In which Plan C comes into effect, in full detail. Don’t read on if you’re squeamish – this is my story, as much as I remember 24 hours later.
Wednesday, I had the cleaners come, I visited Miriam and Oscar, I visited Anna and Lara, and then I picked Mark up from work. It was a pretty full day, and I was so focussed on encouraging Inigo to make his grand entrance, that I wasn’t exactly focussed on how he was doing.
By the time we got home, it was about 10pm, and I sat down with a big bowl of Bravo Lemon Lime Gelato (brand mentioned because it is the stuff of legend), hoping to kick start a bit of activity. By the time I went to bed an hour or so later, I still hadn’t noticed much in the way of Inigo activity, and I started to get a little concerned.
The next morning, instead of sleeping through the coffee delivery (Mark is a wonderful husband), I woke up, sat up, drank the coffee, and waited for the espresso to pass through the placenta and excite some action. Two hours and a spa later, I resolved to take myself off to hospital for a check.
I arrived at hospital just before 11am, and was hooked up to a CTG pretty quickly. The machine found a heartbeat that was racing a bit, and we resolved to watch it for a while to see if it settled while the coffee wore off, and to watch for movement (which was minimal).
After an hour on the machine, the heartrate dipped a bit, which prompted the midwives to consult with a doctor, who decided that the trace was worrying enough that I wouldn’t be leaving hospital without a baby, either by induction or C-section. I rang Mark, Mum, and the Doula, and told them all to be prepared.
The Doctor did an “internal”. If you’ve had a baby, you know exactly how unpleasant this is, if you haven’t, I’ll spare you the details. Suffice it to say that although it was unpleasant for me, Inigo found it really distressing, and his heartrate dipped alarmingly.
The Doctor found that my bits weren’t anywhere near ready for labour, so a C-section was decided upon, a consent form was called for, and things went very Monty Python for a little while.
My blood pressure had dropped, so I was feeling a little woozy, they turned me on my side to relieve the pressure, and both of us started to feel better.
The senior midwife returned, had a chat to the scalpel happy doctor, and convinced her that the surgery could wait at least until Mark arrived!
I handed my mobile to the lovely Leilani (one of the student midwives that has been looking after me) to follow up support people (and mainly to find Mark), as they wheeled me off to an ancient operating theatre. No complaints about the hospital at all, and the staff have all been beyond compare – but wheeling a frightened woman into an operating theatre that looks like a morgue, and then insisting on sticking needles in her spine before her husband shows up is a little bit mean. I understand that they were doing their best for me and my baby, but at the time I was a very small scared little person.
Just before the second needle went in, Leilani managed to let me know that Mark was just outside, and would be allowed in as soon as the anaesthetist was done with me. Soon he was by my side (in a very silly outfit, and I couldn’t feel my toes. They put up a sheet so I couldn’t see all the action, and I asked them politely only to give me the barest detail about what was going on.
My blood pressure dropped again, and I began to feel nauseous. I was given something to raise my blood pressure, which helped for a little while. Soon my blood pressure dropped again, and I was throwing up violently as I felt Inigo being lifted from my open abdomen, and heard him cry for the first time. 2:18pm, 29/11/07
At which point I became aware that there was an “issue”. Turns out there were a few issues, and one of them has potentially nasty consequences. We’ll going to be ok, but it’s been a hard day for our new family.
Inigo had always been a pretty active little guy, hence all our worries about turning him. And that’s why I was suspicious that he was so quiet on wednesday. It turns out that his placenta had started to deteriorate, the amniotic fluid had also diminished, and that he’d done a poo into it at some point. And then his breathing reflex had kicked in before he was out in the world, and he’d inhaled some poo into his lungs.
This happens quite a bit, and the consequences range from a few days on oxygen, to total loss of lung function, and death. Inigo breathed on his own straight away, so it was pretty likely that his issues were going to be on the more minor side – but we had to wait and see.
I was allowed to see him for about a minute before he was taken off to the special care ward. Mark went with him, and I was stitched up and wheeled into recovery. Again the lovely Leilani was there with me, and managed to talk them into letting mum come down to the recovery ward so I didn’t have to be alone. Which was wonderful, because they kept me there for ages while I waited for the spinal block to wear off enough so that I could feel my toes again.
Finally I was wheeled upstairs and allowed to see Inigo. He was naked under a heat lamp, with a space helmet over his head delivering oxygen. He had electrodes and a cannula, and SP02 monitor taped on to him, and he looked like a little alien space man. And because I was all wired up too, all I could do was hold his little hand and stroke his skinny little rib cage.
I stayed with him for a few hours. I couldn’t hold him, I couldn’t feed him, I couldn’t even give him a kiss, or change his nappy. But I did start to feel a bit connected to him, and I have certainly seen lots of uglier babies than this one.
Eventually, I made it to my room at about 7pm. I still couldn’t really feel my toes, but the pain of the surgery was starting to break through, and the weight of the days events was starting to hit home.
My parents were there, Marks parents were there, so I decided to postpone my meltdown for a little while. Christine came for a visit, Mum and Dad left, Bev and Ted left and came back with food (thanks!). Everyone left at around 11pm, and I tried to sleep.
Finally gave up at around 6am when the drugs ran out, and I’ve spent today arguing for more drugs, between visits to the special care nursery, and nursing my wounds. I have expressed a little milk, which has been given to Inigo via syringe. I won’t be allowed to feed him until he is off the oxygen, which might be Monday. Or it might not.
So apparently my “maternal instincts” are developed enough to have got him through what could have been nasty if I hadn’t acted. It’s a good feeling. While the outcome hasn’t been wonderful, it’s a lot better than the alternative, and it does look like we’ll be able to take the little guy home sooner or later.
In the meantime, we were able to convince the special care nurses to let me hold him for a few minutes tonight. We had a little skin to skin contact, and being able to hold him for the first time brought such a rush of emotion that I can’t possibly write about it without losing the plot completely.
Tonight, I have managed to convince them to give me a sleeping pill, so I am looking forward to not being a raving lunatic tomorrow.
Thanks everyone for your text messages, comments, emails, flowers, phone calls and esoteric vibes. Everything is appreciated, and I look forward to us both being healthy enough to introduce him to you all.