A little over 5 years ago our son X was born. This was before B had been in a mental health hospital, before she’d started seeing the mental health team and before any suicide attempts.
Technically our birth story started with B suddenly announcing when I was in the bath that perhaps we should have a baby. She’d never really wanted any children before but her thoughts about it had changed, I thought it would be a good idea too so we decided we would start trying. We’d actually recently put in an offer on a house which had been accepted so we figured we’d have a nice home to bring up a family too. We had a slight timing malfunction here though as we then got pregnant almost straight away, and the house took a long time to actually complete. This meant that we ended up moving in when B was still pregnant and progressing towards being heavily pregnant. Our house was quite decidedly a “doer upper” and plaster dust was one of the things that set of B’s morning sickness. I say morning sickness, but it would seem that the time of day has bugger all to do with it!
With B’s anxiety I knew that she wouldn’t want to be spending any time in hospital on her own, especially overnight. We’d discussed this with the midwife when she visited who said that we would be able to pay to use a special room at the hospital where partners etc can stay with the expectant mother. I thought that was a great idea and tried to put aside any thoughts of “What if the baby arrives when that room is already occupied by somebody else!”. Our midwife was really helpful, she seemed to understand how much B’s anxiety would impact things and was very keen that I was at every appointment relating to the baby.
We actually had our first scan at about 5 weeks! B had started getting bad pains in her abdomen and so we were advised to go to A&E and get looked at. B had read about ectopic pregnancies and phantom ones where there is a sack, but it’s empty. We spent quite a while in A&E being looked at, and they performed a scan which although showed that there was no danger, we still weren’t sure if everything was proper etc. We went back in for another scan a couple of weeks later and that showed a proper little baby growing! It was all very strange and exciting and scary!
We never attended any antinatal classes or groups before X was born, B’s anxiety would have made it a really stressful thing to do and because of that we wouldn’t of gained much from it. We did read up as much as we could and instead of going on a big group tour of the maternity unit they arranged for us to have a tour on our own so we’d know where everything was and what to expect when we were in there, which was fantastic.
Time went on, B got bigger, and bigger, we had our standard 20 week scan which provided us with our scan photos. Which were free and plentiful as their printer was leaving a thin white line on all the print outs so they gave us loads to compensate! We made as much progress on the house as we could focusing on getting Living Room, Kitchen, Bathroom and Baby’s room sorted. Everything else didn’t really matter at this point we figured we’d finish that off when baby was born as we’d have lots of time when I was on paternity leave…. Yeah, we know better now!
Our 9 months went by and the little countdown blackboard in the kitchen had got to “Our baby is due in 0 days”. At this point, B was “quite keen”, for the baby to arrive, I’m not really sure “uncomfortable” quite covers it to be honest. We got the obligatory comments from everyone regarding curry and sex being the key to kicking things off. Regarding the curry thing, anyone that’s been around a birth knows that there is a fair chance that the mother will loose bowel control at some point. I’m fairly sure eating a massive spicy curry several hours before would not improve this scenario!
B started having contractions Tuesday night and consequently didn’t get any sleep whatsoever (I got a bit of sleep, if I knew then what I know now, I would’ve cherished that sleep more!). I worked from home Wednesday and B’s contractions continued on and off though the day. She woke me in the early hours on Thursday (1:30ish) in lots of pain so we ran her a bath and started getting kind of organised. We then timed contractions for a few hours which is bloody well impossible if you’ve never tried it… especially when B would tell me they’ve started… then forget to tell me when they’ve finished… or forget to tell me when the next one has started. Think of that person saying that their car indicators aren’t working by saying “They’re on. No, they’re off again. Now they’re on. Oh, no, off again”… And yes, B’s actually done that too.
Even though they weren’t quite as frequent as we’d been told to wait for we decided then rang maternity and they told us to come in anyway. We got there at around 5:30am and the midwife we’d been seeing happened to be there. She told the staff that although contractions weren’t quite at their required rate yet making us go all the way home and then come all the way back in with daft, especially with B’s anxiety.
B tried another bath for pain in the room we’d been put in, but ended up having pethadin so that she could get try and get some sleep, she managed to get about an hour and a half in. Labour then continued to ramp up throughout the day and we gradually tried various things to try and alleviate it as best we could for B including a dip in the birthing pool and breathing some gas and air. At this point I thought I best let everyone know what was going on. To save having to make endless phone calls we simply put it up on Facebook and sent texts to parents.
Baby is on it’s way, been in hospital since 5am. Going to be a while, but everything happening that should. B is currently playing in the birthpool.– My Facebook Post –
As the day and night went on, we ended up keeping everyone kind of up to date in Facebook posts. This was only to avoid sending individual messages to all the people who wanted to be kept up to date. Between us B and I have got 3 sets of parents and 4 sisters before we even get into cousins and friends etc!
Update: B out of pool, wasn’t good enough for large contraction. Now eating cake!– My Facebook Post –
Poor B, having strong contractions lasting 2 mins! Not a happy bunny! All your good wishes are very much appreciated by her.– My Facebook Post –
Morning all! All is good, very good progress through the night, not long to go now.– My Facebook Post –
B finally ended up getting an epidural at around 8 in the evening, by which time she was really getting ridiculously tired. The guy that came to administer the epidural was asking B questions as he was working, but she was kind of out if it by that point. He even asked her if she rode horses as her back muscles were fairly tough which she used to do years ago. The epidural did allow B to have another dozey / sleepy few hours which were greatly needed by this point.
