• The highs and lows of preemie parenthood (aka when all your plans go out the window!)

    He just couldn’t wait a moment longer. And when your baby decides it’s time to join the world, there’s not a lot you can do about it!

    Our son’s changed our lives irrevocably and I don’t think I’ve quite adjusted to the fact that this is my new reality.

    And now here we are, tasked with spending the rest of our lives keeping this little guy alive. Crazy.

    An exorcism (the birth story)

    It all started on a Monday evening…

    We were walking the dogs after dinner when I thought I felt my first Braxton Hicks (an assumption based on being 36 weeks). They kept coming once we got home and eventually I started timing – 5-7 mins apart, almost like clockwork.

    There was no sleep for me that night as they started to get a bit stronger; I muddled through with some Birthful podcast episodes I hadn’t got to yet, and one from Michelle is Money Hungry 😉 – all while rotating through tons of positions. Lying, standing, kneeling, sitting, with and without cushions, etc. At one point I went rooting around the house for paracetamol, and though I finally found some, it did crap all for the pain.

    Tuesday morning came at last…

    And with it, what looked like my bloody show. At that point it really started to sink in that this was likely real labour, and I started to get scared.

    Doubly so an hour or so later, when I started bleeding a bit and called my midwife. I’d texted her earlier and she’s said it could still be a few days, and to try to relax – that hopefully we could make it to 37 weeks! But a photo of my bloody pad was enough to convince her it was time to go in. Being so early, no birthing centre for me 😥 instead, it was off to the hospital.

    A little old lady volunteer popped me in a wheelchair and took me to maternity, where my midwife turned up shortly after and set me up in a room. It was nothing like I’d envisioned birth, though of course I knew better than to fixate on anything about this whole process. Still, I never really imagined I’d be on a bed, hooked up to a baby heartbeat monitor and also an IV.

    A doctor came in to examine me and Spud was fine, luckily, but labour wasn’t really progressing (contractions not speeding up, dilation stuck around 4cm) so eventually they broke my waters on the bed.

    That sped things up, and I got on the gas not long after. We prepared for an epidural as well since we were in hospital but I was still keen to try get through without.

    I got off the bed and was sitting backwards on a chair, with the gas basically putting me to sleep between contractions (a welcome relief to super sleep deprived me). At some point it all intensified and I knew I had to change positions as it was getting unbearable … like the most epic bouts of constipation ever.

    That’s when I hopped back on the bed, hanging on to the raised back for dear life. I hadn’t got round to creating a birthing playlist, so my Happy playlist had to get me through. At some point I kind of lost consciousness, retreating into myself as each wave came faster. I couldn’t focus on active birthing techniques anymore, only sucking on the gas to get through, sliding down the bed every time.

    What if I can’t do this? I wondered. I might need something more.

    The next level up would be morphine, they said, but it could slow things down (which I definitely did not want). They knew I was close, I guess, and kept encouraging me through.

    Pushing on my lower back helped with the pain, and cold flannels on my face and neck were a big relief. I was sweating buckets, not helped by whatever they were doing in the background to get ready for Spud that apparently included heating the room. I could hear a flurry of activity around and behind me, and that was reassuring – I didn’t have the energy to speak and ask but figured they must be setting up for the final stage.

    Someone else came in to help and introduced herself just as I hit a big one and all I greeted her with was a scream. Likewise, the person bringing in my dinner tray (seriously, a little preoccupied right now!).

    I remember my midwife commenting on the giant backpack we brought, which led to them talking about our RTW trip. If I’d had the capacity I would have yelled shut the fuck up why are you talking about travel right now when I’m dying?!

    I think I pushed for less than an hour – though at the time it seemed eternal. Making progress and then regressing, never ending and disheartening. Screaming bloody murder.

    By the time he came out at 6.59pm, 24 hours after those first contractions, I was SHATTERED and had zero interest in this weird dirty bundle. But they put him on me, and after taking a few minutes to recover and come back to the present, I was ready to marvel at him.

    Although they used a local anaesthetic to stitch me up I could still feel them somewhat – and frankly the injections and the stitches were about on par with each other… He came out with one hand up which apparently is what caused the tearing (thanks dude).

    As we wound things up, I could hear another woman somewhere else in the ward shouting I can’t do this!

    I wanted to yell back you can and you will. Cheesy as it sounds, that day and every one since, has hammered home just how much strength lies within us.

    I may not have gotten the birthing pool, the walking around, or any of that, but it all worked out in the end.

    Highs

    Feeling like a badass for getting through labour!

    Luckily I didn’t experience the ring of fire, and going to the toilet post partum wasn’t too bad.

    Surviving my first diaper change, tarry black poop and all.

    All the well wishes and support from everyone. I swear, anyone I’ve ever known has reached out, and everyone one I even vaguely know with kids has offered advice and congratulations. It’s like we’ve been inducted into this secret club, in a way. This week has definitely been social media at its best 🙂

    T organising a brief escape on Saturday morning – I needed that respite. We just went home to hang out with the animals, enjoy some normalcy for an hour and so I could see all the work he’d done to get the house ready.

    Coming home on Sunday. Nuff said!

    Lows

    Spending 5 nights in hospital. Playing the waiting game every day, not knowing if we would get discharged or not. First it was concerns about his weight and whether he was producing enough wet diapers, then it was jaundice.

    T telling me how hard it was for him to leave us every day after visiting and how it made him sadder each time. Broke my heart.

    Pumping (they got me onto pumping after the second night) and having the lactation consultant all over my boobs (yes I know it’s her job). Particularly at night – the feed, burp, change cycle was manageable but adding a pumping session with all the logistics after every feed as well – ugh. Trying to soothe him while hooked up to the machine at 4am was a major low.

    Nights 3 and 4 by myself in the hospital. See above. Wrangling everything was so hard and lonely and depressing. (Partners can’t stay overnight in hospital. That said, we were in a private room the last two nights, because of the jaundice / UV lights, and kinda smuggled him in on the last night. While it didn’t take as much off the load as I’d hoped, just not being alone with baby helped immensely.)

  • A tale of two pregnancies

      A few years back, I found myself working with two pregnant women about my age. They had totally opposite experiences. One breezed right through pregnancy from start to finish. Her ...

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