Thursday, 5 July 2018

Pregnant for the last time

"Just to say, you know, I've had quie a few operations now. I've got quite a lot of scar tissue. I'm sure it's on my notes and it'll all be fine, but I just thought I better say...".

"It will be fine!" the lovely Eastern European anaesthatist smiles. "Although it is true, with the scar tissue, it can be a bit, you say... dodgy."

I'd been in hospital for two days by the time I got a section ahead of schedule.

A few days before I was booked in to hospital, I picked up the phone to them because I was feeling pretty bad.  I'd become more and more swollen, put on a lot of weight, and slept increasingly badly. The final straw was when I threw up for no apparent reason.

I got told to go  for monitoring. Fairly quickly the staff discovered my blood pressure was much higher than it should be.

After being kept in for two nights with the wardmate from hell, who is worth her own blogpost, I had a section.

On 6am of the morning of my daughter's birth, I got up and began prep for theatre. I eventually got wheeled in, whereupon the anaesathtist pointed out I'd kept my bra on. So I had to take that off.

I got shifted onto the operating table, got drugged up, the screens went up and the operation began.

And went on and on.

I've tried to write down what I remember, but mainly it was a sense of everything moving extremely slowly, like being underwater. I also remember being silent as I was terrified as I was going to put the surgeon off his work,and terrified it was all going badly wrong.

One of the staff, on my side of the screen, began pushing down on my bump. The baby was taking a while to come out, the nurse said.

It's difficult to write about, to jot down in a few quick paragraphs, what felt like hours of being in theatre. I couldn't say how long it took now - much less time than it felt - just that there was a real sense that something was going wrong, and it was all taking too long.

More pushing down on my bump, and a sense of more frantic activity behind the screen. I summoned all my courage to ask what was happened and was told the baby was stuck in the scar tissue but the consultant was very good, although he was about to page for more help.

Finally, finally, I heard a faint cry. I was asked who I wanted to find out the sex from. Actually by that point I didn't care, but my husband told me we'd had a girl - who was soon plonked down unceremonionsly on my chest.

My daughter smiled at me. I have seldom been so relieved.

I was wheeled out and saw my bra hanging on a hook near the door. Bizarrely, I had the presence of mind to remember to ask my husband to pick it up on the way out.

Things felt very floaty and unreal in the recovery room. I was pleased to have my daughter but was also having difficulty processing it all, and wanted to cry.

 The surgeon came through. He looked like he'd just had a horrendous experience himself, and said I had a lot of scar tissue and it had been a really difficult section. I explained I'd had two ectopics and a previous section, and several rounds of IVF, and wasn't having any more children.

I remember feeling bad for being an awkward patient - not just for the consultant, but that I'd done something that carried far more risk to myself and my family than I'd ever intended.

Shortly afterwards, a nurse appeared to say the surgeon had nicked his hand during the operation, and it was standard procedure to run some tests on me. I said that was fine, and also - to try and give the surgeon a bit of peace of mind - that I'd been screened regularly during the IVF process.

Fuck knows what went on behind the screen.

I got up to the post surgery ward. I got told I'd lost a lot of blood. This didn't hit home properly until days later, when I discovered I'd lost nearly a two litres.

But for then, all I knew was that I was horribly clumsy. The midwives try to get you moving after a section and I was encouraged to take a shower. I managed to walk across the ward, shower, and tried to drop my pad in the bin on the way back. But my paper knickers fell off as I couldn't put them on properly over the catheter.

I started bleeding all over the floor and shouted at my husband for help. He was trying to fiddle about with the help button on my bed and fussing that The Girl was about to start crying. I ended up bawling at him to take the baby and go out into the corridor as I thought I was about to collapse; at any rate I was standing in a rapidly increasingly puddle of blood.

A nurse appeared  to untangle the paper knickers and catheter - she was quite grumpy as there was apparently a rule against husbands and babies in the corridor, and I got very muddled about the paper knickers and pads and I think gave her the impression I was going to use the hospital paper knickers until I got out. I was babbling away apologetically as she sat me on the bed.

So then I bled all over the bed and needed it to be changed. I issued another apologetic monologue.

Once I was in bed, and after my husband had gone home, I tried to sit up and pick up my baby for a feed. Bad move. I tried to swing my legs round, but kicked over the catheter bag.. Blood and pee everywhere, and I needed to call for help, and another change. More frantic apologising.

I was still trying to breastfeed at this point. All the way through this, the Girl would cry for a feed, and latch on. Very little would come out as my milk hadn't come in, and anyway I was massively dehydrated.

I really wanted to be able to feed her enough that she would sleep, so I could sleep. But it just wasn't going to happen.

I also had what, at the time, I thought was a stupid drip needle pinned in my arm. It had three or four coloured tubes in it. At the time looked to me like a little girl's bracelet, and it was incredibly annoying as I kept hitting the Girl with it when I was trying to feed, making the crying worse, and making me feel worse.

I asked if it could be taken out. The head nurse gave me A Look and refused. It was only later I realised it was there in case I needed an emergency blood transfusion.

Eventually, I had a couple of feeding attemps where the room got dark and my arms got weak as I held my daughter. My gut instinct punched through all the fuzz, and told me firmly it I couldn't keep going without putting her at risk of being dropped.

Not wanting to fall over or do something terrible like causing a scene again, I buzzed and asked for a bottle. One of the auxiliaries, who I will be forever grateful to,  fed my daugther while I watched, and then we both slept.


I know the previous paragraphs don't make a lot of sense, now - I should have not forced myself up to shower, or at the very least asked for help. I shouldn't have tried to lever myself around the bed to feed, and I should have thrown in the towel with the breastfeeding and formula much earlier.. But I was really reeling from blood loss, was on morphine and just couldn't think for myself.

It wasn't entirely plain sailing from there, but 12 weeks on the Girl is thriving and is mostly breastfed, and I'm fitter than I've ever been. I'm beyond grateful to the staff. who looked after us.

I sometimes get asked if we'd have another one, by people who don't know the backstory. No, no, never. I'm beyond lucky having two, and I'm done.