De­spite a de­liv­ery she hadn’t counted on, He­len Lux­ford finds it is mag­i­cal to be home with baby

Little Treasures - - CONTENTS -

He­len Lux­ford’s grat­i­tude for op­tions when in­ter­ven­tion skews her best laid plans

Day 1, March 27

I am feel­ing great – just fin­ished work. I’m so pleased I’ve man­aged to get to 38 weeks work­ing. I’ve been eat­ing so well and ex­er­cis­ing 2-3 times per week. At work I’ve been walk­ing up five flights of stairs most days. My mid­wife has been look­ing after me re­ally well, but she’s start­ing to worry. When she plots baby’s growth (tak­ing into ac­count I’m only 153 cms) baby mea­sures on the top of the chart. She refers me to the hospi­tal out­pa­tient clinic as she thinks I should be in­duced early, but the spe­cial­ist says no. I’m healthy with no di­a­betes or blood pres­sure or any other signs baby needs to come early. He says baby is en­gaged and the fa­mous last words from him are: “...usu­ally when they can get into the pelvis, they can get out”.

Day 12, April 7

My mum went late with me and I’m now a week over­due. My mind is tor­tur­ing me. I have thought I was go­ing into labour a few times with cramps and then con­trac­tions that get more reg­u­lar, then die away. It feels like our pre­cious baby will never ar­rive. The be­gin­ning of the preg­nancy is play­ing on my mind. We’d only been try­ing for a few months and I didn’t dare take a preg­nancy test till I was al­ready seven weeks and in­tense morn­ing sick­ness had set in. We were be­side our­selves and so were our par­ents, this baby is the first grand­child on both sides of our fam­i­lies! We didn’t find out the gen­der, we are so ex­cited about the sur­prise. Both of our fam­i­lies started with girls so I’m pretty sure it is a girl. Trag­i­cally, a

friend had a still­birth when we were 18 weeks preg­nant. Now that I am 41 weeks I wake up in cold sweats with aw­ful vi­sions. I am pet­ri­fied. My dad and my mid­wife re­as­sure me and send me into the ma­ter­nity as­sess­ment unit for checks when baby’s move­ments de­crease.

Day 19, April 14

The team at the as­sess­ment unit feel I need an in­duc­tion as there are signs my placenta is shut­ting down. I’m sent home to pack and re­mem­ber leav­ing home with my bag in awe, think­ing ‘The next time I come home we will have a baby’. We’ve heard so many hor­ror sto­ries about in­duc­tions but the gel works re­ally quickly for me. I am soon in es­tab­lished labour and when I’m ex­am­ined a cou­ple of hours later I’m al­ready 6cms and trans­fer to the de­liv­ery suite us­ing some gas. Within an­other cou­ple of hours I feel I need to push. Then it all goes pear-shaped. The mid­wife ex­am­ines me and I’m only at 8cms and there is some is­sue with my cervix. I am ad­vised to have an ur­gent epidu­ral to ‘slow things down’. It seems odd, hav­ing wanted ev­ery­thing to go fast! It feels weird go­ing from feel­ing ev­ery con­trac­tion to not feel­ing much. I get to 10cms and I push for over an hour and a half. I try so so hard, but baby won’t budge and can’t move down the birth canal. The team rec­om­mend a cae­sarean. I am des­per­ate for a ven­touse but baby is too high to even try safely. It takes hours to get to the­atre, ‘real emer­gen­cies’ go in front of me. We lose our baby’s heart beat at one point. My hus­band nearly col­lapses and calls in our par­ents. Then we get our turn. I sign the in­formed con­sent think­ing that it seems ridicu­lous – I don’t want to con­sent to this pro­ce­dure but I have no choice. There are signs of im­pend­ing uter­ine rup­ture by the time they get me in. They ‘top up’ my epidu­ral so I don’t feel any­thing and a healthy baby ap­pears. We’re over the moon to have a healthy 3.8kg boy! He gets thor­oughly checked over be­fore he comes to me for skin to skin. We are in tears, he is fi­nally here.

Day 20, April 15

We cud­dle and hold him tightly while they close me up and move me to the post-op area. I am so scared he won’t be able to feed, I put him close to my breast and ask the nurse what to do and then re­alise he is suck­ing al­ready! But then I start notic­ing a headache and odd vi­sion and my blood pres­sure goes through the roof. An anaes­thetist comes and tells me I am ‘just’ hav­ing a panic at­tack. It’s not sur­pris­ing with all we have been through but he is so rude I ask for some­one else. The next per­son is more con­cerned and I stay in post-op for some hours, be­ing mon­i­tored. Our par­ents are so wor­ried stand­ing around out­side not know­ing what had hap­pened. When we’re fi­nally wheeled through the doors they are elated to see us and so ex­cited to hear they have a grand­son. I hold him for nearly 24 hours straight, I can’t bear to let him go. In any case, as the epidu­ral wears off I can’t move much any­way.

Day 21, April 16

These few days in hospi­tal are so hard. I barely get any sleep be­tween the pain, the feed­ing and nap­pies and they make my hus­band go home to sleep. The nights are scary be­cause I can’t lift him and care for him on my own. The pres­sure to breast­feed is so strong. Thank­fully it seems to work okay with us. The ob­stet­ric team come in and tell me I’m lucky to have a big healthy baby. I don’t feel lucky and can’t imag­ine why any­one would ‘choose’ a cae­sarean. Hav­ing a shower for the first time with a health care as­sis­tant help­ing me is bliss.

