Hello! This coming Tuesday, my gorgeous baby girl, Isabelle Jasmine Evans-Critten, will already be five weeks old…and I am only just announcing her safe arrival to you! Oops! Sorry!
With Christmas and New Year, we ended up having an unplanned but so lovely “baby mooning” period with our new family. A very special time. But now, with the return to work and school, it’s back to real life and a busy routine once again for us all.
So lets go back nearly five weeks ago…on Tuesday 20th December, Danny, Rebecca and Caitlyn were already at Granny and Grampy’s having stayed there the night before. Mum came to pick myself and Dave up to bring us to the hospital by 8 o’clock. I had been nil by mouth from the night before, so had to forego my glass of water and tea and toast that morning.
It did feel strange walking into the hospital, feeling so fit and healthy…not at all “heavily pregnant”… and trying to imagine that sometime that day we would have a precious little baby! Unbelievable. In the Maternity Unit, we were led to the C-Section bay. I was given a bed and the midwives were busy monitoring the three of us expectant c-section mums and preparing us for our surgery.
I was told that I was the last on the list for theatre that day. I had hoped to be first as everyone does, but I realise not everybody can be! Initially they thought they might be ready for me from 12pm, so I wasn’t too worried about the wait. All my tests and the baby’s heartbeat etc were all fine, so that was good news anyway.
My mouth was already dry as I usually sip water regulary throughout the day. As the day went on I felt very hungry, dizzy and shaky too, having not eaten for a while. When we heard that I was last on the list, Dave went off to get himself breakfast, as he would need his energy too.
The first c-section took longer than expected, so the second surgery was delayed. I now hoped to have mine after 1pm. We updated our family so they wouldn’t worry about the lack of news.
One midwife then told us that in our bay there were to be no visitors at all apart from partners, as it was to be used for our post c-section recovery. I felt tearful hearing this as it meant I wouldn’t be able to see Danny, Rebecca and Caitlyn; and more upsetting for them, they wouldn’t get to see their new brother or sister. I felt very sad I wouldn’t see my mum and sisters too.
However, when the first baby arrived back to the bay…it was a boy! The proud Grandmother was straight there to meet her gorgeous grandson, so I knew then that I should hopefully be allowed some special visitors too.
It was so exciting…and strange seeing the newborn baby boy there…and hearing that newborn baby cry. It was beginning to become more real to me!
By now, Dave was in his scrubs…we had lots of funny moments as some of the staff mistook him for a real doctor. He really looked the part! I was in my glamorous gown and alluring surgical stockings. Then we were told the second surgery was also taking longer than planned so there would be a further delay. Knowing this, we thought Dave could have done with getting dinner now, however, he was already in his scrubs and we wanted to be ready for them as soon as they called me to theatre. So he decided to join me in the hungry gang! I was now starving and as my iron levels were depleting getting very shaky. They kept discussing putting me on a drip so my fluid levels would not be too low but not doing it.
The second lady came back from her c-section, but the surgeons needed to rest as they had already had longer than their planned hours in surgery…I was glad about this. Well, I wouldn’t want somebody falling asleep or “not quite with it” operating on me! Then, my c-section got moved across to the emergency c-section teams list but they already had one emergency they had to deal with first…then you’ve guessed it…another one after that. I did think at one point my surgery might be postponed and booked for another day. If it had been delayed for the next day, I realised there was less chance I would be home for Christmas, so I hoped this would not happen. However, I was feeling less and less like having surgery as I already felt so weak from over 24 hours of no food or drink. They finally gave me IV fluids. This helped a little. Poor Dave was hungry too.
The second baby was a boy too. I wondered what my baby would be…
Finally they were ready for me.
I walked to theatre (with Dave behind me to check my gown was still respectable!). I felt OK and fairly healthy at this point. I was in good spirits and talking to everybody. I recognised a lot of the team from previous c-sections, they are so friendly and really put you at ease. Then we went through and it was time for the cold spray (yikes!!!) etc. I was really worried about the epidural not working this time…but it was fine like it has been previously. Then I laid down. From this point, I began to feel like I was losing consciousness and just felt so confused and sick and dizzy. I was so glad to have Dave there, holding my hand, answering my silly questions and just being there. The lovely team were all still making conversation and jokes, but I was blocking it out and just didn’t have the energy for it. My blood pressure was really low. I felt I was going to be sick. They wouldn’t give me a sick bowl, as they said if I saw one then I would actually be sick…which I was lots during my c-section with Rebecca…well it may have worked as no matter how sick I felt, I managed to not actually physically vomit, I’m sure to the relief of Dave and the team! I just felt so out of it now, I wasn’t even thinking of having a baby. My only thought was to get this over and done with and to get back to feeling normal again!
