The Next 8 Days In Hospital

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.

Double Medela Symphony Pump

Double Medela Symphony Pump

Expressed milk and or formula top up

Expressed milk and or formula top up

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.

Phototherapy

Phototherapy

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.

Joshua in first week

Joshua in first week

A Taste Of What Is Due To Happen

It is the second week of March, and we are celebrating Mama Alicia’s birthday at her house.  All the family is there or due to arrive.  For the last hour my bottom was firmly on top of the couch, cosy, watching TV.  We are called to the table to a feast of food to celebrate.  Oh, how delicious it looks.  I head upstairs to use the toilet facilities and the next thing I know I am panicking, urging Monica to come towards me.  Like the initial part of my pregnancy, my knickers were drenched in blood.  If it is fresh blood and a significant amount then you need to be seen urgently if after 12 weeks of pregnancy.  I was 33 committed weeks into my pregnancy.  What on earth was happening?   Is Bump Lentil O.K?  Monica calmed me down to the point I somehow forced a little giggle (no clue what we ended up talking about) but on the other hand Mama Alicia was now panicking, in replacement.

Martin and I rushed to hospital, the closest being St Georges Hospital.  We had opted for Epsom Hospital but that was at least 30 minutes away. Martin escorted me to the A & E – a strange system where you do not report to reception but wait until a nurse sees you.  As there is no ticketing schedule or any type of organisation in place, anyone could have been seen first, no matter how severe or non-severe an injury could be.  Our impatience propagated and so did other patients.  After calling Gary’s partner, Heather, a midwife in Cumbria she advised to head to the maternity unit.  She also mentioned that the bleeding could be an indication of the placenta separating from the wall of the uterus before the baby is born. At this point, I am sure a surge of hormones are being produced, increasing my blood pressure.

“Can I have your pregnancy notes?” is the first question the midwife says when we arrive at the maternity ward.  My heart must have skipped a beat.  Idiotic me did not have them.  Stupid, I know – this was the first time I did not carry them!  Of all the times, why did I not have them with me!!!!!! I give them all I know as they ask all the questions.  “How many weeks are you? When is your due date?  Position of placenta? Blood type? Have you had bleeding previously?  Explained what happened today.” I answer all of these with ease eagerly waiting for them to tell me what is happening to Bump or myself.  Bleeding within the third trimester can be caused by sex, exercise, internal exams, infections, but these were all ruled out. My blood pressure was taken which was slightly raised than normal. My pads/knickers were checked of which they agreed it was a lot. An internal check was carried out. An electronic fetal monitor was used to record my bumps heartbeat and any contractions for continuous monitoring.  Two transducers are placed on belly with a belt.  Whilst the results were being recorded, the midwife would check them every spare moment they had.  Strangely they would also ask if I was experiencing any pain.  In response to this, which I found weird was no.  It turns out an hour or two later, the EFM was picking up contractions.  The results were inconclusive.  The midwives and doctors could not determine why I was bleeding, let alone having contractions that I could not feel.  Due to this, I was immediately sent to the delivery ward.  This started to feel surreal.  Martin was sent home to pick up the pregnancy notes and pack the hospital bag.

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The dreaded hospital gown and the green compression stockings appeared to my disgust.  After putting these on it was explained that I could be having Lentil prematurely and that I needed to be observed further.  They needed to do all the precautions in case he wanted to see Martin and I early.  Two steroid injections were required – not by the arm but on the bum cheek.  They are painful, worse than blood tests! My bum cheeks were uncomfortable! As I was not full term in the pregnancy, the steroids were to help his lungs mature. (He’s going to be a superhero).  A intravenous was placed on my left hand ready if bump wanted to make his way through to our world.  That just became uncomfortable – the amount of times I accidentally rubbed it against something! My sanitary pads were constantly checked as well.  Waiting to see what would occur next, I rested.  When at night, hearing a lady use her tonsils to the best of her ability was scary but yet thrilling. I was treated very well – midwives and specialists explained everything.  Anesthetist and pediatrics visited to explain procedures and answer any questions I had.  After a day, the bleeding reduced but the contractions were still detectable.  They decided to move me to the maternity ward as the lack of bleeding reduced the probability of labour.  We were in the hospital for 4 days but unfortunately no-one could advise why the bleeding occurred.  Bump was healthy – however I was slightly disappointed as was looking forward to seeing him early.