Two weeks ago yesterday, on Sunday 13th May at 17:27pm, I gave birth to Ollie Harrrison, weighing 8lb 9oz.
I have been updating my blog’s Facebook and Instagram accounts ever since but I needed to explain the full story on here, for my followers that don’t follow my other social media accounts, but also for my own mental health recovery. Documenting exactly what I remember whilst it is reasonably fresh in my mind will act as therapy. A step towards closure on the event.
It all started on my due date, Thursday 10th May.
I had my 40 week appointment with the midwife at 2pm. Dave came with me. All the usual checks were done, Ollie was measuring 41cm (fundal height) and still in the perfect position for birth. She performed another stretch and sweep (previous one done on my 39 week appointment was unsuccessful) to see if things would get moving again. But my swelling was really bad (it was warm that day though) and my blood pressure was on the rise again. But there were no other symptoms and still no protein in my urine.
My midwife was concerned so rang the assessment unit for advice. They said just to keep an eye on my blood pressure (it wasn’t THAT bad but borderline again) and just take it easy and continue with twice weekly blood pressure monitoring at home until I gave birth. Obviously if anything was to change l was to ring the unit myself.
Dave and I left. Leaving the doctor’s rooms I saw the weighing scales. I was curious to know my end of pregnancy/start of weight loss weight. They weighed me at the unit at 38+6 when I had to repeat my GTT again because another growth scan showed Ollie was measuring on the 95th centile (as always) and there was a lot of fluid so they wanted to double check that I hadn’t developed gestational diabetes since I last had the test done at 25 weeks (both were negative). I was horrified at my weight gain at that appointment (I hadn’t been weighed since my booking in appointment at the end of September and I didn’t want to know anyway) but when I stepped on the scales at the doctor’s I saw I had gained a stone in 8 days. I didn’t realise this at the time as the scales were in kg and I had to do some conversions so I just mentally noted my weight and left.
Dave went home and I went to my parents’ house. It was around 3pm by now. I wanted to walk around their garden (it’s quite large – 100 paces to do a full rotation around the perimeter) whilst listening to my labour playlist to see if I could get things moving. I’d abandoned my crutches. I just wanted to power walk Ollie out! I was DONE.
In retrospect, I don’t think I should have done that. The heat, the mild exercise, the swelling… but I did keep hydrated 😏
After about 30 minutes of walking with regular rests I decided to stop. I left my parents at about 5pm and headed home. It was when I got home that I worked out that I’d gained a stone in a week. I knew a side-effect of pre-eclampsia was sudden weight gain so this alarmed me. Then I noticed when I went upstairs and back down again I saw floaters in my eyes. I realised I’d seen these earlier on in the day but assumed it was from my eyes adjusting to the bright light of outdoors to going inside so I didn’t think to mention it to my midwife as a visual disturbance at my appointment that afternoon.
These two pieces of the puzzle left me unsettled. My instinct was to ring the unit, especially in light of my raised blood pressure and swelling. Dave agreed too but we decided to eat first before I rang and ordered a takeaway.
Now you may think that was a crazy decision and I should have got myself down to hospital PDQ. But actually it was the best decision I made as that was the last proper meal I had for most of 72 hours as I ended up being nil by mouth.
By the time we finished eating and I’d made sure my hospital bag was good to go, I rang the unit at 7pm. We were advised to go straight in (the weight gain didn’t concern them but my earlier raised blood pressure and floaters were the deciding red flags) and we were there by 7:30pm.
Had I known what was to follow I would have savoured leaving the house for the final time, and took one last deep breath of fresh air outside the hospital as I didn’t end up leaving it again until 6 days later on the following Wednesday.
I was shown to the same room that we were in before at 36 weeks when I had to go in for my blood pressure to be monitored. Except this time I wasn’t monitored for very long. By 10pm a doctor came and made the decision that I had to be induced that night because she was very concerned that I had the beginnings of pre-eclampsia. She wasn’t happy with my blood pressure or my severe swelling.
