From here, it goes a bit fuzzy in my brain, I have a conversation with Nicola about whether it’s time to call Chris. She says yes and between contractions, I tell Chris he needs to come. I’m sure in my head there was a more wordy response with clearer instructions but this was all I could spit out. I imagine him jumping out of bed like it was on fire, getting dressed one-handed while ringing my parents and trying not to wake Jaxon. Then going downstairs to make a coffee (to wake up after his disco nap) then standing near the front door fidgeting while waiting for Mum and Dad to arrive. He arrives at the hospital around 1 am. (see it was fuzzy, I know roughly it was after midnight and definitely not 2 am but could have been anywhere in between that).
I think he was expecting to get there and the baby would be crowning or
something like that, but no it wasn’t quite that dramatic at this point.
While we’re waiting for him to arrive, I have a conversation with Nicola about painkillers and can I have something at least until I can have gas and air. Nicola went to find the doctor but she’d been called into theatre and so we were waiting for her to come back to approve any pain relief. I’m put on gas and air and then I’m offered an epidural, which I desperately agree to. I have to wait for the anaesthetist to come and explain the risks and what’s going to happen. Somehow between contractions and the fact that my glasses have been taken off my face (Chris did this because they kept sliding down my nose!), I’m then asked to sign my consent form, which I end up doing with one eye closed and the other kind of squinting to make sure it’s somehow legible! Nicola offers to write my name and date it for me if I’m happy for her to do (which I am because I’m not even sure I could spell my own name at this point!).
The doctor comes to do the epidural and I had to sit on the bed at a funny angle. I thought it would be like when I was given the spinal block for the C-Section which I thought I could do. However, either it wasn’t the same position or because I was contracting it was really uncomfortable. It seemed to take a very long time to get the epidural in. At one point, I remember saying to Chris that I couldn’t do it and I needed to lie down or move because it was so uncomfortable. I think at this point too, I was holding Chris’s hand with one hand and then holding Nicola’s hand too. I’m not sure if it was this point or when that was (it just came back to me now and I think this is when it was). Also, by the conversations around me, I’m not 100% sure it was working the way it was supposed to.
Nicola, the midwife, had said to take a deep breath and then imagine blowing out candles but rather than a quick blowing out it needed to be a low blowing out – probably a rubbish explanation but it made sense at the time and I just kept relighting and blowing out those candles in my mind. This worked with the gas and air too.
Trying to remember what happened and in what order is a little challenging so I might get it wrong. I was told I could lie back down again and get comfortable (or as much as I could be comfortable!) at one point I was told to move back across the bed, apparently, I’d wriggled so much that I was pretty much on the edge of the bed and they were surprised I hadn’t fallen off! At another point, I kept being told to try and breath normal air instead of the gas between contractions but I was so far away with the fairies that by the time I’d realised I’d finished a contraction and tried to take the gas mouthpiece out of my mouth to breath, the next contraction was already starting and so it was easier not to do it. In the end, Chris was told by the midwife to hold it and to try and take it away in between if he could.
Around 4/4:30, I’m told that with each contraction, Rex’s heartbeat keeps dipping and they need to get him out soon. I keep trying to push but it’s not working or not working enough, so it’s decided I’m being taken to theatre for a forceps delivery but need to be prepared that I could end up having a C-Section (it’s actually possible this was when I signed that consent form and couldn’t really read it! As I say some bits are fuzzy!). I have to leave the gas and air there and cope until we get to theatre. I’m sure at this point I was squeezing Chris’s hand really tightly! At one point, Chris is taken by Nicola to go and get into scrubs so that he can be there for the next bit. He had to change into scrubs when I went for my C-Section so I was aware of where he’d gone and that he wouldn’t be long. We arrive in theatre and I get moved onto another bed and have to shuffle down the bed so that they can get my feet up into stirrups. My epidural is now topped up so that I’m numb from the waist down. It could have been Nicola or someone else but they use this cold spray stuff to see how numb I am by spraying down my arm and then down my leg. Well, it’s obviously done it’s job, because I’m able to have a proper conversation with Chris for the first time since 6 pm. We talk about What he and Jaxon got up to after dropping me off, and then what they did at bedtime along with what Chris got up to between Jaxon’s bedtime and having a nap. Well we’ve been chatting, various things happened around us and I’m told it’s time to push. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to know it’s time to push, given that I no longer feel in the contractions. If I remember correctly, Nicola was watching the monitor, and was able to tell me when the next contraction was happening. I think I pushed three or four times with the forceps and that was it Rex was born.
I think when we got to theatre, I did ask Nicola if we could do skin to skin if it was possible. Rex was placed on top of my chest (just after this picture) and I don’t know whether it was the relief or adrenaline or something but my arms were so shaky!
