Monday, 9 January 2012

41 Weeks / 0 Weeks Old

MUMMY

This week has without doubt been the most amazing week of my entire life. As long as I live I don't think I will ever again experience such a roller coaster of emotions - extreme highs and lows, agony and absolute euphoric elation - and all in the space of just a few days.

Before I start from the beginning of the week, I would like to introduce you to my beautiful baby boy, Dalton Thomas Hatcher, who was born on Thursday 5th January at 9:19am weighing 8 lbs 13 oz! In my extremely balanced and non-biased opinion, he is the most handsome man in the whole of the world - but I'll let you judge for yourself.

Dalton wearing a silly hat with ears at 2 days old
So, let's talk about how he got here.

You may remember from last week's post I was just about to go to the midwife for a sweep. You can read more about the procedure here but, essentially, it can sometimes get things moving after your due date has passed. I was a little sceptical about it as I kind of think babies just come when they are ready regardless and by this point, at 41 weeks to the day and in extreme discomfort I had prepared myself for the fact I was probably going to go the full distance and end up being induced the Tuesday after at 42 weeks. In fact, I was pretty much prepared for anything to happen except for what actually did happen.

I arrived for the appointment and before conducting the sweep the midwife performed the usual checks, one of them being the tummy exam to check the baby was still in the same position. For the weeks leading up to this appointment, Shrimpy had always been head down and in fact had been 3/5 engaged a couple of weeks prior. It is virtually unheard of for babies to turn at this stage for a first pregnancy and, especially as he had been head down and engaged the week before, we just expected him to still be head down and fully engaged. So, you can imagine my surprise when the midwife told me she thought he had completely turned around the other way and now had his head at the top. She was incredibly surprised and couldn't believe I wouldn't have felt him turn so arranged for me to have a scan at William Harvey Hospital to confirm his presentation that evening. She kept saying sorry and started to be super nice to me so I realised this wasn't a good outcome and she basically told me that if he was where she thought he was, I would have to have a caesarean section to get him out.

I left the appointment feeling quite shell shocked as the latter stages of pregnancy are such an emotional and anxious time anyway and the last thing I had expected was to be delivering him by caesarean section and having been really keen on the idea of a natural birth I was absolutely gutted and had a big cry in the car. It might seem strange as some people actually choose to opt for a caesarean section as it is deemed a less painful way of delivering a baby but having prepared myself for over 9 months for the trauma of labour and a natural delivery, I felt completely flat and had an enormous feeling of anti-climax. The only way I can describe it is like this. I don't enjoy running at all but I love the challenge of the big running events and have always felt about labour a little bit how I would feel if I was training for a marathon. You train for months for the big day, the day arrives and you know it is going to be extremely painful, tough, exhausting and take several hours but at the end of it, when you cross the finishing line, you get to feel an enormous sense of achievement and you get your medal and goody bag. Imagine if you had braved many a cold winter evening for months of full on training for a marathon and, just as you are lined up at the starting post all ready to go, someone pulled you aside and explained that you couldn't run the marathon due to medical reasons but here's your medal and goody bag anyway.

That's what I felt like. Anyway, so, we went to the hospital that evening and the scan confirmed that Shrimpy was indeed head up and sitting cross-legged between my pelvis. It explained why I had been feeling so much pain and discomfort in the last week. It wasn't a leg wedged up against my rib, it was a head - and it wasn't a head between my pelvic bone, it was a big @rse and two legs! No consultants were on hand that evening to discuss the next steps so we were asked to come back the following day to presumably just arrange when to have the caesarean section - or so I thought.

That evening, I prepared myself for the c-section outcome and thought, OK, this isn't so bad, at the very least we now know that he will probably be with us in the next day or so and at least he won't have a cone-head and I went to bed praying the opposite of what I had been praying for the three weeks or so prior - that I woudn't go in to labour!

The next day, we went to the hospital and the consultant explained to us that there were two options at this stage. We could either just go ahead and arrange the c-section or they could try to perform a manoeuvre called an external cephalic version which you can read more about here. They normally consider trying this procedure at around 37 weeks when the baby is a bit smaller so it was unusual to have it performed at over 41 weeks. In all honesty, I wasn't keen as I thought, look, I'm already 8 days overdue, if they manage to turn the baby around, there is no guarantee it would stay head down and I would still be left in limbo possibly having to be induced and possibly ending up having to have a c-section anyway and with the very late stage of pregnancy I was at, I knew it would be incredibly painful so it all seemed like a lot of trauma for no real gain. The doctor, however, insisted that it was worth a try and that if it was his wife in my position, he would advise her to do it so we reluctantly went ahead then and there.

