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Lyndsay....an occasional housewife and full time mother. Ours is a life of seaside picnics,cooking & crafts.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

A Tree in the Garden...

Hello world...its been FAR too long...but I have been a little busy! I notice with a smile that my last blog entry was 3rd November. Well,my husband will not thank me for pointing this out,but just two days after I last posted, on Bonfire Night,we made a baby!  And so,the life of our little one began...

 I had been feeling for a while that God was preparing me for a son. I tried to put it out of my mind as we didn't really feel able to have another child. My previous births had been difficult,our house only had two bedrooms,our car was too small and I was planning on going back to work. But still the feeling was there. It wasn't that we felt something was missing and we certainly weren't longing for a boy,but I just had this sense that there was going to be a son. It actually started to drive me to distraction as I couldn't fathom what I was supposed to do about it. We had a picture on the stairs of my husband when he was toddler,and in the end I had to take it down as it kept reminding me of this child I would never have! 

And yet,it seems that a way was being made clear for us. By November, our car was behaving strangely,we kept throwing money at it,but it seemed determined to die. Terrible timing,but incredibly the money for a new (and bigger) car was provided. Similarly,I found that when I looked into going back to work,every door seemed closed to me. By the time our builder neighbour offered to convert our house for £200,we started to think maybe we should be open to the idea of baby #3! And God certainly acted quickly! 

I had a straightforward pregnancy,but theres no denying it was a long,hard slog. I had far more sickness this time and found it hard to have the energy for entertaining the children. I had a lot of anxiety about the birth-having had an emergency cesarean with Iris,I was desperate to avoid this happening again. So after meeting with the consultant we agreed that I would try and have a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). I felt good about the decision-I had already had Poppy 'naturally',the growth scan showed the baby would only be about 8lb 3oz,fluid levels were normal,position seemed fine. Plus the midwife who had been with me for Iris's birth was now,quite randomly,my community midwife-surely a good omen! 

I spent a lot of time praying about the delivery and trying to put to rest all the residual feelings about the previous births. Poppy's delivery was an agonising three day epic where I was so smacked out on pethidine,I was hallucinating! Iris's was a near perfect,manageable water birth that merged into a very traumatic c-section where they almost had to put me to sleep due to a failed spinal block. I felt it was time for a good one. I wasn't worried too much about the pain,but I needed this baby to come out the right way,and spare us all the long recovery of a c-section. In fact,the midwife was so certain that I would manage a vaginal birth,she put my chances at 95%. My ratio of days in labour to babies being 6:2,I was not so sure,but I felt no prompting to go for an elective cesarean,so VBAC it was.

Ok...*deep breath*....lets get down to it....

My due date was 27th July,but the others had been late so I expected this one would be too. I had been booked for induction on friday 5th August but had several pokes and prods by the midwife to try and get things moving during that week. On the sunday evening (4 days overdue) I went to bed early,thinking that maybe something was about to happen. We had been praying it would come on the monday as our childcare was sorted out and also my midwife was on call (I could see in my mind,her delivering the baby!). 

I woke up at 2am with contractions,but knowing how long that stage can last,I ignored them until I really couldn't sleep through them. There was no point waking anyone so I sat in the bath and hoped it was all happening. By 6am I was starting to think I needed to call someone-they had told me due to the previous section I should be monitored as soon as contractions were regular,and by this point they were 2-3 minutes apart! So we called our friends,said goodbye to the girls and off we went to hospital. I had a bad feeling that I wasn't in enough pain for it to be real labour,but they hospital had been pretty clear that I should go in. After a hours monitoring they examined me and said I was only 1cm dilated :o( We went sent off 'for a walk' so we trawled the retail park in the rain. I managed my egg mcmuffin inbetween contractions! It wasn't easy feigning interest in stationary at staples,but we tried! 

When we went back to the hospital,nothing had changed. They gave me the choice of staying on the ward with morphine to make me sleep,or going home. We decided to go home. It was pretty disheartening going back to our children without the baby,but we didn't have much choice. By this point I knew I was in for another long one. Contractions continued to be regular for the whole of monday and tuesday,but I knew there was no point going in until I was in so much pain that I couldn't bare it. Finally,on wednesday morning I decided enough was enough and I would like to take them up on their offer of drugs. I hadnt been able to sleep,and no body seemed to be suggesting anything other than riding it out until Fridays induction!

