Storm In A B-Cup

Parenthood: The Early Days

In the next few days, hubby will be posting a guest post (or 2) about his perspective on baby G’s birth, but until then I’d like to write a little about baby G’s early life, before the details grow too fuzzy to remember.

The first few days of my daughter’s life passed in a blur, as I’m sure they do for many new parents. On day 2, it was discovered that baby G had a severe case of jaundice (why noone noticed earlier, I don’t know). For the 2 days prior, I had noticed that she was very sleepy – more than she should be, though the midwives insisted it was normal – and difficult to wake enough to eat properly.hospital1

I knew these were signs of jaundice, but time and time again I was told that she was acting like all newborns and everything was fine. When a new midwife finally saw her on day 2, she was shocked by how yellow she was and performed a TCB test – a series of lights pulsed on the forehead which judges the amount of bilirubin in the blood. It isn’t as effective as a blood test, but gives a good estimate. This test came back with readings much, much higher than they should for a baby 48 hours old, so we were sent around to the special care nursery. At this stage, I thought this was for a closer look and a blood test. I insisted upon taking baby G around myself, and so soon after a caesarian, the trip was slow at best.

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My precious baby, all bundled up, not allowed to even touch her 😦

When we arrived, there was a lot of fuss and bustle. A blood test was taken; baby G stripped down to just her nappy; a cannula inserted in her arm to administer extra fluids and any medications necessary; and a nasogastric tube inserted for feeding as I was told that for a little while, all of her feeds would need to be given via tube since she would not be allowed to come out from under her lights for any longer than it would take to change a nappy. She was placed on a bilibed, with several banks of lights all around her. I stood back, watching all of this activity and feeling utterly helpless. I was shown to the pumping room and instructed that even though my milk had not come in yet, I should pump every three hours for fifteen minutes on each side, to encourage my milk to come in and to give baby G as much breastmilk/colostrum as possible.

The whole process was very overwhelming, and completely daunting, and for a brand new mum, incredibly scary. I was sure that somehow, this was all my fault. I was desperately trying to pump enough milk to feed my baby the amount that the doctors said she needed to flush out the jaundice, which turned out to be so high that had it been a couple of points higher, she would have needed a full exchange blood transfusion. As it was, baby G was under very careful watch, and her bloods were being tested several times a day to ensure her levels did not creep too much higher. No matter how much or often I pumped, it was never enough. Every feed had to be topped up with formula, and it devastated me to see that I couldn’t provide my baby with the one thing she needed – my breast milk.

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Middle of the night visit to the special care nursery

With each day, I had hope that baby G could come out from under the lights, or at least be able to come out long enough to breast feed, and a few days later I got my wish and was allowed to feed her myself – as long as I met the strict three hourly schedule, and allowed a formula top up through the nasogastric tube to ensure she was eating enough.

Five days after baby G’s birth, I was discharged from hospital. I had been ready to leave on day 3, physically, however since I lived so far away from the hospital and baby G was being kept, I remained admitted for as long as was allowed. Five days was the maximum, and my little princess was not seeming anywhere near her release, so alas, I was discharged without my baby.

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Coming home!

On day six, baby G was finally out from under her lights, but her bilirubin levels had rebounded. No one was sure if we would be allowed to go home yet. On the morning of day 7, even though her levels seemed to be continuing to creep up, we were sent home, with baby G’s care transferred to that of our local country hospital. Though my local hospital didn’t have special care, baby G was well enough that their facilities would be able to care for her now, if her condition worsened at all.

Bringing baby G home was surreal, and the days after we arrived home are absolutely a blur in my mind now. Just a big jumble of feeding and changing nappies and all three of us cuddling together. Of middle of the night sitting up in bed, baby attached, me trying desperately to stay awake while I fed her. It seemed as though it would never end. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, and the most amazing. I loved every single magical second in the middle of the night when it was just baby G and I, in the dark silence.

A couple of days later, we headed to our local hospital for baby G’s checkup. Her bloodwork was done, and her bilirubin levels had increased again. Had we been at the city hospital, I believe she would have been put back into phototherapy for a further 24 hours, however the paediatrician at home was happy to wait another two days and test again before making a decision. Luckily for us, two days later her levels had evened out, and we were completely discharged from the hospital system.

Baby G’s first two weeks of life were amazing and scary and harrowing and wonderful and unforgettable (yet completely blurry!) all at once. And while in some ways I’m glad that the hardest newborn days are past, in many other ways I just can’t wait to do it all again!

