I haven‘t written anything since the day that my daughter wás due to be born. My main reason is that I didn’t want to be perceived as moaning and my other reason is that I really haven’t had enough time. So why would people think I was moaning? Well probably because I am.
But before I moan, I would like to acknowledge that I know that I am incredibly lucky to be a mum to two wondeful small people and that there are couples out there struggling and desperate to have a baby, who would be more than happy to go through untold trauma to have a child. I am so lucky and grateful to have them, it’s just that I honestly did not expect the end of my pregnancy journey to go the way that it did.
My second child, my daughter arrived one day late. I went into labour in the early hours of the morning just like I did with my son. My waters went on the toilet just like they did with my son. There was meconium in them, and this is where the similarities between my labours started to end. We went straight to the hospital to the ward we were supposed to go to, the one with birthing pools (not that I will ever be in one as my children just won’t let me) and the lovely rooms with fairy lights, calm atmospheres and comfy couches. I was quickly sent to the other ward and strapped to machines on a proper hospital bed with no twinkly little lights in sight. I was sad because I wanted an active labour, but I wanted my baby to be safe so quickly moved past that desire along with the water birth I knew I wasn’t getting. Then during the internal examination to determine how dilated I was (4cm) the midwife said “oh, what’s that?”. This is not a desirable thing to ever hear someone say when prodding about inside you.
The midwife went and got an ultrasound scanner and quickly realised that she had been poking my daughter in the bottom (explains the handful of meconium that she had upon withdrawing her hand from me, still one of the most worrying and disgusting things that I have ever seen come out of my body). It was then explained that I could try a natural birth but it was most likely that she was stuck and the chances that they would have to chop up my lady garden with scissors and probably have to do a cesarean section anyway were very high. So I signed the paperwork and opted to skip the vaginal destruction and get straight onto the emergency cesarean.
They gave me an injection to stop my contractions, but it didn’t work (the only other similarity between my first and second labour is that I labour fast and in the space of twenty minutes had gone to third stage labour, was 9cm dilated and my contractions were not stopping for anyone) so I had blood taken, cannulas inserted and my spinal block all admistered during contractions. I was terrified. I sobbed my heart out when I got to the operating theatre. After my first child being such a speedy natural birth without so much as gas and air or even having enough time to make it to the fairy light festooned delivery room or fill up a birthing pool, I never imagined for a second that I would have a cesarean.
I didn’t like the sensation of the spinal block, I couldn’t feel any pain but it felt like I had pins and needles from the belly down. I had never had an operation before. I had never had morphine in my body before.
It turns out that it made me quite jolly and that I was trying to convince the surgeon leading the team to let the observing medical students “have a go” at helping with my cesarean apparently after being told that they couldn’t saying “but it doesn’t seem fair, just let them do some of the stitches”. Luckily for me I was the only one in the room who was off her face on drugs and nobody used me as a practice run for surgery, no matter how keen I was on the idea.
My beautiful daughter was delivered quickly and safely, wrapped up and given to lovely boyfriend to cuddle whilst they sewed me back up and sent me to recovery. After my son was born he was placed straight on my chest to feed and cuddle and stayed there for ages, it was wonderful. Not being able to hold my daughter until an hour after she had left my body was horrible, but sensible, the operating theatre was cold and I was not with it at all.
After having snuggles and feeding my new arrival and seeing that she was ok I started to feel a bit more ok about everything. I also asked the midwife why it felt like my brain was made of cotton wool and I was itchier than I had ever been in my life before. Apparently morphine. So I told them that under no circumstances were they to give me any more of that.
The reality of being sliced in half began to set in. I was not allowed to lift anything heavier than my new baby, no driving or household chores for at least six weeks and the twelve hours that I would be bed bound with a catheter in as the first challenge to get past. I had my first feeling that my maternity care had not been great. My midwife left my doctors surgery when I was 34 weeks pregnant. I saw five different midwives in the run up to my labour, two the day before and they had all told me that her head was engaged. If they had spotted that she was breech then I could have tried physiotherapy to turn her and avoided a cesarean. I know we are so lucky to have the NHS care that we do in the UK but for the first time in my life I was feeling let down by the care that I had received.