Once at the hospital they discovered I was 3cm so officially I was in labour and they could break my waters. They had meconium in,so the baby was monitored closely. They were loosing the trace of the baby's heartbeat so kept trying to clip its head,but it never worked. We tried to speed things along with a syntocinon drip,which I knew to be painful so I had diamorpine in the first instance,and then,still desperate for sleep,an epidural. Its a very odd sensation to lie staring at the epidural stand with its display counting down the minutes until you can next press the button for a top up! I was still feeling positive by this point,and although uncomfortable lying on my back,I was glad of the pain relief. I kept asking if something was wrong with the epidural as I could still feel pain,but the midwife said it was fine so I just had gas and air and kept quiet about it.

I don't know at what point we realised things were going slowly,once we had entered into that childbirth vortex,it was impossible to keep track. I remember very little actually...being scanned on a laptop,a stream of doctors,the radio playing,pain au chocolates...I think the slowness wasn't much of a concern until the baby's heart rate seemed to be dropping. At first the midwife seemed to think it was a sign that I would soon need to push,but she seemed to change her mind and the first mumblings of a c-section began. Knowing how scared I was of that happening,they set a time limit of two hours,by which I needed to have progressed to 8 cms. I was 7! So they scratched the baby's head to make sure there was no sign of distress(!) and said 'two more hours'. After an hour,they finally acknowledged what I had been saying since 4cm...the epidural had come out! So they switched off the synto while they re-did it. This was a major low point for me. I had been left feeling very disturbed by the prep for the previous section,as above all else I wanted to avoid the panic of being anaesthetised while I was having such close contractions. I started to lose hope that this was going to work out well.

Once the epidural was back in we only had an hour left of synto before the next assessment. It started to look less and less likely that my body was actually going to do what it needed to do...and the goal post had moved...I needed to be 9cm. The babies heartbeat continued to dip at the peak of the contractions. It was at this point when I started to prepare myself. For some reason this baby couldn't get out on its own. The consultant came in-a big,smiley Egyptian with golden skin. He told me I was at 8cm and I could have two hours,but that would be it,as he felt for the baby's safety,this labour couldn't go on much longer.

And so,16 hours after my waters were broken and (predictably) some 3 days after the first contraction,I went into theatre for a cesarean. Much as I enjoy the sight of my husband in scrubs,this was a massive disappointment. The team were lovely,but being awake for surgery is such a traumatic experience,particularly under epidural rather than spinal block. I was very aware of what was being done,and very aware of their tense faces as they tried to get the baby out. After what seemed like an age,Philip was handed a huge bundle in a towel and we were told "congratulations,its a BOY!" 

Rowan Tudor Joseph Eley
2.36am 04/08/11
9lb 9oz

It has taken me a long time to process all that went on with Rowan's delivery. Four days on a noisy hospital ward only added to my anxiety and its only been since coming home that I've been able to let go of all the trauma. For a while I was angry with God. I couldn't understand why he would let me go through all those days of labour for nothing. Why not tell me to have the elective section at 39 weeks? Why not intervene during my labour? Why let me suffer the same fate twice? Most of all,why give me the false hope? 

Since I've been home I've come to terms with what happened. I can see that birth is under a curse,it isn't how God planned it to be. Having had three babies,its pretty obvious to me that it is far from the natural,blessed experience the magazines will have you believe. Sure,some women manage to breeze through it,but they are the lucky few. Most of us are damaged to some extent by the process,and some of us,in another time or place,would probably die from it...three times over in my case! And yet,fear is pointless and each woman must take charge of her own experience,however gruesome it may be,and get on with enjoying the baby at the end of it.
Ultimately, when I questioned God about why he had forsaken me,the answer was to look back at what had happened. Once Rowan was out I heard them talking about a knot in his umbilical cord. The midwife said "that's why" but I didn't really take it in at the time. I've since  looked into it and found that Rowan is actually a pretty lucky little chap. The knot had  probably been there since the first trimester. He was a very active baby and it would have occurred while he was turning and doing somersaults. They tend not to cause a problem until delivery when contractions can make them tighten and reduce the oxygen supply to the baby.  Some babies are not so fortunate as to make it to labour,and are still born,others struggle in the birth canal and are born brain damaged. Most survive with no problems,but given how long my labour was taking (and how big he was)I have to wonder how much longer he would have managed. Clearly,as much as it meant my suffering,the best thing for Rowan was for him to get out quickly and safely. 

So I no longer feel like the child who asked their father for an egg and got a snake. (I feel like I wanted poached but I got boiled!) When I look back over the last 10 months,I can see how we have all been taken care of along the way,and none more so than little Rowan,who got himself in a pickle when he was tiny and needed a whole lot of divine protection to make it into this world. Not that he knows anything of the fuss he has caused,our little man is one chilled out and contented fellow,very welcome and very loved by his grateful family.

Our family is complete!


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