We’ve always said we would just stick with the one child, it’s been a really hard few years and X’s birth was quite an experience! So obviously, we’ve now just had another baby!
We were sat in the kitchen and B was upset and we were talking about how hard things have been and I just said out of the blue “I would do it all again with you though.” and B replied “Really, you’d have another baby with me?”… and things just kind of went on from there. We’d both been convinced that the other one didn’t want any more because of how hard things have been.
Sadly, although we then got pregnant fairly quickly we had a miscarriage at 5 weeks, it knocked us quite a bit but we decided we wouldn’t let it bring us down as it simply meant that baby wasn’t meant to be. Typically, we’d only told our parents and X about being B pregnant the day before the miscarriage so it was then hard as we had to ring them and tell them the sad news. We also had to try and explain to X that there wasn’t a baby in mummy’s tummy any more. I think we actually told him we’d made a mistake and there wasn’t a baby in there, but perhaps there will be one day.
When we were trying to generally keep the pregnancy a secret we made X promise he wouldn’t tell anyone else. We’d actually managed to make him tell our parents (And he told my sister too) which was nice for everyone. However, in our trip to Tesco’s on the way home he decided to announce fairly loudly to the person serving us “There is a baby in mummy’s tummy!”, this is why we don’t let him see the present we buy people on his behalf!
When we passed 12 weeks we let everybody else know we were expecting another. People were happy for us, but they were worried for us too, its been a hard few years and obviously babies aren’t easy. They probably thought we’d gone completely mad, which to be honest we have considered ourselves! I think they were reassured when we told them we’d thought it through and that B’s mental health team and the new perinatal mental health team were fully supporting us. We’re not under the impression it’s going to be easy, and we’ve got many things to consider especially B’s mental health, and my mental health too! But we didn’t want 20 years to go past and then realise we regretted not living out lives and just being an “Ill person” and a “Carer”.
Once we’d told everyone, we all genuinely thought that this time the baby would come out early. We had 30 guesses of birth date from family and only one person actually guessed one which hadn’t passed when baby came out! It’s not that things were getting boring at home in LockDown, but here is a graph of the number of guesses for each date.
As I said, B’s mental health team were very supportive of us trying for another baby and with their help once B was pregnant she was handed over to the new Perinatal Mental Health Team. They have been absolutely amazing, they specialise in looking after women before, during and after birth who have mental health issues or have had mental health issues previously. They were visiting her at home, started some occupational therapy with her helping her find things to occupy her mind during the day and even made sure I was doing okay. However, lockdown put a stop to the home visits which was a bit of a blow to be honest. They have continued to contact her via email, and by phone too. They have offered video calls, but they make B fairly uncomfortable so phone calls using speakerphone so that I can help from this end have been used instead. They helped us get questions asked about the birth and what could be done to help things happen differently to X’s birth but also what would help in terms of B’s anxiety.
When we’re on the subject we certainly didn’t plan on having a baby during a global pandemic, I mean what are the odds! We did say it would be nice to have some time alone just after the birth to bond with the baby but I swear we didn’t wish for lockdown! It was worrying enough thinking about B getting Covid-19 when pregnant or the baby getting it once born but it just throw lots of things at us to make things a little more stressful. I managed to get lucky and was able to attend both our 12 and 20 week scans as they happened before lockdown. However, once lockdown started I wasn’t even allowed into midwife appointments. B found this quite difficult, but the location of the midwife appointments made it such that I could watch her walk the 10-20 meters through the car park into the building, and she was met as soon as she got through the door. We had four lockdown midwife appointments and all but one of them resulted in a followup trip to the hospital to investigate something unusual with a scan or some fetal heartbeat monitoring. I have to admit it was quite scary when B came out of an appointment and said we had to drive to the hospital and get things checked out! For each one I just had to sit in the hospital car park and wait to know what was going on, I felt as useful as a chocolate teapot!
