Born right out of my time

The passing of time is a strange thing. On Friday, I drew a star on my tummybump to herald my starchild... and then my waters broke. During labour I drew a star on my tummybump to encourage his arrival (voodoo?), and now that he's here, every night I trace a star on his forehead with my finger and kiss him goodnight.

He's here, he's early and we've been in St James' Hospital for over a week now, with at least another week to go before we're allowed home to start life as a family of three. So for now, here's how it happened.

Dear Starchild,

It’s 8:15pm on 22nd February earlier this evening at 6:15pm, your Daddy and I were in the kitchen putting the finishing touches to our dinner. It’s a new recipe that I dreamed up (I do that) for Everything Goes With Toast - linguine smothered in avocado, lemon and coriander roast courgette and a bit of parmigiano.

No sooner had I dolloped it onto our plates, I felt a trickle of warm liquid run down my thighs and into my rainbow socks. “What is the point in constant pelvic floor exercises? Damnit Darren I just wet myself!” I exclaimed and left your Daddy to plate up dinner whilst I changed my pyjamas from stripes to spots.

“Weird,” I thought “I only had a wee 10 minutes ago...” I came downstairs, took a picture of dinner for the food blog recipe and as we were planning on eating in front of a movie, took my plate through to the living room and sat on the sofa. No sooner had my bum touched the leather, it happened again - another gush of water.

“Not again!!” I yelled and ran back upstairs to change my pyjamas again. This time I had barely got down the stairs when a huge gush came out so I doubled back and sat on the loo until it had finished trickling. “It’s not wee!” I called down to Daddy as we realised it was my waters breaking. Daddy kissed me and thoughtfully brought my pasta up to me. Yes sweetheart, you reduced me to eating pasta on the loo. I am THAT pregnant person.

It was trickling out in a steady stream, completely clear with no blood or mucus so Daddy called the Maternity Assessment Unit and they told us to come in. You see originally you were due on the 19th March but because we got Gestational Diabetes we were booked in to have you induced on 11th March. 11th March is a special date because David Bowie’s new album is being released and it’s been 10 whole years since his last album. We’re naming you after him you know. Michael after my Daddy, your Grandad, and David after David Bowie. Michael David Mease will be your name but we call you Mikey or Starchild. So technically, you’re a month early - I’m only 36 weeks and 3 days pregnant!

Daddy and I have been practising hypnobirthing which is all about being calm and fearless and using visualisation, breathing techniques and light touch massage to breeze through the contractions and breathe you gently out. So that’s the plan OK?

We’re at the hospital now and I’m strapped to a monitor listening to your heartbeat. I have a button to press every time you move which is quite often. Your heartbeat is strong and happy and Daddy and I have been laughing and talking and are really excited to meet you.

It’s 2:42am on 23rd February and I’m really struggling to sleep. The hospital is so loud - nurses talking, phones ringing, doors slamming, machines beeping, trolleys being wheeled round, lights going on and off. I slept for maybe an hour but what I really want is fresh orange juice and to walk around and get things moving. There are no signs of any surges yet and my waters are clear - no bloody mucus - so we’re PPROM. I wish your Daddy was here to help me get the oxytocin flowing. Soon the nurse will be back to put the monitor on my stomach again so there’s no point in trying to sleep really, though I’d love to!

It’s 6:52am on 23rd February. Well little man we did it! The nurse just confirmed our first surge (contraction) so we’re on our way to delivering you. It’s a little over an hour until Daddy is allowed back on the ward. He’s bringing me orange juice and bananas and my razor and deoderant (I did shave everywhere yesterday but I don’t expect you’ll arrive THAT quickly - I need to focus on getting you out safely, not be distracted by what your Uncle Josh calls “crumply armpits”) and fresh knickers because you little man have soaked through 10 pads the size of sofa cushions. I know that they said on Thursday that we had a lot of fluid but goodness me! My stomach is already deflated. Goodness knows what it will look like when you and all the water is out!

It’s 7:50am on 23rd February and I’ve been bouncing on a birthing ball and walking around the ward, stretching and keeping active. It’s been wonderful to have no SPD pain for the last day or two so I’m making the most of having this range of movement and trying to get your head pushing down and these surges going properly.

It’s 12:07 on 23rd February and I have nothing much to report. You’re doing fine on the monitor and so am I. Daddy brought me a fabulous brunch from The Greedy Pig (you’ll enjoy this on Saturday mornings with us when you’re out - what an incentive to emerge!) after he’d made a few preparations at home like washing the sheets for your moses basket and getting the camera charged. Then I had a bath, washed my hair, moisturised and got back on the birthing ball for more bouncing because I’ve been told if I don’t start having proper contractions and progress to labour then you’re going to be induced at 6:15pm. So we have about 6 more hours to do this naturally. Come on pudding - let’s show them! We have a chance to have the natural birth we wanted, and not have to face the Induction of Doom.

