Birth Story

On the 11th of April 2008, Kelvin and I decided it was time to have another baby.
It was the 21st of February 2011 until we got one.
After 13 months of unsuccessful attempts at conception, we sought help, and found that I had adhesions in my uterus. One quick procedure, and they were gone. I fell pregnant with Sybella within 2 cycles. Sybella died. The most unfair thing about her death, apart from her being a beautiful little girl who never had a chance at life, was that she was so desperately wanted. We wanted her so badly, we dreamed about her and loved her. Some people are unhappy about their pregnancies, they do all the "wrong" things throughout, or they may terminate. I am not judging, because I never know anyone's personal circumstances, but to work so hard to get your baby and have her taken...well, it made me want to lob my shoe at the drug addict/negelctful/abusive mothers.
Another 9 long months, and we finally held our longed for baby...not without his own hiccups, of course. Who would we be without soap opera drama surrounding us? When it comes to our kids, there seems to be no such thing as straightforward.

The crippling anxiety was making me completely dysfunctional at home and I waited and waited for my baby to stop moving. I had no faith that our little boy would make it here alive. My fear was affecting my everyday life, and so I was admitted to hospital for a second time, and this time I would stay until his birth. I made the most of my time in hospital and rested as much as I could. The midwives and doctors were most understanding and kind. I spent my time watching Eastbound and Down, reading Russell Brand's My Booky Wook and crying with guilt over leaving Jack at home. He was in great care, I know. But I was still missing him. These were his last days of being an "only" child (physically, as of course, he has a sister already) and I wasnt nurturing him like I should have been.
The last two days before the birth were the longest. They dragged and dragged. The night before, my heart raced and I called for CTG's quite a few times. By morning, I was bleary eyed but could not believe that our day had arrived. Everyone involved was incredibly excited. Two midwives came to collect me with beaming grins. Kelvin was happy and couldnt wipe the smile off his face. I walked from the ward and it seemed like I had a midwife guard of honour. Unfortunately, I still couldnt share their excitement and could barely bust a smile.
Things happened pretty quickly from there. I had opted for a scheduled c-section on February 21st 2011, at 38 weeks. I did not want to have surgery, it was painful and frightening. But I had two options. A section at 38 weeks, or a natural spontaneous labour at term, whenever that may be. The thing was, I couldnt go past 38 weeks. I had enough trouble getting to 38 weeks without a breakdown. I couldnt be induced for a "natural" labour because I had had a previous caeserean with Jack for breech presentation and they wouldnt induce a live baby. So...caeserean it was. A small price to pay for my sanity. Maybe it was selfish of me to have a section purely to alleviate my own fear. I felt terrible, knowing that the baby had no idea he was being born today. He was about to be pulled out of his warm little pocket without any knowledge of it!
I was prepped for the surgery. I had a gorgeous anaesthesiologist called Jeff who inserted my cannula and was just the right balance between comedic and sincere. As it turned out, he too had just had a stillborn daughter. He must have been strong man to endure that, then return to his job as an obstetric anaesthesiologist.
Then it was time to walk into the actual operating theatre. You can leave your dignity at the door here. On the table, I was instructed to hold a very specific pose as the spinal block was inserted. This took a while and every attempt was terrifying. Finally achieved, I was helped to lay down on the table, where my blood pressure promptly dropped to something ridiculous over thirty. I thought I was dying. DYING. It is what I imagine it to feel like. When I started to vomit too, I was really proud. Something was pushed through my drip and I felt much better.
The anaesthesiologist stood by my head. "So, can you feel anything?" he asked and I shook my head. "Good" he replied. "Because they started two minutes ago."
Before I knew it, he was here.


A little cry and a glimpse of his purple body was all I got at first. I saw him moving and staff were exclaiming with delight over how beautiful he was. I thought I would be overwhlemed with emotion and cry everywhere, and maybe I would have been if the fear didnt kick in straight away. The fear that began with "he's okay, Stephanie, he's just having some trouble."
Trouble? Fluid in the lungs, apparently. They were using some equipment to remove this fluid. He wasnt crying, but I could see him moving. I was in a dream state. This wasnt happening. He was just meant to cry, be brought to me, and then go to Recovery for cuddles and breastfeeds. We were meant to call everyone ecstatically with our happy ending. But for sixteen long minutes, the paediatrician worked on him, attached an oxygen mask while everyone else stood around looking sombre. Occassionally someone would come over and explain what was happening, but I couldnt believe it when they said he was okay. I could tell by their faces that it was serious...they just didnt want to worry me. I must have been in some kind of shock because I felt insanely tired. My eyelids were heavy and I couldnt keep them open. I lay there "sleeping" while my son fought for breath. And eventually, he was taken to Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
I was taken to Recovery, where I began to shake uncontrollably. This was a combination of anaesthetic and nerves. It lasted for thirty minutes.
I was wheeled in to see my baby and the sight was beautiful but terrifying. He was hooked up to monitors, a feeding tube and nasal ventilation equipment called a CPAP. We sat for hours with him and doctors explained about Archie's respiratory distress. He was going to be okay, but he just needed this bit of extra help. This kind of thing happened to lots of babies, I was assured. I looked around, and Archie was the only full term baby there. All the others were tiny little preemies, at 26 or 27 weeks. I dont know where their parents got the strength from.
I was taken back to my room...against my will, I must add. We still hadnt told anyone that he'd been born, we wanted to exclaim our news without a "but, he's in the NICU."
Eventually, we made tentative phone calls and decided that we would bring Jack in for a visit. Upon visiting the NICU again, with Jack this time, we were met with a lovely surprise, which was that Archie's CPAP had been removed and he had been "downgraded" from NICU to High Dependancy Care. Apparently his breathing had stabilised and that was a good sign, obviously. But now his glucose levels had dropped. I did not have Gestational Diabetes in my pregnancy, but apparently, babies with respiratory distress often have low levels of glucose. As a result, breastmilk alone was not sustaining his glucose levels. He needed top ups of formula. It took three days in the Special Care Nursery to get Archie's glucose levels to normal. I was running to the nursery every 4 hours for feeding with a c-section wound to contend with. I was in trouble with the nursery staff for not being there on time, and I was in trouble with the maternity midwives for not resting properly. I couldnt win!
I have to say, though, the paediatric nurses in that NICU were amazing. Their skills are second to none.
Once Archie had stable glucose levels, he was able to return to my room in Maternity with me. That made things easier. After ten days in hospital, Archie and I came home. We had a slow start to breastfeeding and I "gave up" for a while. The kid had absolutely ruined my nipples and the pain was excruciating. Not only that, his blood sugar seemed to drop whenever he went without a formula feed. I allowed my nipples to heal and now he is back breastfeeding full time. Occassionally I give him a bottle if he is particularly unsettled, and I have learned that we all do what is best for our kids and in this case, formula was needed to keep Archie's glucose up.
Right now, he is doing beautifully. Of course, none of us sleep much, but this newborn period goes so fast, I am so aware of that.

But we made it. We have our family: Jack, Sybella and Archie.

Thank you for your support and kindness.