Wednesday, 16 February 2011

One year on - my birth story!

V - born 16/02/10 at 9.40am

Well, V is one year old today and I have been thinking a lot about this time last year. So, to mark the occasion I have decided to publish my birth story which, because of the farcical nature of some of it I can laugh at in hindsight, but at the time, it wasn't quite so funny!

This was a much briefer story in terms of time than I anticipated. After being told through much of my pregnancy that, because of my high blood pressure (a pre-pregnancy thing as well) I would probably have to be delivered early, probably by C-section, I didn’t expect to get to my due date, let alone have just a four hour natural birth experience from waters going to birth, with a labour of 1 hour 14 mins!

I was due to see my consultant at 10.00am on 16 February – the day after my due date - to discuss what would happen next – most likely an induction ASAP. However, I didn’t make the appointment!

As usual I couldn’t sleep very well, and one minute I was watching the Winter Olympics in bed, the next I felt something warm and wet gushing down my legs. It was 5.39 am and I will never forget the feeling of OMG – I think this is IT!

I woke my husband gently and, after establishing that I hadn’t just weed myself, we both ran round like we were in some kind of French farce, even though I had been packed for weeks!

I phoned the Delivery Suite who told me to come in so they could check that my waters had actually gone and then I would probably still be able to make my consultant’s appointment!! Yeah right!!

I was getting regular period type pains which were quite painful and I just assumed this was what happened! The first midwife I saw confirmed the waters had gone and explained what NORMALLY happened, which was that I would now be sent home and if labour hadn’t started properly in 72 hours they would induce. Having not been in labour before I didn’t know what to think. They were the professionals so I felt I should believe them, but at the same time I was in a lot of pain every few minutes and didn’t think I would GET home!

At 6.30am I was put on the monitor which was very uncomfortable and then from about 7.30 am onwards there was a bizarre two hours which consisted of me being in bad pain which, from all I’d learned seemed like regular contractions, but being told that it was early days!

Luckily they moved me to a delivery room to wait to be assessed by a doctor before going home and I started to ask for pain relief because it was that bad. I mentioned the epidural I needed to have because of my blood pressure and the midwife said she would examine me to see what, if any, stage I was at and so which pain relief I could have at that moment - BUT - due to infection risk, if she did that they would have to induce within 24 hours. She was quoting from the rule book but I was pretty convinced by now that it was all going to happen soon! If I hadn’t been in so much pain I would have laughed – it just wasn’t clear to them that I as well underway. I think they thought I was a first time mum just making a fuss – they were very nice to me about it though!

Anyway, at about 8.15am she examined me and I was 3 cms. As I couldn’t have an epidural until 5 cms she said she would examine me in about another 2 hours and did I want to “mobilise more” or “go on the ward” – WTF??!! Mobilise? I was already on all fours grabbing at the gas and air which was lovely – but rubbish as pain relief!

My husband was hilarious – he was worried about me tearing his shirt and I told him I could tear what I blimming well liked! Afterwards he told me I sounded like a prehistoric bird screeching and taking flight! I think that Jurassic Park was also mentioned at one point!

Another half an hour or so of me being in pain and swearing etc went by and I was desperate for pain relief and worried about my blood pressure. The midwife got the midwife in charge to do another exam as I said I wanted to push. I DESPERATELY wanted to push but hilariously (looking back anyway!) I said I thought it could be a poo!

After another weird conversation about whether it was baby or number twos the midwife in charge examined me and said the immortal words – “this baby wants to come out – PUSH – you are fully dilated!” No sh*t Sherlock! At last – they believed me! 3 cms to fully dilated in about 45 mins! She then said – “I’m sorry – it’s too late for an epidural” – the thing I had been dreading as it was that which was supposed to keep my blood pressure low!

Then the “fun” began as all sorts of people started running about bringing in equipment for the newborn. About 15 minutes later after a few pushes, my beautiful daughter arrived and I was handed a purple looking bundle weighing 5lbs 11 and a half oz. Small but absolutely fine and gorgeous! I said “Hello baby” and most remember her beautiful eyes looking up at me and, randomly, her tiny but perfect nails on exquisite little fingers!

