After much peer-pressure and cajoling from my lovely blog readers, I’ve decided to do a little post about Charlie, the run up to his arrival and a little bit about the day he arrived.
So, let’s start right back at the beginning. You’ll probably need a strong cup of tea for this 🙂
We had been trying for a baby for almost exactly one year when I found out I was pregnant. A year is a long time, and when nothing had happened for us after a few months I put the whole baby idea out of my mind and decided that it just wasn’t going to happen. The first sign was nausea and a bit of weakness which I put down to a recent flu and er, the after effects of a Friday brunch. After almost a week of this, and nagging from my friend Helen, I decided to get a pregnancy test from Boots.
I went home, peed on the stick and before I had a chance to place it on the sink for the obligatory three minutes, “pregnant” came up on the screen. To say I was shocked would be a bit of an understatement. I sat on the floor and cried into Ming Ming’s fur for about 10 minutes. I was totally overwhelmed and really wanted my mum! I called Adrian, who was on the way home from work, and then my mum to tell them before making a quick trip to the doctor to confirm the news.
After about a week, the shock began to subside and it was swiftly replaced by feeling crap all the time. For the next two months, extreme exhaustion and horrific nausea became the rulers of my life. Everything made me want to puke; food, car smells, the dogs, everything. And the exhaustion was actually quite funny. A friend of ours was visiting for a few days and I fell asleep in the middle of a conversation we were having. He said one minute I was mid sentence, and the next I was fast asleep 🙂
Apart from the sickness in the beginning however, I had a very smooth pregnancy. I worked right up until eight months, and only stopped at this time as we had decided to move to Oman. I think my mums exact response to this was “you’re not serious?!” We packed up our house, shipped our belongings and hopped on a plane to Muscat on the very last day that I was allowed to fly. We had organised for Ming Ming and Sweetie to fly on the same plane as us, but when I asked about them at the boarding gate the airline told me they had been offloaded as “there wasn’t enough space”. We had heard enough horror stores in Bahrain about dogs being left on the tarmac in the summer heat to make us very concerned about this development. I cried all the way to Oman, the dogs were left behind and we had no idea whether they were safe or not. Back in Bahrain however, our lovely friend Brian saved the day. He found out where in the airport they were and went to get them, at two o clock in the morning. What a guy! 🙂
They arrived in Oman three days later and everything was right with the world once more – for about 10 days. I touched on this briefly in a previous post, but basically everything went wrong in Oman. One of the main problems was that the company Adrian had signed up with were having visa issues. The hospital I had decided to have Charlie in informed me that I could give birth without a visa but they would not issue me with a birth certificate. And without a birth certificate we would not be able to obtain a passport for our baby. So that was it – we decided to leave. We packed up our things, rented a car and hit the road to Dubai, where I could absolutely get a passport for our baby if I gave birth without a visa. On the three-hour drive to Dubai, Adrian would make nervous jokes like, “don’t go into labour now Simone!” Ha ha ha.
We arranged for our shipment to be rerouted to Dubai and my lovely friend Louise (who was back in the UK for the summer) organised for us to stay in her place. She gave us all her baby clothes and toys, the food in her cupboards, her hospital and obstetrician details, emergency phone numbers – everything. She did so much that it makes me feel quite emotional every time I think about it!
10 days later, and five days overdue, Charlie arrived. I managed two visits to the doctor during this time and we agreed that I needed to be induced as he was far too comfy in there and had no plans to vacate any time soon. I was quite uncomfortable at the end so the thought of finally giving birth was a very welcome one. I went into hospital at 8pm on Monday and had a pessary inserted which is supposed to start things off. The nurse told me that nothing would happen until the next day so it was best to get some sleep, so that’s what I tried to do (poor Adrian had to sleep on the couch in my room). By midnight I was starting to feel very odd and by 2am I was so uncomfortable that I couldn’t sleep. The nurse came to check on me and said that it was all very normal and that we’d have to wait a few more hours to see what was happening. By 8am I was having contractions; a great seizing feeling in my belly that would only last a few seconds.
As the morning rolled on, I tried to walk around the room to ease the pain from the contractions but I was so tense that I couldn’t even walk properly (or pee – my bladder was refusing to cooperate). I decided to stay in bed and try to deal with it there. There was a little contraction machine beside my bed and I would watch the numbers start to increase, mumbling “no no no nooooo”, followed by “AAAAAAH” and then it would be all over again for a few minutes. By the time 2pm had been and gone, everyone was starting to get a little impatient. I was 2cm dilated (after all that!) and the doctor told me that a caesarean might be on the cards if things didn’t start to pick up. I remember texting my mum at this point and telling her, and she said “that’s absolutely fine, if you must have a caesarean to get the baby out safely then that’s what you have to do”. Luckily, after an hour or so things started to move and the contractions were coming thick and fast. Although they were incredibly intense, they didn’t last long so I got through them just fine (“fine” = gripping the side of the hospital bed and making a horrendous noise that sounded like “eeeeurrrrrrrrRRRRRR”).
