It’s hard to believe that our Little Em’ly is almost a month old. She certainly took her time in getting here! She was due on August 4th but it took twelve days and some coaxing, via hormones, in order to actually get her out and into our arms.
|Right before we left for the hospital. I don't think I could've gotten any larger.|
The last few weeks of my pregnancy were killer and I was so glad that my mum was here to take care of everything. I felt really rotten for a couple of those weeks and we ended up with one trip to hospital, hoping that things were getting somewhere, but there was no baby and instead just a couple of terrifying hours hooked up to a CTG machine because her heart rate had dropped low and been slow to recover.
Early in the morning on August 16th, mum drove me & David to the hospital where we settled down to begin the waiting process. The staff at the West Suffolk Hospital were great – the first midwife I saw laid out the various stages of labour induction (beginning with prostin gel and ending with a c-section, depending on how things progressed) and then the treatment began. There were a couple terrifying moments while we were waiting:
- we had stepped out into the hall for a tour of the ward when another midwife rushed in the hallway, calling for help, because she was carrying a baby who had stopped breathing. So that was scary, although I think the baby was fine as we heard nothing else.
- I was hooked up to a CTG machine again and for the first two hours Emily’s heart rate kept dropping alarmingly low (down to 88) and not picking up right away, and sometimes the machine would lose all contact with her. It was really starting to stress me out, especially after they had my lie on my left side, which is supposed to be ideal, and the problem still kept occurring. Fortunately once I sat up straight in the bed everything became normal. The doctor who saw me wasn’t worried, but the midwives were fussing and I was panicked. David kept his cool but was getting really impatient to have her out so that we could make sure everything was fine.
Shortly after I sat up and ate lunch, I noticed that the general crappy feeling I’d had for the past few weeks was getting definitely worse. So I made the practical decision to go use the toilet, because even though I know the medical staff have seen it all there is a big part of me that would prefer to not lose complete control over everything... And then I noticed that it was pretty hard to get off the toilet and pretty hard to not push, and the whole terror of Walter’s birth came rushing back to me. So we flagged down the ward midwife and asked for some pain relief, and I explained a bit about Walter’s birth, and she decided to see what was going on. Turns out I was 4cm dilated (was 2cm when I came into the hospital that morning) and she was pleased that the induction was working and went off to run me a bath with lavendar oil (she is a perfectly lovely lady, but at the time my thoughts were along the lines of ‘bugger your stupid lavendar oil, I want drugs not voodoo magic’).
She’d only been gone a few minutes, with strict instructions to David to time my contractions, when I noticed that I was definitely reaching a new level of discomfort. But then the bath was ready and I obligingly got in, remembering how much it helped last time. Well, as they say, every labour is different...
I’d been in the bath for about 5 minutes, and David was dutifully timing my contractions. And we noticed that they went as follows: 30 seconds, 1 minute break, 45 seconds, 1.5 minute break, 60 seconds...1 minute break. At this point David start tugging on the emergency cord in the bathroom and the midwife stuck her head in and I started shouting (although apparently I wasn’t that loud, although I think David is just being nice).
A few minutes after that I was in a wheelchair with a fair amount of the ward staff clustered around me, wheeling me (shouting all the way!) from the maternity ward into the delivery unit. And then I was on gas & air, which made me incredibly ill, so I was begging for “something more” and the midwife examined me (which was pretty cleverly timed as my contractions were a minute or less apart) and discovered I was now 7cm dilated, so that put an epidural out of the question and she ran off to get a nice shot of nice nice nice pethidine. About ten or fifteen minutes after that, just in time for the drug to kick in, Emily crashed into the world.
|Not too long after!|
Total time of active labour, according to my chart: 1.5 hours.
Emily was born at 3:30pm and I was on a super high of endorphins, end of pain, and pethidine. It was lovely. In fact her being born was one of the best feelings in the world, between the incredible feeling of giving birth coupled with the high of the drug.
