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.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Woody's Birth - Part 4 - Hairclips, Wedding Rings and Blowy Blankets

*DISCLAIMER* - This is where shit got real.  If you're not that cool with major trauma, please don't read on.  I don't want to be responsible for triggering anything in anyone.  I don't even know what the triggers might be - traumatic birth I guess.

By this point it was becoming clear all was not well.  Someone came and prodded my stomach and I remember the pain being fucking ridiculous.  The midwife in charge that night was holding a bag of plasma above her head.  It had a cuff on it that was being pumped to get the plasma into me quicker.  She was surveying the unfolding drama a little too closely as she over pumped the cuff to the point where it burst over her.  That was a little bit of light humour relief.  Only brief relief.

I was still having to chug gas and air every now and then to cope with things.

I remember then the shaking.  Uncontrollable shaking.  An air filled blanket was produced.  That felt nice and  warm and lovely.  I was getting cross when they kept moving it, kept lifting it up.  I wanted to sink into that air filled blanket and sleep.  But I was still shaking.  Still bleeding.  And I remember telling myself not to sleep.  Not to slip away.

Andy told me that a large sheet had been placed underneath me prior to the delivery.  He said it was just a waterfall of clotting blood.

The anaesthetist had reappeared.  She was trying desperately to get a line into me.  Get a line in anywhere.  My arms, my feet, my groin.  Nothing.

I was going into shut down.  My body was not coping.  I was going into shock.  It was around this time I got annoyed with the needles.  I told Andy I wanted them to stop poking me with needles.  A Doctor appeared at my side and told me they needed to get more fluids into me, I only had one line and they needed more.  I remember feeling pissed off with her.  "Don't tell me off, I'm the one having to put up with this shit," I said to myself.

Woody had gone, I'm not sure I had noticed.  Poor little bub was down in Neonatal by this point.  Andy was still with me.  He told me he was so torn, he didn't know who to stay with but he knew he was being looked after and there wasn't anything more he could do.  I was still vaguely conscious and aware.  With hindsight had he gone, I probably would've crumbled.

Still with the needles.  I think they had managed to get more in.  I don't recall.  I remember them saying I was probably going to have to go to surgery if I didn't stop bleeding.  They said they would either top up the Epidural or put me under a general anaesthetic.  I remember thinking, "Please God, put me under, knock me out, stop it hurting, stop it all, I don't want to be aware of any of it."

Somewhere along the lines, I told myself not to die.  I genuinely lay there shivering, shaking, trying not to shake, concentrating hard, trying not to die.  It's a very weird feeling to have to tell yourself that.  And know that if you don't tell yourself that it could be a possibility.  I think most people in the room knew that.  I think Andy knew that.  He didn't show it.  I really had to concentrate hard.  I looked at the clock, but don't recall the time.  Concentrate.  Don't fall asleep.

The anaesthetist appeared and told me I was going to theatre and they were going to put me under a general anaesthetic.  I remember the relief.  Thank fuck.  Knock me out and fix me.

At this point they claimed they didn't know I had ruptured.  I think I knew I had probably ruptured.

Another Doctor appeared and explained the risks.  He explained that as a worst case scenario I would have to have a hysterectomy.  I'm 28.  I don't remember having feelings either way about that.  At 28.  I didn't care.  I wanted the pain to stop.  I wanted to sleep.

I knew I would have to sign.  I remember Andy asking if he could sign for me and being told no.  I wanted to tell him off - of course you can't sign for me!  I told them to put the pen in my hands.  I signed.  I want to see that signature - not because I don't feel I accurately consented, because I really did, I really wanted to be fixed.  I want to see it because apparently it was hilariously lopsided!

I remember being wheeled off to theatre.  Andy was there, he followed.  He said goodbye once, at the door of the delivery room.  Room 5.  I remember relief, goodbye my love, see you on the other side.  I could concentrate on theatre.  But he followed, and I had to say goodbye again, and the second time was harder.

The bright lights of theatre hit me.  How did I end up here?  How did it go this wrong?  No time for that.

