|Elijah, a few hours old|
Wednesday, 30 March 2016
Eighteen months have passed since our beautiful little miracle emerged (I say emerged because 'vigorously ripped out' doesn't have the same ring to it). The rollercoaster of the past year and a half has somewhat levelled off, and things have become almost normal. Now feels as good a time as any, for me to confess (to HONESTLY confess) what it's like to give birth, become a mother, and cope with the joys of reflux, teething, milestones and TODDLERDOM! And how having an NICU baby with a heart defect makes these things all the more stressful. Oh, and there's also my increasing fear that Elijah is Damien from the Omen, with his endless antagonising of our cats.
I will save the nine glorious months of swollen feet, constipation, and eating chocolate on the sofa, like a whale (whilst watching RHOBH in my pants) for another time.
This is the story of how Elijah was born.
To be honest, after watching numerous programmes on TV, they make it look like, once your waters break, you give a couple of pushes on the bed, and boom, the baby is here. Did that happen? Did it bollocks!
We were really not prepared for what ACTUALLY happened when I went into labour. The classes did not tell you how to cope with the pain, what to do with timing the contractions, and when exactly you should call. And there were NO breathing exercises (which are always on TV!) Instead, the class was about mucus plugs, and how to look after the baby once they are born and trying to indoctrinate you to breast feed. They tell you WHERE to go, and gloss over the numbers to call, but nobody really explains HOW to give birth.
This led me to do what every expectant mother does when they don't know something.... GOOGLE IT. Is it a good idea to Google labour stories before you give birth? OH HELL NO! My friend had given birth a month before. She had a hard time with numerous inductions, and was in labour for 4 days without food or sleep. I was petrified! There is also that horrendous scenario of something that isn't really spoken out loud to your partner, but the fear is there.... "OMG am I going to poop?" "Is he going to see me poop?" "Jesus, will he even want to touch me after the baby comes out? Never mind have sex with me” "How is it going to come out?"... I had visions of shitting the bed whist the baby tears through me Alien-style and of Greg shaking his head in horror before leaving!
That, thankfully, didn't happen, but there were some pretty traumatic incidents that I'm sure have scarred Greg for life. It started off the night before, whilst watching The Great British Bake Off. I joked to Greg that it would be funny if I went into labour the next day, as he wouldn't have to go to work on his busiest day. Yep, that did happen. Looking back, I'd gone for a really long walk that day, and had been drinking cup upon cup of Raspberry Leaf Tea. I had high blood pressure in my last midwife check, and horrendous back pain. It was all pointing towards going into labour soon. But of course, as this was my first baby, I didn't really think much about it at the time. My main focus was to make Greg get me chocolate cake, as the Bake Off made me hungry.
We went to bed as normal that evening, and I woke up at around 4am, needing a wee (so far so normal, as this usually happened four or so times a night) However, as soon as I stood up, I could feel the water pouring out of me. This continued, even after sitting on the toilet. After I had gone through four pairs of knickers and pads, I decided to wake Greg up by shouting, "I think my waters have broken!" His response? "Are you sure you haven't pissed yourself again?" About twenty minutes passed, and we decided that, as I wasn't having contractions, we would go back to sleep, and call the hospital in the morning. Pretty much the second that was decided, I started getting a period-like pain every fifteen minutes. Greg wasn't too fussed at this point, and actually went back to sleep! I wanted to have a bath. I don't know why, but I thought the best thing to do was to have a bath, and read Gone Girl. I managed to get through about 5 chapters before the pain got a bit too much. I decided to let Greg sleep though, and headed downstairs to find out if Scotland had won the right to independence. I don't know why, but it felt as if this was a most important thing I had to do. I was, at this point, kneeling against the sofa, with my cat rubbing his head against me (bless). With the contractions down to every ten mins, I decided to call the delivery suite, and was told to call back when they were five mins apart.
Shortly after, I thought it best to wake Greg from what he refers to as his ‘little nap’. I then felt the urge to go to the toilet... like now. After the fourth time, I started throwing up as well. Yep, sickness and diarrhoea… NO ONE TELLS YOU THIS! After that, I started bleeding slightly too. So with me rooted to the toilet, Greg called the delivery suite and we were told to come in.
Here is where is gets a bit like an episode of Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em... Greg and I did were not legal drivers at this point, so we’d appointed my best friends and Uncle as our emergency drivers. Unfortunately, two of them were on holiday, and the other one wasn't answering! Greg called EVERY contact on his phone until finally, one of his work friends came to the rescue. He was greeted at the door by me on all fours, throwing up on the dining room rug... Classy! Thank god Greg had managed to get some leggings on me at this point! My last memory of leaving, is of me waddling to the car, and spotting a family friend. I recall yelling, “The baby is coming! The baby is coming!” I now realise that this may have come across as slightly alarming, for that poor old man. Who was just out for an innocent stroll to get his morning paper.