I can honestly tell you that this procedure is the most unpleasant and painful thing I have ever been through and whilst I wouldn't normally advise people against doing anything - at the later stage of pregnancy I was at - I absolutely wouldn't advise having this done. They gave me a drug to relax my uterus so that it didn't contract while they were trying to perform the procedure and then tilted my bed right back and left me there for about 30 minutes. This was horrendous. I can't really describe how uncomfortable this was to you but all the blood went to my head and by the end of the 30 minutes I had such a build up of pressure in my head, I felt like my eyes were going to pop out and I was starting to feel very dizzy and nauseous. My tummy and pelvic area were already in a lot of pain before they even started so I began to panic a bit feeling very helpless and wondering what on earth I had agreed to. They offered me some gas and air as they started the procedure which I gladly took and then tried to slowly manoeuvre Shrimpy around to turn him the opposite direction. After literally only about 2 mins I went in to shock and everything went black and fuzzy for me and I started crying / screaming hysterically. Ron was crying, the doctor looked distressed and the two students watching looked distressed as well and we all immediately agreed to stop the procedure there and then and go for the c-section. Goodness - it upsets me even thinking about it now actually.

So, we arranged that we would return to the hospital the following morning at 7:30am and if there were no emergency c-sections happening, we would go straight in to theatre and meet our baby boy!

That evening was a really strange one. Again, you prepare yourself for one thing and have to move the goalposts at the last minute constantly throughout pregnancy so having prepared ourselves for labour happening at an unknown time and taking us by surprise, suddenly we had a day and time that we were going to have our little boy and we spent the evening knowing that it was our last as just a couple rather than a family. We decided to watch 'One Born Every Minute'!

The next morning, after virtually no sleep, we arrived at the hospital around 7:30am and were told that there were currently no emergency procedures to be performed and asked if we were ready to go ahead! I was absolutely terrified by now - not really about the operation but about whether Shrimpy would be OK. I was so excited to meet him but I just couldn't allow myself to feel too excited about it until I knew he was safe in the world with us so I was really worried and shaky at this point. Ron and I got in our gowns about 8:15am, went in to theatre and they gave me the spinal anaesthetic. I lay down with the screen erected and waited for the anaesthetic to take effect. Within about 5 minutes I couldn't feel anything in my legs or lower abdomen and the doctors started the procedure. It is the strangest feeling ever and I really can't describe what it is like having something that large pulled out of a small incision in your pubic area. It was uncomfortable but there was absolutely no pain whatsoever and within literally about 5 minutes, I heard a cry and the doctor asked me if I wanted to see him. Uncontrollably, Ron and I wept, said yes and got our first glimpse of our baby boy! He didn't look that great when we first saw him as he was a purpley grey colour, his hair looked ginger (which I thought would serve me right for the years of p1ss taking I have put some of my strawberry blonde friends through) and he looked a little swollen and squished but I didn't care at all. I was so relieved he was OK and this was when my heart started to fill up with love.

The next part was really difficult for me as they showed him to me but I couldn't hold him for the 20 to 30 minutes it took them to stitch me up (oh, and after removing Shrimpy they found a cyst on one of my ovaries so had to drain that also), he was handed to Ron and I couldn't really see him properly. Ron looked very happy (and very overwhelmed) though so I just looked at them both and thought, goodness, I love those two boys so very, very much.

Once I was all sewn up, I then got to hold Shrimpy properly for the first time and have some much looked forward to 'skin-to-skin'. Here I am below holding my little bundle of awesomeness for the first time. I have had many comments about how it was that I managed to look that way after going through labour and squeezing out a little person - well, now you can see that all I had done was got in to a gown and lay down so it was pretty easy!

Me and Dalton getting to know each other
I then went round to the recovery ward, a little surprised that I would be sharing a room with 5 other ladies and their newborns (I don't really know why I thought I would have a room to myself but for some reason I did) and I spent most of the rest of that day just staring at Dalton and completely overflowing with love for the little fellow. Ron stayed until about 8pm when partners had to go home and I spent the first night in hospital without him and on my own with the little guy.  All in all, this wasn't a pleasant night. I was hooked up to a catheter as it would be a while before I could feel my legs again and was bleeding quite heavily on to the giant maternity pads (which had to be changed for me as I couldn't get up) and at the intervals where the pain relief started to run out, I was in a lot of discomfort from the operation. The worst thing though, the worst of all was that for some reason, I just couldn't get to grips with breastfeeding at all in the hospital. Little Dalton wouldn't latch on and the situation got worse through the day and night as more and more support nurses tried to help and insisted I needed to get the breastfeeding going as the little man hadn't eaten all day. I was getting quite upset and stressed and Dalton was clearly hungry and distressed from not getting any food, I felt like a total failure and it just seemed to be getting worse. I ended up having to give him some formula in the middle of the night as the poor man was starving but then in the morning I had some success and we had a little feed. I was convinced that if I could just get home and try in a more relaxed environment, it would be fine so I really pushed to leave the hospital the following day and I am pleased to say that when we got back, it did become easier and whilst we are still learning together and finding our feet, we are definitely getting there. Feeding my little man, albeit excruciatingly painful at the moment (as my nipples are cracked and bleeding) is the most wonderful and amazing thing in the world and I just love seeing his little satisfied face beaming up at me gratefully for food (especially once the colostrum turned to milk on day 3). Again, it's hard to describe but here's the little face I see when I look down and he's having a feed.