"Slide yourself over onto the table".  I remember thinking this was fucking ridiculous.  I've probably ruptured my uterus.  I've had loads of gas and air, I'm still in shock, my body is still shivering.  But you want me to edge myself over.  I remember the table being too thin.  I was having to consciously hold my arms up because if I'd let them fall, they were full of lines and I didn't want to pull any out and have to go through all that again.  I remember a midwife getting attachments for the side of the table for my arms, that was a relief, I could relax slightly

I pulled my hairclips out.  My trademark quiff was no more.  I remembered from having Scarlett that they put a current through you or something so you couldn't have any metal about your person.  I was waving these hairclips around for someone to take.  No one cared.  I should've dropped them.  Eventually lovely midwife in charge took them from me.  I then started worrying about my wedding ring.  I was glad I hadn't worn my engagement ring.  I didn't want my wedding ring to go.  Lovely midwife taped it onto my finger.

Oxygen mask.  It's funny the things you forget.  Fucking oxygen mask, horrible, I kept moving it, trying to take it off.  I think they must have removed it around now in theatre.  Because it was time to sleep.  Blessed sleep, sweet relief.

I don't remember counting back from 10.  They probably didn't do that.  I just remember going....

Monday, 6 January 2014

Woody's Birth - Part 3 - Salad Servers

Shortly after the Doctors had visited and attached a clip to baby's head I decided I needed to throw up.  I remember being pleased as it was surely a sign I was in transition.  I think I felt better for it.

I remember the midwife in charge that night coming in to see how we were getting on and I remember telling her I was feeling a lot of pain in my lower abdomen, a lot of pain.  I asked whether it was anything happening...  They told me it was just the baby down low and that it was a sign he was ready to be born.

I don't really recall what happened after that.  I think the next thing I remember is the lights going on, hearing the words, "Decelerations, episiotomy and forceps".  Suddenly the room was filled with people.  My legs were hoisted into stirrups.  A trolley of instruments was wheeled in which promptly collapsed all over the floor (yes, really, in the most ALMIGHTY clatter!)

I remember them telling me then to push.  I remember them telling me to hold my breath and push and I remember in the recesses of my mind being aware of the fact that you weren't meant to hold your breath to push.  But I remember I had to get him out.  I was aware of everyone's urgency.  I think I pushed when there wasn't a contraction.  I remember thinking that was a bad idea, but I couldn't really feel my contractions because of the Epidural and by this point the monitoring had gone out the window completely so no one could really tell me when I was having a contraction.  I remember thinking it was all a fucking disaster.

Andy has told me that they literally cut me with a pair of scissors.  He remembers thinking it was a bit brutal. He remembers thinking the forceps looked like salad servers and he was surprised by the way they fitted together.  He then remembers the pulling.  He has described it as if the Doctor had tied a rope around an old oak tree and was trying to pull it from the ground.  I don't remember it feeling like that.  Baby didn't crown, they didn't give him a chance, they pulled him from right inside me.

I can only presume I was fully dilated.  I guess he wouldn't have come out if I wasn't...?!  I remember pushing roughly 3 times before he came out.  They plonked him on top of me, cut his cord, and off he went to the resuscitaire.  11:47pm was the time announced as his time of birth.  I remember being kind of annoyed about the delivery as it had all meant Andy didn't get to cut the cord.  Something he equally didn't the chance to do with Scarlett, and something I was so keen for him to be able to do this time.  There won't be another time.  But sorting baby out was more important, obviously.  I just didn't know HOW important at that time.

I remember being aware of a man's voice in the room and thinking to myself how fucking embarrassing it was as I was there with my legs akimbo like a bloody Christmas Turkey!  This turned out to be the lovely Paediatrician.  Andy saw him lots that week whilst Woody was to-and-fro to the Neonatal Unit and it wasn't until the weekend that I finally encountered him - needless to say I was rather mortified (he really was a LOVELY Doctor...!!)

Back to the 17th.  Although, by now, it had ticked over into the 18th December.  Wednesday.