She explained I wasn’t able to have my preferred water birth and we – naively – thought at the time how disappointing that was but looked forward to a ‘normal’ birth. Dave and I genuinely thought we would have a baby with us by the next day.
Oh my god, I look back now and mentally punch myself in the face for being so fucking stupid. That was the beginning of everything going wrong that could go wrong. And we had no idea.
By 11:30pm I was shown to my bed on the pre-labour ward. Dave left me to sleep at home and would return in the morning.
Now the next chunk of my birth story is a bit of a blur because it all merged into endless days of monitoring. I’ll do my best to retell it chronologically from memory as I was so out of it on sleep deprivation, pain, discomfort and mental torture over the 3 days before I actually gave birth. I also came across nearly 50+ medical professionals during this time (no exaggeration) between admission and discharge from Thursday to Wednesday.
At 1:30am I was induced with a pessary called propess. This involved a midwife inserting it into my cervix (which was only about 1cm dilated anyway). It wasn’t pleasant but it was done. What wasn’t explained to me though was that it was to stay in there for at least 24 hours before checking to see if it had worked. I wish I’d known that. Throughout the next day I was disturbed on the hour every hour for blood pressure checks and a pill to combat it twice a day. In between those checks I had regular monitoring of the baby. The bed was also so FUCKING uncomfortable because it didn’t incline enough to support my lower back and laying down flat was a no no because of my size. So I got NO REST AT ALL. The only saving grace was I was in a bed next to the window.
The hospital was also a fucking sauna – did I mention that? So I was looking and feeling a sweaty mess from the start.
I had to wear those godawful and disgraceful compression stockings as I was high risk for DVT with my blood pressure and swelling. Now I have cankles at the best of times but with the swelling too I had full on elephant legs. Putting those stockings on was a two person job – and not involving me. And they HURT. And made my legs look even worse. Like one of those super obese people on mobility scooters.
Friday passed with Dave coming and going with supplies and nipping home for a shower and kip etc. Fortunately we only lived 5 miles away from the hospital. I had hospital meals during Friday but I wasn’t all that hungry to be honest. I was uncomfortable and had a limited appetite.
Friday night I decided to shower and wash my hair in the shitty communal shower. Just as well I did as I didn’t shower or wash my hair again until when I went home the following Wednesday. It was wet wipes and dry shampoo (and no make up) until then. The stockings came off for that shower. And being the fucking rebel that I am I didn’t put them on again until a midwife made me the next morning. Witch.
More monitoring, more lack of rest and sleep, more pain and discomfort from the bed. Oh and a fucking fire alarm going off for 20 minutes in the middle of the night.
At 3am Saturday morning my pessary was checked. Nothing had happened. Are you fucking kidding me?! All of that for nothing?! And THAT’S when I learned of the 24 hour break between unsuccessful inductions. Oh, and I couldn’t go home in the meantime. I wanted to spit in that midwife’s face when I was told that. It wasn’t her fault though.
I was told to take out the pessary myself at 7:30am as that would have been 30 hours since it went in, and the doctor would examine me at 10am.
So at 10am on Saturday I was introduced to Dr Patrick.
I had a love/hate relationship with Patrick over the next 20 hours. You will soon see why.
Patrick, being a man, had no idea how to shove his fingers up a woman’s fanny with grace, sensitivity to pain and some decent fucking courtesy. I was howling and squirming on the bed whilst Dave practically held me down.
Patrick, the prick, said if I couldn’t handle the pain then I better have an epidural for the birth. I told Patrick that my fanny would appreciate a more considered entrance with his hand as I was more than fine in enduring two membrane sweeps and a pessary induction because they were conducted by women with vaginas. They knew.
But then Patrick said I was dilated enough to have my waters broken after all so I could go up to the labour ward when a bed was ready, so all was forgiven between us again.
A bed was finally ready for me at 12:30pm and I had my last meal – a hospital egg mayo sandwich – and was taken up.
