It’s been a good old while since I wrote here. Last time I sat down to write a blog entry I was pregnant. Today I sit on a chair on the back decking. My feet are bare and resting on the pram which I push my four month old (today!) baby back and forth whilst I type this on my phone.
I don’t need to tell you that this is a very bizarre time, but I just want to give an overview of our current situation for when I read this again in the future.
We are currently in the midst of the Coronavirus outbreak. It’s the end of the first week of the UK lockdown. That means no non essential travel, no trips into work unless absolutely necessary and leaving the house once a day only to get some exercise. Hence why I’m rocking Dawsey without my usual leaving the house.
Maternity leave has become a bit like Groundhog Day. I’m sure everyone feels like this, so I won’t dwell. I was looking through older photos last night and it made me want to write about Dawsey’s birth.
(The first of many many selfies together. I don’t think I’ve ever looked happier. Or more exhausted haha.)
Towards the end of my pregnancy we discovered Dawsey was breech – meaning he hadn’t turned head down ready for birth, his head had got stuck under my ribcage. I had an ECV where they manually tried to move him through my tummy (an absolutely horrible experience) but it didn’t work. So I was given the option of a vaginal breech birth (giving birth to the baby feet first, with lots of things that could go wrong) or a c section. I did plenty of research and decided the breech birth sounded awful and risky, especially as I hadn’t given birth before. So c section it was.
After a bit of farting around where the hospital forgot to book me in I was given Dawsey’s birthday. This was such a bizarre thing. To know when your baby is going to be born is a luxury not many women have. I would wander about in a daze thinking “this time next week I’ll be a mum.” I remember the day before the birth calling my dad from the local park and thinking “the next time I walk through this park I’ll be a mum.” It was so surreal! I told a few close family members when the c section was happening but for some reason didn’t feel I could tell my friends. It felt like too much pressure. I figured if I was having a natural delivery I probably wouldn’t tell friends when I was in labour so I just said “there will be a baby by the end of the week.”
Above is a photo from one of our first mornings with Dawsey. Tom looks so sleepy and serious!
The night before I didn’t sleep a wink. We were told to be at the hospital by 7.30am. I had to fast from midnight the day before and then have a lucozade for breakfast. Not my ideal breakfast but it meant I was ready for surgery. We packed the car with a ridiculous amount of stuff – this seriously makes me laugh in hindsight! I packed us both magazines and puzzle books and loaded my iPad with like 10 films. Packed books and about 20 changes of clothes. I didn’t touch any of these things just shuffled about in the same minging nightie 😆
It was a cold, late November morning. It was dark when we set off. Tom packed the car and I locked the door and I remember placing my hand on the front door and holding it there for a few moments thinking “when I return there will be three of us.”
We got to the hospital, parked up and found the ward and I pressed the buzzer stammering “erm hello… I’m here to have a baby.”
The midwives were very friendly, got us a bed in our own little ward which was just for people recovering from c sections. We were the only ones there. They made tom a cup of tea which I glared at… I was starving! They said that an emergency caesarean was happening at the moment but we would be next in once the surgery was cleared up.
We sat and watched the sunrise out of the window. It was a beautiful day. I had to answer lots of questions from the anaesthetist and surgeon and then was examined to check the baby was still breech. He was. I was relieved. I had this horrid feeling that he would have spun round and I’d be sent home to await labour kicking in!
We were handed a pair of scrubs each for the surgery. Tom went to the loo to pop his on whilst I got changed behind the curtain. He returned looking like George Clooney and then saw me and burst out laughing, pointing out that what I’d put on my head wasn’t a hat but was in fact a pair of disposable knickers! We were hysterical! Thank goodness he told me before I wandered off to surgery!
After what felt like an eternity we were taken through to a small room where I sat on the edge of the bed and the anaesthetist gave me a spinal block. This is like an epidural, and makes you numb from the spine down. Tom says whenever he thinks about this moment he cries. There was a wonderful nurse who sat in front of me holding both of my hands whilst the needle went in. Weirdly I spend a lot of my life worrying about small things but big things (and big needles) don’t worry me too much. I stayed calm.
A weird sensation came over me. I kept saying “my legs feel drunk!” They were very warm and tingly. The anaesthetist said “can you lift your legs?” And I was like “sure!” Then realised that I couldn’t. He then started spraying me all over with cold water asking if I could feel anything. I was like “feel what?!” So strange. He then lifted up a needle and was like “see this? I just stuck this in your thigh!” It was like a weird magic show that I didn’t want to be involved with.
