It is now almost 4 months since Arlo was born – 15 incredible weeks! I had planned to write a monthly update but the past few months have been such a whirlwind, all my plans have gone out the window! I will try harder, I promise! Being a mum for the first time, I am continually experiencing and learning new things each day, so I would like to share my journey with you, and Arlo (maybe he will read one day!)
Two weeks before my due date, I was booked in for an elective c-section on the 24th February. I really wanted to go into labour and deliver on my own, but with baby lying breech and a placenta previa, this was not an option. I was admitted to hospital on the Monday with some more bleeding and Arlo wouldn’t be born until the Wednesday. Those two days of waiting in hospital were the longest days in the world. I was like a child before Christmas, all excited that I was going to finally meet my baby boy.
I hardly slept the night before and got myself all showered and ready by 6am. At 8am the anesthetist came in and told me she thought I was first in line. I really wish she hadn’t got my hopes up! Allan arrived at 9am and warned me that this might not be the case and that any emergencies would be taken first. He was right. He tried to take my mind off watching the clock until the midwife came for us at around half past 12. Allan was taken to get scrubbed up and I was taken into the operating theatre. All the excitement of meeting baby soon disappeared after walking into that operating theatre. Fear kicked in with the realisation of what was actually about to happen. The room was so big and cold. There were too many people. The bed was so high. (I actually had to walk up a couple of steps to reach.) I was about to put my life and the life of my baby into the hands of someone else.
During the operation I could feel no pain, but did feel pretty uncomfortable. I was trying hard not to think about what was actually going on behind that screen, while feeling an unpleasant pressing and pulling sensation. All I cared about was meeting my boy. I felt so good to have Allan beside me talking me through what he could see, which was a wee bit more than me. It was Allan that told me when Arlo was born and that they had taken him to be checked over. It was Allan that held him for the first time. He then brought him over to meet me. Immediately my heart filled with love for my wee Arlo and for Allan who gave him to me. Sadly I was unable to hold him at this point. I began to cough quite a bit and couldn’t catch my breath. Being unable to breathe properly, I began to panic until the anaesthetist gave me some oxygen. I was then aware of another surgeon coming into the room and the anaesthetist telling the people behind the screen to ‘communicate to the patient‘! The surgeon popped his head up over the screen and told me that they had found a fibroid the size of a tennis ball. He said they would need to remove as it had grown too large for it’s blood supply. So I ended up getting two operations for the price of one! I was aware I had a fibroid and had asked at each scan if it was causing any kind of problem but I was told it was nothing to worry about. Thinking about it now, that was probably the reason why Arlo was lying breech and was unable to turn.
The whole thing felt quite surreal. Allan was taken out of the room and I was unaware where he and Arlo was until I was taken into the recovery room. Somehow I was propped up into a sitting position, and finally Arlo was given to me. I was so happy to finally have my boy in my arms. He was so tiny and so perfect. I could hardly believe that just an hour before my beautiful little man was curled up inside me. After a quick cuddle Arlo was taken away to be checked over. We were told his breathing was quite laboured so he would need to go the the hospital neonatal unit. I was unable to go with him at this point so I told Allan to go with him. I was so worried for my little man and didn’t want him on his own. After they left, it seems like such a blur. I don’t know whether it was the shock from the operation or the fear of Arlo being taken away but I started to feel quite unwell and began to vomit quite a bit. I was so upset not being with my boy and not knowing what was happening.
After what seemed like forever, I was finally wheeled over to the neonatal ward where I was shocked to find Arlo in an incubator with a tube through his nose and wires coming form his feet. Seemingly this is pretty common with c-section babies. Usually during labour, the pressure of the birth helps to push out any amniotic fluid from the baby’s lungs. A cesarean delivery doesn’t allow the fluid to be squeezed out and sometimes it doesn’t leave the lungs as quickly as it should. This excess fluid made it difficult for Arlo’s lungs to function properly so he was given oxygen through a tube to keep his blood oxygen levels stable. I had planned on breastfeeding, but we were unable due to his breathing difficulties. The doctors had advised feeding Arlo with a tube through his nose into his stomach. I wasn’t too happy about this but wanted what was best for my boy.
Those first few days of no skin to skin contact were so upsetting. Watching him lying in that incubator and not being able to hold him was one of the hardest things I have ever experienced. We were tube feeding him every few hours but unfortunately he was unable to keep down what he was being fed. It was so hard to leave him each night and go back to my empty hospital room, all I wanted was my boy by my side.
Finally after a week in the neonatal unit, Arlo and myself were moved to a ward together in transitional care. It was such a relief to be with my boy and be able to finally care for him. This was when I had to introduce bottle feeding as well as tube feeding. After being tube fed from day 1, he would get so exhausted trying to suck from the bottle, so wouldn’t get the required amount of milk for the day. We were told that Arlo could come home when he was eating enough on his own. This seemed like such a huge task. We spent the next week coaxing Arlo to feed from the bottle until finally he was eating the required amount all by himself for 24 hours. At last we were allowed home for Mother’s Day – the best gift in the world!
Those two weeks in hospital were so hard. It felt more like two months. All I wanted was to go home and be a family. It was so hard for Allan having to go home and leave us each night and so hard for me being stuck in a ward with three other mums with babies.
Recovering from the c-section has been pretty slow. Looking back, I was pretty surprised what a major operation it actually is. I really don’t know why. Surgery is surgery after all but I had never experienced an operation of any kind before. Getting cut open is painful and pretty awful to be honest. Moving around hurts a lot. Not being able to pick up your tiny baby without assistance is incredibly frustrating. 15 weeks on I am feeling pretty good within myself and my scar is healing up nicely.
I am now a mother. Life as I knew it has gone out the window and has been replaced with something very different. Something so wonderfully different. Something so incredibly fulfilling. And something a bit scary at the same time. I am still the same person as I was before Arlo, but at the same time, I feel as though I have changed so much. It is such an amazing feeling to be totally responsible for another life. I love my wee Arlo so much. I still get so excited to see his little face each day.
I am so proud of Allan. He has been brilliant, such a natural to fatherhood and has been such a help with everything. We make a great team. I am looking forward to all the adventures the three of us will have together as a family.
Have you given birth? How long did it take you to recover? Are you expecting a baby? Do you have a plan how you would like it to go?