I head to the bathtub just to clean myself. My vagina feels like it’s been ripped to shreds. My tummy feels wobbly, loose and weak. I wonder how Joshua feels – he’s been squeezed out, where he had a bit of a cone head! As I soak, I take a breather, realising that I gave birth to my little human, my little boy. I am amazed and in utter shock! Me, a mummy?!! I have my own family, Joshua, Martin and I? Very strange. The bath is soothing me, but the water starts turning red. Disappointed I couldn’t be there longer I get out. It’s time to wear the maternity pads of which I forgot that they’d be a lot of bleeding afterwards for weeks.
Returning back to the maternity ward as a family, it’s late in the night. We try and get some sleep and Joshua is actually a gem during the night. We’ve awaken him for feeds and checks only. Through the night, my eyes are drawn to him as I just can’t stop looking at him. As he’s not latching well on my breast, I worry that I can’t produce enough milk which actually really hurts, especially as I am told to hand express as I opted for breastfeeding. The hand expressing needed patience from me to get it going (and possibly the right technique) of which I found so difficult but got there in the end and was able to express up to 45ml.
The morning a midwife does her routine checks for all mothers and their babies. As he is physically checked, his colour is also checked. I hear “He’s a bit yellow”. I think, well that’s because I am yellow – drrrrrrrrrrr, forgetting about the jaundice symptom. I then remember it’s due to bilirubin not being expelled properly from Joshua’s body, which causes the yellow bruising. Good thing I didn’t blurt it out. My heart sinks twice as his foot is pricked to test for Jaundice, along with confirmation of Jaundice at the bilirubin levels of 117. On top of this he is also taking to the neonatal clinic for antibiotics as he was early to help prevent or at least decrease any infections that could occur. He’s returned to me with a sock on his hand to cover the pain he’s experienced. Feeling really low about all of this, Joshua is treated with phototherapy. This is a UV light treatment in his cot to help break down the bilirubin. This entails that Joshua only wears a nappy and a mask (Makes him look like a superhero), so that all his skin can be exposed to the light. The downfalls with this is you have to be quick on feeding, changing nappy’s and soothing him, so that he can absorb as much light as possible. This was a very stressful process for Martin and I as we wanted to be spending quality time with him on the first week, with skin to skin, playing, and holding him. In addition, I had to breast feed, use expressed milk, and top up with formula which was classified as one feeding. We then had to feed every 3 hours no matter what, to ensure Joshua could flush out the bilirubin with his poo and urine. (O my gosh the poo! He had expelled and aimed his black poo with a gesture of his fart all over me!). I have to say there were times I felt like giving up on breastfeeding. The feeding became a tiresome schedule through each day and was quite a battle.
A case of the baby blues showed its face, whilst Martin was away during the course of 1 night. Amongst the crying of the other babies in the ward, the engorgement of my breasts (Boy, were they so painful), the 3 feedings in 1, changing nappies, consoling him when crying, seeing the UV light, pelvic/back pain, tired, not being able to always hold him and questioning everything I’m doing bought me to utter despair. I felt useless, crap and a failure. I got through it many hours later, as a midwife was there to advise and assist where needed. I still have little sobbing moments to this day ( 5 weeks ) but what do you expect!? I’m hormone crazy where my body is trying to get back to normal.
All through this, Joshua stayed quite positive. He was usually quite well behaved. He did however despise that mask. If he knew how to use his hands he would have ripped that mask in our faces! When night time arose, he would fidget a lot but was quiet. His temperature was a tad bit low most days and nights so I did get the chance to have a bit of skin to skin. Rather than fully enjoying this time, it was rushed so that the time in the UV light couldn’t be compromised. Eventually he looked better where the yellow decreased. But each day he would endure a blood test – which he took remarkably well with only flinching and no crying.
Being there was a challenge for 8 days. As I was getting familiar with everything, I did see some new mummies and daddies really struggle. One thinking a bit of posseting is baby chocking and about to die. Another not holding the baby at all. The lady across me was experiencing the same – with her baby having jaundice. The mother who can’t carry or move as easy. The mama who didn’t have English as her first language so didn’t understand what the doctors were saying. What helped was Martin being there, family and friends visiting and the midwives being very helpful constantly. We learnt so much and felt more confident by the end of the week. It turns out that that they could not find a fault of why the jaundice is being prolonged after mainly tests. We are home but Joshua still continues to have jaundice (5 weeks and 6 days later), of which the updated results shows his bilirubin is higher than when he was born and that he has neutropenia which is abnormally low number of blood cells. Awaiting the next steps from the paediatrician.
