The fun all started at the 38 weeks scan. My pregnancy was text book simple, baby moving nicely and a very neat, on the small side bump. People kept saying to me they couldn't believe I was as far along as I was as the bump was so small but I wasn't worried about it. I was waking up a lot in the night with bladder alarms and leg cramps and that was about the only discomfort I had.
So the midwife was doing her usual prodding and firm poking of my tum as I was laid prostrate on the examining table when she started hmming a bit. "Your baby has rather a bony bottom." Oh? "In fact, that might just be the head. I'm not 100% sure. It probably is the bottom, I'm almost sure of it but we better send you for a scan just in case it is breech."
I really didn't think it was breech. But then, I was convinced it was a boy and at the start I was convinced I wasn't pregnant, so that shows my instincts for you. I saw my midwife on the Monday, and two days later we trotted to the hospital to have this scan. The day unit consists of the most miniscule cubicles where you are literally laid on a small bed about 3ft away from the next bed, separated by a lightweight screen. Poor Nick was constantly in the way of the scanning machine and was visibly trying to shrink himself out of the way whilst also getting a view of the grainy scan picture. After waiting an age we are scanned and yes, breech baby! Bony bottom indeed.
We then had to wait for a doctor to come along and explain the options. They are:
1 - hope the baby turns naturally, wait and have a natural birth. If you have a natural breech birth there are risks for the baby so no thanks, plus the midwives aren't that well trained in delivering breech babies.
2 - book a ceasarian.
3 - book an ECV which is a medical procedure where they try to turn the baby around externally to get it in the right position which has a 50% success rate. If it works you give birth as normal.
We went for the ECV option which was booked in for that Friday. I wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything that morning, as they have to prepare you for an emergency C section if the ECV goes wrong (of which there is a very tiny chance). So we turn up at the hospital at 1pm (hungry!) and are shown to a hospital room. I am scanned and the baby is indeed still breech. I am given a gown and told to strip to my pants. I leave my socks on and worry about my unsexy knickers. I feel completely well so it is weird being in a gown on a hospital bed. I feel exactly like an extra from Casualty.
Some nurses and aneasthetists wander in and out, ask me questions and it all seems a bit serious. A drip needle is prodded around in my right arm to no avail so they butcher my left arm instead, leaving a large purple bruise that doesn't fade for weeks. Whilst the canula is in my arm throbs a little as if it's been knocked. Blood is also taken for some reason. Eventually the nice Chinese looking doc from the other day comes in and announces we are ready. A pulse monitor thing is put on my free arm and about 7 people come into the room. I am feeling a bit of a VIP at this point, and also a bit nervous. There are trainee midwives, nurses, a second doctor with a lovely Canadian accent.
The Canadian doctor starts to manhandle my bump, sticking his fingers in deep and pushing the baby around. We get so far, then pause as I'm finding it quite painful. The baby pings back. He tries the other way to no avail. A more senior lady doctor also tries then gives up, this baby likes being head up. The people in the room gradually file out and a no nonsense looking midwife comes in with a schedule in her hand.
"So, we can book the ceasarian for either Monday or Wednesday of next week..."
Holy shit! Monday is only 3 days away! I can't possibly have a baby in 3 days time so I plump for Wednesday. Even that is a week before my due date. So much for thinking that this baby would arrive late. They give me a sandwich before I leave which is kind, I'm ravenous!
We spent the next few days sorting out boring domestic things like finally buying a tumble dryer (Thank God. I use it all the time now.).
So the big day came... 6th October 2010...
The day before we had to go back to collect some tablets and some serious looking shower gel that kills all known germs. I was instructed to wash with it before bed and then again in the morning and not to put anything on my skin afterwards, not even deodorant. The tablets were anti-nausea and anti-acid incase of any side effects to the drugs they were giving me, and I had to take them at 6am. It was strange, waking up and knowing that I was going to meet my baby today - incredibly exciting and also scary, what if something went wrong with the Op? What if there was something wrong with the baby? But it also felt like Christmas day morning when you're a kid, waking up and looking at all the presents and that feeling of intense, bubbling anticipation.
We were up at the Princess Anne (Of Channel 4's One Born Every Minute fame) Hospital by 7:30am. We were shown to what was to be my 'recovery room' - a large room with curtains cordoning off 2 bed areas. My bed was there waiting and I duly hopped on to it after putting on the rather attractive hospital gown, you know, the sort that leaves your bum flapping out the back. They told me to bring my own pillow and slippers so I got myself comfy. We were told just to hang fire, as we knew one lady was booked in before us and possibly one other as well. I was rescanned to check the baby was still breech which she was. Eventually they called me into the operating theatre around 11am. Eeeeeeeee!!