The placenta came out about 20 minutes later and then they spent about an hour or more doing a few stitches while I stared at my baby! I have to say that this bit probably took longer than my labour - it really wasn't fun when all I wanted to do was concentrate on my baby. I remember worrying that my discomfort would have an effect on her.

The midwife had to get a doctor to do the trickiest ones and that was when I learned not to argue about football with a Man United supporter, when that supporter was a doctor with a needle and thread and was pointing them at your nether regions!

V then had all her checks and Vitamin K injection and was weighed, then daddy dressed her and had his first cuddle.There followed tea and toast, a hot bath and a lot of people telling me how quick it had been. The midwife said that Mother Nature had taken over. My blood pressure had meant that I always needed a quick labour and Mother Nature sorted that out for me. Ironically the one BP reading they managed during my labour was the lowest it had been for months- if not years!

I couldn’t believe it was over and I couldn't believe that we had a gorgeous daughter. Even now, a year on I sometimes look at her with complete amazement that I managed to grow an actual person inside me.

I have NO idea how people manage longer labours or push out bigger babies but I guess there is more time for pain management – I take my hat off to you all.

The staff at the hospital were lovely – despite their surprise at me not being exactly text book. Afterwards I couldn’t stop apologising for being so demanding and insistent that birth was imminent but they are used to it. It was certainly an experience I will never forget!

Before I gave birth I think I was in denial and never really read much about other people's labours. Afterwards I couldn't get enough of these stories so it's only now that I realise just how lucky I was - although if I'd been sent home it may have been a whole different tale, probably involving the back seat of a car!

I have also now finally realised how important birthdays are for the mum as well because it is the anniversary of what is probably the most amazing and incredible day of your life. I would therefore like to apologise to my own mother for not acknowledging this before and so, as it's my own birthday next week I will make sure that I rectify it in some way!

So there we go - that was how it happened. As it is highly unlikely that I will go through it again, I am very pleased that I managed a natural labour with only gas and air, but, as long as I had a healthy baby at the end of it, I would have accepted any decisions or intervention needed - except perhaps, being sent home!

My top tip therefore is trust your own instincts and argue the toss if necessary - or just scream a lot!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

First birthday eve - smiles and tears!

Well, it's the eve of Verity's first birthday and I am sitting here feeling a right mixture of things.

Firstly I am incredibly proud of her, she is doing so well and really thriving and I am also proud of myself because I have gone from knowing absolutely nothing about babies to successfully nurturing one through their first year!

Tomorrow is a cause for great celebration, but I have also been either on the verge of tears or actually crying for a few days now and I wasn't sure why. I have been feeling like such a wimp but this morning I spoke to three other ladies at the group we go to and they admitted that they had felt exactly the same. It was such a relief because I was beginning to think that there was something wrong with me. We then spent time over coffee and birthday cake discussing why such a momentous occasion should reduce us to gibbering wrecks!

The overriding phrase that came out was "I cried because she's not my baby anymore" and I think that this is the crux of the matter and something that us older mums feel even more keenly.

One of the ladies said that the emotion you feel at your child growing up is like an inbuilt feeling to make people have more children and keep the human race going, but when you are over 40 you know that this is unlikely to be an option and for me it definitely isn't.

Therefore, I know that this sounds weird, but it's like we are mourning the loss of children that we haven't even conceived. I think there's a lot in that. I have loved these past 12 months. Sure it's not been easy at times but it's been the best time of my life and the best thing I have ever done and I am a little bit sad that I won't have those times again.

What has added to it for me is a circumstance out of my control. We have a flat in another part of the country and all V's outgrown clothes were stored there. A burst pipe led to flooding and ALL the clothes were soaked through. I brought them back here and - 5 loads of washing later, everything she has ever worn was hanging up drying around me. There in front of me was
the past 12 months in clothes and it was a bit like listening to records that remind you of happy times and remembering exactly where you were when they were playing.

V was a small baby and her newborn clothes are tiny and I realised that I couldn't remember her being that small. Then we looked at pictures and realised that even they were too big for her. I want to remember every detail and am worried I will forget.

Then all her summer clothes remind me of those wonderful heady days of maternity leave when it was just the two of us during the day walking in the park or playing on her mat and trying to keep cool.