I was vaguely aware of baby in the corner.  I was aware of them saying times and numbers.  I seem to recall it was 80 seconds before he took a proper breath.  It was then about 4 minutes before he was breathing unassisted.  I remember Andy flitting between the two of us.  He was unsure who to concentrate on.  By 10 minutes old his Apgar score was finally at 10.  I remember them asking if he had a name.  Andy came to me for confirmation.  Edward.  I managed to mutter that much.

I was aware of them stitching me.  I remember the Doctor asking for assistance.  I remember it taking FOREVER.  Fuck, I've pushed all my insides out, that was all I could think.  I've ruined myself.  Because they were stitching inside me.  They were asking for instruments to hold things out the way.  Inside me.  Fucks sake.

I remember a midwife appearing with Woody and plonking him onto my chest.  I managed to kiss him, but I had no strength to hold him.  I remember not wanting to drop him and that I was having to concentrate on breathing and so I tersely asked for him to be passed to Andy.  I remember thinking I couldn't take it in, I couldn't take Woody in.  I was grasping for the gas and air again.  They were still stitching me.

I think it was around this point that blood loss started to be mentioned.  They were asking me to shift my backside to get the pads underneath me changed to weigh them.  To weigh my blood.  To figure out how much I was losing.

They were still stitching me....

Woody's Birth - Part 2 - SyntociNON!

Still now, I look back on the events of nearly 3 weeks ago and think, "You fucking idiot, Syntocinon, with previous Caesarean scar tissue, what were you thinking?!"

But the truth is, I trusted the Doctors.  I trusted that they wouldn't let it go too far.  I trusted that they would give me really tiny amounts just to get things going.

Unfortunately I'm not sure the midwife looking after me that day got the memo....

I will prefix all of what I'm about to say with a real disclaimer that at the minute we have yet to have our debrief.  We have yet to find out the real ins and outs of what really happened on the 17th December and the sequence of events is REALLY sketchy.

I don't know if they were being cautious.  I don't know if the midwife knew I was a VBAC case.  I don't know if she was giving me the drug at the rate usual for a 'normal' labour or a reduced amount given my scar tissue.

But what follows is what I can remember from that afternoon and evening.  A lot of it is still a bit hazy if I'm honest.

I remember them having trouble getting a line in (I will talk about IV lines another time, as I had such a funny feeling about them before this, little did I know my veins really are a lot crapper than even I realised...)  Eventually an anaesthetist managed to get one into my right hand, which I wasn't pleased about given that I do everything with my right hand...  I remember going to the loo and being devastated at not being ambidextrous...!

Once the drip was in place obviously the monitors had to be in place.  So I think I pretty much just lay there and took the contractions, breathing through them.  We were listening to Air's 'Moon Safari' a lot and The Beatles, of course, which was helping to take my mind off things.  This all seemed to work for a good few hours.  The Doctors were checking on my progress every few hours and seemed pleased.  The contractions were coming at a good rate and the baby seem to be coping with everything too.  I still felt confident and relatively in control at this point.

Eventually breathing through the contractions wasn't working but I think that was after about 3-4 hours on the drip.  The Doctors and Midwives were all really surprised that I had done so well as I hadn't had any pain relief at that point, not even any Entonox.  They kept telling me I should really think about having an Epidrual before it all really got too much.  I think it was about 5 minutes after a visit from the Doctors that I suddenly decided enough was enough and I needed some gas and air and the call to be put out for the Epidural!  The gas and air was quite nice and was taking the edge off whilst we waited for the anaesthetist.  I tried to be sparing with it and not like the women on One Born Every Minute who just chug on it constantly though I can see how that temptation would arise just to keep the pain permanently at bay!

The anaesthetist arrived surprisingly quickly.  She was apparently a locum and therefore not used to procedure etc. at the hospital.  Great...  I was surprised how quickly everything was in place and I remember at that point chugging on the gas and air constantly as I remember them saying how imperative it was that I stay still during the procedure.  Unfortunately I also remember the bloody midwife going into a meltdown because the monitor by this point was totally unable to find the baby as I was hunched over having it done.  I remember that annoying me, I just wanted to anaesthetist to be able to do her job and do it properly but the midwife flapping was putting EVERYONE off!!  I remember chatting such utter nonsense during the Epidural, I remember telling the anaesthetist that she was doing a really good job and I remember telling the midwife to stop worrying; that we'd sort the baby once I was comfortable again.