I was introduced to the first of many Beckys. It seems 90% of the midwives at the hospital were called Becky or else you couldn’t work there.
Dave and I thought this is nice, a lovely midwife, a private room where I’d give birth to our boy (hahahaha, yeah…) and everything would run smoothly from now on.
Dave settled down to watch our local football team’s match on Sky on his phone and at around 3pm Becky #1 attempted to break my waters.
She taught me how to sit with my legs in the open frog position, do particular breathing and muscles exercises to release tension in my vagina and in she went like a dream.
But she couldn’t break my waters as Ollie’s head wasn’t in the right position. She couldn’t be certain she wouldn’t rupture his umbilical cord so she needed assistance; someone to break my waters whilst she pushed down on my bump. And who would that person be to assist?
Fucking Patrick of course.
Patrick arrived with his idiot man fingers and told me I’d have to put my legs in stirrups. The bastard had no concern for my SPD: I was to get my legs in them, come hell or high water. Becky #1 sympathised. Patrick couldn’t give a shit. Somehow, through gritted teeth, gas and air and more swearing and tears, I managed it.
I used my teacher voice and told him to go slow this time. No rush.
Once again he raped me with his fingers as Becky #1 manipulated my bump, and I swore and shouted and screamed with the pain.
Apparently during this time Becky #1 told Patrick they should swap – he would push and she would rupture my membranes.
And guess what, as soon as they swapped roles, I didn’t cry and it worked. Litres and litres flooded out of me. I was empty. The growth scans were right – I was carrying a lot of fluid.
Patrick left, like a smug shit, and Becky #1 took care of me for the rest of the evening. She said I’d need a cannula in my hand for the hormone drip. I shouldn’t have it in my arm/elbow crease as that gets in the way of cradling a baby. Always have it done in my hand she said. She left and said Patrick would return to do but she would come back when he was to do it.
Well he returned at around 6pm and promptly started to go for the arm. I said no, do it in the hand. He quibbled. I told him straight and told Dave to find Becky and tell her Patrick was here wink wink go and fetch my rescue please. Becky #1 returned and made sure Patrick went in my hand.
Patrick butchered my hand and put the cannula in a crooked vein and I spurted blood everywhere.
Becky #1 cleaned me up and Patrick left thinking job done.
I now had my left hand out of action because it was so fucking painful. I couldn’t grip or do anything with it.
Becky #1 handed over to Becky #2 at 7:30pm. For 2 hours I was left alone to labour freely walking around the room wearing my wireless baby monitors on my bump, listening to music whilst Dave got some kip on a reclining chair ready for the long night ahead.
It was nice. Those 120 minutes were the most calm and serene out of the whole sorry 6 days. I listened to some great songs that will always take me back to that time. In fact the last song I listened to was our wedding dance song: Shania Twain From This Moment On. Even more poignant than before now.
At around 9:30pm Becky #2 hooked me up to a hormone drip that really ramped up the pain factor so I started using the gas and air. But the problem was that made me sick. So if I wasn’t contracting and sucking I was hurling up nothing but water and bile. I had no breather or escape and it bloody exhausted me!
But in over 11 years of being with Dave I had no idea that he didn’t handle sick. So each time he had to leave the room and couldn’t support me. I wasn’t pissed off with him for that but it wasn’t helpful either.
Then the wireless baby monitors stopped working because they kept slipping under my bump and losing the heartbeat. This wasn’t good for monitoring Ollie so the decision was made to put a clip on his head through my cervix which unfortunately left me bed bound.
Whilst it was necessary to do that it was agony for my back, and I couldn’t grip the bed with my left hand because of the cannula so I only had the right hand. I couldn’t use the gas and air because I kept being sick. I ended up asking for diamorphine. This meant another cannula in my other hand.
The night and morning passed in agony. Both my hands were out of action for gripping because of the IVs and my back was so hideously painful. I couldn’t do anything to ride out the contractions. I was empty of food and fluid from being sick, I couldn’t walk around. A catheter had been fitted by this point. I was exhausted.