Day 22, April 17

I am fi­nally walk­ing and feel­ing a lit­tle less painful. Baby gets his first bath, he looks so lit­tle. He’s lost some weight de­spite feed­ing seem­ing to go well but I am re­as­sured this isn’t un­com­mon. I go home on three types of pain re­lief (Panadol, voltaren and tra­madol). My hus­band drives home so care­fully, we have such pre­cious cargo on board. Walk­ing up the stairs and hav­ing him have his first sleep on me on the couch is magic. It is so nice to be home and feel calm in our own sur­round­ings.

Day 40, May 5

We have so much love and sup­port com­ing to us from fam­ily and friends. Meals dropped round, vis­its – ev­ery­one wants to meet him. I am in­cred­i­bly lucky that my hus­band takes leave and ends up hav­ing six weeks off work to spend time at home with us. Our lit­tle boy is very un­set­tled and likes to feed ev­ery two hours and barely sleep. I am plagued with clus­ters of mi­graines from the sleep de­pri­va­tion. Be­cause he is our first, all of our time and at­ten­tion goes to him. I start hav­ing aw­ful night­mares about some­thing bad hap­pen­ing to the baby (this can hap­pen with sleep de­pri­va­tion) and it is fright­en­ing. The pain from the c-sec­tion takes a good 10 days to im­prove and then is al­most gone by three weeks. I have ter­ri­ble con­sti­pa­tion and haem­or­rhoids to boot, which takes weeks to set­tle.

Day 45, May 10

When baby is three and a half weeks old, my hus­band’s grand­fa­ther dies and he has to travel out of town for the fu­neral. I am in no fit state to go any­where and feel so vul­ner­a­ble with­out him. It is a hor­ri­ble feel­ing to have our lit­tle fam­ily torn apart so soon after our pre­cious boy was born. My mum comes to stay and then we lose power the first night! I have to pack up in the dark and move to my par­ents – I have no idea what to even take. I am stressed out but thank­ful for be­ing taken in. Baby has his first long sleep that night at the grand­par­ents, so he cer­tainly isn’t both­ered by it! He is grow­ing well, which is a re­lief. Soon after hubby re­turns we get our first smile, what a pre­cious de­light­ful mo­ment that is! How­ever, the day be­fore my hus­band goes back to work I col­lapse in a heap of tears and ex­haus­tion – I have no idea how I am go­ing to man­age with a scream­ing baby who won’t sleep.

Day 50, May 15

Walk­ing around the block for 45 min­utes and baby is still scream­ing, driv­ing in the car and he is still scream­ing. None of the nor­mal tricks work. On re­flec­tion I re­alise he is over stim­u­lated and I was miss­ing tired signs but these are the things a first-time mum has no idea about! My Dad drags me out of the house for a hot choco­late and some time out. I ask him why no one ever told me it would be so hard. He didn’t re­ally have an an­swer, he worked 80-100 hours a week when I was born so I’m not sure he re­ally re­mem­bered how hard be­ing a first-time par­ent was. It is so weird be­ing out in the world, ev­ery­one else looks the same but ev­ery­thing has changed for me now with a lit­tle baby rul­ing my life. My Dad has a nat­u­ral touch at set­tling our lit­tle boy. He will hold him so gen­tly, rock­ing him in his arms for how­ever long it takes to get him to sleep. It gives me a much needed break at times. Plun­ket helps me learn about set­tling baby. I learn about tired signs and how to cope with a cry­ing baby. Slowly he set­tles and by three months the house seems calmer again.

Look­ing back

Through­out all of this, right from Day One, I am be­sot­ted. When peo­ple ask how I am man­ag­ing I can hon­estly make corny state­ments like, ‘He loves me so much he wants to see me ev­ery two hours and I love it!’ The birth wasn’t at all what I had ex­pected. Naïve per­haps, I just re­ally thought I’d have a nor­mal birth, ven­touse at worst. I knew a cou­ple of peo­ple who’d had ven­touse de­liv­er­ies but hadn’t re­ally heard from any­one who had an emer­gency cae­sarean. At the an­te­na­tal classes my hus­band had been cho­sen to sit up the front and have the in­struc­tor demon­strate how many bits of plas­tic were in­volved in hav­ing a cae­sarean (the IV line, catheter, flu­ids, epidu­ral…) lit­tle did we know. My body took time to re­cover. Psy­cho­log­i­cally, I took a lot longer. I cried a lot in those first two weeks, I was so tired, so sore, so over­whelmed. My hus­band said he felt sud­denly like the weight of the world was on his shoul­ders, the in­ten­sity of the re­spon­si­bil­ity of hav­ing a child came down heav­ily on us both in the be­gin­ning. The events played on my mind, a lot. I dreamed of a smaller baby and a nor­mal de­liv­ery. I dreamed of a more peace­ful start to our lit­tle boy’s life. I dreamed of an eas­ier re­cov­ery. Cae­sarean de­liv­ery is ac­tu­ally re­ally com­mon in New Zealand but I had suf­fered from an ‘it won’t hap­pen to me’ syn­drome. There is so much pres­sure on women to have a ‘nor­mal’ birth. Those weren’t the cards I was dealt. I am grate­ful that I live in a coun­try where I re­ceived ex­cel­lent ob­stet­ric care. In other coun­tries, ladies with ob­structed labours can die, the ba­bies can die and if the mum sur­vives they can be left with fis­tu­las. It cer­tainly changed my view of birthing and our health sys­tem.

Baby shower fun at 36 weeks. At 38 weeks, the countdown was on.

Track­ing baby’s progress in his Well Child book

Get­ting some skinto-skin time with Daddy. Shar­ing a sleepy mo­ment with Grandma

En­joy­ing bath­time at nearly three months. Ac­tiv­ity time on the play gym.

In his first out­fit from Mummy, hang­ing with his favourite panda.

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