That was about the last time I remember actually being comfortable.

Once the epidural had been sited I remember them arguing about signing the procedure off and that the anaesthetist had signed in the wrong place or something which was off-putting.  I remember still having to have the gas and air for a while but I also seem to remember the Epidural kicking in.  The Epidural had been done shortly before handover time at 7:30pm and I remember being left in a really weird position and asking to be cleaned up and moved so I was more comfortable but the midwife just kept telling me she had to do her handover and that I'd have to wait.  I think that was a massive mistake as I think being left in a weird position possible ruined the epidural line.  At least, that's how I feel.

Once handover had taken place I was eventually helped to move and get comfortable again but unfortunately the epidural just wasn't enough.  I felt like it was constantly wearing off.  The anaesthetist had to keep coming back and giving me a strong dose of drugs because the usual top up wasn't working.  She was annoyed that the midwife wasn't giving me the top up every 30 minutes despite her telling them a couple of times this had to be done every 30 minutes to avoid the risk of it wearing off and her then having to give the strong dose.  She told me that the more of the strong stuff she had to give, it was increasing the likelihood of me needing to go under a general anaesthetic should I have to go to theatre for some reason.  I think she tempted fate...!!

The doctors came back in at around 9ish and were pleased with my progress.  They agreed to keep the Syntocinon going and increase it slightly.  For the next 2 hours or so I don't really remember a lot.  I think there was music.  At some point I remember Andy massaging my feet (I remember being so grateful because I could do with a major pedicure but it felt SO good and was taking my mind off everything else).

By 11pm the Doctors returned and decided the drip needed to be turned down, my contractions were too strong and fast and they said I was nearly there and there was no reason to continue to keep it going at that rate.  I think it was at that point they decided to put a clip onto the baby's head.  I'm not sure whether she was a newly qualified Doctor and with hindsight I think she may have been the Doctor who ultimately delivered Woody, but she struggled and so my Consultant in the end attached the clip to his head.

Thank God they did because shortly after their visit, it all went a bit wrong...

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Woody's Birth - Part 1 of God Knows How Many!

So in my last post I was full of hope, full of hope that on 16th December 2013, I would be induced by breaking my waters, my body would do the right thing and go into labour and out would pop our beautiful son without much assistance.

Yeah, well that didn't happen.

16th December turned out to be a very busy day for the labour ward and as a consequence we literally sat around in the Antenatal ward ALL DAY!  It was so sodding boring, having obs taken for no reason and listening to others in labour.  We did spend a lot of time walking around and getting outside when it wasn't raining and eventually a midwife did give me a rather rough sweep which seemed to be getting things moving - we went for a long walk around the adjoining council estate and I was definitely having some strong movements every 5-10 minutes which was encouraging.

Unfortunately by 5pm my patience had all but expired.  As we were heading back to the ward we bumped into a lady who used to teach us swing jive dancing.  "What are you doing here?!" we asked, "I'm the Labour Ward Manager," was the reply.  A-ha!  An insider!  So we explained what had happened and she advised we speak to the Registrar on call and ask to be discharged home for the night, to get some proper sleep and try again tomorrow.  She said that having been kept waiting all day, they would definitely make sure we were induced the next day, they wouldn't bump us again.  Which all felt reasurring.

Off we went home for a bath and some decent food and sleep, ready to try again the next day.

Tuesday morning came.  Slightly devastated as it meant we wouldn't get to see Scarlett's school play.  Thankfully mum was on hand to go and see it and record her class's song for us.  Off we trundled to hospital again and straight up to Labour Ward to stand firm and demand to be induced!  We were shown to Room 5 and told that our midwife would be with us shortly, they were just waiting for a recently delivered lady to be moved to the Postnatal Ward.