My hormone drip kept getting ramped up but this would distress Ollie so it had to be brought back down again. I also didn’t cope with my pain relief.
Morning came and Becky #3 came on shift.
By lunchtime on Sunday I did the unthinkable – I asked for an epidural. Something I never thought I would do. But that was another horror in itself. I was warned of the risks which I had to sign my consent for. The anaesthetist also scared the shit out of me about the risk of paralysis if I moved when he was doing the procedure. It was so crucial I timed the contractions right. But I fucked it up. He started inserting the needle as I contracted and I wasn’t allowed any gas or air and I couldn’t do anything with my hands because of the cannulas. So I basically held onto Dave’s hips and told myself that if I moved I would never walk again. I thought I was going to be sick I was in that much pain.
It took over 30 minutes for it to take effect too. So I was still laid there not really able to move but still feeling all the pain. I couldn’t believe how I’d gone from the ideal no medical intervention if at all possible birth plan, to having all the pain relief available and being bed bound. The complete opposite of what I wanted. It was a fucking piss take. And I shed so many tears.
Patrick returned and checked my cervix. Although I couldn’t feel him do it I still warned him not to be a savage little shit (not quite expressed like that but I was out of it). He said I was 7cm and there was no reason why I couldn’t have a normal vaginal birth so long as I’d got to 10cm by 4 hours’ time.
Once again, all was forgiven between me and him and he went on his merry way. Not before having an awkward exchange with Becky #3 that made me feel like I was witness to my parents arguing whilst my mate was stood next to me. Not cool Patrick. Not cool.
According to Dave the epidural spaced me out so much between lunch and 4pm and I don’t remember anything of it. I was thirsty, hungry, tired and exhausted. I wanted to shift position but I couldn’t. My back had had enough. I laid there and hoped that I’d be at 10cm by 4pm.
Of course I fucking wasn’t. Because everything that could go wrong did go wrong remember?
Patrick returned at 4pm and once more my fanny had to be violated by his hand. I was devastated to learn that I was still only 7cm after 4 hours. He said I needed an emergency section because of my blood pressure (no shit, considering everything I’d gone through up to this point!) and that Ollie was getting more distressed with each contraction. Patrick said Ollie was a big baby and I wouldn’t pass him naturally because of my narrow pelvis (I’d always feared this but everyone always told me you only breed a baby you can get out. Bollocks to that, evidently.) Ollie had also changed into the back to back position, when the entire pregnancy he was LOC. Bloody typical. I do think me being laid up on my back for so long contributed towards that as I’d hoped to labour by walking around and give birth on all fours or squatting if I couldn’t have a water birth.
So an emergency section it was. Not before I was panicked by the warning that if things went wrong they would be forced to perform a hysterectomy. I had no time to process the information but sign the consent form whilst Dave changed into his scrubs.
I started panicking which overwhelming fear at this point. We hadn’t prepared for a section. Dave was self-employed and couldn’t look after me during my recovery or help me look after the baby so I started thinking about what the fuck we were going to do. I was crying as I was wheeled to theatre at around 4:45pm.
I remember laying on that bed staring at the ceiling and lights whilst people milled around me prepping and introducing themselves (I get that it’s professional to do that but why bother? I was so out of it mentally), thinking how the hell did it all go so wrong. I cried and cried and cried.
Dave was brilliant. He held it together and kept telling me we’d have our boy with us soon.
Patrick and his assistant doctor James were the surgeons performing the section and I had the epidural anaesthetist at my head. They kept spraying ice on me to see where the numbness began.
It took them about half an hour to get Ollie out. I felt lots of tugging because his head was stuck in my pelvis (okay Patrick, you were right) and Dave and I held our breaths as we waited for his first cry.
It didn’t come.
I started wailing. Then Dave said he heard a whimper, but I didn’t. Then I heard a pathetic sounding breath, not a scream just a whimper and I sobbed uncontrollably. They quickly brought him to my cheek then whisked him off to the side.