Every outfit holds a memory and I know that I won't ever be able to chuck out any of it. I will cling onto each small item of clothing like I am holding fast to my memories.

So where does this leave me? Well, I am 44 next week so even if I decided that another baby was the answer there is no guarantee that I would conceive. And if I did, well I remember the constant worry of my pregnancy with yoyo-ing blood pressure and virtual bed rest. It was bad enough then but with a toddler to look after well, V would suffer I think and that would not be fair.

Besides, you can't keep having children when you feel emotional that the last one is no longer a baby! And I know that at my age I am very lucky to be blessed with my one beautiful and healthy child, I may not be so lucky another time.

Therefore I must focus on my beautiful daughter and while it's OK to look back at past happy memories I must concentrate more on looking forward to the many more that we are going to make. So, happy birthday for tomorrow my lovely V, the first of many, many more!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

So - what was the plan then?!

I always feel a little bit guilty when I talk about my situation as while I was, and still am, absolutely delighted to have a my gorgeous daughter, I never had that burning desire, that ache, to be a mum - and then my baby arrived and I can't imagine being anything else now!

But I also know that there are many women, and men, out there who, since they were very young, have always planned to have children, know the number of them that they want and have even picked out names, nursery colours and themes. But then, when it comes to it, they find it extremely difficult to conceive, if at all.

They probably hate me.

So I'm sorry if what I write here offends anyone in anyway. I truely don't mean to but this is what happened to me and these are my thoughts about it. It's an accurate record and you can't help or change what's happened to you in life, or how you feel about it, for anyone.

My story is that I never really PLANNED, as such, to have any children although I also didn't PLAN not to. When I was younger I just thought it would be something I would probably do but as I got older I realised it might be something I would never do!

I never felt broody - ever - never went soppy when I looked in a pram, in fact I wasn't sure I ever really liked children enough to be a mother to one!! I always considered myself to be child-free not childless! I thought I was too selfish and had no patience and would be a rubbish mother.

I guess you could say I was lucky in that respect. If I had been one of those people who had always been desperate to have a child and felt that they would not be complete unless they were a mother, then I would have probably been a very unhappy and frustrated person because I didn't get married until I was 40.

Before that I had not been with a man that I felt I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, so there was no point in even thinking about children. If I had really wanted a child at any cost, then I could have got myself into something that would not have been a good idea!

I have to say though, I was never completely opposed to the idea. There was always a bit of a nagging thought in my mind about it, but it was mainly more of feeling that maybe I shouldn't miss out on it, and wondering what it would be like, rather than a burning desire for a child. I also thought a lot about growing old with no immediate family. I was - what I recently heard referred to as a PANK (Professional Auntie No Kids) and while I doted on my nieces and they loved me back, somehow they are not quite the same in old age!

My husband is 10 years younger than me and when he asked me to marry him we had the "children" conversation. Because of my age he knew that children may not happen but we decided that if we were blessed with a child that would be fantastic, but if not, then that was absolutely fine too because he was marrying me for me. We were happy as a couple and lived life to the full, travelling and going out etc. We were hardly ever at home!

We didn't actively try to conceive (ttc), we just didn't try to prevent it and thought we'd see what happened. After nearly two years, when frankly I didn't even think about it anymore, hey presto - PREGNANT! I was stunned, I mean, I know how these things work but still - I was shocked, terrified and excited - probably in that order if truth be told! Our daughter arrived a week before my 43rd birthday.

Now she is here and I think in a different way as our world revolves around her rather than ourselves but I'm still glad we had that selfish time, because I don't feel I have missed out on anything. My patience that I thought I never had, knows no bounds and I am only selfish for her, in that everything I want is for her! I am so happy, grateful and thankful for this beautiful gift who I will do everything within my power to protect and nurture.

I'm not saying I wish I'd done it younger though, I think that it was only now that the time was right, which is why it happened (and certainly it wasn't with the right man before!) I am a great believer in fate and what will be will be. I adore my daughter and can't imagine now what life would be without her, but I am also sure that if she hadn't come along we would still have been happy, just in a very different way.

I would have another if I could conceive today and it popped out tomorrow! I don't even mind the child birth bit, it's the whole pregnancy thing I don't want to do again!