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The Birth Story of Baby G part 2: The Birth

Here’s the rest of the birth story of baby G, as promised. It’s a bit longer than the first part, but it has all the important bits! Plus the cutie baby pictures at the end, so feel free to skip forward to those 🙂

It was at about 8am of the following morning – Friday – I was checked and found to be 9.5cm, and by 9 I was fully dilated. The midwives at this point decided to let baby come down a bit further on her own, and came back to check again at 10, and at 11 decided I was ready to push. I began pushing and a scalp clip was fitted to baby as the CTG was no longer picking up her heartbeat very well. By 12, I was told I was making good progress and that they could see baby’s head with each push but it was receding again. All of which I know is very normal. However I do have some experience reading CTGs as a student nurse and having completed 160 hours of practical time in a maternity ward. I was following pretty closely, and could see for myself that all was not well, and was feeling pretty uneasy at how casually it was being treated at the time. I could see that baby’s heart rate was dipping very low, and while this is OK during a contraction as long as it recovers well after, my baby’s heart rate was beginning to dip after each contraction and was taking longer and longer to recover each time. I am well aware that this is a strong sign of fetal distress and was beginning to worry. Soon, a doctor came in to check on me, very casually, but I think these staff are very good at hiding from mums to be when they are becoming concerned!

She performed an internal exam and so did the midwife and another doctor (at this point, I didn’t even care any more. My water had been broken for something like 28 hours and I had been labouring for 18 hours). They suspected that baby was posterior, and decided to perform a quick ultrasound to make sure. Everyone left the room and left me and hubby to our own devices, instructing me to continue pushing. The CTG machine was sounding alarms after each contraction and push, and I really don’t think I should have been left at this point. Soon, the doctors returned with the ultrasound machine, and it was determined that baby was definitely posterior and it was decided to start me on syntocinon to try to intensify my contractions enough to get baby to turn. Soon after this, her distress increased and the doctors were not happy with my progress and it is at this point that they asked me to sign some paperwork to do with theatre – I don’t even remember what it was all about, though I suppose I must have been told at the time.

I was informed that they would like to attempt a vacuum delivery and if that were to fail, a caesarian section. It was at this point that I became really distressed and just wanted my mum. Unfortunately, she lives an hour and a half away from the hospital and though she left as soon as I called, only made it around the time that baby ended up being born.

I was so upset about having to go to theatre, and knew deep down that at this point, a caesarian delivery was almost a foregone conclusion. I was in floods of tears and kept asking to avoid the caesarian if at all possible, I already felt as though I was failing as a mother. My husband had been taken away to get dressed in scrubs so that he would be allowed in theatre, and he wasn’t allowed in for quite some time. The nurses kept trying to calm me as I continued asking for him, I was so so terrified. On arrival in theatre, it seemed that the one sane person in the room was the anaesthetist, a different guy to who I had seen earlier. He was a lovely Irish man, and kept me informed of what was going on and more than once went in to bat for me when it came to getting my husband back in the room. He was very calm and positive and very grounding in the time that T couldn’t be with me.

As the doctor was preparing the vacuum, my epidural had worn almost all the way off, and I was instructed to push with each contraction, in case I would make any progress on my own. Pushing with tears streaming down my face and the knowledge it was getting me nowhere is not one of my favourite memories, to say the least. As the doctor began to fit the vacuum, I think T was allowed back in the room (I’m a little fuzzy on this). She injected some local anaesthetic to prepare for an episiotomy, and then used the vacuum to assist my efforts in pushing on each contraction. I could feel baby moving down, and I’m sure very very close to out, however after just a few pushes, the doctor decided it was too dangerous to baby to keep going and informed me that a caesarian was the next step.

The baby at this point was too far down the birth canal just to proceed with a caesarian – she was far enough down that her head could be seen when I pushed – so the doctor had to push her back in. I don’t think that is something you ever forget, having a baby pushed back in.  Especially without any epidural left. I plan to never experience that again.

The anaesthetist topped up my epidural, and we waited for it to work. I was continually poked with ice and sharp things to see if I could still feel everything, and each time I was poked and prodded, I could still feel every bit of it. So the doctor kept topping up the epidural more and more, and it continued to be almost completely ineffective. At this point, the obstetrician in charge decided just to proceed with the caesarian. Agony. The worst thing I have ever felt. The epidural was not working. I told them that, and the doctor still didn’t stop. The anaesthetist kept asking if he should put me under and the ob kept saying just to give her a minute. Next thing I knew, T was being ushered from the room and a mask was over my face. I remember asking if I was going to sleep now, I was so so so terrified. I didnt know what was happening but I knew it wasn’t good. The anaesthetist said no, and then asked me to count to five.

