It's been over 8 weeks since the birth of our daughter, the Tiny Fish. She is glorious and gorgeous and has the most delicious cheeky smile.
I've found a rare moment of quiet time where she is asleep, I am awake enough to type, and all is calm in our house. So I'm going to put down a really short and sweet version of my birth story. Before I forget too much.
My waters broke at 3am on 24/6/14. I drenched the bed, the bedroom carpet, hallway carpet, the Lino in the kitchen, porch hallway and then proceeded to flood the toilet floor too. I managed to clean the floor. Went and woke up my Hubby who took a second to click. I put a towel down and went back to bed.
Mild contractions started very gently half an hour later. They I had to get up and spend some quality time in the loo. Then I wondered how in hell I was going to get off the loo and not make another mess and wake my Hubby up again. I had time to download an app to time contractions. Good thing I did too as they were coming fast.
5.30am it was time to phone our midwife. 6.30am we phoned her again and said I wasn't going to be able to wait until 7am and we were gonna go up to hospital now.
We live just down the road from the hospital. I cursed every single one of the speed bumps on the way thru the hospital.
It had been raining. A friendly person in the corridor made a joke about it's gonna be a long night. Or day. We had no clue. Entering the maternity wing and this giant hug of warm air and weirdly soothing elevator music - which turned out to be the first morning alarm on Hubby's phone. We checked in and got room 4. G, a ward midwife looked after us until ours arrived.
Our mw wasn't there yet as she had to travel from a village outside of the city. Her battery went flat so she tried to jump start it and accidentally started a fire. She borrowed a car and it ran very low on petrol so she had to go back home and steal the lawnmower petrol. When she got there at 7.20am I was 9cm dilated already. I couldn't believe I was that far along.
Soon I was allowed to push. I never felt like I couldn't do it. I used breathing, saying out loud "relax everything" in between contractions, and etonox (gas and air). Looking back, I wish I had had an epidural. But nobody could have known what was coming.
Anyway, baby's heart rate was taking a few dips and not recovering very fast so my mw got me up resting over the back of the bed which seemed to help.
I pushed for 2hrs at which point my contractions started to taper off a bit. I personally thought this was delightful as I got a black spell of rest between the contractions. Empty painfree bliss. But apparently that was not good. My mw had me do nipple stimulation to try and get contractions happening with more strength and speed and it worked. But baby wasn't moving. She called in the OB who discovered that my baby's head was turtle-ing. A sign of shoulder dystocia.
My baby would need help. It's heart rate started dropping. The emergency bell was pushed and people flooded into the room. I felt calm under it all as I trusted those around me to take care of me.
First up the OB tried ventouse as baby's head had gone a bit crooked. The cap popped off a couple if times, so she moved on to forceps. And an episiotomy. Boo.
She was pulling so hard. Her foot up on the bed. At last I felt baby's head be born very quickly. And then all the pain of labour suddenly paled and was completely overwhelmed by this new thing which was just so big and massive I didn't know how to feel it. The pain was so incredible and multi faceted and discordant. I could feel my bones. Tiny Fish's shoulders were stuck. I remember writhing? Screaming noises I didn't know we're human let alone me. So high those noises. The OB working frantically. Eyes shut, open just for glimpses. The intense unbelievable indescribable feeling of pushing and actually feeling the resistance akin to pushing against a concrete wall. It was just not gonna move. The OB did the Woodward screw manoever where she had to get hold of an arm and spin the baby.
A huge movement and then the biggest physical and mental relief I've ever felt.
Tiny Fish was born arm-first at 10.29am. After 5hrs10mins of labour.
She landed on my chest and lifted her head and opened her black, disgruntled eyes and looked at me I will never forget that look. She was purple and wet and had hair that wasn't as black as I'd expected. The mw checked if she was a boy or girl. She was there about ten minutes I'm told but I kept blacking out so it felt like only 30 seconds. I have two memories of her on my chest: eyes and gender. My third memory is seeing her across the room on the baby bed where 3(?) paediatricians are working like mad over her with an oxygen mask. But I knew she would be fine cos she looked at me. And besides, what newborn can lift their head defiantly as their very first act? She did cry but I can't recall what it sounded like.
My husband. By my side helping me through. Together. Just being pure love. He always knew what I needed. I always cry thinking of what he went through that day, and the strength he has.
Tiny Fish had to go to NICU for potential breathing issues and hypoglycemia. I had brought along a small amount of expressed colostrum for her to have.
The OB was trying to sew me up. The midwives were massaging my tummy. There was blood on my thigh. Legs up in black leather stirrup things. Lithotomy position my birth notes say. Nurses were putting more IV lines in. Everything was hurting again. I was still having to breath through the pain. The placenta came but it was incomplete. I remember someone asking a nurse to measure the blood loss. 2 litres. Enough to warrant a trip to theatre to get stitched up. An episiotomy and a 3rd degree tear. When I asked how many stitches I had received later, the OB said she didn't bother counting.
Getting ready to go to the operating theatre was strangely calm after that. I got terrible shakes and said I was cold so they bundled me up in white. I had to shimmy across to another bed to make the long trip to the other end of the hospital. From the old wing to the new.
Hubby went out to meet my parents who had been waiting in the waiting room. Worried as they could hear everything. When he came back in the room he surveyed all the blood and fainted.
My parents met me as I was leaving the delivery suite. Tears and smiles and kisses and hugs. They would go to neonates and watch over their first grandchild.
Then there was the strange calm of being wheeled down endless corridors, fluorescent lights overhead. It was mid morning and the day was a drizzly grey winters morning. Fog and condensation on the windows. In pre-op Hubby couldn't come in so he went back to be with our daughter. My midwife was allowed to accompany me into theatre. I had 3 anaesthetists, one of whom has T1D and wanted to know all about my pump and Dex (diabetes stuff all went fine, in case you were wondering). The OB stitched me up and I woke up in post-op recovery so terribly thirsty. But content. I knew she was fine. I knew Hubby was with her. I was alive. I got what I wanted: everybody healthy and alive.
My mw came and said that she had arranged it so that I could be wheeled right into the NICU to meet my daughter again. I have never wanted to be wheeled faster. The urge to try and jump off the bed and hurry towards her. But I was so tired and heavy.
She was in an incubator. Someone got her out and laid her on my chest. She looked up at me with bleary eyes. She had massive bruising from the forceps and ventouse. Her head was a beautiful round shape. Black eyes. And torn skin from the forceps. She still has a scar even now.
And then I was put into a room to recover. That will be the next part, cos the story is not over yet.
~~~Happy birthday, my sweet one. You are so wanted. Mummy and Daddy love you. Xoxo