I didn't realise it at the time, but the urge to push was beginning to happen in the car, and of course, we’d just started to hit the A47’s rush hour traffic. I was convinced the baby was going to come out in my leggings around the footwell. Greg, as usual was trying to crack jokes. Thankfully, his friend told him to shut the fuck up. Had he not, I’m pretty sure I would have killed him.
We arrived at the hospital, and I still needed to poop! I decided to drag Greg into the toilet (bear in mind I’d NEVER pooped in front of him, but at this point, I had little choice and even less dignity). He held a bin for me to throw up into, whilst I had a small breakdown. It was the usual “It’s too painful” “I can’t do this” “I don’t wanna”… We eventually got to the delivery suite where the idiotic receptionist pestered me for my mobile number. That’s not something I have readily available whilst rocking on the floor in pain! Thank goodness for our angel midwife, who rescued me and took me in a room, and didn’t ask a single question! She simply left me in peace on the toilet, and quietly wheeled in gas and air. God bless that wonderful lady!
Fast-forward five laborious hours, and I was still on the bloody toilet. I tried getting up, and walking around, but I only ever felt comfortable on the toilet. “Great,” I thought, “my baby is going to be born in the bed pan!”
Greg, bless him, was actually pretty good. Especially given that I didn't even want to know him, let alone speak to him. I don’t think I actually said a word to him… Actually I did yell at him for drinking all my Powerade. One thing I will never forget, is him plaiting my hair out of my face, after I started to resemble a sweaty Jabba the Hut. It’s odd because, usually, I am pretty needy, and crave attention from Greg (I make him rub my belly when I have a period!), but in labour I completely shut him out. It was as if my body became too focused on what it was doing to do anything else. It almost felt like I wasn’t in control, and that I was on autopilot.
The midwife noticed I was 'pushing' on the toilet and she examined me. This was so painful, that it felt like her entire arm was inside of me and was going to come out of my mouth! I’d lost my leggings and knickers long before, and was wondering around with my arse out. I was now 8cm, and was really starting to get off my head on the old gas and air (cracking shit, I highly recommend it!). It was time to 'push' again, although I’m pretty sure that's what I'd been doing since the bloody A47!
The baby’s heart rate had dropped slightly, and I was starting to feel tired, so couldn't push as much as I needed to. The only solution was for them to cut me (sounds horrendous, but I don't even remember this happening). I do, however, remember Greg saying that he could see the head, and the midwife confirming that I was crowning. She asked if I wanted to feel it. “DO I FUCK. JUST GET IT OUT OF ME, YOU STUPID COW!”
More people came in, and before I knew it, he sort of just flobbed out. Yep, flobbed. That's my made up word to describe it. It was like an increase of pressure, which stopped suddenly, as he was yanked out.
So, after eight hours in labour, my beautiful little human was born on the 18/09/2014 at 12.27pm. And the miracle of childbirth had been reduced to my son flobbing out of me.
Compared to most, I would say that I had a fairly easy labour experience. I can’t remember that much as I was pretty wasted. This is why I think people do it again and again. They get so wasted that they can’t remember the full extent of what happens! Greg can probably remember the weird noises and faces I pulled. I certainly remember his description of his firstborn’s emergence, as like ‘a Doberman with a pheasant in its mouth.’ Thanks love.
I now liken child birth to getting a tattoo. It hurts, but it’s a nice kinda hurt. It also becomes slightly addictive, as I would do it again, for sure! Except, next time, I hope Greg is quick to tell me about shitty bits of tissue that get stuck to my arse cheek, rather than wait until afterwards. Once again thanks love.
Since this is starting to feel like an advert for contraception, I will leave it for there for now. That and Elijah is pulling the cat’s tail again... Meh.
My name is Vicki Moore, and I am the mother of a little human called Elijah, who was co-created by my husband-to-be Greg. Elijah was born in September 2014, but the journey of Motherhood did not start smoothly. He was admitted to the Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) twelve hours after birth, and was there for nine days, eventually being diagnosed with a serious heart defect called ‘Tetralogy Of Fallot’. He later required open-heart surgery at just six months old. Fortunately, Elijah is now a typical little toddler, creating all sorts of chaos wherever he goes. However, it is only now, after eighteen months, and a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, that I feel I can begin to talk about what it’s really like to have a baby in NICU, and to watch them go through surgery, and recover. It is my hope that this blog will help others in the same boat, and I’m looking forward to relating to all you other mums, and sharing all our different stories and experiences together. This is for laughing about the highs and lows of raising a toddler. These are the honest confessions of a NICU Mum.