I now know that they were doing their Apgar score tests on him but at the time I thought they were trying to resuscitate him. They kind of were – he was floppy and wasn’t breathing right. The birth traumatised him. I couldn’t see where he was or what was going on. I repeatedly sang his special song, willing him to stay alive and hold onto my voice. But as the minutes passed I started to give up hope. It felt like half an hour (it was only 10 minutes) of silence and I started to slip off. If my boy was going to die, I wanted to die with him.
I closed my eyes and went with it.
The surgeons got to work with stitching me up. But it wasn’t straightforward. They upped my pain meds which made me shake violently and uncontrollably. I was no longer with it.
For 2 hours they worked on me. I haemorrhaged badly, losing 2 litres of blood. They kept trying to stitch me up but I wouldn’t stop bleeding. They had to remove my womb from my body to try to fix it. Then the pain relief meds made me cough and be sick (of course) which I later learned caused my bowels to keep spilling out of me so they had to keep shoving them back in. I also learned afterwards that my bladder ended up attached to my diaphragm. Now that is a WTF situation of the highest kind. That is the equivalent of penguins meeting polar bears – should never ever happen in nature.
Poor Dave was traumatised by what he witnessed. Everytime he returned from the side area where Ollie was he had no choice but to see either side of the curtain – me being violently sick and shaking at one end and my womb and bowels hanging out my body at the other end. He said it was like a horror movie. He thought his wife was going to die whilst giving new life in the world. But there was also the chance that Ollie wouldn’t make it either.
By the time Patrick and James started stitching me up, the pain relief was wearing off. I kept shouting Ow! Ow! So I was asked if I wanted to be put under and put to sleep. I shouted yes because I wanted to die anyway seeing as Ollie was going to die (how it felt at the time) so I was waiting to be asked to count to 10 as I slipped off to sleep (like what happened when I had 2 operations as a kid) but it never happened. Instead I felt paralysed and couldn’t talk yet I still felt the pain of them stitching me up. It was terrifying. I’d only read a magazine article a few weeks prior about people being awake during operations and not able to say anything and here it was happening to me! I learned from James afterwards that the decision was made that as they were so close to finishing they thought I could hold on just a little bit longer so just upped the local anaesthetic instead of giving me a general one. I told him that communication needs to be improved massively then because if I’m asked if I want to be put to sleep and I’m screaming yes then that is what should have happened.
By the time it was over, Dave was left with the choice of staying with me or going with Ollie to neonatal care. I told him to go with Ollie because I couldn’t bear the thought of him being alone when he needed us. Dave left. And I was alone.
They did the end of operation procedures, signed it all off. A pain relief suppository was shoved up my bum and I had 5 separate wires/drips/drains coming out of me. I laid there in a blur. Silent tears sliding down my face. Totally and utterly fucking traumatised.
I was taken back to my room. It was now 7:30pm and Becky #4 was on shift. She took care of me though the night as I ran a temperature of 38.2C alternating between sweating and shivering. I spent all of that night crying and having more hourly obs done on me. Dave announced the birth on Facebook. I announced the truth. I had to be honest and get it out.
Had I not done that I would never have received all the support that I needed.
That night was the loneliest of my life. When Becky wasn’t with me, I laid there stroking my now empty bump and missing my baby who was one floor up being cared for by strangers. I missed him so much and had no idea about his health. Dave had gone home to get a few hours sleep. And I just wanted my mum to cuddle me and stroke my hair and tell me that everything was going to be okay.
Patrick came to see me at around 9pm to debrief me on what happened. He said I would never have been able to give birth to Ollie naturally due to his size and my pelvis, his position was incorrect for a vaginal birth, and it was too dangerous for both of us to see if I could have passed beyond 7cm. We both would’ve died. He said as traumatising as it was for me, he had done many C-sections like mine before.