We started unpacking and making ourselves comfortable.  This is where my memory becomes a little hazy.  I think it was eventually 10am when who I can only presume was a retired midwife appeared along with the midwife in charge that day to break my waters.  By this point, our originally assigned midwife had been changed for a less experienced one (no offence, but with a VBAC case, surely they could've had a slightly more experienced midwife to assist?!)  The retired midwife tried but with no success and I could feel my cervix pinging back to it's posterior position stubbornly.  The midwife in charge had a go with much better success and I felt the warm flow of liquid that had been protecting our son.  I heard them confirm they were clear (no meconium) so I was good to go for a walk for a couple of hours in the hope of getting things going.

My friend had delivered the previous evening (16th December - would've been funny had I actually been induced on the 16th, our boys could've shared birthday's!) and so I popped up to see them quickly in the hopes the smell of her newborn might encourage my contractions (sadly not).  I did however managed to stimulate his bowels enough to  produce his first poo (it's all about rubbing their feet - we still do it with Scarlett if she's having trouble...!!)

So after my flying visit we were off walking again.  Having done so much walking the day before I was slightly shattered and achey and to be honest, I kinda couldn't be arsed!  We wandered for a bit but I was overly concious that I was wandering in a what can only be described as a pyjama salwar kameez - the biggest nightie known to man and a worn out pair of bottoms (I was saving my best new PJs for after the birth).  We went to the canteen and had a meatball sub from Subway and then did some more walking.  By nearly midday it was time to head back and admit defeat and submit to the Syntocinon....

Part 2 will follow, but I warn you, it's quite sketchy and it all blurred into one splodge of time that prefixed everything else.

Itchy Liver - Part Two - The Rest of the Context

*DISCLAIMER* This post was originally written when I thought I was going to be induced and that all would be fine and dandy.  As many of you now know, things did not go according to plan, but I felt it was important to still post this prior to posting the main birth story in due course as it provides the rest of the context leading up to the eventual events on 17th/18th December 2013.

The post was originally intended to be released to coincide with my being admitted to hospital on the morning on the 16th December 2013.

So, as I said, by Tuesday 10th December and our appointment with the Consultant's team I was so ready to just have the baby here safely, by hook or by crook as Andy had said, the significance of that will become clear...

We finally got to see a Registrar in the team 45 minutes after our appointment time (which always seems to be the case with them!) and explained what had been happening.  She explained that having had the itching and a raised liver function meant I definitely had OC and was surprised I hadn't been prescribed anything for it.

She agreed that the best course of action would be to continue to monitor the situation in MAU with more blood tests and monitoring and she would see when the first available slot was for an Elective Caesarean Section.  In the meantime, could she please examine me.  So off she went to get me a slot whilst I lay on the bed awaiting my fate.  She came back 5 minutes later to say that the first slot they had for a Caesarean was the 23rd of December.  Right, no thanks.  For SO many reasons.  Who wants to be in hospital for Christmas?!  I have a 5 year old, seeing her at Christmas is one of the most important things ever.  She could sense my disappointment and continued with her exam...

Where she was thoroughly surprised and said, "You won't make it to the 23rd!"  She did a sweep and asked me to make myself decent again (yeah, I've massively edited all of that!)

After that she said she needed to discuss the options with my actual consultant, who was in a meeting which was due to finish any minute so she went to wait for her whilst we went to see the lovely midwife Zeni from the 'fat clinic'.  We felt very encouraged by what the Registrar had said about my innards and so was Zeni.  She said she couldn't believe how different I looked to when she saw me before the appointment (when I had resigned myself to a Caesarean)!  Zeni booked me in for another sweep on the 19th December and suggested I ask them to do one on the 12th December when I was due back in MAU for more monitoring.

I felt positive things were going in the right direction so felt confident we'd just get the baby out in good time ourselves.  The Registrar came back with another option for us.  I'd be admitted to the Labour Ward to have my waters broken in the hopes of kick starting me into labour.  The date written on her piece of paper was 16/12/13.  Oh, that'd be Monday then, less than a week after our appointment!  Eeeeek!