So I did. And as I was counting, the world started spinning, turning to black, my ears filled with the buzzing of a bizarre “nothing” kind of silence. And I tried to yell out. I tried to call out to let me go, to let me stay awake, to let me experience my child coming into the world. I knew they were putting me under and I couldn’t escape. And then it was done. All I knew was dark, spinning, black, unending nothing. It felt like eternity. There was no time. No beginning, no end. And I thought to myself: I hope this isn’t what death is like. I want to come back. I want to meet my baby girl.

According to T, what he saw next was pretty confronting. Baby girl was very very wedged in, and a bandage was being used as a kind of pulley to hold my incision open while two doctors climbed around and over me on the operating table, elbows deep inside me, trying to unstick baby G.

When I woke up, it was about 4pm, I think, baby G having been finally born at around 2:30, I was told. In recovery, all I wanted was to know if baby G was ok, and where she was, and everything about her, and where T was, and if he was okay after all that had transpired. And noone could tell me any more than yes, baby G was in fact a girl and she was ok and with T. For the entire hour I was kept there, I continued to pester the midwives with requests to go and see baby G and hubby, and kept being told that I had to stay for “just a bit longer” since in the time since I had been put under, the top up epidurals had taken effect probably too much and I couldn’t really feel anything at all.

Finally I was taken up to the ward, and for a few minutes I was in our room by myself, with a midwife checking my vitals and such. Soon, I heard wheels coming up the corridor and into the room, and I remember that first T came into my little curtained off section, and then the little bassinet was wheeled in, and the first thing I said was “here she is!”. Two hours after her birth, I finally got to meet my baby girl. She was put onto my chest for some skin to skin – although delayed, I’m told it was still very important, and I was helped to latch her on for her very first feed. She was incredibly sleepy, as I’m led to believe that newborns tend to be past the first half hour to hour of wakefulness. But she latched like a pro, and I couldn’t take my eyes off her, my beautiful baby girl, finally in my arms and healthy. Slowly I managed to get the details from everyone.

Baby G was born at 2:33pm on Friday the 11th of July, at 3625g, or just barely under 8lb even, and 48cm long (or 18 inches). Her head circumference was 36cm, pretty big, and considering her OP positioning, I wouldn’t have been able to get her out naturally according to the doctor. I however believe that given time, and had she not gone into distress, we would have managed just fine. After my water had been broken for 34 hours, 21 hours of labour followed by an emergency caesarian, she was finally here. Born at 37+5 gestation. The drama was over – or so we thought.

Two days later, Sunday morning, as baby G and I were heading to her hearing test, we discovered just how sick she was with terrible jaundice and we started a whole new adventure in the Special Care Nursery – and that’s another story for another day!

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The Birth Story of Baby G, part 1: The Labour

When I was around 36 weeks pregnant, I started experiencing what I now know to have been pre labour symptoms. I was having period like cramping, a lot of pain in my lower back, losing what I know to have been my mucus plug (and had been since 29 weeks, despite what the midwives told me), and having fairly regular braxton hicks contractions. I spent a long, LONG week and a half dealing with these symptoms between the couch, bed, floor, bouncing on my exercise ball, and perhaps most commonly, draped over the top of my exercise ball on the floor. I was certainly not sleeping for more than about half an hour at a time, between the SPD pain, back pain, needing to pee constantly and just general discomfort.

By the time 37 weeks and 4 days came around, I felt like I really could not endure any more.  The morning I was 37+4 (a Thursday), I was lying in bed around 7am and felt a distinctly different feeling. I sprung out of bed and to the bathroom, leaving an unmistakable trail behind me. I was one of the 10% of women whose water breaks before any sign of true labour beginning. I remember feeling oddly calm. The air felt different. Today was probably going to be the day that I met my precious baby girl, and all I could think was that I had ruined a pair of trackpants and possibly some bedsheets.

Within a few minutes I had phoned the birthing suite at my hospital (an hour and a half’s drive away, disregarding any traffic). The midwives were reluctant to believe that my membranes had spontaneously ruptured this early but when I told them exactly what had happened, told me to come in, but not to rush. So T and I each took a shower, and we stopped at good old McDonald’s for breakfast on our way to the hospital.