At the end of the day, Patrick saved my life on that gurney, keeping calm and composed when I wouldn’t stop bleeding for over an hour. He was a bit of a dick up to that point, but I thanked him for everything he had done. He kept me and my son alive and I would always be grateful to him for that. He left and I never saw him again.
The next morning, Monday, Debbie came on shift. Dave returned and helped me to get ready.
I sat in my wheelchair, with a cannula in each hand, an epidural lead still hanging out my back, a drain coming out of my stomach to monitor blood loss, and a catheter from between my legs. I sat there in just my disposable underwear, being bathed by Dave in the most undignified way. I felt numb. And weak from the blood loss.
After the doctors did their ward rounds I was allowed to go and see Ollie. Dave wheeled me there in my wheelchair and I clutched two cuddly toys to give to my bear cub.
18 hours after giving birth, at 11:30am, I got to meet my son for the very first time.
It was such an alien experience being wheeled up to the neonatal ward. I never ever thought I would be one of those parents that would be in that position of visiting their child in intensive care.
Dave took me straight to his incubator and I burst into tears – he was simply perfect and looked just like me. He didn’t look unhealthy at all, other than slight jaundice, but was being kept in due to respiratory problems and his kidneys weren’t functioning properly.
To summarise the first week of Ollie’s life on the ward (as there would be no way I could accurately recall all the chronology of his monitoring and progress from Sunday 13th May to Monday 21st May when he was discharged): he started off in an incubator for 2 days before being moved into a cot. Endless blood tests were carried out, cannulas and feed lines were inserted and withdrawn, he had a catheter for a few days to monitor his urine flow as he wasn’t having any wet nappies. A scan was requested to look at his kidneys. At one point there was the possibility of him being transferred to Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham to be placed under the care of their renal team. His sodium levels were too high, then too low. His feeds were adjusted as a result.
Some days Ollie would take one step forwards and two steps back, and others it would be two steps forwards and one step back. As hard as it was for me to keep leaving him behind for me to return to the ward, I knew he was in the right place. It broke my heart to not be able to hold him comfortably or change is nappy for feed him but I had to temporarily put myself first. The fantastic staff on that unit were getting him fit and healthy and strong so I had to do the same in order to be a good mummy to him.
I hated that he was getting cuddles from other people, and I was worried about the bonding process as Dave was such a natural with him (which made me so proud) but I honestly couldn’t picture myself being well enough to care for him. The pain I was in was so bad. I was weak from the anaemia due to my blood loss. I couldn’t breathe properly because of the pain in my back and the internal injuries I’d experienced. I was totally unpresentable – unwashed hair, hadn’t showered, couldn’t find suitable clothes that fit and didn’t hurt. I was a fucking mess basically. But the staff were so supportive and encouraging. I couldn’t thank them enough for their kindness and patience.
My recovery immediately after the birth was long, slow, and the worst kind of pain in my life (previously my worst painful experience was when I was 15 and was in a car accident and my eyeballs were cut from debris from an exploding air bag).
I absolutely fucking hated staying back on the ward where I laboured and where mums with their babies return before being discharged with them.
Firstly, the physical discomfort of my body and the environment. Once again I was stuck on a bed that destroyed my lower back. Not being able to move off the bed easily to go to the toilet (which was every single hour once my catheter was taken out) because of my wound, meant it took me 30 minutes – getting off the bed, shuffling to the toilet which was literally opposite the room on the other side of the corridor, doing what I needed to do, shuffling back without passing out and getting back into bed. I cried and swore throughout every single time. But equally I was trying to be quiet so as not to disturb the other mums and babies in my room. Then I would only be on the bed for another half an hour before I had to get up and do it all over again.
My mum and Dave took it in turns to care for my intimate needs. It is incredibly vulnerable to be in a toilet, naked, whilst a loved one helps to change your bloodied maternity pad and change your pants because you can’t bend over to do it yourself. I still can’t believe they both saw me in that state. I felt embarrassed and ashamed but utterly grateful for them.
