversation with myself about telling Scazz that mummy didn't make it a few too many times – I was a bloody mess.

At one point a large black Mercedes pulled up outside the building, and I had a suspicion that this was a surgeon who had been called out to assist with Amy – I saw him a bit later on in the night/morning coming out of the operating theatre confirming my suspicions. It was serious, no doubt about it, I just didn't know what the outcome would be. I wanted Amy to be ok, like really ok. She did an AMAZING job with bringing little Woody into this world, she looked after him so well and she just wanted him to be ok – she went through hell during his birth and she didn't deserve any of it. She certainly didn't deserve any serious problems for the rest of her life – something I considered a real possibility. And she definitely didn't deserve to lose the fight. I just didn't know what would happen, so I carried on walking!

Every time I went back up for an update there wasn't any news, and I was given another hug and a flapjack or a cup of tea, bless them.

Anyway around 6am finally some news, good news! The midwife told me what I had already assumed, that they discovered Amy’s uterus had ruptured at the point of her previous scar tissue from Scarlett’s C Section, Amy was amongst the 0.5%. It had ruptured badly, however they had managed to repair the damage, and they bleeding had been stopped. Suddenly Amy was ready to be woken up, and they told me to just wait in Room 5 for her to come past, and to make sure I was the one to tell her Woody was ok.

I heard noises, and then a shout from the head midwife – I came out and there was Amy coming down the corridor, awake but out of it, but ALIVE. I counted my blessings and told her Woody was absolutely fine.
She was taken to the labour HDU, however her observations were still bad, (I could see that myself whilst sitting there obsessing over the bloody screen as usual), she needed more blood and better monitoring, so she was transferred to the main hospital ICU/HDU unit, where she spent 36 hours recovering, before being taken back down to labour ward HDU on day 3 and being reunited with Woody. He was being taken care of in the Neonatal unit until Amy was back down on the ward – purely for logistical reasons. They were ready to discharge him back to the labour ward on Wednesday lunchtime, but Amy wasn't well enough to be released back down.

During that time I was zipping around the hospital looking for people we knew, our other midwives who we had seen all along the pregnancy, so I could fill them in etc. But everyone knew already! Amy was like a celebrity, everyone had heard about ‘that night’ on the labour ward and what Amy had been through, it was a massive event. I genuinely don’t think that kind of thing happens very often at all, and it was really nice to hear everyone’s get well messages and they were all confident of Amy’s recovery, so that helped immensely to give me the energy to carry on. After being at the hospital for 36 hours and going through all of that, I was shattered!

Over the next few days I spent as much time at the hospital as possible, however juggling that with our 5 year old, Scarlett, who was thankfully still at school that week, was awkward and we called upon lots of help from Amy’s family. There were lots of questions from Scarlett, mainly about why mummy wasn't home yet, why brother wasn't home yet, and why I was spending nights and days at the hospital – but thankfully the answer to all those questions was a billion times easier to give her than the ultimate answer I was so scared about having to give her in the hours after Woody was born. To keep things as normal as possible I came home from hospital at 6am and got into bed, so that when she woke up at 6.30am it looked as though I had been home all night! And I told her we weren't allowed up to hospital to see mum because I was being too noisy and all the other mummy’s had complained about me, and the Dr’s had told me to go home! Scarlett was amazing, and I am so so so proud of her.

So, after spending another couple of nights at the hospital looking after Woody while Amy rested (they really need to invest in some comfy reclining armchairs for the dads!! Preferably with a drinks fridge and TV attached), Amy was well enough to be back down on the ward with the ‘normals’, and then home on Sunday night. Amazing.

We saw Dr Melanie again on day 3, this time she looked 100% different than she did on the night of nights, she was calm, sanguine and relaxed, and cheery! Was so good to see, because I knew that meant for sure that Amy was well, and that she was out of danger. She was a great Dr, and I wish her all the very best.
There are lots of other details but that’s the nuts and bolts of it all. It was a roller coaster to say the least, but we are out the other side of it all now, and looking back. Amy is still feeling the physical effects, which will disappear with time, and also the emotional and mental effects, which may take a little longer, but this experience is now in our history, and we can look forwards to the future with excitement at the uncertainty of what life will bring us – what it will bring all four of us.

Just a final note, to say that yes we have questions about the events and the decisions which led up to Woody’s birth, however I know that I can never ever thank the Dr’s and the midwives who saved Amy’s and Woody’s lives on that night. They saved my family. They were amazing, and professional and calm and just everything you could ever want in a life or death situation like that, and I owe them so much. We will return to thank them all individually in due course, but nothing could come close to showing them my gratitude. I remember Dr Sturgeon saying when I was gushing to him the umpteenth time, thanking him for saving Woody’s life and saying that I really didn’t know what I could do to ever thank him enough, and he simply replied ‘you can look after the little man and give him a good life’. And that I will.