The midwife recommended that I have an epidural at this point as “he’s a big little lad, pet” (she was a Geordie) so I agreed. It took over an hour for the epidural to happen as the anesthetist had to be called, the medication needed to be taken out of some freezer somewhere and then we had to go through the whole numbing the back process with another injection and then inserting the epidural needle. Now, it wasn’t painful and I didn’t look at the needle (I’ve heard it’s huge) but I did feel it rooting around in my spine which was very, very strange. A few seconds after it was done, the anesthetist asked me a set of questions like, do you feel this, what do you feel now, etc. My left leg felt like it was being violently attacked with electric shocks but apparently that was “normal”.
I could still wiggle my toes and move my legs around, which was disconcerting at first as I had expected to be completely numb for some reason, but that didn’t matter as once the epidural was in I had to stay in bed. From this point on I had a great time. I was on Twitter, I watched You Tube videos and I read a few chapters of The First Year: What to Expect. After an hour, the doctor came in again and checked me. Her exact words were “OK Simone, you’re 10cm now so you need to start pushing in a few minutes” and my response was “what? Push what?” Because of course, I couldn’t feel anything. No contractions, no pressure, nothing. And so 20 minutes passed of me pushing basically nothing as far as I was concerned. Imagine not needing to pee or do a number two and pushing anyway for all you’re worth? Exactly.
Of course, the doctors are very clever. The epidural began to wear off rapidly and oh my, it was a different story then. My legs, which were up in stirrups, began to cramp under the force of pushing and I kept trying to stretch them but the midwife wouldn’t let me. “You need to keep pushing Simone!” I began to hate her a little bit. After another 10 minutes had passed, with sweat running down my face and into my eyes and Adrian trying his best to encourage and support me (I hated him a little bit too), I decided that enough was enough. “Yeah OK, look I’ve done my best here – so just take him out now”. The doctor looked at me. She said “it doesn’t work like that Simone, keep pushing”. So I said “no seriously, it’s absolutely fine! – just do what you need to do”. I was totally done and he wasn’t coming out so I decided that they needed to take over. That doesn’t happen of course, so the now not-so-lovely geordie nurse (I hated them all) started giving out to me. She was very bossy – “you’re not pushing hard enough Simone!” You can imagine what I wanted to say to that… So I pushed again for 10 minutes and it was excruciating. No epidural, cramping legs, sweat in eyeballs – imagine? Unfortunately, no amount of pushing could get Charlie out, so in the end, I had an episiotomy. I heard the scissors, snip snip snip and I didn’t even care that the doctor had gone ahead and done it without my permission because suddenly, at 6.31pm, it was all over. I felt a great whooshing, my stomach collapsed and there he was; a cute, but rather angry, 8lb 7oz blue baby. He burst into tears, Adrian burst into tears and I said “is he OK?”. The nurse said yes and then everything was fine.
I had to push the placenta out after Charlie, which was a bit odd (it looks a bit like an Octopus tentacle), and then the doctor stitched me up. This was probably one of the worst bits as the epidural had completely worn off. They took Charlie away after 10 minutes of skin to skin cuddling and the nurse told me that it was time to move to the maternity ward, where I stayed for five days. They wouldn’t let me out as my iron levels had dropped dramatically after the birth, so I was on an iron drip. Trying to breast feed (incorrectly I might add) with a canula permanently in my hand, and a pounding heart from lack of iron was definitely not fun.
In total, I would say it took me about two months to recover from the birth. If anyone asks me what it was like giving birth, I always say it was a breeze in comparison to the recovery process. I cried more in the two months after Charlie than I have ever cried in my life. I cried sitting on the couch, I cried in the bath, I cried while breastfeeding. Not being able to sit down properly because I was in so much pain is something that I won’t be forgetting in a hurry!
Something I often think about is how it all played out in the end. I remember the doctor asking me what kind of birth plan I wanted when we were still in Bahrain, and pondering over what kind of moses basket to get for Charlie. Sitting here now, and looking at Charlie all big and strong makes me realise that none of that crap matters. It doesn’t matter what kind of baby stuff you have, or whose baby stuff it is, or where you thought you were supposed to be when the baby arrives. It doesn’t even matter what kind of birth plan you have or if you have any at all. All that matters is that your baby is healthy and arrives safely into the world.
Obviously, it would be nice if you had a team of family members around to help (especially when your goals are reduced to things like; Monday – Have a shower, Tuesday – Get dressed) but if you don’t, it will be OK. Everything will be OK in the end, and if it’s not OK, it’s not the end!
So there we have it, the beginning of Charlie! Hope you enjoyed reading this 🙂