How on earth was I supposed to cope with three dogs and a toddler when I got home? Thankfully lovely boyfriends parents were amazing and took care of my crazy mini man loads and my brother and friends came to help the rest of the time when they had to go and do things like, you know, work.
I only had one night in hospital because I had refused any more morphine they only give you paracetamol and ibuprofen to manage pain, and you can administer that at home yourself. I was grateful to be in my own bed and be able to sleep without the noise of other peoples babies and snoring going on. It is a but daunting though that soon after surgery. The midwife said that I couldn’t leave with the huge surgical plaster still on me and pulled it off. She took a photo for me as I was pretty horrified and half expected to see my insides fall out of my abdomen like a horror film. It really wasn’t as bad as I was expecting so I am sharing that with you too. (Scroll fast if you don’t want to see)
For the level of pain that I was in the tiny neat line did not seem right at all. When I went to clean it though it looked awful, the surgical plaster left loads of sticky resudue on my skin, I had been wearing black underwear and was now covered in black fluff that took me a few weeks to remove entirely.
The six weeks of not being able to do much except change nappies and breastfeed felt like an eternity as they were happening, but actually went quite quickly. I started to to laundry and hoovering after three weeks (don’t tell lovely boyfriend, he would be cross, but he was back to working twelve hour days as a head chef and I couldn’t expect him to be doing everything ) and I was pushing them both around in the enormous double pushchair by six weeks. All my fears that my son would hate his little sister were soon abated, he loves her and won’t stop kissing her. I think he will love her until she can move and touch his stuff….
At the hospital they had checked our new addition over and found that her right ear was not responding to tests. This resulted in three separate visits to different hearing check places over the course of four weeks. I am relieved to say that her cochlea is fine and that she has glue ear. It is a common childhood ailment, at worst meaning that she may need to have gromits or her adenoids/tonsils removed at some point, however in many children it goes away by itself.
Our health visitor had said that because our little lady was breech that she would need a routine hip scan as soon as possible. Due to a lady retiring her email was not received so she didn’t actually get checked until she was nine weeks old. Where it turns out she has hip dysplasia on the left hip. Which meant that she needed to be put into a special harness called a pavlik harness.
She has to wear it for twenty four hours a day for at least six weeks. This means no baths and a grumpy baby. We are only two weeks in, we have a hospital appointment tomorrow where I am hoping to be able to ask some questions and find out the extent of how bad her hip is. I was told very little about what was wrong, I think it was more important to tell me about how the harness goes on and how to change her in it. This made my feelings of annoyance over my maternity care rear its head again. If they had spotted her being breech and tried to turn her inside me would her hip have not had problems? Would my happy little bundle have needed to be put in this harness that has transformed her into a clingy, stressed out baby?
I am reassured by other parents with “hippy” babies that actually they rarely remember anything about it and after treatment you would never know that there had been an issue. Finding that most of the clothes you have for your baby are useless, that the bouncy chair she loved is unsuitable and the jumperoo that your first born adored will be a total no go zone is a bit heartbreaking though.
I am so grateful that my daughter is here. I am grateful that the NHS was there to get her out safely and to help test her ears and give her a harness to fix her bad hip. I am happy that our little family got even more awesome with a new member to add to it. I am glad that even though the last eleven weeks have had lots of challenges and that I have cried more than I have ever done before (apart from when my mum died) that we are getting through them ok.
I think I needed to put my moans out there. I think it’s ok to feel disappointed when things don’t go the way that you thought they would. It is ok to wallow for a little while in those feelings. I am doing my best to not feel guilty about the fact that I was uspet over the way it went, after all some people choose to have cesarean sections on purpose!
I will keep you all posted on how our little lady is doing in the hip department when my mini ones give me time to write. The only reason I have time today is that we are all sick with a cold and they are both sleeping, on me. My left thigh is soggy with the sweaty head of a toddler on it. My right shoulder has baby snot all over it. I am a bit worried that she may be glued to me. I have written this on my phone. Please excuse poor layout/spelling that may have happened because of this!