Leo’s birth however was a far less beautiful experience, like so many great plans I had started with the idea of a hypnobirthing experience. My birth was not going to be painful but rather powerful. My body knew what it was doing and I was going to trust it to do exactly that.. Birth!
At the start of our pregnancy compared to the end, life could not have changed more. At 6weeks we nervously/excitedly told our parents. Ade’s mum had flown over and before heading out for dinner we hand in hand tripped over our excitement to exclaim ‘we’re having a baby!’
Unaware were we then that by the time I entered my last trimester, devestatingly Ade’s mum would be diagnosed AND lose her fight against Cancer. No words 😔
Much of my pregnancy was spent saying goodbye to Ade as he flew out to spend as much time as possible with his Mum. What with midwives and antinatal appointments, football tournaments and work, in the final weeks I watched as my own Mum was hospitalised due to ill health.
On the day of my baby shower, and with Ade saying his final goodbyes my beautiful friends and family rallied around so that I had 2 hours of blissful baby talk and calm.. Little did I know that they were all masking the news that Ades mum had passed away only hours before.
So a week later and with less than 4weeks till our due date we buried his Mum. The following week, my last at work, went uneventfully quick. By this point I now knew my own mother would be unable to leave hospital in time for our birth and so I spent my week getting my head straight. I walked out of the office on the Friday, 3 weeks to go before I was due. With a free weekend I had on my list of to-dos – pack my hospital bag! Wash the baby’s clothes! Clean everything in sight!
On that Sunday I stocked up on cleaning stuff and on Monday I practically wedged my 8.5month pregnant self into all the kitchen nooks and crannies to clean!
That night every hour on the hour from midnight I was up to the loo, the first time in my entire pregnancy that I’d needed to pee so frequently that by morning I felt more tired than when I had gone to bed! I went out shopping at 9 but by 10 I’d quick stepped back to the car as it seemed I had become incapable of holding my own bladder! Yes you heard it right, I definitely thought I’d pee’d myself and on the drive home I pretty much had my pelvic floor held so tightly i felt like I could have held a weekly shop up my lady garden! .. By the time I opened our front door the Bombay doors gave way and the penny finally dropped.. My waters had gone!
I rang my midwife who asked when did you last feel baby move? … Urm… The more I thought about it the more I realised how distracted I’d been with publicly peeing my pants and in fact I had not felt baby move since before I went to bed.
Suffice to say the midwife was incredibly reassuring and advised we pop along to get baby checked at the day unit. So relaxed was I, as I chucked breast pads and nappies, night clothes and blankets into the baby bag 😳😂. We set back out for the hospital.. In my head I was repeating ‘my body can do this, I am strong’ and as I was hooked up to the monitor, given a clicky device to click every time baby moved we were left in our room with a machine playing the lullaby of our babies heart beat! This was our moment of feeling empowered.
An hour in and having been told by our midwife twice to remember to use the clicker for baby movements finally she started to become concerned that baby was acting ‘sleepy’ .. I went from feeling empowered to feeling powerless in a heartbeat.
That sweet soothing heartbeat lullaby began to buffer .. It’s a scary experience to hear it slow its beating before pausing for what felt like an age, the midwife ran in and we waited to hear it kick back in ..
I attempted to sit up, heart racing I felt I needed to be upright and in control, but as sure as I moved the heart rate again slowed to almost a stop.. My midwife raised her voice at me ‘Stop!’
She called in for back up and pushed me back down onto the bed. Babies heart rate began to come back and I remember looking at Ade as I felt my stomach bottom out in fear.
A specialist came in and after another dip in heart rate, one examination was needed before she uttered the words that demolished any power I had.. ‘prolapsed cord’ as soon as the words left her mouth it felt like the room swelled with people, doctors, nurses, I had a nurse putting a canula in one arm, another explaining that babies cord was coming down first and each contraction was cutting off oxygen and suffocating baby. One doctor was down the business end with her entire hand pushed up there to stop the cord as two more had me turning face down on the bed, arse in the air with the puppeteer doc still wedged in place.
Out of the corner of my eye I could see Ade and was sure he was on the edge of passing out as he comforted me and told me everything was going to be OK, before I had chance to say anything the brakes on the bed were off and this whole show was on the move out the door and down the corridor… Yes with me face down, arse up, with a doctors hand shoved up the more intimate areas for all to see.. Delightful!
As is the way with operations you feel like you come round instantly, how much time had passed? What was the actual time? Where is my baby? … Do I have a baby?
I had a million questions, but I didn’t dare ask one, as shock finally kicked in I couldn’t bring myself to ask that most important question, was everything ok? In that moment it was easier to say nothing than to face the answers I suddenly feared.
But in came a bubbly midwife and before I had to work out how to say it, she said ‘let’s get you down to see your baby shall we!’
As they wheeled me onto a recovery ward I caught a glimpse of Ade holding bundles of blankets and as they were placed down on me… Somewhere in the masses of layers there was the tiniest of little faces all pink and squidgy, looking calm and perfect. Ade looked less green and more gorgeous as he beamed from ear to ear. Baby Leo had made it through the ordeal just fine. In that moment I felt the need to whip off my top and decant the baby from his blanket fort and we lay skin-to-skin for what felt like an endless time, he was so small and tiny at 5lb12oz but he was perfect.
I spent that night awake again but this time to watch my baby, I was insanely tired but my eyes refused to close as I waited anxiously for each breath he took and exhaled when he did.
My hypnobirthing plan failed before it had even started. Months of preparing to be in control and when it came down to it my only choice was to trust and to have faith in the medical team surrounding me. It was their control that was needed. A prolapsed cord is rare.. So rare that it is only practiced on staff training days as an emergency protocol.
Our birth was unexpected, in parts it was bat shit scary but because of a dedicated and great team at the hospital it ended with us taking home our beautiful baby boy, and that is really all that matters isn’t it?