It’s 2:20pm on 23rd February and aside from a few mild contractions and more flud trickling out, nothing is happening. Daddy and I have been exploring LGI - going on long walks around the old part and to check out the art and the treasure hunt. We found chickens. CHICKENS!

I’ve had a bit of pressure in my cervix but despite climbing All The Stairs for hours and hours, we’re still at base camp.

It’s 6:00pm on 23rd February and we have been transferred to St James’ Hospital as there were no beds in the Neonatal Unit at LGI which you may need because you’re early. They did an exam and my cervix was completely closed so we’re definitely being induced.
We had wanted to go out for a spicy curry to see if that stimulated my bowels, and then of course kicked off labour but The Aagrah doesn’t open until 5:30 and they recommended that we didn’t have a big meal before the induction as it might make me sick, and if anything goes wrong and I need a C-Section to get you out quickly then it’s better not to have a full stomach, just something small.
I have a cannula in my left hand for the oxytocin drip which will bring on the contractions after they turn it on at 6:15. We are in a dimly lit room so you can be born in a calm, soothing environment (the light is lavender coloured, how perfect!) and they’ve found me a wireless monitor so that I can change positions whilst they monitor you - sadly I’m not allowed to be off the monitor for even a minute so there’s no chance of having a bath or sitting in the shower to get me through the contractions. I know they’re going to be intense because they’re artificial but I’m not afraid, I know that I can cope. Part of me thinks that I shouldn’t have tried so hard to bring on labour naturally, because I could have slept and been rested in preparation for labour - I’ve had no more than 3 hours sleep in the past 2 days...

It’s 6:55pm on 23rd February and my blood sugar came back at 8.1 which is unusually high. I explained that it will be - all there was to eat at The Hospital was a pannini in Costa Coffee - so white bread is not very GI friendly! THIS is why I make all my own food or eat at lovely local places, not nasty chains!

They wanted to put me on an insulin drip but I asked them to wait an hour and test my sugars again, I have no intention of having a cannula in both hands - how can Darren stroke my hands, hold my hands, how can I grip a bed to hold myself up etc? It’s bad enough having one hand incapacitated!
So far I’m hooked up to 1ml/hour of Oxytocin.

7:15pm 2ml/hour of Oxytocin
7:45pm 4ml/hour of Oxytocin
8:15pm 8ml/hour of Oxytocin - Tingly cervix!!
9:00pm 12ml/hour of Oxytocin
9:30pm 16ml/hour of Oxytocin

It’s 9:30pm on 23rd February and my surges are starting to intensify and regulate. I’m feeling some pressure in my cervix and tightening across my back but I’m completely comfortable.

It’s 10:30pm on 23rd February and I had a really strong surge, felt a popping and waddled to the loo to find that my mucus plug has gone - quite a bit of blood came out, and then I needed a poo too because of the pressure. Everything is progressing nicely.

11:15pm 20ml/hour of Oxytocin

It’s 12pm on 24th February and I have vomited twice so they’ve given me an anti-emetic. The surges have been a lot more intense for the last hour but I’m breathing through them well.

It’s 2:35am on 24th February and I’ve been in labour for 7:15 hours. The surges are really, really intense. For hours and hours I’ve been sat on the birthing ball breathing through them and Darren has been doing light touch massage on my lower back for the duration of each one which I would recommend to anyone. We have a good routine going. As soon as he hears my breathing change or sees the surge ramping up on the monitor he leans forward to stroke my back, then stops when it passes. It’s repetitive but I find that soothing. Every so often I can sense him tensing and panicking because he knows that it’s painful but he’s been wonderful at not letting it show and he’s so patient if I snap a little occasionally because he’s not got me a sip of water fast enough when I feel sick.

The problem is that I haven’t slept for more than 3 hours in 3 days now and in between the surges I’m nodding off and then being woken up 30 seconds later by another one. It has got to the point where I am beyond exhausted and can’t hold up my own body weight on the birthing ball, which is the only comfortable place for me to be during contractions. They weren’t going to check how dilated I was for another hour, but as I am so exhausted they checked me early. Because I am only 3-4 centimeters dilated and have hours of more surges ahead of me, we decided to have a low epidural so that I can sleep for a couple of hours, and then be mobile again by the time I’m fully dilated and ready to push.

It’s 4:20am on 24th February and I am fully dilated! Unfortunately because I have been ridiculously and obscenely sick (despite the anti-emetic I have filled 10 kidney dishes so far!) which I think is a combination of the anaesthetic, the sliding scale of insulin they put me on (my blood sugar kept getting higher weirdly despite my not having eaten and despite my being violently sick!) and the fact that I’ve been slightly reclined on the bed so that I could sleep) they missed that I was fully dilated. I told them that during the last few surges I felt a lot of downward pressure and have had to work really hard not to push, but it was dismissed.