At our final midwife appointment which took place 5 days after the due date I parked in the car park, reassured B that she would be fine going in on her own and settled down with X in the car. We kind of had a routine now of just playing on the Switch and watching streaming TV on my phone, I’ve never used so much data as during the end of this pregnancy! She was a little longer than I expected her to be and when she came out she was a little flushed. “Sorry, we’ve got to go to the hospital again. Not right now, they said at 6pm” (It was about 4pm). On measuring the bump they calculated that there hadn’t been enough growth since the last measurement a few weeks ago and coupled with movements being a little less than usual they thought we should get checked out and warned B that “They might induce… they probably wont… but they might”.
So, we made a plan to take X off to my parents as this is where he was going during the birth anyway. I also thought it would be wise to load our bags into the car as I just had a feeling it would be a good idea! B managed to eat something and I stuffed an apple pie into my mouth when walking X down the road. We had all the usual things in the hospital bag, but also 48 hours worth of extra nappies and formula for after the birth as they wanted to observe baby because of the medication B is taking. We also had a load of food for me as the lockdown rules were that birth partners could attend the birth and then stay for just 24 hours and then would have to leave the building. On top of that, they weren’t allowed to leave the unit and go back within that time. B’s mental health team and her midwife however did talk to the hospital and arrange for me to have permission to be able to stay for 48 hours instead of 24. They understood that the stress of being in on her own would be a really bad idea and risky for both her and the baby. We are so thankful to them for sorting this out, it made the world of difference knowing I would be able to stay with her.
So, we set off for the hospital almost convinced that we would be back home later that evening. B had to go into the day assessment unit, into which we knew I wouldn’t be allowed to go, but I was allowed to walk her up to the waiting area just outside and wait with her there. It was massively busy that evening, we were waiting outside for about an hour and a half together with two other pregnant women who were due to go in before us. They finally came out to get B, I took the opportunity to go the toilet then went back down to the car park to sit in the car. I’d managed to watch quite a bit of X-Men Apocolypse and scoff a steak slice when B sent me a message:
B sent at 20:19 :- Hi all ok. Heart rate great. Just waiting for dr. Midwife seems v happy. Loves u
I replied at 20:20 :- Hey cool, brilliant. Hopefully Dr won’t be long. Loves you XXXXXX
Then B sent at 20:42 :- Ummm we might not be going home. The dr wants us on labour ward. She will make sure you can stay but they need to see if there is space.
As you can see, things suddenly changed over the course of 22 minutes and suddenly things were happening. Happily it would seem that after reading B’s notes the Dr who thought it would be a good idea to induce had decided it would be a good idea for me to be there through the whole thing. The official rules were that partners couldn’t come in and wait through an induction, they would just be called in at the end. Again, amazing understanding by people who could see that B would be much better off, and therefore less work for them, if I was with her. Thank you!
So, I turned off the film I had been watching on my phone and loaded myself up with all our luggage and wandered in past a funky pencil sculpture, its amazing how much space nappies and maternity pads take up! I know what you’re all thinking, but don’t worry I’d seen it before so it didn’t ruin the ending! I was escorted into maternity and through to the room B was in by a midwife who said I should try and stay in the room as much as I could as obviously the fact I was there was unusual. I had no problem with that as long as I could stay with B I would just stay in there all the time, it was made easier by being a private en-suite room.
When I arrived in the room B was already hooked up and they were monitoring baby’s heartbeat. Even though B was sent to hospital because Baby had not moved much that week as soon as they started monitoring he started moving so much during the first evening that they wanted to give B something to calm him down. It just shows that even before being born, they were starting to be awkward!