The trapped wind I experienced the following day was absolutely excruciating. I couldn’t get it to come out because my bowels were still trying to settle back down into position after spilling out of me during surgery. I couldn’t poo because the iron pills I was on were blocking me up. I writhed and cried in pain for 24 hours until it started working its way through me, thanks to the help of some peppermint cordial and lots of water. But this pain was another added factor to me not able to cuddle Ollie for very long.
I didn’t shower until I eventually came home on Wednesday 16th May because I couldn’t think of anything worse than doing that on the ward. I wanted to be at home. Even though Ollie was upstairs, I knew I would recover faster at home than in that shit hole. I just had to convince the staff.
Mentally I wasn’t recovering well on the ward. I was in a room with 3 other mums who had their babies with them. My heart was broken. My womb would ache and my boobs would throb whenever their babies cried and I laid there, behind a blue curtain, sobbing for my baby. I had to witness mums coming and going with their babies as I was left to languish for days on end, with the never ending fucking cycle of more monitoring of me and dosing me up with dozens on meds. I was slowly becoming a drugged up, depressed, baby-less zombie.
They should have had separate rooms for mums whose babies were up on the neonatal ward so they don’t have to be around all the other “normal” mums and babies.
From Tuesday lunchtime I was begging to go home. My community midwife visited me in hospital and we had a big chat about my birth and how traumatising it was. She advocated for me to be discharged as soon as possible as she knew that I would recover better at home. I will always be grateful to her for getting the ball rolling.
It was in everybody’s best interests that they let me go as I was starting to get pretty shitty and shirty with people. And I didn’t give a damn. They hadn’t been through what I had.
Tuesday afternoon, James – the assistant surgeon to Patrick – came to find me and Dave to discuss the birth, which we really appreciated. He answered our questions, informed us of the facts and reassured me there is no reason why a future pregnancy or birth couldn’t go more smoothly than this one. He did recommend I have an elective section in future though. Trying to give birth vaginally wasn’t worth the risk in his eyes.
By Wednesday afternoon I was officially discharged. Lots had been going on behind the scenes to get me signed off, despite Ollie still being on the neonatal ward so the midwives wouldn’t be able to see me look after him. But I couldn’t stay there indefinitely. I told them I’d have Dave and my patents helping me at home.
Whilst all my meds were being prepared, mum and I were in the dimly lit corner trying to pack my stuff up. We needed the main light on as we couldn’t see what we were doing (it was 2pm after all so not like I was turning it on in the middle of the night) so I flicked the switch on. My mum wondered if I should because of the others in the room and I quite audibly said I didn’t give a shit. The mother of a mum at the other end of the room (who had the luxury of being next to the large window) came up, cradling her grandchild and asked me to turn the light off as her daughter was trying to sleep.
I stood there and stared at her. What I wanted to scream at her was everything that had happened to me since the previous Thursday, how I’d had to endure listening to all these babies around me whilst mine was upstairs, how her darling daughter who was snoozing comfortably WITH HER EYES CLOSED AND THEREFORE NOT DISTURBED BY THE LIGHT BEING ON could cope for 5 minutes whilst I packed my fucking bag in a corner of a room where there was no light and I’m fucking going home now anyway so she could kiss my constipated arse (see what I mean about how shitty and shirty I got?)
But I didn’t say that. I just gave her the filthiest look whilst mentally slapping her face and turned the light off. I fully deployed my resting bitch face.
Stepping outside the hospital for the first time in 6 days was like being released from prison. I stood in the entrance and inhaled deeply. If I could have bent over and kissed the floor I would have done.
The journey home was bad. Only 5 miles but it took us 20 minutes due to the speed my dad drove at. Every bump, camber and turn tore up my insides again, but not as much as driving past endless people out with their buggies. I silently cried as my mum (sitting behind me) squeezed my shoulder.