She explained that they'd break my waters, let me move around for a couple of hours to try and get things moving and if that didn't work, they'd stick me on a Syntocinon drip.  Oh, what now?  Syntocinon?  Yeah, fake hormones.  The stuff that the whole way through my pregnancy had been a massive red flag to pretty much everyone because of the strain it could put on my scar.  And yet, here we were actively agreeing to it.  I mentioned to the Registrar I was worried about this and she said it would be in tiny amounts just to speed things along a little.

I said how my plan had always been to try a natural approach to pain relief and I was worried the Syntocinon was going to amp things up to a level where I had no option but to have an Epidural.  She appreciated this but also said that an early Epidural would probably be recommended in case I have to have a Caesarean which she assured me, they would try to do in daylight hours when the full complement of staff would still be available.

Wait, what now?!  Hmmm.  Yes, alarm bells probably should be ringing, which is what led me to be writing this post.  It would seem that basically this 'Induction' is a way of me bypassing the Elective Section list.  By agreeing to an induction (something I'm actually not opposed to because I'm hoping my body does the right thing and goes into labour so I can achieve my VBAC) I am basically then classed as an 'Emergency Section' when things don't progress.

So here's what I understand will be happening tomorrow (Monday 16th December 2013 remember)...

  • I'll have my waters broken - hopefully labour will start by itself at that point (It bloody better do!!)
  • If that doesn't work, I'll be put on a Syntocinon drip - at which point my brain starts to panic because I worry that'll be too painful to cope with on Natal Hypnotherapy and Entonox alone.
  • If that doesn't work, I'll be taken in for a Caesarean - not overly worried about this, just the implications it has; staying on a very busy ward for 2 days afterwards (6 beds to the ward, too many in my opinion) and not being able to get into town later in the week to finish my Christmas shopping (PRIORITIES!!!)
So it's all left me in a funny old mood today.

Excited - tomorrow, (by hook or by crook...) we'll be meeting our son finally.  They aren't going to 'let me' (another blog post for another time) labour for too long, especially not if I've had Syntocinon because they won't want the scar to be put under too much duress.  My one saving grace might be the Midwife assigned to me in the morning, when we visited the Labour Ward the Midwife who showed us round said they'll do their best to help me achieve a VBAC - they try to keep the doctors at arm's length (not sure whether that will still apply tomorrow...!)

Sad - I'm going to miss my bump.  My funny shaped bump (and Lord knows I have had bump envy!!).  I'm going to miss the movements, and wriggles and hiccups.  The things that were shared just between me and our boy.  It's been the bane of my life at times - not being able to move comfortably, not being able to sleep on my back, the FUCKING INDIGESTION!!  But I am going to miss it when it's not there to stroke and comfort me (and be a good excuse for being slightly lazy....!!)

Scared (nay terrified at times) - I've never experienced labour before.  I've been having Braxton Hicks so I know how they'll feel but just not what the pain will be like.  What if I do have to have the Syntocinon, will it make it all unbearable?  Will I be able to cope?  Will I be a puddle of the floor begging for an Epidural?

And actually, as I write this, I'm able to answer each of my own questions.  So what if I have an Epidural?  Well I suppose because if I have an Epidural I then can't move which means labour might slow down to a progression that they're not happy with which will lead to me having a Caesarean.  But what does it matter if I have a Caesarean?  I coped with one before and will cope with one again.  As long as he's safe and healthy.

And that's the one overriding thought I need to carry with me tomorrow, as long as he's safe and healthy.  Sod me, sod my foof, sod my tummy getting cut open again.  As long as he's safe and healthy.

So think of me today readers, pray for a speedy delivery.  Hope for me that I'm one of these lucky ladies who has quick labours!  Fingers crossed they don't have to intervene too much and slow it down too much.

Above all, pray for us that he's safe and healthy.

Catch you all on the flipside.....

*REMINDER: This was all written on Sunday 15th December 2013, the night before I was due to have my induction.  For reasons that I shall explain in due course, none of it went according to plan.*