Because of all the things that happened when X was born, in order to allow B to receive antibiotics, potentially later drugs to aid induction and additionally to be ready for potential bleeding, B was fitted with a cannula. Unfortunately, the first attempt didn’t go well at all, in fact to quote B it was “shit”. It eventually went into the back of her hand after lots of messing about, but when the person who fitted it had left B told me it was really hurting, and she could barely move her hand. As soon as another midwife who’d been looking after us appeared we passed this on to her. She immediately said they would get an anaesthetist over to try again and removed the existing one. B’s hand was completely bruised and knackered by that point and they’d taken blood from the other so that was really bruised too. In the end the anaesthetist put it into the inside of her elbow and B barely felt it. The site of the original one in her hand though meant she couldn’t use her arm for a good 24 hours. I was hopeful it would mean she wouldn’t be able to punch me if I said something stupid during labour!
All the midwives and doctors in the hospital had to wear PPE but they all still managed to be fantastic. The PPE rules meant that before entering our room they had to put on a fresh new apron and gloves. Then on leaving these would be binned and they would wash and gel their hands! One of them was completely mental (In a good way) and sat with B whilst I went to sort out the car (For which I needed special permission from the head of the unit!) and sorted out the birth plan with her. She reassured B that problems that happened last time with X were unlikely to happen with the antibiotics she was going to be given. It seemed to be a constant pleasant surprise to all of them that we didn’t know what the gender was going to be it would seem that the norm nowadays is to find out as early as possible. We’re obviously ‘old school’ and wanted one more surprise at the end!
They finally decided to induce early on the Saturday morning as B was starting to have little contractions but didn’t try and force anything with a drip yet as they just wanted to see how things went. They would then decide when to break her waters to fit in with the rest of the unit and how other women were progressing. Things didn’t really move quickly at this point, to the extent we were quite bored and getting quite tired as we hadn’t slept on the Friday night. There followed lots more being monitoring and waiting. This was partly because the whole ward mas massively busy, we found after that the night we went in they suddenly had 6 women come in to give birth. This meant they didn’t want to rush things too soon and stitch themselves up.
A midwife fetched breakfast for us that day and offered to get me a cup of tea, which was very much appreciated. It then came up that they were going to ensure I was fed, they literally gave me a meal card as if I was a patient. It really meant a lot, they said because I wasn’t allowed to leave the unit and I was there in order to support B they thought it was only fair that I was ‘looked after’ too!
We then spent most of Saturday with B and baby being monitored and with B hooked up to our rented TENS machine (Cheaper than buying!) and bouncing on a birthing ball. We reached Saturday evening with B’s contractions getting stronger and they decided to break B’s waters after moving her over to the other bed so that she could start using gas & air. I then sent this message to out parents:
“They’ve just broken B’s waters. Next step, epidural. Followed hopefully by her (and me) getting a bit of sleep.”
I would turn out I was being extremely overly optimistic!
Just before the anaesthetist arrived to put the epidural in place B insisted on cleaning her teeth, however the movement means she then trailed waters/blood everywhere around the bed, the room and the en-suite. It’s a good job I’m not squeamish! B and I said to the midwifes we would just do what we did last time and she would sit facing me breathing gas and air and just look at me when they messed around with her back. So we got all set up on the other bed, got her sorted and sat up properly. The anaesthetist had serious PPE on because she also has to be completely sterile because of what they’re doing to B’s back. She spent a long time trying to find the right spot for the epidural, at least 30 minutes, but it just didn’t want to work. She was able to get it in once, but some blood come out which meant a vein had been caught so it wasn’t right. They then decided to get the head anaesthetist in to see if she could see what was going on and give B (and me) a break! She tried for quite a while to find a good site for the needle too, explaining things as she went. However, when she injected the needle B would feel every bit of it inside her and would shout and wince with pain. All of this was taking place when B was starting to get lots of pain from her contractions and was starting to say things like “I can’t do this” and “Knock me out” or “Please kill me”, I was a bit scared at this point as I was worried all this would trigger her psychosis! In the end they had to abandon the epidural as they couldn’t tell why B was getting pain even though her back was numbed.