It’s 6:45 on 24th February and I am finally allowed to start pushing. There’s a Foulds clip on your head to monitor you as they’re not picking up your heart rate properly. After getting some sleep, I’m coping well with the surges and pushing is easy. The down breathing from Hypnobirthing wasn’t working for me - I don’t really have the luxury of gently breathing you out, they are only allowing me to try for an hour before they threaten a C-Section so I have been using Kelly (my lovely midwife)’s technique of holding my breath whilst I push. I’m making sure to keep my tongue resting softly on my palate and not tucking in my neck so the sphincter law isn’t being violated!

It’s 7:45 on 24th February and they think you are facing upward. They let me have an hour of pushing you down the birth canal and out out of my cervix but unfortunately I'd just started to make progress when the hour was up and they said they couldn't take the risk that you were going to get out easily so now they’re going to rush me into theatre for a forceps delivery. Daddy looks very cute in his scrubs and I am a hot mes because unfortunately they gave me so much epidural that I am completely paralysed. They flobbed my legs into stirrups and I could barely lift my head to speak let alone lift myself from my bed onto the operating table. It took 4 of them to lift me over because they couldn't keep me stable.
I feel completely helpless because I’m not in control of my body, but Daddy is hovering somewhere behind my head so I feel safe and calm. He's remained at the head end as promised.

It’s 8:56 on 24th February and I just gave birth to you!! You weren't facing upwards at all, you were exactly where you needed to be. They gave me an episiotomy and got you out with special forceps - I gave one push and got you right out - told them you were right there and ready!

As soon as all the fluids they pumped me full of (and therefore bloated you out with) had passed you became this teeny tiny fragile looking thing.

Unfortunately they couldn’t wait for the cord to stop pulsing before cutting it and I didn’t get any skin to skin time after birth. You was wrapped in a towel and given to Daddy for a cuddle and a pic and then they took you off for lots of checks and tests. You were completely fine though. You weighed 6lb5oz though I don’t know your agpar score because I was a bit out of it. My blood sugar was mental and they were worried about my reaction. Daddy says he accidentally saw them deliver the placenta and was struggling to keep his face neutral and happy for me whilst inside screaming "OH MY FUCKING GOD HER LIVER JUST FELL OUT OF HER VAGINA! WHERE ARE THEY TAKING HER LIVER! OH NO!!!"

Alison, the midwife that came on when Katie came off was also lovely and brought you in to me for some skin to skin time and to try to establish breastfeeding before they took you off again. She thought at the time you’d drawn a bit of colostrum but now I’m not so sure because all day Monday I had soft, empty breasts. They moved me to the Transitional Wing and for the first day I barely saw you because they were monitoring you, giving him special formula through a nose tube to get you sugar regulated and trying to get your temperature regulated too.

You're a star though, very healthy and happy and SO calm. Gill and Jane (the lovely ladies who ran our hypnobirthing course at Headingley Heart Centre) were right about hypnobirthing babies being chilled.

You barely cry, just sleep or gaze at me. You're a real flirt with the nurses too - everyone is in love with you!

On the day you were born, Daddy went home to pick up a few things for us to have on the Trans ward overnight, but then called me crying to tell me he had diarrhoea and obviously wouldn't be allowed on the ward untul 48 hours had passed following his last attack of it. We didn't see him again until Thursday and he is the bravest man I have ever met for coping for 4 days being separated from his wife and brand new child. The day you, Daddy and I were reunited was FANTASTIC - that was the day my milk came in properly and you started feeding.
Despite all the drama of you coming early and the unfortunate induction, I feel completely positive about the birth. Despite it not being the way I wanted to happen, it was still a truly empowering experience that brought you into my life. Who wouldn't melt looking down at your little face?

So for now, we're still in hospital. Your feeding tubes are out and we've established breastfeeding (a challenge with a premature, jaundiced baby on a Transitional wing when you have OCD but never let anyone tell you I don't rise to a challenge!) - now we're waiting out your jaundice treatment (you look like a little Disco Baby in your ultraviolet box!) before we can take you home.

Ziggy played guitarrrrrraaaaarrrrraaaarrrrrr.
Title: Thursday's Child by David Bowie


Ellen said...

What a wonderful post. So pleased for all three of you. It's such a small world but one of the midwives who taught you hypnobirthing was my best friend at school, Jane Gavin. She was lovely then and I imagine she is a great midwife. So there you go! Good luck to you all, you deserve all the happiness in the world xx