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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