I still had a few moments of panic – for one thing, when Walter was born it was so chaotic that I didn’t see him right away, and thus didn’t think to remember that the newly born are a disconcerting shade of blue-purple. So in my super-high way I enquired of the medical staff whether or not she was “supposed to be that colour”, while David laughed at me and reassured me. But given the trouble with her heartbeat earlier I think I can be spared a little consideration for maternal anxiety.
Aside from doctors and midwives popping in and out, the three of us had time together for nearly four hours. The showers on the delivery unit are big enough for an army, so David & Emily could accompany me in and help me get all cleaned up. It was lovely.
Unfortunately I couldn’t go home that day, because there was an excess of some sort of gas in a cord sample that the lab was testing, so we needed to stay overnight for monitoring. And the next day I was all pumped to go home, but the pediatrician took forever to come, didn’t see me until five, and then decided that Emily had a bad case of jaundice and she was put on phototherapy for the night. I lost my head a little then – the ward was hot, I’d been waiting all day, and mum, Walter, & David had come to pick me up and that meant we had an incredibly active-verging-on-fussy Walter on our hands only to find out it was all for nothing.
But but but! The staff were amazing. I asked them if they had a place we could wait as a family until we found out if I was going home that night, because Walter was causing a ruckus in my shared room and the other ladies were all recovering from c-sections, and after initially saying they didn’t they ended up finding me a private room! And when it turned out that I had to stay another night, and I was sobbing from the disappointment and tiredness and stress of everything, they decided to let me & Emily use the private room for the night. And they kept checking in on me, and being super supportive, and just generally making it as pleasant as could be in the circumstances, including bending the rules a bit so that my mum could come in at 11am on Sunday (usually only immediate family is allowed at that time) which meant Walter could stay home with David. By 3am, after only six hours of photo therapy, her jaundice was gone and we were pretty confident that we’d be going home on Sunday (which we did! yay!).
|And I came home to two dozen roses from my loving husband!|
For the most part it was such a different experience from Walter’s birth. It was a lot more physically traumatic (and David did great too, not letting me know until a few days after how much it had distressed him to see me in so much pain. At the time he just kept his head and was helpful as could be) because it all happened so quickly and I had no time in between contractions to catch a breath, let alone try to relax away the pain. But mentally it was so much better. I didn’t have to worry about the baby coming in an unsafe way and I had people around me, supporting me, at every stage. With such a quick labour we are all thankful that I had to be induced, as it is a fourty minute drive to the hospital and that is over 1/3rd of the time I was in labour.
The past month has been crazy. Every day has a moment or two of complete chaos where I wonder what exactly I’m doing in this situation known as my life. But every day also has its moments where I know I couldn’t be happier. We’ve all been enjoying getting to know Emily as her personality develops. So far:
- she really, really hates dirty/wet diapers. Really hates them.
- she also really hates spitting up, probably because she tends to do the day’s worth all in one go and it inevitably comes out her nose. Fortunately she seemed to slow down on this after her second week.
- she loves cuddles, especially cuddles with mummy. Such a change from Walter, who is rarely still
- she is fairly laid back, although when she does want to be heard she is good at ensuring everyone for miles around can hear her.
- she is just as strong as Walter was at this age when it comes to moving/thrashing, lifting & turning her head, and trying to climb
|Cozy after her first bath (Walter helped)|
|Snuggling with her bunny from Uncle Johnny|
|All dressed up for her first Mass|
|One week old!|
I love watching Walter interact with her. From the moment he met her at the hospital you could see the love displayed on his face. We do need to remind him to be gentle, but other than that he is as helpful as can be. When she cries, he brings me her soother or bottle (or a boot or a baking pan or anything else he thinks will help cheer her up). He pats her on the head and likes to play with her toes. One day he discovered that she’d suck on his fingers and he thought that was the best game ever. I think that they are going to be firm friends.