The morning started with my midwife check-up. I had all the usual checks; urine sample, blood pressure and measurement of belly. I was then told Bump Lentil was still not engaged but at least he was head down (He better be as my belly feels so much heavier and uncomfortable!) My parents visit that afternoon and i was looking forward to the massage my Mama gives me on my back and arms, since the last few weeks. In the evening, Martin runs a hot bubble bath. I’m usually a shower type person, but this felt so warming and relaxing. My senses and body take a welcome break in the hot water surrounding me. Afterwards I check my belly – I’ve never really notice the spider veins under my belly. That’s because I don’t have eyes down there! I only noticed them on my sides. To end our night, Martin and I usually read the Day by Day Pregnancy Book, so that we can understand what is happening to Bump and to me. Also so that bump can hear and be familiar with our voices. Usually we have to catch up a couple of days. I have been adamant to try and get ahead, especially because of the scare a few weeks ago. (Also that I made a bet with him that Lentil would arrive this week so wanted to know anything further ie like Labour procedures. As I get comfortable (at least try to) a trickle of liquid runs by leg. I momentarily think quietly. Could this be my waters breaking? Or has my lack of pelvic exercises led to urinary incontinence? How am I meant to tell Martin as a grown adult I’ve just peed the bed, irrespective if it’s a symptom of pregnancy? I should have bought one of those waterproof covers for the mattress! I turn to Martin, disrupting his reading and indicated I’ve have to check what the watery substance is and head to my best friend, the toilet. It has seen me oh so many times today and throughout my pregnancy.
My knickers fall between my feet to the floor whilst I figure out what is happening whilst my bottom is parked on the toilet seat. Possibly a good 3-4 minutes later I shout to Martin that I’m sure it’s my waters breaking. Kind of disappointed it’s not like the stories you hear where it’s a gush of water. It slowly continues. I do question myself, maybe it’s just a prolonged pee! Whilst I sit on the loo, I get Martin to call the maternity ward. They advise to put wear a sanitary towel for an hour, with legs raised and analyse at the end if it is completely soaked. So that’s what I did! It blatantly was 10minutes later but I continued to raise my feet. Panicking deep down, I ask Martin to check my hospital bag/repack it all. I panic about the unknown, the uncertainty of it all but recall happy thoughts equals oxytocin, to help aid the labour process. We call the Maternity Ward again and after that call we are on the way to the hospital. The journey there leads me so many worries. Firstly, why are we not relaxing at home like NCT advised before the labour progresses? Is this it – I haven’t been educated yet on the whole labour process! Am I really ready? Will I be a good mum? How do I change a nappy!? How is Martin feeling? I look at Martin whom radiates a cool calm exterior. At least he’s not making me panic!
I advise the midwives as per my notes on my phone the time the water started etc. They check my sanitry towel, something I am so familiar with now. As usual a urine sample, blood sample, blood pressure is taken along. Lentils heart beat is monitored again and so are my contractions. Turns out I am not even experiencing miniscule contractions yet. They explain that as the waters broke prior to contractions, that I and Lentil is prone to an infection, especially that I am slightly early to full term at 36 weeks and 2 days. They also wanted to induce labour but were happy for me to wait 24 hours in case it would happen naturally. Whilst I impatiently waited I had to have antibiotics.
The other pregnant ladies in the same room were being induced with the pessary. One of them had severe contractions but not strong enough, and the other nothing. Whilst they were more likely to meet their little munchkins soon, the midwives constantly checked on me and bump. Not to mention my waters were also looked at. Who knew that waters would still carry on dripping?! I had some show and plug where the water had light pink discharge and blood. That did scare the hell out of me, but this was all normal. Lentil was being stubborn and did not want to show himself at all. On Friday 1st April, the midwives sent me to the delivery ward for an induction. I didn’t understand why they were sending me first than the other ladies but I’m not going to complain.
At 12pm, Helen, the midwife that was going to assist me during labour introduced herself. She was from Bogna Regis, catering for cover as Epsom had been quite busy. She was so friendly and helpful with such a delicate voice. Before inducing me with the pessary she wanted to do an internal check. Her gloves went on and her fingers inside my vagina. It was a bit uncomfortable but to my astonishment I was already 2cm dilated. I thought I am meant to feel pain/contractions here? So instead of the pessary she gave me the drip. This would also do a 2 in 1 job so the antibiotics could still be given. Disappointed that the Birth Centre was in a faraway land, the midwife tried to make the experience as easy as possible. I wasn’t stuck to the bed and could use the birthing ball, but had to be careful as the drip and monitoring equipment was attached to me. Whatever the hormone was in the drip, it started to get the contractions to rear its ugly head, eventually. With each contraction I would breathe in and out whilst my butt was on the ball. Martin would pour some water or cranberry juice into a plastic cup for me to drink with a straw, along with feeding me snacks. He would assist my granny liken symptons, as I would be walking slow to the toilet with all the attachments. I had also asked Martin to inform my parents, but knew that they wouldn’t understand his accent. So he kept my cousins in the loop to tell them. As it’s April 1st, they did think it was a joke being April fools day!