A satisfied little man
Now, I sincerely apologise for the slight bit of boobage in this picture, particularly if it offends anyone but:
  1. It was necessary to show his little happy face near the boob and
  2. My boobs have grown so significantly in size over the past few days that they are now larger than Uranus (no, not yours, the planet) so it's actually quite difficult to take a picture that they don't feature in
So, we have now been home for about 4 days and having had a caesarean section, recovery will take about 6 weeks so I can't really get up on my own or pick anything heavy up (including my own little boy so he has to be handed to me) and I am in quite a bit of pain (especially as they sent me home from hospital with just ibuprofen for pain relief - a matter very quickly rectified by the midwife the following morning as she couldn't believe that was the only pain relief I was taking for such a major operation). Ron has had to look after me, as well as help look after our little boy, as well as recover from all the emotion of the last few weeks and I have to say, he has been amazing. My days have mostly consisted of feeding the little man, staring at him and cuddling him and telling him repeatedly how incredibly handsome and perfect he is, him pooping and us changing his nappy and witnessing a whole rainbow of coloured poos and then watching him have a little snooze. It is a cycle that doesn't involve much sleep for me but it is a cycle I could never get bored of. I tell you, I am the most content I have ever been in my entire life and feel so lucky and elated at my little boy and cannot wait for all the many experiences we are going to share with him.

So, in short, motherhood totally rocks and I just so happen to be living with the two most gorgeous men on the planet:

*heartmelt*
Now, what of the blog I hear you ask in a slightly panicky manner? Well, my friends, I had always intended to finish the blog once the little Shrimp arrived but I have been inundated with requests to continue it (OK, two people mentioned it) and I also thought that the first 12 weeks of recovering from a caesarean and all the things that come with becoming a parent (for the first time for me and fourth time for Ron) would probably make for some fairly good material so I have decided to carry on blogging up until Dalton is 12 weeks old (but probably not beyond).

So, with that, it is not goodbye but see you soon!

Yours, overflowing with love,

Mummy Wood xxx

Current Symptoms:
  • Very heavy vaginal bleeding (this still happens even with a c-section)
  • Very sore lower abdomen (can't sit up on my own)
  • Cracked and bleeding nipples
  • Boobs the size of actual watermelons
  • A heart fit to burst with love and pride for my little boy

DADDY

Daddy will be posting soon and in the next few days but is currently exhausted from this incredible week and looking after me.

BUMP

OK, so what really happened last week? Only I know the answer to that question! Basically, it was like this. I got myself in the head down position just like Mummy asked and started looking for daylight and then I saw a hole that was like an inch or so wide and thought, you freakin' what? You want me to try and get down there? No chance! It just looked impossible and also Mummy had been going on about cone heads for weeks and I was starting to get really worried about this. I didn't want to look like an alien. Frankly, the only thing for it was to make a giant u-turn and get round the other way so that the only way out was through an incision in Mummy's tummy. I waited until Mummy was fast asleep and slowly moved myself around so I don't think she even noticed.

On the day before I entered the world I had a bit of a sh1tty day. I don't really know what was going on but someone was pushing and pulling me in every direction as if trying to turn me back towards the tiny hole and I was having none of it! I stayed firm and eventually, they gave up.

On Thursday, I met Mummy and Daddy for the first time and whilst my entry wasn't entirely pain free for me, it was over so quickly and from that moment onwards really, I have been mesmerised by both Mummy and Daddy and just keep staring at them. They seem to like me a whole bunch so I am looking forward to getting to know them better and having lots of cuddles. Sucking Mummy's boobs was a bit rubbish for the first couple of days as only a really thick substance was coming out and it was such hard work to get it but it's now gone all liquidy and is much easier to get out. I love staring at Mummy while getting my fill and then having a cuddle with both Mummy and Daddy.

From next week I am going to start exploring the world and I can't wait - including hopefully meeting some of you!

With love, Dalton (formerly known as 'Shrimpy') x

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