When we got back to my house, and mum helped me out of the car, I literally collapsed into my mum’s arms on the front garden and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. My dad ran inside and quickly took Ollie’s Moses basket out of the living room and took it back to his nursery and closed the door. I can’t describe the pain of arriving back at the house where I last left it pregnant, but without my baby. It was like he’d died. And it didn’t help that all our neighbours knew we were expecting and therefore witnessed me arriving home without Ollie (although they knew something was up anyway because they had seen Dave coming and going without me over the previous few days).
As soon as I got into the shower as my mum, dad and Dave tried to get the house in some kind of order, I let the water run over me and just howled tears out of me until there were none left to shed anymore.
Wednesday evening to Monday morning was spent slowly recovering at home, having regular visits from the midwife to check my blood pressure, expressing milk whenever I could, mum doing all the housework, and Dave and I visiting Ollie. Each day got easier and easier (which I never believed it would at the time because when you’re in the thick of it, you can’t see the wood for the trees can you?), I fortunately had my first poo in the comfort of my own home, my swelling disappeared really quickly (I lost 2 stone 10lbs in the 2 weeks from my induction date) and I could move around more freely. It was a novelty to not have SPD anymore or need my crutches.
When I rang the unit for an update on Sunday morning before our planned visit in the afternoon, it turned out that they wanted me to stay on the ward in one of the parent bedrooms overnight to transition with Ollie with the view of him coming home on Monday – all depending on him successfully breastfeeding and him continuing to have wet nappies without a problem. I was over the moon.
We visited the ward that afternoon, did our photoshoot with Bounty, settled into the bedroom as a family of 3, had my parents, brother and sister-in-law visit, re-established breastfeeding, came home for a quick dinner, then returned at 7:30pm. Dave stayed with me until 10pm (he had to go back to work the next day after not working for over a week already) so I was left to do the first night entirely on my own. There were staff to help if I needed it but I was determined to prove to them that I could do this independently.
The night was a success and the Doctor on ward rounds at 10am said Ollie could go home. I was so grateful and overwhelmed I burst into tears. I could have kissed his feet in gratitude.
We waited for Dave to finish work to come and collect us. There was a last minute hearing test that they nearly forgot to do, and a sudden outfit change after Ollie was sick over his going home outfit. FFS…
As Dave carried the car seat with our son in it out to the car, I cherished every second as I watched him. We were finally going home.
We arrived back at home by 4pm and mum and dad were there to greet us to take lots of photos. I lapped it up. I’d wanted this for so long.
For the next few days mum stayed with me all day every day whilst Dave was out at work. She helped care for Ollie whilst I rested or got to grips with all the sterilising equipment and formula paraphernalia. Thank god she did. She was my saviour in those early days whilst I learned to be a mum.
And Dave and I have been rocking the parenting thing ever since!
I have found the whole experience of my birth incredibly traumatising, but it is has helped to be open about it with people, talking about it often and accepting support from others. Dave and I still have formally requested a meeting with Birth Afterthoughts to get some closure on everything that happened. I have read my post natal notes and that has definitely helped.
I am too put off to think about having another child. I can’t help but think pregnancy and birth don’t suit me. Ollie’s pregnancy put strain on my back, which developed into SPD, which caused the pregnancy hypertension, which lead to swelling, which turned into pre-eclampsia, which meant an induction was necessary, which clearly distressed Ollie as he wasn’t ready to come out, which lead to my emergency section.
Dave would have another child now. It’s going to take me years to build up to that point. If ever, if I’m honest.
But I’ve learned the NCT classes don’t prepare you for shit. A complete waste of money aside from the friends I’ve made from it. They don’ tell you about the realities of caesarian sections and what the recovery is like
And there aren’t enough shit labour stories told. We all hope things will go nicely but I am living proof that everything that can go wrong, does. Birth plans are more useful as toilet paper. Don’t bother being so naive as to set up an ideal in your head of what you’d like to happen. Just rock up to the hospital and see what happens. That’s it. Everything else is entirely out of your control.
But was Ollie worth it? Worth the 20 months of trying to conceive? Worth the difficult pregnancy at the end? Worth the horrific labour and recovery?
A million, trillion, quadrillion percent YES.