This left us being told we had to decide what to do next (Yay a decision!): Try and have a complete spinal block and a C-Section, but that carried extra risk as they didn’t know why the epidural was causing pain or look into pethadin and carry on. A C-Section under a general anaesthetic was out because due to covid-19 they were not performing elective general anaesthetic C-Sections. Either way they wanted to examine B to see how she was doing as at this point she was in a lot of pain and kept telling everyone she wasn’t going to cope.
They did the examination and as it turns out she was 7cm dilated. At this point the midwife said B was a “Legend”, there B was saying she couldn’t handle pain and was pretty much at the end of the whole thing on only gas and air. It seems we had completely avoided having to make the decision, B’s body was making it for us! They’d started bringing various things into the room such as the resuscitaire etc. so they were clearly expecting things to happen. Both of the anaesthetists were back in the room now too, so I think they’d stayed as extra hands. At this point they did bring some oramorph which B drank, but it didn’t have a chance to kick in as she suddenly said she needed to push! Actually she said she really needed to have a poo. They told her to just listen to what her body was doing and go with it, and within just 5 pushes baby appeared! It was completely surreal to be honest, it was just all of a sudden B was giving birth! The midwives said that B did it all amazingly and were impressed that although she said the whole time we were in hospital that she couldn’t handle pain she’d done it all on just gas and air. They also said she had brilliant control when pushing! We found out afterwards that B was in actual “active” labour for about 2 hours 40 something mins (most of it trying to sit still on the side of the bed with someone poking her spine) and was actually only pushing for about 8 minutes!
We’ve named him Marty, after the main character from Back to the Future!
When M popped out the midwife had to ring the emergency bell as he wasn’t breathing very well so that scared us a bit because of what happened with X, however he started breathing better just as other midwifes appeared in the room so they didn’t need to do anything. B then had a quick cuddle and then he came to me for some skin to skin, we had our new baby!
Once we were settled we managed to have some breakfast (Very kindly fetched again by a midwife), M came out at 3:20 on the Sunday morning, so we didn’t have a “night” and just transitioned straight into breakfast! We then took a trip round the corridor to the post natal ward. The midwives wheeled B down on the bed as although she could actually get up and move about she was obviously shattered. I followed behind with our wheeled suitcase and M in his little wheeled hospital cot. All the midwifes and other members of staff continued to be brilliant, bringing me cups of tea and making sure we were all okay, it’s better than a Travel Lodge! There were also more comfortable beds although given that M was really clingy we couldn’t really take full advantage of them. Apparently at one point when I was trying to have a little sleep I woke up when B was giving M a cuddle and I said “Is everyone okay?” B replied “He being really difficult and clingy, I’ve changed him and I think he’s hungry!” She’d not managed a feed yet but I was obviously completely out of it and just said “Oh.” and promptly fell back asleep, sorry B!
Other than being quite clingy M was doing really well, we had a lot of checks taking place on him as they wanted to ensure that he wasn’t affected by B’s medication. They also wanted to make sure he didn’t have any infections as X had had a serious one when he was born which was probably what caused him to briefly stop breathing. The little knitted hat they originally gave M was too small as they didn’t have many left in their supply, once they found him a replacement it was far too big for him and combined with his little round face ended up making him look like a little gnome!
When it came time to leave we weren’t really sure what to do, we didn’t know if we had to tell them we were ready to leave or if they would just appear and get things underway. Eventually we got brave and rang the buzzer, another kind midwife appeared and said they were just getting sorted out and we would be able to leave soon. She very kindly stayed with B and walked her out when I got the car sorted so that she didn’t have to be on her own.
We ended up being in hospital from the Friday night until around Tuesday lunchtime which given we were induced and compared to X wasn’t that long at all. Then we were able to go home, see X and R and start getting used to our now slightly larger family.
I just want to say thank you to all the midwifes, Doctors and other members of hospital staff at Dorset County Hospital Maternity Unit who excelled themselves in making B and I feel very welcome and comfortable.