So the usual thing went on…my lower body being tugged and pulled from side to side, the sensation of knowing where they’re touching but without the pain (thank God!). They then explained to us that because of adhesions etc it would take longer as the surgeon was going to really take her time and deal with them all carefully. I decided to just close my eyes and concentrate on my breathing until it became close to the time that baby would be appearing. I just kept thinking…please be OK!
Violent tugging…a feeling of emptiness…a baby crying…it’s here…and “It’s a girl!” Time of birth: 18:34. Next thing Dave is next to me, proud Dad cuddling his precious, little princess. He puts her as close as he can to me. With all my drips and wires, I can’t manage to hold her yet. She is covered in white vernix and her eyes are closed. But she’s OK! And she’s beautiful.
She is weighed – 6lb 9 oz! Not the heavyweight she was expected to be then. The lightest of all my babies.
Now, they warn us, I have lost a lot more blood than normal so the tidying and closing up is going to take longer. They will also insert a drain to help with the blood loss. This brings back memories of Danny after his third heart operation having four (if I remember correctly) chest drains coming out of him. He used to put them on a trolley and take a walk to feed the fish. He was three years old. bravest little boy I know. I’m not so brave and the thought of this drain brings me down again after the high of seeing my beautiful, baby girl. I feel sick and dizzy again. My mouth is so dry. I feel too sick to be hungry but know I need food to get my iron and blood levels back up again. I rest and close my eyes again.
Our baby is only light, but Dave has been holding her for ages, on the small, backless, theatre stools, his back starts to ache. He asks if he can walk around to stretch his back. They let him and there are lots of offers to hold our baby. She goes off for little walks with the theatre staff. They deliver babies all the time, but they never become complacent about it. Each one is special, individual and has his or her own story. They still enjoy them and appreciate the newborn cuddles.
Finally it’s all over and we’re led to the bay again for my recovery. The SATs monitor reads that my SATs are in the 60’s, there is some panic and I’m put on oxygen. Everyone shouts at me to take deep breaths as the oxygen does not seem to be working. My SATs are not improving. Someone else shouts to turn all the lights off as the other two mums need to rest. Someone has the sense to try a different SATS monitor…my SATs shoot up to 90’s and then 100. Yes, the SATs monitor was not working!
Dave rings family to tell them the good news. It is too late to bring the kids up to see us. I should feel sad at this, but I also know I am weak, and don’t really want them to see me like this, so instead look forward to seeing them tomorrow. Mum and Ceri can come. They come up and have their first cuddles. Dave goes home with them. I ask him to send a midwife into me on his way out.
I now expect some midwives to aid me with my recovery. My mouth is still so dry, I would love a sip of water. My gown is all twisted and uncomfy on the bed. My baby is in her cot, I have not fed her yet. I can’t move. I can’t see or reach the bell to call for anyone. It is changeover, so nobody is coming yet.
When somebody eventually comes. I ask them to pass me my baby girl. She is still sleeping, but I know I need skin to skin and hopefully a chance to nurse her. I also ask for water. I’m so tired, while they are gone, cuddling my newborn, I start to snooze. When I awake, I can see the water on the table…out of reach. Oh, the torture! I then remember, I’ve still not asked anyone to pass me the bell. I have to struggle in the late darkness to keep my eyes open, so when they return I can ask them to pass me my drink. I manage it. They say to sip the water slowly. I try but can’t help but gulp it down. My tummy rumbles, I ask when I can eat. Not until four in the morning, I’m told but I am allowed a cup of tea. It tastes like heaven. I appreciated that cup of tea so much. I’m still hungry though. I fall asleep and dream of eating all sorts of food. Finally it is the early hours of the morning, they come to check on me and finding me awake, offer to bring me toast. It was amazing, again, unbelievable appreciated. I have the greatest gift of all…new life in my arms…but that tea and toast felt pretty special too! Satisfying basic human needs is pretty important I guess!
The next morning, as the numbness wears off, the pain comes! Especially where I can feel my drain! I have a feeling I won’t be jumping out of bed as I managed to after my first c-sections…
To be continued!
(and now some random photos!)