The contractions got slightly more intense the more the hormone was increased but unfortunately it was big contractions but far apart, rather than close together. She then reduced it, and hours later they were close together. Don’t hate me but it wasn’t that bad – I just kept breathing at each contraction to reduce the pain. Agony wanted to say hello later when my back felt like a house fell on top of me. I tried bending down on the floor whilst resting my upper body over the ball but that did nothing to help. Now – I needed something to release the pain away from my back. The midwife gave paracetamol but it was so useless – it just made me tired. At this point I order Martin to massage my back. I stumbled onto the bed and the midwife checked how far dilated I was. She was expecting about 3-4cm but I was 6cm. Hurrah! At this point – the gas and air was given to me. It took a while to kick in but I loved it. It was a great high feeling. I only remember a few parts of this whole process – that being me begging for the epidural – which was too late by the time the anesthetist came as I was 9cm!
Here is everything I remember saying among all the screaming:
“Does this mean I have to do this on gas and air?!!”.
“I hate you Martin”
“I love you Martin”
“Why are you taking away the gas?”
“Don’t take away the gas. How can you do that to me?”
“How am I meant to be pushing?”
“You have the baby then!”
“I want to push!”
“I need to push!”
“I can’t do this”
“Can’t you get forceps?”
“Have I pooed? “
“Pull him out!”
“I can only hear you now Martin, and no-one else.”
“How do I know when a contraction comes for me to push?”
“I’ve got a cramp! Massage my leg!”
The midwifes shift finished at this point and a new one replaced her. Worst moment ever!! I recall the midwife saying to push as if I’m doing a poo! Ahahahaha. That must have been great to hear from Martins ears. My first push – actually did not make a dent. Apparently I was too high to actually push. I also got told off for screaming too much. Let me freaking scream woman. It’s a killer! Once I figured out the pushing which freaking cains like a bitch – I could feel him entering our world. I could obviously feel my vagina being stretched and felt like pushing when I wasn’t meant to but didn’t. I wanted him out as he was taking all the energy from me to push any more. It is excruciating pain every time he slides further. How second time mothers wish to go through this again is beyond me! I get that it shows the things we would do for our children – but really – this painful!? There was no way I could carry on any longer but somehow I found all that power to do so. Martin had explained that the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck twice, and that he looked purple. On my birth plan Martin was supposed to cut the chord however the midwives had to react quickly to untie the chord. The midwives did all they can urgently to make our baby at ease. My placenta came out as well after they pressed on my tummy. That was totally awkward. Did Martin see that? What ugliness comes out! People really eat that? WTF! Eventually soon after, with no stitches required, I get to hold Joshua James Southam in my arms on my chest with Martin beside me. I could not have done this without Martin as he was a great birth partner who provided all the support and encouragement I needed. (Awesome Martin, thank you) The 9 month pregnancy of crappy symptoms and the hell of labour, as everyone says was all worth it in the end. April 1st 2016, Martin and I welcome Joshua James Southam into this world, at 20:44, weighing 7lbs.
It’s very rare to see a new born that is immediately cute (Of course this is not including your own little bundle of joy). After travelling down the birth canal, and being squashed through parts of the pelvis, can you blame them? Using forceps or ventouse for an assisted delivery can contribute to the head shape deformity momentarily. Not forgetting that babies have been surrounded by amniotic fluid for the last nine months. Imagine yourself being in a pool just for a few hours – you’ll come up wrinkly similar to an oldie.
In spite of this, I still had the curiosity to see what Bump Lentil could look like with a 3D scan. With this piece of technology it was also a reassurance that he was OK. For those that have low risk pregnancies normally only 2 ultrasounds are given. So clicking away on Groupon app, I opted for the Window to the Womb – VIB baby scan package. This included 39% discount of the original price of £130.00. The package derived of 10 minute scan with well-being check, size 6”x4” prints, two 8”x6” prints, two keyrings, USB of all images and scan capturing the baby’s movement.
Window to the Womb staff were very approachable and friendly. After all it is a special moment within pregnancy. All the sonographers are trained and qualified and do their up most to try and get the best pose of your baby. This is anything from taking a walk, pressing slightly on belly, massaging the belly, having sugar snacks/cold drinks and doing a little jiggle. Bump Lentil did not want to play ball, and instead liked hiding his face. To keep him amused in my belly he constantly played with my umbilical cord – no wonder I get random pains! Showing off, he would then brush his feet against his face. I’m very impressed he knows how to entertain himself. This really opened my eyes to what was growing inside me and absolutely loved it! Martin could also see all of this too! We weren’t ascertain about the pictures taken so we were offered another chance to visit free of charge. The second time round he was being even cheekier and not even divulging a glimpse or any section of his face, but wanted to show his balls! We therefore selected photos from the original session and to be honest I loved them. Now all that is left pondering my mind is will he look similar when he’s in this world.