Two hours later, we were arriving at the hospital, and I was being hooked up to a CTG machine for some monitoring to see how baby was doing. Within a fairly short amount of time I was taken to a labour room (where some of the midwives were very unhappy to see me – I was taking up valuable space which may be needed for someone who “actually needed” it). The midwives asked for a urine sample and to see a pad as they still didn’t really believe my water had broken, however when I handed them a cup overflowing with liquid that was CLEARLY more amniotic fluid than urine, they declined to do the swab to test if my water had broken or not. The hospital was ready to send me home through early labour – I wasn’t happy about this as I live so far away from the hospital and had no idea how fast or slow labour would be – when someone thought to check my group B strep status, which had only been tested about a week ago, and I had never been notified of any results. I suppose I would have been at my next antenatal appointment, scheduled for a few days’ time. When they discovered that the swab had come back positive for group B strep, I knew I was officially in for the long haul as I had to be administered IV antibiotics every 4 hours until baby was born.

So once the hospital finally found someone who could place my cannula – apparently I was particularly difficult, with deep veins plus the edema that I was now experiencing in my whole body, I settled in to wait for an induction of labour as the hospital didn’t want my waters to remain broken with no baby for too long and a positive GBS swab. At 11am, the midwife came in to tell me that in a few minutes someone would be in to start the syntocinon drip (pitocin to all those in the US). A few minutes turned into a few hours, and by 5pm with no drip yet, my contractions had definitely started all on their own. Meanwhile it had taken me all day to even get a hold of a pillow for myself (can you tell why I might have ended up with such a traumatic birth?). labour1

Early labour went pretty much as I had expected, and with the support of my wonderful husband, I thought everything was going very smoothly, but by 11pm or so I was requesting an epidural with some degree of insistence. I had been checked around 7 or 8pm, and been found to be at about 4cm dilated, so I was of the belief that the staff would be OK with me getting an epidural, however they continued to try to stall me. The doctor who performed my internal to determine that I was about 4cm was very brusque, rough and caused me a lot of pain, and he is the one who kept telling the midwives I couldn’t have an epidural yet. I was VERY firm in not wanting to see him again.

First I was given some type of tablet for pain relief and another to “help me rest”. This only really took off the edge, and I most certainly wasn’t sleeping. By perhaps 2am (the details are already becoming so fuzzy), I was vomiting and shaking and seriously not coping with the pain again, so I again started asking for an epidural and again being told it was “Still too early” because it was my first baby, so I couldn’t possibly have progressed very far. So I was given a morphine injection, the only result of which for me was some dizziness and next to no pain relief.

By the time 5am rolled around, I was very much not coping with the pain and my contractions were only around a minute apart, and lasting for close to that whole minute. I was getting one strong one, a longer gap and then two weaker ones right on top of one another in a repeating pattern, a pattern which I was later told is common in women labouring with posterior babies. The midwives FINALLY agreed to getting the anaesthetist to administer my epidural and in the meantime offered me nitrous oxide gas. The nitrous oxide, while not providing much pain relief, gave me a much needed focal point, allowing me to get through a bit more. It did take off an edge, but made me very uncomfortably dizzy and my voice very manly and deep, which made my husband laugh to no end.

At 6 am, 13 hours after I was considered officially in labour, I finally got my epidural. It took five attempts to place correctly, as the anaesthetist had to try to place it in between contractions – and there was not much time at all – and he said my epidural space was very deep, almost too deep to reach. He told me that the needle to place the epidural is 8cm long and my epidural space was 8cm in, so it was quite difficult to place, the most difficult he had placed in a long time, he says. While placing the epidural, he got quite frustrated with my midwife for not listening to me sooner about wanting an epidural as he suspected I may be at least 8cm dilated. labour2

In my case, it was lucky that my progress had not been checked before the epidural was placed, since if I had been checked, I would not have been allowed the epidural. As the anaethetist had suspected, I was dilated to 8cm and was transitional. Luckily, within two contractions of the epidural being placed, I was blessedly no longer feeling anything to do with the contractions but could still move my legs and feet around pretty well. I had a catheter placed, and settled in to wait. No sleep was to be had, but at least I was able to rest.

I had written out the entire birth story in one post, but it was simply too long, so I think that here might be a good place to break – part 2 will be coming very soon!

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Daily Prompt: Good Tidings

Ten years ago, I was a very different 15 year old girl to the 25 year old woman I have become.  I was a shy, nerdy bookworm who was just discovering performing and had really only just made some friends for the first time. I was a musician through and through and basically my whole life was year 9 at high school.