I walked in my bum-flappy gown to the theatre with my pillow tucked under my arm while Nick got changed into the rather sexy green overalls complete with hair net. After waiting outside for about 10 minutes I was shown in - it was a large, high ceilinged room with lots of natural light and a CD was playing gentle music in the background. Various people seemed to be milling around. The atmosphere was surprisingly calm and relaxed. I got up onto a slim bed and was told to perch on the side, hunched forward and to hug the pillow so that they could give me a spinal injection. First though another canula into the hand which that time didn't hurt at all.
So they first numbed a small patch at the base of my spine, then I had to keep still as the serious injection happened. I was told it would take 5/10 mins to work so I swung myself up onto the bed ready for the numbing action. In due course my legs got a bit warm, tingly and heavy feeling but I could still lift them off the bed and wriggle my toes. The very pretty lady aneasthetist who reminded my of my cousing Karen looked a bit perplexed. I was supposed to be numbed from the boobs down and she kept spraying an ice cold liquid down the side of my tummy to test my numbness... It kind of worked but clearly not properly as I could still wave my legs around a bit which isn't supposed to happen. Eventually she gave up with the liquid and decided to poke an epidural into me, that's another spinal injection that actually stays in, like a drip. This worked fine, although I had one horrific moment where it make me feel horrendously nauseous. Luckily she had warned me this might happen and she soon fixed it with some power drugs into my cannula.
Poor Nick had waited much longer than he was told he would have to and by this point he was bricking it! He still found the time to take some dashing photos of himself in his blue scrubs on his iPhone though... Anyway they called him through and he came and sat by my head, so I was looking up his nostrils, lovely. The blue screen was whipped up below my boobs and quick as a flash those surgeons started up, no messing about! I obviously couldn't see what was going on down there but the weirdest thing is that you can feel everything they do, just without pain. For example, I felt when they dragged the blade across my tummy to cut me open and it felt exactly like someone drawing a line on you with a brio through a pair of jeans. SO freaky. Then there was a lot of pushing and pulling about, quite a bit of pressure, then I remember the anaesthetist looking surprised and saying "Oh! You have a baby!".
Lo and behold, next thing a quite large looking, wet, reddish baby is lifted up from behind the curtain to greet me with the most perfect expression of utter shock and horror! I will never, ever forget that face! And arms and legs all out like a starfish. Eyes wide open, gulping in air and apparently doing a big wee as she came out, so I'm told. I was so busy looking at that face that I didn't clock the sex and neither did Nick, and they whipped her away for a quick apgar test and wrap up before we even knew it. It was while she was being weighed etc that they told us she was a girl and I really felt that all my Christmasses had come at once. My little Phoebe.
The next half an hour is a bit of a blur, I was sewn up again but all I can remember is Pheebs being put into me arms and just being completely and utterly fascinated by her. Nick was quite emotional, it was all just lovely. After that I had to go through the indignitys of being moved onto a trolley whilst being all floppy and useless, quite funny as I felt I was going to fall off and knowing I couldn't stop myself! Don't worry reader, I was in good hands. Back down the hallway with Phoebe nestled on my chest and into the recovery room with Nick for some peace and quiet. P was a bit on the chilly side so our midwife popped her into an incubator for a hour or two. She zonked out for a kip as soon as the lovely warmth of the chamber hit her, it was like lying on a sunny beach! I took some time out to have a bed bath (completely undignified, but really couldn't give a crap by that point. I had a tablet up my bumholio as well to add insult to injury, felt the need to giggle inappropriately when the nurse inserted it and say something witty, but I resisted the urge, thank God) and also clock a good look at the placenta, which was put into a kidney dish for me. Very bright red and large and bloody, say no more. I got a photo of it.
Well, I recovered fine, two nights in the clink (oops, I mean hospital) and I was desperate to get home, although the car ride home was terrifying for me. Being outside the cosy protection of the hospital is extremely daunting at first and I sat in the back next to the carseat with an expression of wide eyed terror the whole way. My first experience of being an overprotective mother!!
That is the longest blog post for, well, ever... and I finally finished it after a year and a half. It didn't take me that long to write it, may I add. I just have a lot on it seems, constantly, and there is always something else to do rather than blog. Hopefully the next post will arrive a bit quicker. Got a lot to catch up on! Thanks for reading it.