Now her due date was Jan 13. Everyone says first babies are late – but in my family we were all early. My sister was a month early and very poorly 4 pounds and 6 ounces, I was a month early and 5 pounds, 5 ounces (data from Dad).
My Mum’s sister, my godmother, Angela’s youngest daughter Jennifer (who is also pregnant and due in May) was 4 pounds and 6 ounces and my nephew Sean was a week early and 6 pounds.
Tuesday Dec 14
Feeling guilty about work it is very busy coming up to Christmas and my pre-maternity leave holiday is due to start on Friday. I wanted to go back and sort things out. But because I had been off sick with a chest infection since Dec 2 I needed a ‘fit to work’ certificate from the doctor for HR. After trying unsuccessfully to get an appointment first thing – I was advised to come down at 2pm and make one for the after in person.
1000 – Started cleaning like a mad thing – after being bed ridden for two weeks I was reclaiming my flat. Everything is in the wrong place, post builders etc. I admit to dragging the changing table into the nursery – but it wasn’t that heavy.
1100 – dull back ache – this is new. I had a bit of back ache before but this was different. Kept cleaning.
1355 – arrived at doctors with even worse backache and had to stand outside as it was still locked after lunch.
1400 – made an appointment for 1520, doctor has baby clinic first – decided to run errands.
1415 – standing in queue in post office – swaying my hips yoga style as it helps relieve my back pain. Thinking -‘ now I need 25 stamps for UK, 4 for Ireland, one for India and one for Canada…… could I possibly be in labour – nah !’
1425 – went to coffee shop for cup of tea. Noticing that the pain is coming and going in what hypnobirthers describe as ‘surges’ the ‘c’ word is banned.
1430 – abandoned tea and decided to return to doctors and demand to see her sooner
1440 – explained to receptionist and promises to get me in sooner
1510 – finally see doctor.
ME – ‘Can you tell me that I am not in early or false labour’
doctor examines my tummy and witnesses my backache
DOCTOR – ‘It may be nothing but you are acting suspiciously and should go to the hospital – will get you a cab.”
I called Matt and he ignored me (in a meeting he says) so I texted him saying that I may be in labour and on the doctor’s advice was on the way to the hospital. He called back immediately.
1530 – in cab. Driver asks every two minutes if I am okay. I call my friend Dana to get her try to cancel an Ocado (shopping) delivery that is due at 6pm. Try and fail to time my contractions on my phone – no one tells you to figure this out in advance.
1600 ish – maternity triage. I am kept waiting in the corridor until 5pm when they decide there isn’t a bed for me and bring me to labour ward. So much for hypnobirthing and delivering my baby in a peaceful, calm environment. Labour room has fluorescent lights, chattering nurses not restful !
They bring me a yoga ball, which I find really helpful, sitting swirling my hips and breathing – but due to my chest infection – my lung capacity isn’t what it should be and my breathing is a little shallow for the whole yoga/hypnobirthing thing.
‘So much for the hypnobirthing’ I quip, all the medics in the room smile – except one elderly nurse person – who rolls her eyes to heaven – very supportive !
1720 . A midwife (they change every 5 min or so it seems) says that she is not getting a good reading of baby’s heartbeat whilst I am the yoga ball and I have to get on the bed. Now it becomes more difficult – I am given gas and air and it helps a little.
1730 Ocado delivery driver calls my mobile to ask if he can deliver the groceries 30 min early – ‘No – I am in labour !’.
1740 ish (timings may not be entirely accurate here)
Consultant and sonographer examine me with ultra sound – baby is traverse (breech). They could try to turn her (ECV ?) but it would cause her distress. An emergency caesarean is the best option for baby.
1745 ish – Matt arrives and around the same time the midwife says that baby’s heartbeat drops off with each contraction. I wasn’t really taking this in as a major problem – don’t know why. But I was pretty calm. Perhaps the hypnobirthing did some good after all.
We were waiting an hour and a half for the operating theatre to become free to do the caesarean.
‘I could push’ I say, to a chorus of ‘DON’T PUSH !’ from everyone else in the room. I didn’t say I was going to – just that I could !
1900ish – We are moved into pre theatre hall, Matt taken off to get all gowned up. He wanted to be a doctor as a kid so I bet he secretly enjoying all of this. I am taken into theatre and given an epidural. So many people prodding and poking at me. They shaved me down there – I have no dignity left. Around a dozen people looking at my nether regions.
1952 – Catherine emerges from my tummy. Matt tells me that she had her legs up around her ears, as she was half way down the birth canal bum first. I was 8 cm dilated. Catherine is whipped away for checks – so much for bonding and immediate breastfeeding. Then she is taken away with Matt for antibiotics (just in case). The first of many injections etc. Poor thing. My memory is hazy of this time. My birth plan – (no antibiotics, no Vitamin K, no mention of contractions) gathers dust in the corner – totally ignored. As she is so early I decide to ignore it myself.
They move us back into the delivery room until a bed becomes free in the post natal ward. It turns out that none becomes free until the morning. A sleep free night follows and I am transferred to post natal ward around 0900.
Post natal care
The ward is horrid – clean and everything – but cramped, fluorescent lights, Mums coughing (including me) , babies crying (not Catherine) – two sleep free days and night follow.
Now my timings are a little hazy. But on day two – I think I got to take a shower – needed to be mobile they told me. Catherine looked at me very suspiciously when I returned – who are you ? I want the smelly person – she seemed to be saying. But is colostrum (early milk) is colostrum and she soon latched on.
Soon after that we got moved to a private room – bliss – we could play the radio as much as liked. We got used to breast feeding whilst listening to Seamus Heaney reading ‘Beowolf’ not that I am pushy mother or anything.
Matt was sent on emergency shop to Brent Cross. I had stocked up on two new born sets of babygrows etc – but she was swamped in them as she was only 5 pounds. He did very well and chose some nice tiny baby stuff. But he struggled with cotton wool – bought cosmetic pads, and sanitary towels – bought panty liners. After a long discussion with the man in the hospital shop who was none the wiser on the issue on sanitary towels he bought the right thing ! Hurrah for Daddy.
On Friday we were set free. All the tests (and there were a lot) gave both of us the all clear !
Midwife can’t believe Catherine is my first baby as she is feeding so well and doctor says that of all the babies born at 35 weeks that she is aware of – Catherine is the first to leave hospital.
She is beautiful baby who is easy to calm – very placid in nature or is it nurture and exposure to hypnobirthing/ yoga and meditation in the womb ?