I was wheeled through to the theatre. It looked very medical… lol. Bright lights and about 8 people in there. I was surprised by how many people there were. Two or three midwives, two surgeons, anaesthetist and his assistant…
Tom took my phone and put on a playlist that I’d been making in the run up to the birth. I am so so happy we did this as it made the whole thing more bearable and slightly less terrifying. The only song I remember clearly was “Ob la Di ob la da” by the Beatles. One of the midwives said. “What the hell are we listening to.” Also, at the moment Dawsey was born “black as night” by Nakho and Medicine for the People was playing. It’s a very joyful song and the first line is “I believe in the good things coming.” Amazing.
So I was on a table… tom was sat next to me in a chair, facing me but his back to the curtain that covered my nether region. We held hands, tears in our eyes and asked each other “are you okay? Yeah. Are you okay” over and over and over.
I was determined to focus on the music and not what was happening to my body but I could feel that I was being jerked around and it felt like someone was doing the washing up in my belly. The surgeons pulled me more and more, speaking in medical terms which I ignored until I heard. “The baby is stuck.” My stomach dropped. Well who knows what my stomach did, it was probably on a table somewhere at this point haha. There was a bit more yanking then finally we heard a baby crying. The surgeon said “biiiiig baby!” I’ve never felt more relieved, as I was convinced something was wrong and he wouldn’t cry. We held each other and sobbed and I said “that’s our baby crying!” Over and over.
Before Dawsey was born we didn’t know his gender. So the surgeon lifted him up over the curtain. He was blue and slimy and I didn’t see anything except his willy! Tom said “he’s got massive balls!!!” Then they carried him off to be checked over.
After this moment things go a bit hazy in my memory as I started to feel unwell. “Time of birth: 9.45am” was written on a whiteboard and also “time of placenta birth 9.47am”
My chest got really really tight. I muttered to Tom that I couldn’t breathe. Someone put an oxygen mask on me and they frantically squeezed fluid into my arm through a drip. I remember whimpering “I don’t feel well!!” And really wanting my mum. I was being asked what felt like 100 questions and I remember thinking “will everyone just fuck off because I’m going to sleep.”
Eventually I started to feel better. We were told Dawsey was well but had been sliced on the bum cheek with a scalpel during the delivery. Before the birth I had been very insistent that I wanted to do skin to skin with Dawsey as soon as he was born. (This is where you hold the baby against your chest to promote bonding.) the midwives said “this is a very big baby – do you really want him on your chest right now?” (He weighed 9lb 11 and I’d just been struggling to breathe.) so I said no. Tom, without hesitation pulled his shirt off and held Dawsey to his chest. Seeing them together was one of the best moments of my life.
I was sewed up, cleaned up, and had a morphine pill shoved up my arse (hahaha) and wheeled back to the ward to recover. For the rest of that day I was absolutely off my tits so I don’t remember an awful lot. I called my mum and slurred down the phone to her. I finally had some food.
It was explained that the reason I’d felt so awful during the birth was because I’d had a huge blood loss (1.5 litres) and nearly needed a blood transfusion. So I was incredibly fragile. When the surgeon came to explain this, there was an incredible slapstick moment where he pressed a button on the bed and it went from upright to flat very quickly which was so so funny I probably would have pissed myself if I didn’t have a catheter in!
We were then off to the ward to recover with all the other women. I was wheeled holding Dawsey in a bed into the lift, smiling my head off whilst passersby congratulated us.
The next three days were a total blur. Dawsey was constantly on my boob. Tom did all the nappies. We slept together in a single bed and I would nudge Tom when Dawsey cried. All the other babies cried. We didn’t sleep. We would be handed a menu then forget to fill it in and then wait for a long time for veggie food that we would forget to eat and it would be taken away again.
At one point Dawsey’s measurements were taken and the woman was laughing because her tape measure almost didn’t reach around his massive head. She also told me that Dawsey’s face was wonky from being trapped under my rib cage. I was like “how dare she?! He’s bloody perfect!!” This really makes me laugh now when I look at the below photo! Hi wonky!
I had a nurse take me to the loo, very very slowly and she showed me how to empty the catheter. She went to leave and I said “please don’t leave me I’m scared.” She stayed and I cried. Our families came to see us and we all cried.
I spent a few minutes staring at myself in the bathroom mirror, not recognising my own reflection.
At one point I lifted up some pillows that I’d put over my wound whilst feeding Dawsey and discovered I was covered in blood. I accidentally overdosed on paracetamol. In the middle of the night a midwife asked “are you feeding him” to which I replied “I think so” – so out of it I couldn’t remember if he was on my boob or not.
We stayed for two nights, and left Friday evening. Tom was so tired he kept going to the car to get the car seat for Dawsey then returning to the ward without it. I was wheeled out of the hospital in a wheelchair, my baby in my arms.