Neither of us had really slept properly now since Tuesday, and it was early Friday morning. The maternity unit had let me stay and sleep on the other bed in B’s room as they could tell that she needed the support, and I think the midwife had told them that it would be beneficial. This was great, but to be honest I’m rubbish at getting to sleep at the best of times and having people wondering past outside, or checking in on B every couple of hours meant I wasn’t particularly well rested. I didn’t have a change of clothes either, so I think I was starting to get a little ripe too… but I figured that they’re all midwives / nurses / doctors and have very likely seen worse! Technically my only food would’ve been sandwiches as I could only really wonder around the hospital. Mind you, generally B didn’t like anything on the menu she was being fed from… but I did! So she would order something I fancied, I’d eat that, and she would eat the sarnies I’d brought! However, there is a little kitchen within the maternity unit so I spent an awful lot of time in there making tea and fighting with their very old looking four slice toaster. The sort of appliance that was made back when things could be repaired, and to the NHS’s credit it looked like it had been repaired since the people using it were born themselves! I would share glances with all the other very tired looking mums and dads who were in there, most of whom also looked fairly/completely confused and our of their depth!
Actual ‘pushing’ started at around 11am when we then had midwifes, nurses and trainees around. B was still completely knackered when she was having to push, so we came up with a plan for her to nap between contractions/pushes. This idea amused the midwives who didn’t really think it would work. However, napping is B’s superpower! So we tried 10 minute nap breaks to recover from each pushing session… this actually worked really well and B’s post break pushes we’re very impressive! This got the midwives all excited as they could tell she was doing really well in moving him along. Over two hours of pushing later it was decided she needed a little bit of help, which came in the form of forceps. Baby X popped out at about 2 o’clock much to everyone’s relief. He had brief skin to skin cuddles with B when he first came out, but she was loosing lots of blood due to a necessary cut and her blood pressure completely plummeted. Therefore they handed him to me for skin to skin cuddles when they made sure B was going to be OK. It was really actually quite scary to see how much blood had appeared all over the floor, it was like something out of a horror film… but it was real, and it was my wife!
At this point we should’ve told everyone what was going on, but I was talking time to have my first cuddles. We then ended up remaining “radio silent” for quite a while longer whilst my Facebook and text messages were fast filling up with everyone asking what was going on… the following was what was going on!
I was having a nice cuddle with X with him grumbling/crying every so often. I remember he was really warm, and a little bit slimy if I’m honest, but still very nice. About 45 mins later after most people had left the room and they’d cleaned B ( and the floor ) a trainee midwife came over to take X to be properly cleaned and weighed. As she picked him up he was all floppy and all the colour had gone out of him, he was grey! The midwife scooped him up, ran across the room with him, pressed the very scary emergency button, put him on the resuscitaire and called for more help from outside! It then seemed that the entire maternity department were then in the room within seconds. They were either dealing with X or trying to talk to us to keep us calm. It is easily one of the scariest things I think I’ve ever been through and I could literally do nothing to help at all!
Apparently he responded straight away as he was put on the resuscitaire and was moving again, but from out point of view it felt like hours until we heard him cry again. After some time being monitored in the room he was then taken to the special care baby unit across the hall to be checked out and monitored. He was put on a course of antibiotics just in case it was caused by an infection. They were very happy with him very early and he didn’t require any breathing assistance. Lots of the other staff congratulated the trainee midwife for handling everything so well on her own, she really was amazing.
At this point we were able to bring ourselves back together enough to ring our parents and let them know what was going on. I couldn’t actually get the words out to tell them, so B had to take over and tell my parents what had happened. We were also able to update everyone else with what had been going on and tell them all that X had been born and was now doing well, albeit in SCBU. We got lots of really nice congratulation messages but the stand out one was from my line manager who of course had discussed with me beforehand regarding paternity leave etc. and who I’d telephoned on the Wednesday to let know that contractions had started! He’d figured out that my paternity leave would now technically start on the following Monday which would completely wipe out the rest of the month!
Friday afternoon huh? Well played sir, well played indeed 🙂 see you in April– My manager’s Facebook Post –
We then spent another two days in hospital with me camping in B’s room and X across the hall in the SCBU being very well looked after. He had a feeding tube up his nose as they wanted to ensure he was getting enough food and tubes strapped to his hand with bandages to allow medication to be administered etc. They allowed me across to see him almost whenever I wanted. He even seemed to recognise my voice as whenever I went over to ask how he was doing he would start crying!
I’ll let you read the next few updates as I wrote them as the time on Facebook. You can almost tell how tired I was at this point by the mistakes that were in the Facebook posts!
X’s birth was, to say the least extremely tiring!
Thanks to you all. B about to have a blood transfusion so hopefully she will feel better after that. We are now able to start some normal parent things and have fed, changed his closes and changed his nappy.– My Facebook Post (Day after birth) –
X spent his first night in our room last night! He came in about 10PM and has been here since.– My Facebook Post (Day after birth) –
We’re home! All three of us have left the hospital. B and X both have clean bills of health, B does have quiet a few pills to take! X looks much better without his nose tube and “flipper”. (R very excited to meet her little brother… lots of supervised sniffing and finger licking.)– My Facebook Post (3 days after birth) –
It took B a long time to recover from her blood loss, general exhaustion and complications following the birth which meant I had to do a lot more than average for the first couple of weeks. But to be honest, B and I have always done things “our own way”, so why would having a baby be any different.
Update: I’ve just remembered (Been reminded by B) that throughout all of this I had quite a painful shoulder which wasn’t helped by lack of sleep, uncomfortable bed etc. At one point one of the midwives asked if I needed anything, so I asked for painkillers for my back thinking it wouldn’t be possible. Later that day she arrived with a pack of ibuprofen which it seems she’d gone a brought personally for me! Based on the looks I was given later by two midwives who were with us in the middle of B’s fantastic pushing session mid labour, I’m not sure they didn’t quite get the gag when I said “My shoulder still hurts, you won’t understand how much pain I’m in at the moment!”.