Now I imagine, it wasn’t actually that simple, and I imagine that various other things did happen. As I say, lots of it is fuzzy in my mind, and maybe some of it is a bit rose-tinted. Throughout the whole evening, I felt alone, but at least to start with, I was able to rationalise why I had to be there by myself (to a degree). As the pain got worse, it was at that point that I began to struggle with why Chris couldn’t be there. In the grand scheme of things, I was really fortunate. I’ve heard some bad stories recently, including one where the father missed the birth of his child because he’d ran to the building and his temperature read as a fever rather than because he’d been running. By the time it had come down and he’d been allowed in, his child had already been delivered.
After everything was finished in theatre, we were moved through to recovery. We were putting recovery for about an hour or so and with all the crazy being over, both Chris and I had a little nap. When I was told, it was almost time to be moved to the ward, Chris went home, so that he could take over from Mum and Dad. I was moved to the ward and then met another midwife. The midwife on the ward was a little bit more formidable and to be honest a little scary. She gave me all the information about where the toilet was and where to get food but also that I need to wear a mask when I left my cubicle. I almost apologetically asked that although I knew it wasn’t her job, could someone get me some breakfast as I haven’t eaten since dinner the night before. She was surprised that hadn’t been given anything in recovery and said that I should’ve been given tea and toast there. She asked me various questions like did I want white or brown bread, well honestly, it really didn’t matter as long as it filled a hole lol. I did have snacks in my bag that I could have had but at this point I wasn’t entirely sure I could get myself out of bed.
Once I’d had my toast, I did my best to get comfortable. I was going to need to get out of bed if I need to change the nappy or take myself to the toilet but first of all we needed to try breastfeeding again. While Rex and I had been in recovery, we tried to breastfeed but I think like me he was tired and the idea of feeding was just a bit too much of a challenge. Because of the nature of Rex’s birth and the fact that he had been quite stressed during the delivery, we were being kept in for observation for 24 hours. Every few hours someone to come and ask how he was feeling, how I was feeling, and take various stats like Temperature and BP. (This would continue through the night which was hard work because just to get settled and back to sleep it would then be time to be woken up again and go through it all).
At this point, I was grateful for technology again. During the lockdown, my Grandad learnt to use FaceTime on his iPad and has often been using it to make calls rather than the telephone. So just after 9 am my phone rang and it was Grandad, I was really excited that I’ve got to introduce him to his newest great-grandchild so soon. Well at that point he was still Baby Johnson… we were struggling to decide on a name even though Jaxon we’d known right away lol. I think Grandma had been feeling left out because halfway through the call she appeared in the background. I’d been a little worried about how we were going to get to see the Great-Grandparents and still maintain social distancing etc.
I managed to nap between observations and kept trying to feed on both sides although the right seemed to be coming along much easier than the left. I’m encouraged to get up and move as well as take myself to the toilet etc. I manage to tick all my boxes so that I should be able to go home, just need to tick Rex’s now.
I have to have various extra bits that I didn’t have with Jaxon including a Tinzaparin injection. Apparently, various flags in my medical record put me at risk of a DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) so I had to have an injection while in hospital and then take it once a day for 10 days. Oh, and they would be injections at home too. I guess it came in handy that I’d given Heparin injections in the past, just needed to get over giving them to myself. (Mum was there when I did my first one at home and sang Always Look on the Bright Side of Life to me – I just imagined that every time and that definitely helped!)
We stayed until Sunday lunchtime and when I was told we were going home I couldn’t ring Chris quick enough. I just wanted my own bed, I wanted to hug Jaxon and I wanted to get a reasonable chunk of sleep! My parents had come back to our house around 10am when it looked like I was going home so that they could be there when Chris needed to go (Mum is the host for their church Zoom call service at the moment so she really needed to be in one place to make sure it happened the way it should).
Chris took this picture of me on our way out of the hospital. He could have warned me right??
When Chris came to collect me, he had to bring the car seat up to the ward door and wait for a midwife to collect it from him. She would then bring the car seat to me so I could then put Rex in it. He was getting worked up about going in the car seat and I was getting flustered trying to make sure I had everything and not hold anyone up. In the end, it turned out that I’d left the little tag from Rex’s cot behind with his stats on. I realised this around Day 3 so as you can imagine it was more trauma then it needed to be! I had the changing bag and the Doona (We have a Doona so it’s car seat/buggy) and the midwife then wheeled my case and carried my bag to the door for Chris to then carry back to the car. Folding myself into the car was a little challenging but once I’d worked out the best way to do it, it got easier each time I went in the car.