Today, I am many different things – but most of those things are different to what I was ten years ago. I am a young woman, married (which alone, my fifteen year old self would never believe), with a beautiful baby. I no longer define myself by my academic success or what my next piece of music might be, but rather by how happy my day has been, how many times I have seen that bright baby smile grace my day.

The daily prompt today asks us to tell our ten-years-ago self three things about our lives that we have to look forward to, and I feel like this prompt couldn’t come at a better time! The most challenging, rewarding and fun things for me – and for my fifteen year old self – to look forward to in life are very much all the same thing to me at this point in my life, and can be summed up in one word: parenting.

I am mum to the most gorgeous 4 month old baby girl in the world (in my biased opinion) and it is all at once the most challenging, fun and rewarding thing I have ever done.

Every day, being a mum is a challenge in a new and different way. Right now, the challenge is in teething, and sleep. Baby girl is uncomfortable and sore and as such is not sleeping. Really at all. Unless she is held, therefore hubby and I are spending a LOT of time lying on the couch with the little princess. Every day is a challenge because I am never sure that any decision I make is the right one, and I second guess myself at every turn, and every second that passes. I think in the end, all parents are just doing their best and making it up as they go, and that brings me some comfort.

It is the most fun thing ever, because I get to spend my days singing and playing and making up new games to play with my baby. It is the most fun experience because I get to see a gorgeous little smile and hear a musical laugh every single day, and it makes all of the challenging moments worthwhile.

It is the most rewarding job on the planet, because every day I see an amazing little person emerging and becoming her own self, with her own personality. Every day, she grows and changes and I get to help her discover the world for the first time.

If I had a chance to sit down with my fifteen year old self, I would tell her all of these things because right now, at this point in her life, she is pretty scared that she won’t ever come to anything. She is stuck on the idea that she has to be something. something bigger than she actually wants to be. She thinks her life has to be all about books and words and having it all. She is scared she will be the lonely bookworm forever, and I wish so much that I could tell her it will all turn around and that in ten short years, she will have the most incredible life – nothing like she has dreamed – that she could imagine.

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Back again, Hopefully to stay (?)

It has been so so so so long since I posted, yet again. Last time I posted, I believe I was about 19 weeks into my pregnancy and about to find out baby’s gender.  Now, I have the most beautiful 4 month old baby on the PLANET, and my life has changed in the most unbelievable ways.

I want to make a bunch of updates, but it’s far far far too much to put into a single post so for now, I’ll write just the most important stuff, perhaps just some of the rest of my pregnancy and then my next post might be the birth story which I have been just dying to share, but only now feeling ready to talk about, since it was such a traumatic experience for me – and baby – unfortunately.

As at the last post, I was going to find out baby’s gender in the next few days or week, and I was so so excited.  Ever since I was a little girl, I “knew” that my first baby was going to be a girl, and when I became pregnant that feeling only intensified. Up until I found out the gender though, I tried to make sure not to get my hopes up as of course I would love whoever arrived in my arms, as long as he or she was healthy and happy. As we drew closer to the exciting day of the ultrasound, I had myself almost utterly convinced that I was having a little boy, and my husband and I even had a name picked out for our future son while we were very up in the air about girl names.

On the day of the scan I drank my mandatory 1.5L of water and we drove to the clinic half an hour away. When we were told that the tech was running about 45 minutes late, I was a little beside myself – I don’t know how I made it that long without wetting myself. The scan went very well, although bub was measuring a little early at this point, and as such they had a little trouble getting all of the pictures they needed. I tried not to be too pushy about the gender, but I think I still asked…oh, maybe 4 or 5 times? At the end, the tech told me that she was 98% sure that baby was a girl, and I was so shocked and happy, and excited all at once, I think I was floating for about a week afterwards.

That day we bought our very first baby outfit and made our little facebook gender announcement. Ironically, the onesie we bought that day, baby girl G never wore once, we ended up with SO MUCH stuff for her!

I had a wonderful pregnancy for the most part, however ended up finishing work a month earlier than I had planned when I developed severe SPD. I battled through for a few weeks but ended up stopping work at about 32 weeks, when I started not only having a lot of trouble with SPD but having consistent, painful braxton hicks contractions as soon as I was on my feet for any longer than about an hour at a time.

So much else happened throughout the course of my pregnancy, and I really wish I had kept blogging throughout so that I could have everything documented but I know now that if I tried to write about it all, it would be a huge convoluted mess, so I won’t even try – I’ll skip from here to the labour and birth story, which begins at 37 weeks and 4 days. But first I’ll share a couple of pregnancy photos – I couldn’t resist!

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