A baby-shaped grenade has exploded and my life, though incredible, will never be the same.
Since my last piece, when I was waiting for my baby to make an entrance, I have both safely delivered and successfully nourished, a little human being.
First things first, waiting for my baby was the longest wait I've ever known. In the end, intense Braxton Hicks came and went with little more than one almighty cramp. This was because, despite all the yoga and sleeping only on my left-hand side for 9 months, my baby was breech. It just goes to show that while all the theories about Optimal Foetal Positioning are surely well founded (and I believe a mother should diligently try to influence positive outcomes), really, at the end of the day, a baby does what it wants.
So, having made this discovery as late in the day as is pretty much possible (literally just before an induction; the pessary was about to go in), when a wonderful young midwife thought she'd give me another sweep. Within seconds, she looked at me sympathetically and said: "that's not a head my love, that's a bum."
A scan confirmed that she was indeed correct, and that my community midwife (with over 30 years experience) was horrendously wrong. As were the countless other senior midwives and consultants that had felt my bump and declared my baby as 'engaged'.
In retrospect, I'd had a niggle at 32 weeks. I was being kicked all over the place and not just under the ribs. But I was reassured that my baby was head down, so I put it to the back of my mind. Note to pregnant ladies: please trust your gut instinct and demand a scan.
If I had done so, then perhaps the External Cephalic Version (EVC) that I attempted might have been more successful. I wasn't ready to throw my hopes of a natural, water birth out the window straight away. But having painfully realised that baby wasn't budging and was 3/5 engaged by his bottom, there was only one thing for it: a cesarean section!
Oh, the tears!
Granted, I could have insisted that I was induced and that I still wanted a vaginal birth, but I was strongly advised that this would very likely result in an emergency procedure; that labour would be extremely difficult (especially for a first-time mother). To purposefully kick-start labour with my baby in the breech position would not only have been destructive, but downright silly. So, we elected to have a C-section, whenever the space in theatre was available.
Hubby and I spent nearly two days waiting in hospital, while emergency after emergency was prioritised (rightly so, of course). I was continuously monitored because my baby was overdue, but both he and I were fine, and we were beyond grateful to be healthy and safe.
Eventually, after two days, I was scheduled to have the first operation of the day, and despite all the misconceptions, and my initial concerns and apprehensions, we had a truly beautiful delivery. The team was absolutely fantastic. The atmosphere was calm and exciting; familiar music played in the background, and when our baby came out in to the world, everything else around me just blurred into insignificance. I can't remember being stitched-up, but I can remember the first touch when my baby was immediately placed on my chest, the first kiss, and watching my baby and my husband holding each other's hands.
In recovery, there were other mums who'd had to endure painfully long labours and yet be rushed in for an emergency section, unable to see the birth of their child. We are so grateful for our good fortune and we hold true to the philosophy, 'all's well that ends well'.
So, after a couple of days recovering in hospital and expressing colostrum by hand (because my baby had a bad tongue-tie that couldn't be fixed by the NHS), we returned home and the horror known as 'breastfeeding difficulties' ensued.
Nobody told me about this bit!
When my milk came in (around day three), I resembled someone with a cheap breast augmentation. I was huge and hard. My baby's tongue-tie felt like a razor whipping against me, and I got so engorged that I became inverted. Cue bigger and bigger boobs. It was a desperate situation. Easily the worst day of my life because I couldn't feed my baby.
We dealt with the tongue-tie privately, and I carried on expressing what I could. The pain was horrible. Luckily a lactation specialist came round, and she gave me a nipple shied. This simple, plastic device literally saved our breastfeeding relationship. At this point, he was just on the 10% limit for weight loss since birth. The visiting midwife team directed me to "feed, feed, feed" which I did for a week, and we were all overjoyed when he gained really well and we were discharged.
Why was a breast-feeding relationship so important to me?
I am figuring out a response to this question and will be posting it shortly.
Since then, however, feeding has got a lot easier and I no longer use shields. I honestly never thought that I'd make it to three months, and now we are at nine months and still going strong.
The tiredness that smacked me in the face at first, seems to have lessened. I guess I've got used to feeling exhausted; like I've been all-night raving, every night, since April 2014. My hormones are all over the place, particularly as weaning on to solids has begun, but that's a whole other blog post.
I wept rivers when my baby outgrew his 0-3 month baby clothes, and I already long for those milky-haze, newborn days.
Motherhood: nothing can prepare you for it, and nothing in life compares to it. Becoming a mother is the most amazing and challenging thing that I have and will no doubt ever do. I feel so honoured to be a mum, and I thank my baby everyday for coming in to my life.